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Search Engine Optimisation Explained And Demystified For Business People

Search engine optimisation, also known as SEO, is the science and art of getting the search engine results your website deserves. Since Google has up to 90% of the search market in Europe and the USA, search engine optimisation is mainly about understanding of how Google’s sophisticated search engine algorithms work.

SEO can be incredibly valuable depending on what business you are in because it reaches customers that paid ads and social can’t find. It can also create a significant commercial advantage if you feature ahead of your competitors’ search results for the top search terms in your industry.

However, most small firms do not have the budget to pay for sophisticated SEO, nor do they have the time to wait for results from an SEO investment, since SEO work is a marathon and not a sprint

Nevertheless, there are simple things that can be done with search engine optimisation that can make a big difference. At the very least your website should be set-up correctly. The reality is that most are not, because it is a rare web designer or marketing professional that truly understands SEO.

 SEO At A Minimum

This article aims to provide a non-technical guide that can be understood by business people in a ten-minute read. We explain the basics of what you need to do to keep Google happy and make sure your website shows up correctly in search results, with a fighting chance of upstaging your competitors.

When you understand the essentials of search engine optimisation then you have a good chance of getting it right and know what to ask your your web team to do at a minimum.

Contents

  1. On-Page SEO
  2. Metadata & Bots Explained
  3. On Page SEO Essentials
  4. Fresh Content
  5. Keyword Stuffing
  6. Off-Page SEO
  7. Inbound Links
  8. Attracting Links
  9. Google SEO Tool
  10. Sitemaps
  11. Core Web Vitals

Google’s Winner Takes All Game

Google’s indexing of the Internet ranks every website and webpage in a winner take it all competition. For a commercial enterprise, search engine optimisation is essentially about getting a sufficient ranking with Google so that your website shows up the first page of Google’s search results. This means somewhere from position one to ten of the search results for searches by your potential new customers. The higher the better as the first three positions will bring in significantly more traffic than lower ones.

Google wants authentic, original, informative content to serve up to its search engine users, and ultimately SEO is about first creating excellent content, and then making sure Google knows about it and understands it.

SEO has two main areas known as “on-page SEO” and “off-page SEO”. 

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On-Page SEO

On-page SEO tells Google what a specific page is about and optimises your page to receive maximum traffic. Every page on your website should be fully tuned for On-Page SEO.

When a new page is being created on your website it takes less than ten minutes to implement the essentials of On-Page SEO.

Doing On-Page SEO is like sticking a small amount of money into a pension every month. It may seem like nothing much, but over time it adds up significantly, i.e. it will boost your search results in the long term for what is just a minimal amount of attention-to-detail.

It has also become incredibly simple because there are plugins (mini-apps) for most sites that prompt and help you to fill in your On-Page SEO. For any in-house development team or outside web designer not to do this is indefensible and downright lazy. Any online professional should understand at least the basics of SEO.

Metadata & Bots Explained

Apart from the written content on your web page that is designed to be read by humans, there is also metadata which is content that web crawling bots read.

In the case of Google’s bots they literally crawl the entire internet every few weeks updating Google’s records (indexing). This crawling is how changes you make to your website are recognised by Google and interpreted by their algorithms.

Remember that Google’s business model is based on indexing the entire public internet so that it can serve up (for free) the best results i.e. they want to give each searcher exactly what they’re searching for.

If we stopped getting good search results from Google their entire business model would crash and we would soon look for an alternative search engine. Even their paid adverts are ranked according to their usefulness to the searcher.

Both your human content and your page metadata tells the bots specifically what your page (and website) is all about. If you don’t have metadata, or if it is incorrectly formatted then Google won’t understand, and will have to make a guess.

You can understand that if your website is formatted correctly and your competitors’ are not then Google will favour your content.

For eCommerce websites this means that your even your many product pages need to have their meta data and descriptions properly targeted towards the likely search terms for each product.

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On-Page SEO Essentials

When you decide what the content of your page is about you create what is known as a “keyword search phrase” which is the focus of the page. So for example this page uses “search engine optimisation” as it’s keyword phrase.

The essentials of what is required for good on-page search engine optimisation is to use/include that keyword phrase as follows:

  1. The page meta title.
  2. The url of the page.
  3. The H1, which is the main header on the page. (You should only ever have a single H1 on any one page).
  4. The phrase should be used in the first sentence of the first paragraph of the page and then throughout the general content in a natural way.
  5. H2s, H3s – this is where you use the phrase in sub headings.
  6. The meta description, which is a summary of what your page is about.
  7. The main image should be renamed to match the keyword phrase as should the metadata for the image (alt-text and description).
  8. Any important page should have at least 500 words of original content on the given subject, but all the better if it is 2,000 words or more.

