Search engine optimisation examined



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Most people start an internet search with Google, so let’s begin this blog article there. Here’s a screenshot of page 1’s results for “sports car sales” on Google UK:

Google search engine results screenshot

I’ve shaded in green the unpaid-for results, often termed ‘organic’. Results showing up outside the green zone do so because people have run a Google AdWords campaign that injects a listing for their website there in response to their targetted search terms. These campaigns are pay-per-click ones, so that the website owner pays for every click on a sponsored link to his/her website.

Results that show up in the green zone, the unpaid zone, have a longer life there. Results that show up elsewhere, in the paid-for zone, will stop showing up there as soon as the Google AdWords campaign supporting them is stopped. Whilst Google AdWords can get quick results, getting a high ranking in the organic, unpaid listings takes time.

Interesting research suggests that there is a negative correlation between a surfer’s level of education and their clicking of paid-for links. The better educated the surfer, the less likely they are to click such links. Taken together, it’s estimated that only 25% of all clicks land on the paid-for links, with the remaining 75% landing on the organic, unpaid links.

SEO, therefore, is all about the techniques that will help your website rank higher in the organic, unpaid-for results. Succeeding in this is critically important. If your website is aiming at a more educated customer base, this target is even more important because education helps innoculate you against the temptation to click paid-for links!

SEO comes in two forms: ‘on-page seo’ and ‘off-page seo’.

‘On-page SEO’

‘On-page seo’ is everything that you and your website developer can do together! It includes having a clean and tidy website that the search engines can understand. It complies with web standards and consists of good semantic mark-up. There’s a title, at least one h1 tag and various h2 tags on each page and the copy makes it absolutely clear what each page is about. You also use the correct keywords to encapsulate what your website is about. No ambiguity, no excessive complexity.

‘Off-page SEO’

‘Off-page seo’, in contrast, relates to various things which your website developer cannot do on your behalf. This boils down to two main things:

  • increasing the quantity of quality links to your website from other websites, often known as ‘back links’ or ‘in-bound links’
  • increasing the volume of good copy on your own website

To put this in perspective, it’s thought that Google will consider on-page factors as contributing to 25% of why a page ranks where it does, whilst off-page factors will contribute 75% of why a page ranks where it does in Google’s listings. Clearly, Google favours off-page factors.

Increasing quality links back to your website happens because you’ve increased the perceived or real value of your website to the extent that others are naturally linking to it from their websites (or from sites like Twitter or Digg etc.). Having a blog on your website — and posting to it frequently — is an obvious way of adding value to your website. If you can write engagingly and give good advice, that will be valued. Submitting relevant articles for publications on other websites can also help.

I’m planning a more detailed blog article on off-page seo. Watch this space…