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What is SEO?

Now that you have an idea of how search engines work, we can take a look at how you can make sure search engines can understand your content, and are likely to rank it in search results. Put simply, this process is SEO.

On a typical search results page, there are two sets of listings:

Paid vs. organic results

Paid search results are advertising that is charged on a 'cost per click' basis. That is, you pay for every visitor that clicks on your ad. Organic search is 'free' and there is no cost for visitors clicking on you. However, there are more steps required to achieve rankings in organic results - and there is no guarantee of achieving them. In the long run, however, SEO will usually be more cost-effective than paid advertising.

Organic search results are a highly significant aspect of most internet user's activities.

  • 90% of clicks in UK search results are on organic search results, with the number closer to 60% for commercial searches where advertising is more prominent
  • 86% of searchers say that they trust organic results more than advertising
  • 33% of searchers will click on the top organic search result.

SEO can be broadly split into two areas - on-page SEO (changes to a website and its content), and off-page SEO (who links to you or references your site from their own), also called onsite and offsite optimisation. Rankings for less competitive keywords can be obtained via basic on-page SEO alone. In competitive areas, search engines will take more factors into account when ordering the results, and pay more attention to offsite factors.

On a basic level, search engines have a set of criteria they use to determine which pages are the most relevant for a given keyword. "Optimising" your site involves making sure your pages will meet those criteria.

A typical SEO campaign starts as one-off project covering technical factors and initial on-page SEO. Ongoing tasks are usually weighted towards off-page activities and content creation.

As someone involved with creating or editing copy, there are simple steps you can follow in order to increase the amount of organic traffic your content receives.


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