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What Is SEO?

17 June 2024
What Is SEO - SEO - Web Design and SEO Company Limited

What is SEO? – Search Engine Optimisation

So, what is SEO? SEO, also known as Search Engine Optimisation, is a crucial part of web design but is often overlooked. In a competitive digital landscape, if your business is striving to stand out, developing a website is more than just about a visually pleasing design. It is about ensuring your website is discoverable by prospective customers on prominent search engines like Google, Yahoo, or Bing. Ideally, you want to appear at the top of these search engines. This is where SEO comes in, enabling you to increase your website’s reach.  

But appearing on the first page of Google isn’t as straightforward as you might think. While Google Ads (PPC – Pay Per Click) can take you straight to the top of SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), it comes at a cost. You have to pay every time a potential customer clicks on your link, or for some ad types – when the ad is shown (this is called “impressions”). These listings have ‘Sponsored’ next to them, and you will find them at the top and bottom of the search results.

Running Google Ads can quickly add up and may not be sustainable for your business growth. On the other hand, SEO allows clients to find your website through organic traffic without the need for constant payments, giving you a more cost-effective solution. This can significantly reduce your website expenses, making SEO a smart investment for your business.  

For some businesses, Google Ads may be a great temporary way to promote new products or services; to rank until SEO kicks in; or they may choose to run Google Ads and SEO in combination – to achieve more entries in the search rankings.

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Starting With the Basics

If you want to increase your online leads, conversions and revenue, SEO is a great starting point. It is all about boosting your visibility to attract more relevant visitors to your website. By optimising your website for specific keywords related to your services or products, you can attract more potential customers when they search online. The more people that visit your website, the more conversions – calls, emails, quote requests etc – you will likely have.

Additionally, SEO doesn’t stop at your website. It has two essential parts: on-site SEO optimisation on the website itself and off-site optimisation, which includes online promotion of your business and website across the internet. In addition to on-site and off-site optimisation, you will also find websites that focus on e-commerce, which is the sales of goods online, or sites focusing on local SEO, which involves optimising your site for people searching for services or businesses in their local area.

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What Are the Different Types of SEO?

If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed or confused about the different types of SEO, don’t worry; you are not alone. We will walk you through each of these key aspects in detail and explain what local, national & international, e-commerce, technical, on-site, and off-site SEO involves.

What Is SEO - Local Area - Web Design and SEO Company Limited

What Is Local SEO?

Local SEO is a strategic approach to enhancing a website’s visibility in local search results. It caters to specific geographical areas, such as Devon for a broader reach or Plymouth for a more specific location. This technique is particularly advantageous for tradespeople and local service providers who aim to boost their online presence and attract customers or clients within their vicinity.

This means tailoring your website to specific locations. You will want to optimise your overall website for your primary location, and then add high-quality, unique webpages called Geopages for each additional area you want to be found in. By doing so, your business can rank higher in search engine results pages when someone searches for a key phrase, such as an electrician or plumber in Plymouth. It is very important that the Geopages are written with the user in mind first and foremost and that they add real value, rather than focusing on pleasing Google. ‘Areas We Serve’ or ‘Areas We Cover’ pages, which link to your Geopages are also a great way to indicate where you are willing to travel to work.

Geotagging images and video on your website is also a great way to help Google and the other search engines know where you are based / the areas you cover.

Additionally, creating a Google Business Profile can help your business appear in local searches, as search engines can then detect where your business is based. The importance of having an accurate, fully-populated and regularly updated Google Business Profile cannot be overemphasised.

What Is SEO - New Website Quote - Web Design and SEO Company Limited
What Is SEO - New Website Free Quote - Web Design and SEO Company Limited

What Is National & International SEO?

National and International SEO involves optimising a website to attract consumers from across the UK and overseas. Much like Local SEO, this involves enhancing your web pages to rank in search engines for specific keywords that your target audience may search for. However, with a broader client base, you may find that there is higher competition than with local providers.

Search Engine Optimisation takes time to achieve higher rankings and requires ongoing effort. The more effort you put in, the better the results. By creating reliable, accurate, and helpful content and consistently updating your website, you may have a chance of ranking higher on Google search results, but this is not guaranteed.

