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What is SEO?

By now, most of us will likely have heard of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), but there are still many people out there who do not know what it is – and therefore, potentially missing out on some very important business and revenue opportunities.

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So… What is SEO?

Simply put – SEO is a long-term digital marketing strategy designed to improve your website’s ranking in organic search results when people search for your brand, product or service in a search engine (such as Google).

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How Has SEO Changed?

In the early days of SEO, it was very much about optimising a website’s meta-data, such as title tags, meta keywords and building endless links to your website.

As time went on, SEOs went overboard with ‘over-optimisation’ and ‘stuffing keywords’ into as much meta-data and links as possible – not to mention the origin of these links coming from spammy link farmers.

Enough was enough – there was no relevancy in these now black-hat methods and it only led users to a highly irrelevant and poor user experience (UX).

With the primary goal of search engines to deliver users the best experience in order to keep them returning, things had to change.

While the fundamental principles of SEO have remained the same, SEO now extends beyond this with a large focus of UX which includes design structure, navigation, speed, usability (UX), as well as quality link building.

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What SEO is Not

Keyword Stuffing

While SEO is built on optimising for targeted keyphrases or keywords, it’s not about ‘stuffing’ your website with as many of these keyphrases as possible in order to try and improve your ranking for that keyphrase.

As mentioned above, this ‘black hat’ tactic used to work well, but as search engines grow ever more sophisticated, they now pick up on keyphrase stuffing tactics and will penalise websites that do this.

The best way to go about keyphrase usage on your site, is to ensure you content flows for the reader and is less about keeping the search engines happy.

Excessive Low-Quality Links

Inbound links are a great way to measure positive ‘online word of mouth’, as the more links that point to your site, the more favourable your site will be perceived by others (including search engines).

However, there is a major difference between high quality links and low quality links. A high quality link will be from a reliable and credible source, whereas a low quality link will likely be from an unreliable and uncredible / spammy source (potentially even from a link farm who mass product low quality links).

It’s true that some sites might see an improvement with low quality links, but this will be extremely short lived. Google is very smart and it’s not worth trying to ‘trick’ the search engine, otherwise you may just do more harm than good.

When it comes to building a successful link profile for your website, try submitting your business into relevant local directories and affiliate sites using unique content, and an engaging social media strategy. Even a few guest posts in industry related blogs or creating a blog for your own website can help.

When it comes to link building, remember it’s quality over quantity!

First Page = Guaranteed Success

A first page search engine ranking is not the be all and end all of your SEO campaign like it once was – you can even read more about this in our recent blog post Is SEO All About Rankings?

These days, a lot of black hat SEO firms will guarantee first page Google rankings which is crazy for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, nobody can guarantee a first page Google ranking (even Google says so itself!), and second, these keyphrases are highly likely to be totally irrelevant to your business, goals and objectives. Then, if you actually get users to your website in this way, they will immediately turn away because your site is totally irrelevant from what they were looking for. This increases the ‘pogo sticking effect’ and as such, Google will begin to rank your website lower and lower.

Another important factor about rankings is that, if a visitor is serious about a product or service, they will click onto the next couple of search engine pages and find you. While the pool of people might be a lot small who do this, at least they will be of a higher quality and more likely to purchase with you.

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Will SEO Always Exist?

SEO is not going anywhere but like anything, SEO has evolved, and will continue to do so well into the future. While the fundamentals of SEO will always remain, it is important to remember that the goal of search engines is to deliver the best UX possible to their end-user, the searchers. This means that SEO is now about finding a balance of search engine friendly content with a user-friendly experience and employing tactics to abide by search engine’s constantly changing algorithm updates.

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While it is possible to run a successful SEO campaign in-house, it is always a worthwhile investment in hiring an SEO Specialist to keep on top of these changes and to put forward regular recommendations so that your business can keep on reaping the benefits. SEO is not a set and forget strategy, but one that requires ongoing work each and every day with a finger on the search engine pulse.

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If your SEO Strategy needs some help – contact DigitUX. We are local SEO and UX Specialists!