Ask yourself, how often do you look past the first page of results on Google? If you’re anything like most people, the answer is almost never. For all intents and purposes, those latter pages simply don’t exist. Good luck getting anyone to visit your new niche website or blog if you’re still floundering on page 10 of any search engine.
This is where SEO or search engine optimisation comes into play. It is the strategy and techniques used to optimise a website in such a way that if you were to search for certain terms (for example: “digital marketing” or “London pet shop”), a relevant website would show up, preferably in the first few results. A website with a solid SEO strategy becomes more visible and therefore attracts more potential customers. If it doesn’t then you’re not going to get much traffic at all.
It may not sound especially important, but getting ranked well in search engines can mean the difference between a website flourishing or crashing and burning. Maybe you have a new online marketing business with stiff competition, or maybe you’re an aspiring blogger writing on the vicissitudes of being a post-millennial, the simple fact is that you can be the absolute best at what you do, offering the best products at the best prices, but if the search engines can’t find your website then no one can.
If you think about it, the vast majority of people find out what they need to know not through word of mouth, but through the internet. Google alone processes a mind-boggling 40,000 search queries per second. We’re talking about a simply incomprehensible amount of information flowing every day, in an age where everybody has the attention span of a goldfish (if they’re lucky) and probably won’t make it past the first page or two as a result.
So how does the process actually work? Search engines function by using complicated algorithms which are used to rank websites based on their relevancy to the search terms entered by the user. Believe it or not, those specific algorithms are actually closely guarded secrets, so that nobody can take advantage of them, as the potential for abuse is immense.
In the early days of search engines it was simpler, but search engine companies soon became wise to the variety of techniques – some ethical and some definitely not, known respectively as white hat and black hat SEO – that could be leveraged to redirect and manipulate online traffic to one’s advantage. In essence, SEO is coordinating and systematically arranging the variety of keywords, page titles, links and so on in a way that Yahoo or Bing or of course Google can find amongst the myriad other content out there.
Nowadays the algorithms are more sophisticated than ever, and utilising an effective SEO strategy is a considerable challenge. Successful websites have to rank well, or they won’t be successful at all. For better or worse, this is the way that information flows in the 21st century and in order to connect with the right potential customers or viewers a dynamic and intelligent SEO strategy is essential.