What is SEO? And how does it work?

What is SEO? (Search Engine Optimisation)

SEO is short for Search Engine Optimisation and is also sometimes referred to as organic SEO. It is the process of optimising your website and content to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) and increase your site’s visibility, traffic and conversions. According to Web FX, it is calculated that 95% of search traffic goes to the first page of search results.

There are multiple different elements which search engines look at when determining how to rank your website’s pages. SEO will involve a combination of both on and off-page strategies. This includes factors such as your site’s structure, content quality and relevance. It also includes factors related to best practices such as the frequency and quality of inbound links.

Why is SEO important?

SEO is hugely important for businesses of all sizes. It allows you to drive more qualified traffic and conversions to your website from search engines. The vast majority of internet users use search engines to find what they need. As such, it needs to be a key part of any business’s digital marketing strategy.

A recent study has found that organic share of traffic had increased to 53.3%, making it an essential part of any online marketing strategy. SEO is a constantly evolving field. It is therefore important to stay up-to-date on the latest tactics and strategies. This will help ensure your website is well-optimised.

In 2020, Google made 4,500 changes to its search algorithms so it is important to keep SEO best practices up-to-date.

How is content found by Google?

The ultimate aim of search engines such as Google is to provide the most relevant and high-quality content to searchers. SEO is a key part of this process, as it helps ensure that your website’s content is quickly and easily accessible to search engines.

To index your site’s web pages, search engines use special algorithms called crawlers or spiders. These bots scan the web, following links and reading content to determine which pages are the most valuable and relevant. They then use this information to determine where your site should rank in search engine results pages (SERPs) for particular keyword searches.

For your content to be indexed, it must be set to ‘allow’ the search engine bots to crawl the page, in the first instance. Google will seek out how relevant the content is to the user’s query and how authoritative the page or resource is. They use their constantly evolving algorithms to analyse information. These are referred to as ranking factors which are focussed on when any SEO strategy is being created. In 2020, Google made 4,500 changes to its search algorithms so it is important to keep SEO best practices up-to-date.

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How to get started with SEO

An effective SEO strategy needs to consist of multiple different elements which will work together to support each other and boost your SEO efforts. Key areas that you’ll need to focus on include:

  • On-page SEO: Tactics carried out on the site, page by page, to improve rankings
  • Off-page SEO: External tactics on other websites designed to improve the authority of your site, which in turn will improve rankings
  • Local SEO: Tactics to improve ‘product or service near me’ searches
  • Tecnical SEO: Site wide technical considerations which can include elements of all the above

On-page SEO

On-page SEO is all about optimising your website page content, how visitors navigate to these pages (your site architecture) and meta data (the titles and descriptions of your pages that Google uses to find and index) to make it as SEO-friendly as possible. This includes:

Keyword research:

The foundation to improving SEO for any site is improving the organisation of content around the key topics that are relevant to your business and your audience. Keyword research involves identifying the terms and phrases that visitors use in search engines to find or research your products and services. Once you have an exhaustive list, you should start to see patterns or groups of keywords most pertinent to your offer, and these should be prioritised by highest SEO value or commercial intent. These are keywords which people are more likely to search for when making a purchase or conversion. SEO keyword research tools can help you identify the best keywords and phrases to include in your content. You can also track their search volumes over time.Once

Site structure:

Your site structure should then be designed to support these key topics, with high level landing pages for ‘SEO services’ for example, linking to further content on the subject such as ‘Keyword research for SEO’. This makes it easy for users to find related content and stay on the website. In turn, this makes it easy for Google, and other search engines, to find and index your content. The more helpful and relevant content you produce related to the subject, the more of an authority Google will perceive you as, and reward you with higher positions in the SERPs (search engine landing pages).

Your site’s URL structure and internal linking are key considerations here, as these help guide visitors and crawlers through your content. It’s also important to ensure each page’s title and description are optimised for the most relevant search terms.

