SEO is the abbreviation for Search Engine Optimisation and represents a method in online marketing with which companies can improve the visibility and ranking of their website for relevant search terms in the search engines. For this purpose, content is created, and measures are defined that are evaluated by the algorithm of the respective search engine. There are two approaches to SEO: On-Page and Off-Page optimisation.
In the United Kingdom, Google is still the undisputed number 1 among search engines. Almost 96% of search queries are made via Google today. Therefore, this blog post primarily refers to the specifics of Google.
If you want to be found in Google, you need a place at the top of the results list. This is because users usually click on one of the first ten results after a search engine query. Since the top entries are paid advertisements (search engine advertising), de facto only the top positions get many clicks. Websites that are not on the first page of the results list receive far fewer visitors or none.
Why is that? – The fact that users are already satisfied with the first search results is due to the search engine’s algorithms. Based on a variety of different criteria, the algorithm determines the placement of each website included in the index of the search engine. Google’s algorithm is now so sophisticated that, based on a specific search query, but also, for example, based on a user’s previous search behaviour and his geographical position, it presents search results in descending order of relevance that optimally satisfy his information needs in almost 100% of all cases.
So, the better a website ranks under a search term, the better its visibility, the higher the click-through rate and with it the number of visitors. In order not to get lost in the sheer volume of websites and to be noticed, companies take advantage of effective search engine optimisation.
What are important ranking factors for SEO on Google?
To generate search results, Google uses a sophisticated and dynamic algorithm that is permanently adapted. Google itself talks about paying attention to over 200 ranking factors that are responsible for the listing. How exactly these are weighted remains Google’s secret. However, it can be assumed that Google evaluates them differently – depending on the search query and topic. Accordingly, the position of the search results changes constantly, which often makes interpretation difficult for laymen. SEO experts who manage many projects, on the other hand, use their experience, conduct tests and recognize patterns that have shown positive effects on the ranking over time. The following factors have emerged:
- Content (quality, length, duplicate content, …).
- User experience (click-through rate, dwell time, page architecture, multimedia, …)
- Links (internal and external link building, …)
- Brand awareness (gradations to brand awareness)
- Technology (sitemap, HTML code, country-specific domain, loading time, …)
SEO: On-Page and Off-Page optimisation
Basically, search engine optimisation measures are divided into On-Page and Off-Page optimisation. On-page optimisation includes everything that should be considered in the design, creation, and maintenance of a website. This includes, for example, the content, the URL structure, meta information such as title and page description, heading hierarchy, keyword density, mobile suitability and much more. In other words, all activities on your own website. Off-Page optimisation includes all external factors that influence the ranking from the outside. These include, above all, the number and relevance of incoming links (backlinks). But also, social signals, i.e., data from social media pointing in the direction of a website, and good brand marketing can influence the ranking.
How long does search engine optimisation take?
One thing in advance: search engine optimisation is a long-term game. Google processes new content or changes very slowly. The smaller a project and the less authority it has in Google’s eyes, the less often Google will stop by and evaluate the site. Google especially prefers older projects that have already accumulated a lot of authority and enjoy a certain level of trust. Rough timelines and estimates are certainly possible, but even these differ from company to company, depending on the competitive situation of the industry, the history and position of the website in question. Due to the way the Google algorithm works, it usually takes nine to twelve months for new websites to achieve the first notable successes. For established websites with a strong brand, SEO measures usually take effect after just three to five months. On-Page optimisation also delivers results more quickly for established websites. In return, the first backlinks for a new website usually deliver surprisingly fast and large ranking jumps.
Search engine optimisation is not a one-off project: For a permanently good ranking in the results lists, SEO must be carried out continuously, as the factors that affect the ranking change again and again. This applies not only to the algorithms of the search engines or the strategies of the competitors but also the own website is not static, which requires a permanent adjustment of the SEO settings.