What is Google?
Google is a search engine, meaning that it can be used to search for specific words called ‘keywords’. By searching for a keyword or specific set of your keywords Google generates search results based on user intent, location and other factors. Usually this is very accurate, which is why Google is bar far the most used search engine in the world.
Many other search engines exist such as Bing, Duck Duck Go and Yahoo; but none can really compete with Google based on search result accuracy and Google addons such as Google My Business and others that make Google search results so appealing. Adoption of other search engines is slow, as Google has such a big first mover advantage.
What is SEO?
SEO (search engine optimisation) are the changes made on a website combined with external changes made on other websites, that contribute to higher rankings in Google and other search engines.
The goal of SEO is to rank a specific page on your website for a specific keyword in the number 1 organic position. This essentially means to have your website at the very top of a Google search results page. By being at the very top, more people will see and interact with your website, and you will get more leads/ sales.
This includes both the appearance of your website in standard organic results and in Map Packs, Business Listings and Featured Snippets. As Google evolves, new and unique search items are tested and implemented based on user intent. These include recipes, news items, stories, paragraphs, questions, videos, and other forms of media.
Therefore, the same search result can provide a different appearance as Google’s understanding increases, its technology is updated, and new websites appear on the internet.
Generally SEO is a lengthy process that can seem quite expensive, but when compared to other forms of digital marketing, SEO cost is actually cheaper.
Can I change Google results?
Yes, of course. That’s where SEO comes in. Google is looking for particular things when ranking websites for a particular keyword. There is a very long list… but basically these changes can be categorised into changes that need to be made on the website itself (called on-page changes) and changes that need to be made elsewhere (called off-page changes).
Technical elements should also be considered such as speed, layout shift and other aspects of the website that can affect user experience. These are collectively called web core vitas.
By optimising both on-page, technical and off-page elements, both Google and web users will see your website more favourably, which over time, will increase your rankings.
SEO cheat sheet
Everything here is in order of importance. On-page fixes should be made first, then technical, then off-page. Sub-items are numbered from top to bottom, also in order of most importance.
Initial set up
Make sure your tools and tracking is set up correctly, otherwise you will have no idea if what you’re doing is working!
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Google My Business
- Meta title, meta description & URL
- Image optimisations
- Internal links
- Maps and geotagging for local relevance
- Page speed (especially the homepage)
- Web core vitals
- Google My Business Updates & Reviews
Make sure to set up the fundamentals correctly. It all comes down to a healthy balance of making sure Google understands your website and providing a good experience to users. Content is king, but only when all the other aspects of the page are set up correctly – aesthetics, speed, usability.
If you’re unsure where to start, pick a prominent website in the same niche and try to learn from its success. Copy the elements that you like and add your own flavour. Ultimately how success you will be, will be determined by your competition and how well you can establish yourself as an authority in your niche. This will be a combination of obtaining powerful backlinks and producing sufficient content in a specific niche.