Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's un-paid search results. These are known as "natural" or "organic" search results.

There are four main areas involved in successful SEO:

  • Keyword research
  • On-page SEO
  • Link building & Content Strategy
  • Social media

Keyword research

Choosing your keywords carefully is key to the success of your SEO efforts. After all, there's no point optimising your content for a keyword that no one ever searches for.

There are lots of keyword research tools available ranging from free to subscription based services. We usually start with the Google Keyword Planner which is basic but very capable at giving you keyword suggestions plus information about search volumes and competition.

On-page SEO

This refers to the content – what the user actually sees on the pages of your website. You should have a clear hierarchy and your content should be fresh, unique and engaging.

Write your content for users, not for search engines and avoid tricks intended to improve search performance.  Imagine asking yourself "would I do this if search engines didn't exist?".

Keeping content fresh is important and a regularly updated blog or news section is an ideal way to achieve this.

Link building

This is the process of getting links to your site from other sites – not just any site, they should be high quality and relevant to your site. This takes a lot of time and effort but is worth it as a good quality link is considered a “vote” for your site by search engines. Spend your time focussing on quality, not quantity. Again, imagine search engines didn't exist and target sites whose readers would genuinely be interested in your content.

A good reputable site isn’t going to give you a link for nothing. You need to earn it by providing them with genuine content that would benefit their readers.

This is now well known but I’ll say it again - under no circumstances should you buy links.

Social media

Social media gives you an additional platform to interact with customers, create a community and drive traffic to your website. Through sharing, other people can distribute your content for you giving readers and search engines ways to measure quality by looking at quantity of shares and mentions. As a result, these social signals are becoming a fast-rising search engine ranking factor.

It's important to keep it real and do it properly. We have seen so-called SEO specialists buy hundreds of YouTube links for a client to artificially boost the perceived popularity of videos. Apart from being a breach of YouTube guidelines, it's fake and people can see through this sort of thing and they will just switch you off.

What's next?

Mobile SEO is going to be making more and more of an impact. We're are all aware of the rise of mobile browsing and the importance of making sure we have a mobile friendly website. But this also impacts the way people search with Voice searching becoming more and more commonplace. Consider a typical search you might make on your desktop – “Italian restaurant London” compared to a voice search on a mobile “where's the nearest Italian restaurant?” You can quickly see the opportunities.

Google Authorship is also interesting. You basically link content that your editors create to their Google+ profile, building the reputation of your editors. You can find more information here about this.

Final thoughts

There are no tricks. I’ve heard people say “SEO techniques change constantly!” but that’s only if you’re trying to fool the system with quick fixes and are not interested in long lasting results. Search engines publish guidelines that are made up of common sense and they generally don’t change very often at all. See Google’s Webmaster Guidelines

If you target the right keywords and your website content is the best it can be then you just need to be prepared to put in the work to build links and work the social media channels. It’s a long process but can be fun and rewarding along the way.