If you do the above on every page on your website you will give yourself a great chance of scoring big with Google. This is the basic foundation for SEO.

Fresh Content

Your website should be constantly evolving if you want to do well in search. You should have a blog where at the very least you add one new post a month with 500 words of original content. But all the better if it is weekly or daily. Google likes fresh. Even repurposing or refreshing old articles and blogs can be a very beneficial exercise. (Pro Tip: You can re-date or back date blog content)

Keyword Stuffing

Now let’s clear up a very common misunderstanding that has been around since the early days of SEO, known as keyword “stuffing”.

You always want just one main keyword phrase for any single page. If for example I tried to make this page about search engine optimisation, and also website design and digital marketing then it would be confusing for Google i.e. it would dilute the SEO strength of the page.

You can naturally include several sub topics if they are related to the main topic as this will boost the SEO of your page rather than weaken it. So for example, my writing about on-page and off-page search engine optimisation, metadata and link-building is fine because they relate to the main topic.

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Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO refers to external signals that Google uses to rank your website and individual pages. It includes inbound links from third party websites.

Off-Page SEO is also known as Technical SEO and is a complex, specialist area of search engine optimisation. So for the purpose of this article we will just cover the basics in order to provide a sufficiently informative overview for a non technical business person.

 Inbound Links

Links from external websites are one of the core ranking factors for Google and obtaining high-quality inbound external links is one of the main levers of SEO.

However, not all links are equal and Google can tell the difference. So for example, if you own a restaurant and get a review from the Irish Times, with an inbound link back to your website, then that is worth a lot since being a newspaper of record, the Irish Times has one of the highest ranking websites in Ireland. Plus the link is coming from a restaurant review page so it is highly relevant.

The power or value to your site of this single link could be equal to 50 lesser inbound links from less highly ranked sites and less relevant pages. And even without the “SEO juice” from the Irish Times the link will likely get clicked and you will receive a spike in new visitors for a while (referrals).

Attracting Links

Attracting high quality links is the main work of SEO agencies but it can be done in-house.

It essentially involves writing and promoting good content and reaching out to other websites to provide links. This is known as “planned link content”.

For example, a commercial kitchen supplier could write an article about “Top Chefs Share Their Best Knife Tips” and then gain agreement from specialist food and news websites to publish the article on their sites with a link back to the authors website. So in a quid pro quo, you write them an interesting article for free, and in return they give you credit. SEO agencies often employ journalists for this reason.

Another way to attract inbound links is to become an authority site. So for example, if you employed someone to write a lot of high quality “authority” content about your area of expertise then others in your industry may start to link back to it. This is a long-term expensive undertaking but can be incredibly valuable.

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Google’s SEO Tool

Most people have heard of Google Analytics which tells you about visitors to your site. However, Google has another free tool called Search Console which tells you how you are doing in search i.e. about what is happening BEFORE people come to your site. Search Console provides rankings and traffic reports for top keywords for individual pages and can help you understand where the low hanging fruit are.

So for example, it might tell you that you showed up in 1,000 searches for “search engine optimisation consultant” with an average of 10th position, and 25 of the searchers clicked through to your website.

From this you can see that you are on the first page of the search results for that keyword phrase, but at the bottom of the page. So if you could move up a few positions you would very likely receive a larger share of the clicks. Therefore, you might put some effort in to improving the on-page SEO for this keyword term and that alone could improve your results within a few weeks.

Console also identifies on-site technical issues that could be effecting your website and in most cases tells you how to fix them.

Search Console is simple to set up and use so if your web developer or marketing team are not using it then they know nothing about SEO and you should ask them some hard questions!

Sitemaps

It is vital for your site to have an XML sitemap which helps search engines discover and crawl all of the site’s pages. There are simple tools that automatically create and update these sitemaps and link them to your Google Console account.

Core Web Vitals

Google added Core Web Vitals to its search algorithm in 2021. This rates the user experience of your website from a technical point of view. It is easy to check using free tools and if it is bad then you need to fix it.

There are a few things you can do that can make a big difference, even without  us getting into the detail about Largest Contentful Paint or First Input Delay which all sound painfully technical to most business people. In summary, it is mainly to do with how fast your pages load. The faster the better obviously. Most websites can use more free tools that:

1. Optimise your images and other aspects of your site. Large images can drastically slow your site down, but most can be compressed to a fraction of their original size without loss of quality.

