What is SEO

Explaining Your SEO Job to Your Friends

My personal experience as an SEO, I knew there was going to be misunderstanding and potential for arduous questioning about what exactly SEO is.
The conversation went a little something like this:

Me: I am working as an SEO for a company!
Friends translations…
Friend A:  I am the CEO of a company.
Friend B: SEO usually stands for Senior Executive Officer.

From discussing this with fellow SEO-ers, it seems that the done thing is to tell your Friends that you “work in marketing”, or as a colleague of mine does, tells people that he designs biscuits.

If you do tell them your job is actually in SEO, your Friends have probably asked you umpteen times what exactly you do for a living because they do actually want to understand, apparently.

Whilst I thought this misunderstanding was mainly down to a difference in perhaps, search exposure, I’m quite wrong considering that it’s surprising how many people within their domain use search engines daily, but don’t know how they work. Working in digital marketing, I think it’s easy to assume that it’s common knowledge.

Some Friends questions, with friendly answers:

what is SEO

Are you developing search engines algorithms
SEOs don’t build algorithms. We follow Search engines algorithm update. SEOs make your website more usable and web presence. We don’t manipulate Google’s results; We make Google’s results relevant.

I don’t understand, what exactly is S.E.O?
Search Engine Optimisation is making sure a website can be found when you are searching, let’s assume Google, for words or phrases to find something you are looking for. Imagine the big people at Google get to choose who is top of the search results based on a kind of quality control.

Why do they need to be number one?
Because you usually click the first result on Google… It’s important for a website to be on the first results page because:
people rarely go past page one
that’s where 92% of all clicking happens
more clicks = more traffic = more money = happy client

How does Google choose whose number one?
Firstly, Google will send a search engine ‘spider’ to ‘crawl’ (or have a good look at) your website; it will make a note of all your websites pages and content and add them to an index or database. It will also make a note of all the links that you have on your website, internally (from page to page) and externally (to and from other websites), thus creating a ‘web’ and making sense of your website for future reference.

The search engine process SIMPLIFIED:
You type a search query into Google
Google search their index/database for pages that match the query
They pick out the pages that are most relevant to the query

How do they determine which websites are most relevant?
According to Google, relevancy is determined by over 200 factors…
One of those is a measure called PageRank – it determines the importance of a page based on incoming links from other websites to your page. Each link from an external site to your site passes the value to your PageRank, and with value comes authority.

However, not all links are equal – a few links from websites with high authoritative value (such as The Independent) are much better than lots of links with low authoritative value. The better your PageRank, the more authoritative your website becomes, increasing the likelihood of a higher position on a Google search results page.

On the other hand, if you have lots of low authority, spammy links pointing to your website, the big people at Google will punish you; either you will drop past that first page of Google’s results, or even potentially be removed from Google search results pages. This is very BAD.

No Google results page = no traffic = no money = unhappy client

Google do this to make a better and more effective search experience for their users. When you search, you want to find the most relevant pages – the best results get favored (in higher ranking), and the less relevant ones get shunned.

So what do you do in all this?
To help our clients achieve top rankings in search results, we optimize both on-page and off-page.

On Page:
Exactly as it sounds. We optimize the individual pages of the website, making it easier for search engines to understand them and check them against its quality control criteria.

For example, we optimize the structure of the website so that we present the important information effectively to both the user and the search engine. Also, we determine which keywords we would be able to rank high on Google for and which keywords are going to bring in the most conversions (taking into consideration our competitors). These are then used throughout the site.

Off Page:
Exactly as it sounds. We build the popularity of our client’s website to improve its chances of ranking at the top of search results pages. This is where, amongst other things, we try and increase our PageRank value by gaining links from other good quality sites back to our own.

We do this by creating useful, unique and client relevant content, either in the form of articles, infographics or interactive pieces – a bit like PR. It has to be something that people want to publish, people want to read and that gains exposure to the brand as well as gaining a link back to their website. Good quality links back to the client’s site are a signal to Google of authority and quality, and make your site more relevant to the search query, helping you closer to that number one spot.