What is SEO? The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide
Published 02/11/2021
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If you have a website, you may have heard of something called ‘SEO’. But what is SEO?  Why do you need SEO?  And how do you ‘do’ SEO?  That’s what we’ll cover in this article. So let’s dive straight in.
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If you have a website, you may have heard of something called ‘SEO’.

  • But what is SEO? 
  • Why do you need SEO? 
  • And how do you ‘do’ SEO? 

That’s what we’ll cover in this article.

So let’s dive straight in.

What does SEO stand for?

First things first, we need to know what SEO stands for, don’t we? 

It could be bloody anything. Let’s see if you know already. 

Is it:

A – Sending Energy Online?

B – Selling Examples Obediently?

C - Search Engine Optimisation?

If you guessed, A - you’re wrong!

The answer is C.

What does Search Engine Optimisation mean?

Aside from streaming movies, listening to music, or suffering through Zoom calls, most of us use the internet to find information and products. We know the info we need is out there, but we don’t know where exactly. 

And on the internet, that’s a problem. Every single day, there are 576,000 new websites uploaded.

To find what you need, you don’t guess the URLs (website addresses) of random websites, do you? That’d be daft. And could take you places on the web you had no intention of ever visiting. 

So what do you do? You head to your favourite search engine, of course! And statistically, that’ll be Google – since Google dominates up to 90% of all search engine activity worldwide.

You search for something you want to buy or information you need.

SEO, in a nutshell, is making it more likely your website shows up in the search results when people do this.

How do search engines know what’s on your website?

Imagine you’re sitting in a library late at night. You notice your coffee’s gone cold so you take a break for a refill. As you head towards the vending machine, you walk past row after row of books. Everything is still. Quiet.

Just as the machine finishes spurting out the last of your semi-skimmed milk, the double doors burst open at the other end of the room as thousands of tiny robot spiders scurry towards you. 

Thankfully, they’re not interested in you; they want the books. And more specifically, the information in them.

Page by page, each robot spider opens a book and scans its contents. Once they’re finished with every book, they scurry out, leaving everything where it was.

This is similar to what happens to your website every three months (on average).

See, search engines have something called ‘bots’ that ‘crawl’ over your website, scanning it for information. 

These bots help the search engines build up a record of the content on your website so that when you search for something, the search engines know which direction to point you.

Why do you need SEO?

Two main reasons:

  1. Because it makes sense (once it’s explained to you)
  2. Because statistically, you’re far better off doing it than not

Some juicy SEO stats

We’ll start by looking at some stats that prove why investing in SEO is money well-spent.

  • Almost 7 in every 10 online experiences start with a search engine (BrightEdge Research)
  • 76% of people who use a phone to search for something near their location visit one of those businesses that day (Google). 
  • Searching online accounts for 53.3% of all website traffic (BrightEdge Research)
  • In B2B, search accounts for 76% of traffic (BrightEdge Research)
  • The number one spot on Google gets 32% of all clicks (Backlinko)

If that isn’t enough for you, think about this…

SEO just makes sense

Imagine you’re starting a dog grooming business. You live just outside of town and want to build your shop next to your house.

Before you open, you:

  • Get a logo
  • Order all your stock
  • And hire builders to make your shop to your specifications. 

Once your shop is done, you’re all set! It looks incredible and does everything you need it to do.

That’s like your website.

(If you’re thinking ‘nope - my website needs work’, we can help you with that too).

But there’s a problem with your shop: nobody is coming.

So what do you do? 

You put yourself on the map! You put signs up on the main road, in town, and make sure you’re on Google & Apple maps.

You tell people you’re there.

And that’s what SEO does. It puts you on the internet map.

SEO makes sure your website is found by people searching for the thing you’re selling or the topic you’re talking about so you reach new customers all over the world. 

Customers who would’ve never found you if it wasn’t for SEO.

How long does SEO take?

It takes as long as it takes. 

(We know that’s a really annoying answer so let us explain).

If your business has a small niche audience, getting to Google’s first page will take less time than if your business has a lot of competition. 

When more people are fighting for the top spot, it takes longer and needs more investment to get there.

So does that mean there’s no point in trying if your business isn’t niche? Not at all.

Think about this: once you get to Google’s page one, the rewards could be huge. Why? Because a lot of people are searching for what you’ve got.


What SEO isn’t

Before we go, it’s important to clarify what SEO isn’t. 

Mention SEO to some old-school marketers or people who worked in the early 2000s and they might say something like “ahhhhh SEO is easy! All you have to do is throw a few keywords in there and you’re sorted.”

Nah, mate. That’s keyword stuffing.

What is keyword stuffing?

Something that used to work (but doesn’t anymore) is cramming as many keywords into a blog post or website page as possible.

Search engines used to assume that the more times you use a keyword, the more relevant your page is.

Let’s say our keyword is ‘washing machine tablets’. A keyword-stuffed paragraph may read:

‘Looking for washing machine tablets? At washingmachinetablets.com, we sell the best washing machine tablets in the UK. The problem with other washing machine tablets is they’re too expensive (nobody wants to pay lots for washing machine tablets) and don’t work properly (what good are washing machine tablets that don’t wash?). Our washing machine tablets, on the other hand, are tough on your dishes but kind on your wallet!’

Get the idea?

Modern SEO is about writing content for people first and bots second. 

See, Google’s AI has developed so much it can figure out the context of your content (in some cases) without having to mention your keyword often.

Now that’s cleared up and you know what SEO is (and isn’t), the next big question is…

So how do you ‘do’ SEO?

How you ‘do’ SEO is something we’ll cover in the upcoming months with specific how-to guides for each area of SEO:

  1. SEO Research
  2. Technical SEO
  3. Content
  4. Citations
  5. Page Optimisation
  6. Competitor analysis
  7. Link outreach
  8. User experience

We don’t want to fry your brain so we’ll not go into any detail about those now.

If you’ve decided you need to start SEO now and can’t wait for the rest of our articles, our SEO team is always happy to talk to you about your SEO needs and see how we can help. 

We increased Advanced Vehicle Leasing’s traffic by 24% in one year, so we’re sure we can help you too.

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