Google may evaluate the quality of your website based on your Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EEAT), but this will not directly impact your rankings. Demonstrating that you are experienced, knowledgeable, authoritative, and trustworthy on the topic you are discussing on your website, can help build trust with your clients or readers.

What Is SEO - E-commerce - Web Design and SEO Company Limited

What Is E-commerce SEO?

You have almost certainly heard of Amazon or eBay, as they are widely recognised as two of the largest e-commerce platforms globally. These types of websites enable businesses to sell their products and goods online. To ensure that these e-commerce platforms attract more customers, various strategies are employed to boost their visibility in search engine results. These strategies include conducting keyword research to understand what potential customers are searching for, creating categories accordingly, and optimising product titles. In addition, unique, helpful, and informative product and category descriptions will also contribute to e-commerce SEO.

What Is SEO - Website - Web Design and SEO Company Limited

What Is On-site SEO?

A Well-Designed Website for Enhanced User Experience

On-site SEO, also known as on-page SEO, encompasses a variety of practices. A well-designed and organised website is crucial for creating sites with SEO in mind from the get-go. They should be responsive (meaning that the content responds automatically to fit all device types), easy to navigate, and mobile-friendly, functioning well and looking great on all types of devices.

Your website pages must load quickly, as people will wait minimal time before becoming impatient and exiting to find an alternative site. 

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High-Quality Content for Your Clients

Your written content should prioritise the reader’s needs over search engine optimisation, ensuring quality and relevance. It should be unique, kept up to date, and helpful for your clients. Not to mention readability, where you should include correct grammar and spelling, in addition to multiple headings, to split your text into readable chunks.

You can include a range of material, such as blogs, news, customer reviews, and testimonials, but do not copy content from external sources. Duplicating content, also known as ‘scraping’, could cause issues with copyright and search engines will penalise your website, potentially removing it from the search indexes.

You should also incorporate high-quality, engaging and ideally original images and videos that are correctly optimised with meaningful filenames, alt text and geotags. Additionally, elements such as copy, images, SEO titles, and descriptions (also known as meta titles and descriptions) should be optimised for search engines. You can use tools like Yoast or RankMath to help you with your on-site optimisation work.

Adding Schema.org markup to all pages and posts is also a great way to give search engines an even clearer idea of what the content is.

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Utmost Site Security

Most importantly, all websites should run securely under ‘https’ (the padlock). Open-face email addresses should be avoided, while contact forms should verify that a real person is submitting the form (the bit that says I am not a robot).

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What is SEO - Mobile Call To Action - The Web Design and SEO Company Limited

What is Off-site SEO?

Quality Over Quantity

Off-site SEO, also known as off-page SEO, involves enhancing your business’s visibility and reputation across the internet beyond your website. The quality of your online presence is far more important than the quantity of profiles, links, or mentions.

What Is SEO - Search Engine Results - Web Design and SEO Company Limited

A good starting point is to have your business and, ideally, a link back to your website listed in carefully chosen online listings and directories that are highly rated by Google.

A backlink from a high-quality site is like a “vote” for your site.

Furthermore, consistency, accuracy, and completeness of your details everywhere they appear online are crucial. For example, if you are a limited company, make sure you decide on Ltd, Ltd., or Limited, or do not include it in your company name. Your “NAP” – name, address and phone number must be the same everywhere online, so that Google knows that each occurrence relates to the same entity.

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Social Media & Reviews

Choosing and utilising the appropriate Social Media platforms for your business can help you attract high-quality web traffic, improve your reputation, and foster customer loyalty. These include Facebook, Instagram, and Threads from Meta; X (formerly known as Twitter); LinkedIn (especially for business-to-business); TikTok, Youtube, and more.

In today’s digital age, most of us rely on reviews from current or past customers to make purchasing decisions. Positive reviews are crucial for establishing and upholding your reputation, as well as attracting new customers. There are many places where customers can leave you reviews, including Google, Facebook, Trustpilot, Tripadvisor, Yell and many more. Displaying live reviews and testimonials on your website is also a great way of gaining trust and credibility.

