What is SEO?

Posted on Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Andy Keyte
Andy Keyte

Every year, people conduct trillions (yes, trillions) of internet searches worldwide, often with the aim of finding out about or buying products or services.

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Search engine optimisation (SEO) is about making sure your website or webpage will rank highly when someone makes a relevant search on Google or other search engines. That way you will get more traffic – and from the kind of visitors you’re looking to attract.

Search engines use algorithms to display the results which they believe will be most relevant to the people searching for them. They are constantly adjusting these algorithms – Google has over 200 different ranking factors in theirs – and are now exceptionally good at displaying the results that searchers are seeking.

Good SEO practitioners will have excellent up-to-date knowledge of the search engines’ algorithms, and will use the best approaches to deliver effective, long-term results for their customers.

SEO and different types of search engine results

Here are the various types of listings you’ll see on a results page and how SEO can help:

  • The main results. On Google and Bing, there are usually 10 results to a page. Overall, these are the most important ones and, done in the right way, SEO should help your website or webpage appear high in the results for relevant searches, drawing in and converting more customers.
  • Local search results. These will generally be the three results local to the searcher that the search engine thinks are the best ones, complete with a map to show where they are. If the search engine doesn’t think that local results are important to the search then it won’t bother with local results. SEO can make a big difference here.
  • Rich snippets and featured snippets. These are separate, enhanced results with more detailed, highlighted information alongside the page link and other regular information. As they’re more prominent, it can really help if your webpage is chosen – this is another area where professional SEO can help.
  • Knowledge graph panels and knowledge cards. These are little information boxes that appear when someone searches for an entity such as an organisation, place, event or person. SEO can assist with getting these kinds of results.
  • Related searches. This can be a way of giving your website or webpage another chance to feature in a searcher’s results. Intelligent SEO can definitely make a difference here.
  • Non-organic listings. These will mostly appear at the top of a results page, with something such as a little box saying ‘Ad’ by them to denote they have been bought. As these are paid listings, regular SEO makes no difference here. However, a good SEO company may recommend doing paid listings in certain circumstances (and will create the ads for you). For example, ads are useful while waiting for the SEO to take effect on natural listings, or for a short-term promotion of a product, service, offer or event. In highly competitive fields – car or home insurance, for example – it can also be worth running paid campaigns alongside regular SEO, thereby giving a brand maximum exposure to potential customers.

Search engines like Google are always adjusting their offerings, so there are other types of results, but these are the most important ones when it comes to SEO.

What areas does SEO focus on?

There are four main types of SEO:  

  • On-page SEO. These are all the different things that visitors will see when they go to your website. Search engine ‘crawlers’ or ‘spiders’ will perceive them too. While obviously looking to influence Google, it is important to make sure that your customers come first, and that the site is easily readable, relevant and helpful. Content should also be updated frequently. The good news is that those are also the kinds of qualities that the search engines favour as well. Along with having the right overall content, an important element of on-page SEO is choosing and using the best keyword phrases in the right way. Keyword terms help the search engines to decide what each page of your site is about, and where to rank it for any given search.
  • Off-page SEO. Historically, the most important element of off-page SEO was link-building. If relevant, trusted sites link to yours, then this makes your site or page better in the eyes of the search engines. Link-building is still important, but now social media is often vital too – and can itself generate a lot of useful links.
  • Technical SEO. This relates to the way a website is designed, laid out and coded. In a nutshell, the search engines like to see well-designed, easily navigable sites that load quickly. These are easy for their spiders to crawl. They provide a good user experience as well. It’s also important that your site is mobile-friendly, given that so many people now make searches with their phone.
  • Local SEO. For many businesses, it’s important that they come up near the top of the results when people who are local to them search. Even if you don’t have a physical office or other base, optimising for local results can still make sense as people often prefer to buy from a local company. Besides, if your website comes up in the local results as well as the main ones, that increases your chance of landing new customers.

How Miramar can help you with SEO

This is the first in a series of blog posts about SEO we’ll be adding over the next few weeks. Look out for our next one soon, which will be about getting started with keyword research.

Take a look as well at our range of SEO packages – they’re tailored to help different organisations to achieve their SEO goals.

If you have any questions or would like to find out more about what we can offer you, please get in touch.

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