Content creation:

Quality, accurate and keyword-rich content is critical to SEO success. This can include blog posts, infographics, case studies, white-papers, guides and much more. To help Google determine where to rank your site in SERPs, you’ll need to optimise your content for various SEO factors. These include keywords, headings tags, meta descriptions and image alt tags. Other factors include adding semantic keywords within your content and the actual placement of keywords. The length of your content also has some impact on SEO. Longer content has been shown to rank higher in SERPs. This is because well-written, long-form content is more likely to answer the needs of your target audience.

But please note, while making the search algorithms happy is important, you need to aim to create diverse content which speaks directly to your target audience, this will help you build trust and credibility with them. The keywords should be added naturally with the user in mind, rather than focusing on any keyword density. Search engines are much more sophisticated than they used to be and can determine the quality of a piece of content through metrics such as on page engagement, dwell time and onward journeys. No keyword stuffing!

Page speed:

Ensuring that your website pages load quickly is also an important SEO factor. Search engines like Google will rank sites with fast-loading pages higher in search results. They do this because it helps make the user experience a more seamless one.

Off-page SEO

Link building:

Another key part of SEO is link building. This refers to the process of getting high-quality external links to your site. These links, known as ‘backlinks’ not only help boost SEO rankings but also drive more traffic and brand awareness as well. There are several methods to build effective backlinks.

Influencer marketing:

Building relationships with influential people and brands in your industry is a powerful way to generate high-quality backlinks and exposure.


This involves a process of identifying websites or publishers in your industry who are likely to be interested in linking to your content. These could include blogs, magazines, academic journals or industry-specific websites and forums. Another way to build links is through guest posting unique articles on other relevant websites or blogs in similar industries. By doing so, it is usually accepted that those articles will include a link or two.


Submitting your website to established business directories is also effective for boosting the domain authority of your site. Domain authority is a score that measures SEO success and helps to determine how well your website will rank in search results. However, it is important to look for high-quality, established directories that are relevant and have a high SEO value.

Social media:

Social signals also play an important role in SEO rankings. They help build backlinks to your site, drive traffic and increase brand awareness. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn offer great opportunities to promote your content. There, you can share links and engage with potential customers online. Additionally, SEO-friendly social media platforms can help improve SEO rankings. They allow users to build authority and trust with their followers, through the quality of content they share.

Local Search

According to recent statistics, local search is becoming increasingly popular among mobile users. Examples of local searches are ‘electrician near me’ or ‘marketing agency in Manchester.’ This trend is driven by the fact that people use their mobile devices to look for nearby businesses, products and services whilst on the go. As such, SEO strategies need to take local search into account and optimise websites for mobile SEO.

By incorporating local keywords into your SEO strategy, you can help boost your SEO rankings for searches, relevant to specific locations. Another way to optimise your website for local SEO is to create a business profile on Google My Business. Your website can then appear in search results for local SEO queries. You should also look to build backlinks through local directories, to improve local SEO rankings.

Technical SEO

There is a lot to consider with technical SEO and it changes all the time so it’s imperative to stay on top of the things that can have a significant impact on how Google ranks your site in the SERPs. 

This in itself is a full time job as Google updates its algorithms frequently, this year alone there have been 10 updates of note, with many many more modifications that take place behind the scenes to make sure Google shows the best and most relevant results. Think can provide technical SEO services, but for businesses prepared to roll their sleeves up here are the top 10 priorities to consider: 

  1. Make sure your site is secure using HTTPS (not HTTP) 
  2. Create a site that is easy to navigate and follows on-page SEO best practices 
  3. Ensure you submit your sitemap to Google
  4. Focus on website’s speed using free tools such as PageSpeed Insights
  5. Mobile-friendly websites are an absolute must
  6. Don’t duplicate content! It confuses Google
  7. This includes only one version of your website (www or non www)
  8. Ensure there are no broken links on your site 
  9. Optimise for Core Web Vitals
  10. Stay on top of technical issues, at the very least monthly

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Written by

Alan Attias

SEO Manager

Data driven with eighteen years’ experience as a Digital Marketing and SEO Manager, Alan is our expert for our customers search engine optimisation, search engine marketing and PPC, employing integrated analytics for on-going ROI optimisation.

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