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You may have come across the phrase Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, while looking into how to build and improve your website. But what does this mean, and how can you use it? Read on for our brief but full guide on what SEO really is, and what it means for your website.

What is SEO?

First of all, let’s begin by defining SEO, or search engine optimisation.

The clue really is in the name: it’s everything to do with the practice of optimising your website for inclusion in search engines. By this, we mean doing everything that we can in order to ensure that your website will show up at the top of the list of results when someone searches a particular term relating to your business.

For example, if you are a photographer in Covent Garden, you would want anyone searching “Covent Garden photographer” to find you first. SEO is all about using techniques that will ensure that happens.

Good SEO can get you on the first page of results, if not at the very top. Bad SEO could land you so far down the list that no one will ever find you. You can understand why it might be a big deal!

How does SEO work?

Alright, so we know that we use SEO to get our website ranking higher in search results. So, then, what’s the magic recipe that we need to use in order to get to the top?

The simple answer is that no one really knows. Although we can make some guesses, and we do know some elements, search engine algorithms are largely mysterious and complex. There are so many factors that go into determining which site will be the best result for the customer’s search, which is what search engines are really trying to do. They want to bring up the best result each time so that the customer comes back to them when they search again.

While we can’t give you the whole magic spell, we can at least reveal some of the factors that go into the decision. They are as follows:

  • How quickly your site loads (the quicker, the better)
  • How relevant you are to the search term, usually determined by searching the text and metadata of your site for matching or concurrent terms (things that mean the same or similar to the search)
  • Whether your site is optimised for mobile or responsive (being responsive will put you higher)
  • Whether your site has any flags for poor SEO practices (which might meant that you are a spammy or inappropriate site)
  • How many people are clicking on your site in the search results, how long they stay on your site, and whether they click away to try a different result (all of which can teach search engines the relevancy of your site)

There is a lot that goes into understanding SEO and putting it into practice. A general rule of thumb is that an honest and helpful site will yield better results – especially if it is functioning as well as it can be.