2. Cache the content of your site so that it doesn’t have to be loaded each time a user visits your web page. A caching tool/service can exponentially speed up your website.

Get An SEO Audit

We will be happy to do an SEO (and CRO) audit on your website to explain what you need to improve in order to reach your digital business goals.

How Can We Help?

The sooner you speak to us, the sooner you will discover for yourself why our deep experience of digital makes us such a valuable resource. We speak the language of business and our success has come from being able to explain digital from a commercial rather than technical perspective.

Call us on 01-280 9248 or book a call with our online diary

Business Owners Who Have Worked With Us Say....

Amazing Website Design & Substantial Traffic Increase

"AycyA completed the Hour Kitchen website in a professional, efficient and timely manner.  Having discussed my requirements, Ian took the project into his hands and he and the team delivered our amazing website.  Traffic has increased substantially and we are getting great feedback from users."

Marie Therese O'Sullivan. Owner, Hour Kitchen.

Understood Our Need For Professional Design

"AycyA's website development service was recommended to me.  I was more than satisfied with the end result and have no hesitation in recommending their services.  As a practicing solicitor, professional appearance is important to me. Ian was very accurate in understanding the kind of online presence that would be suitable."

Bridget O’Neill. Owner, B.O'Neill Solicitors.

High Standards Of Excellence & Professionalism

"Ian is both intelligent and creative in equal measure. He delivers work of a very high standard in terms of excellence, professionalism and attention to detail."

Nial O'Reilly. Owner, Ignite Business Coaching.

Excellent Web Designers

"We were very happy with our choice of web designer. The AycyA team's deep understanding of online business gives them a distinct edge. They take the time to listen and also to explain. We received a lot of valuable advice as part of the web design project. "

Patrick Kennedy Customer Success Manager, Compliance Junction.

The Experience & Commercial Acumen To Get Results

"Website design can only be measured by business results. AycyA are lead by Ian who is the ultimate online professional. He is literally a vault of digital experience and commercial acumen, with a resolve towards achieving the best results through end-to-end attention to detail."

Sean Gleeson. eCommerce Manager, Avoca.

Delighted With The Outcome

"Ian was an absolute pleasure to work with. He completely overhauled and redesigned our website which was no easy feat. He worked tirelessly to create an aesthetically beautiful website that is also functional and practical. He is a highly creative, a perfectionist, and an extremely hard worker who went above and beyond for us. We are delighted with the outcome and would highly recommend Ian and his team at AycyA."

Barbara Berman Managing Director, Berman & Wallace.

Easy To Deal With, Knowledgeable & Professional

"Ian worked with us as a marketing consultant and mentor for a year, coaching our marketing team on the performance of our PPC campaigns for Google and LinkedIn. We found him easy to deal with, knowledgeable, and professional at all times. I would highly recommend his services."

Website Designer DublinCaroline Proctor CMO, ToolsGroup, Boston.

Goes The Extra Mile

"Ian had an amazing ability to listen and hear what I wanted as a client, and AycyA translated it into a beautiful and aesthetic catering and ecommerce website. It is impressive, a pleasure to look at and simple to navigate.  AycyA now look after the SEO and general website management. They are extremely experienced and efficient. I recommend Ian highly as he goes the extra mile and takes immense pride in his work."

eCommerce Website DesignerTracy Rennie Owner, Gourmet Chef.

What Our Clients Say….

Easy To Deal With, Knowledgeable & Professional

Ian worked with us as a marketing consultant for a year, coaching our marketing team on the performance of our PPC campaigns for Google and LinkedIn. We found him easy to deal with, knowledgeable, and professional at all times. I would highly recommend his services.

Website Designer DublinCaroline Proctor CMO, ToolsGroup, Boston

The Experience & Commercial Acumen To Get Results

Ian is the ultimate online professional. He is literally a vault of digital experience and commercial acumen, with a resolve towards achieving the best results through end-to-end attention to detail.

Sean Gleeson. eCommerce Manager, Avoca.

High Standards Of Excellence & Professionalism

“Ian is both intelligent and creative in equal measure. He delivers work of a very high standard in terms of excellence, professionalism and attention to detail.”

Nial O’Reilly. Owner, Ignite Business Coaching.

Let's Talk

Call :  01-280 9248

or schedule a call using our online diary