What Is SEO - Technical SEO - Web Design and SEO Company Limited

What Is Technical SEO?

Indexing and Crawling

The Technical side of SEO is slightly more complicated (it does what it says on the tin; it’s a bit technical!) and involves ensuring that your website can be easily crawled (discovered) by search engines and indexed (listed) on search results.

Google allows you to request up to 10 web pages or posts to be indexed daily in Google Search Console within a single account, whereas Bing allows up to 100 requests within Bing Webmasters. Technical SEO also includes processing images and managing videos with alt text, geotags, etc. It also involves improving your website loading speed to the best of your abilities. For example, compressing images to an appropriate size will help to minimise your website’s buffering time. 

What Is SEO - Website Design - Web Design and SEO Company Limited

Website Architecture

Web designers and developers prioritise designing websites with the user’s experience in mind, ensuring easy navigation and minimal clicks for conversations. (This is called CRO—Conversion Rate Optimisation.) It is important to have clear call to action (CTA) banners for readers to contact you or make a purchase. There is a fine art in ensuring visitors to your website spend minimal time exploring and go straight to either making a purchase or contacting you for your services.

Website pages should be structured in a way that links together (without having to go too far down the rabbit hole!) with a hierarchy of pages. For example, you may have a Home page, followed by a Service Landing page and specific Service pages. Product category pages may benefit from breadcrumbs (think Hansel and Gretal) with clear links so users can easily find their way back to the previous pages.

What Is SEO - Mobile Phone User - Web Design and SEO Company Limited

Mobile-First Indexing

Additionally, due to more people using their mobile phones and fewer individuals using laptops or desktops, Google has introduced mobile-first indexing, which prioritises mobile formats over desktop ones. This is how webpages are selected for their rankings. So, if your website isn’t designed for compatibility with all devices, you may not find it at the top of Search Engine Results Pages or even indexed at all.

What Is SEO - Website Coding - Web Design and SEO Company Limited

The Really Technical Bit!

In addition, Schema.org text (which we mentioned briefly earlier) allows web developers to use a selection of vocabulary and coding to mark up a website in a way that search engines can understand. Websites may also utilise Robots.txt, which can instruct search engines not to index specific parts of the site.

If a webpage changes its slug name (not the slimy things! – the link you can see in the URL) but already ranks on Google, you will need to redirect the original link to the new one. For example, if we changed our slug from /what-is-seo to /what-is-search-engine-optimisation, we would have to redirect all our organic traffic to the new link. Or install a helpful redirect plugin to do it for us!

You will also need to conduct regular audits of your entire website to ensure that everything runs smoothly and that you don’t find any “404 Page-Not-Found” or other errors.

What Is SEO - Core Web Vitals - Web Design and SEO Company Limited

Google Core Web Vitals Reporting

Google’s Core Web Vitals indicate your URL (web page / post) performance based on various data, including Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), Interaction to Next Paint (INP) and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). These essentially indicate how actual users have experienced your site and are rated either Poor, Needs Improvement or Good.

The LCP measures the loading speed for the largest component on your web page, such as the large hero image at the top of your page. (This is what we call rendering). On the other hand, the INP indicates how responsive your web page is when a user interacts by clicking or typing. The CLS measures the stability of your web page’s layout. If your site shifts around too much, your readers will struggle to see what is on the page.

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In Need of SEO For Your Business?

At the Web Design and SEO Company, we specialise in Website Design and SEO Services for tradespeople and other service companies across the UK. Some of our clients initially came to us only wanting a website design, as they were unaware of what SEO is. Now, people come to us saying – “I need SEO!” We were more than happy to enlighten and assist them with building and optimising a website to showcase their services while they focused on running their business.

We provide local, national, on-site, off-site, and technical SEO services. Due to the complexities of optimising an existing website, we only offer SEO services for sites we have built ourselves.

Feel free to contact us for a free quote or to request a callback at your convenience. You can also email us, and we will be happy to help you with your professional website and SEO needs. We also offer payment plans for new websites.