With almost 9 billion searches on Google happening every day — and most traffic coming from search engines for a lot of websites — it’s no surprise that the importance of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has been increasing rapidly over recent years. While a number of brands have taken SEO on board with open arms, there are still a lot of businesses hesitant to apply SEO strategies, despite the importance being proven time and time again.
But what is SEO? And why is it so important?
Traditional Search Engine Optimisation
SEO is the strategy of naturally getting your website to rank on search engines for targeted keywords related to your site. It should be a key part of any marketing strategy as the clicks you get from a position 1 ranking (at 39.8%, or 42.9% if the position is a Snippet) compared to clicks for a position 10 ranking (2%) can make all the difference to traffic to your site. With more traffic comes more leads, and with more leads comes more revenue.
Tactics to help websites rank better on search engines have been around since people started online searching. In other words, it’s been around for a while, and has evolved quite a bit over the last 25 odd years. Gone are the days of SEO specialists lurking in the basement and building out spammy link farms to help your site rank. Instead, we now have integrated strategies, quality content, and an amazing user journey.
The key to a good SEO strategy is ensuring you have the fundamentals of your site sorted. This includes, but isn’t limited to:
- Technical SEO: to ensure your website is healthy under the hood. This element looks at all parts of a website, from URL structures and navigation to site speed. It also ensures that search engines are able to crawl and index your site. All these factors together send the correct signals to search engines, so they know what to rank your site for.
- Content optimisation: to make sure your website is talking about what’s relevant to your industry by targeting high value keywords. With both relevant landing pages and more inspirational blog content, this is useful for users and search engines to know what your site is about and gain more understanding about what you do.
Changes over the years
SEO has gone through a lot changes over the years and there have been a lot of large algorithm updates from Google, particularly in the last 10-15 years. This has been put into place to ensure that rankings on Google are as relevant as possible for searchers and to provide the best user experience.
Alongside these algorithm changes, Google has put more and more importance on key elements. Mobile first was introduced in 2018, which emphasised just how much the digital landscape was changing. With more and more people searching from their phones, this change showcased how important it was to ensure your site was mobile friendly and to target mobile users.
The importance of good and useful content has been showcased over the last few years. The introduction of E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authority, trust) and more of a focus on the user has meant that content has been much more important over the years. Search engines want brands to share knowledge and expertise via their content, to ensure users are getting the best out of this. A solid keyword strategy — and ensuring you know when, how and why people are searching — is key to making sure you’re leveraging this for the best.
SEO has seen a lot of changes of the years, especially ones which had experts declaring ‘SEO is dead’. But SEO has not only survived but grown in importance over the years. In 2024, we expect AI to take the next step, so marketers should know that SEO and AI should work together, not against each other. We also expect more emphasis to be put on useful content that’s been written for humans rather than Google, and for multi-search across formats to start gaining more traction.