SEO - three little letters that are inescapable in the world of web development and online
Pretty much everyone knows these days that SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimisation’.
But what exactly does it mean, and why does it become such a main part in so many daily conversations?
Search engine optimisation is important because search engines (like Google and Bing) are important. Most traffic on the web passes through a search engine. More than typing a URL directly, more than clicking on a link, people use search engines as their primary means to get where they want to go online.
In fact, it is now widely agreed that what websites used to consider ‘direct’ traffic, or people
going straight to their site from their web browser navigation bar or favourites menu, is
mostly traffic from search engines. Which makes sense when you consider that browsers
like Google Chrome and MSN’s Explorer and Edge actually use search engines in their
Understanding where your web traffic is coming from is important for anyone interested in
growing their audience and creating more business through a website. If the majority of your
traffic comes through search, then it makes sense to focus on how search engines work and
learn how to maximise traffic from them.
And that is precisely why SEO is so important - you are optimising your chances of getting
Working within limitations
Moz describes the way SEO works like this. When humans look for something, we are able
to judge factors such as relevance and quality to a very high level of complexity. Search
engine algorithms, as clever as they are, are just not capable of making such value
judgements at the same level of sophistication as the human brain.
This is problematic when there are millions and millions of web pages to trawl through. Yes
we appreciate the speed with which a search engine is able to run a search against certain
criteria, because it is much, much quicker than we would be able to manage manually.
But left to their own devices, search algorithms would still struggle to rank, say, 50 different
web pages that all contained the same keywords in order of relevance the way the person
searching would. You might be looking for a place to get your nails done locally, and see a
list of DIY store web pages in your search results that all mentions nails. Such contextual
differences are difficult to programme into a search engine so they are 100 per cent
SEO is about giving search engines a helping hand. The above example of context is just
one limitation search engine technology has. SEO is about understanding those limitations,
and designing a website to avoid or get round them.
Going to the top
There is another important factor here which concerns human rather than search engine
behaviour. We don’t have the time to process thousands of search results at a time. What
people want is to be told the best results for their search, and, rightly or wrongly, they trust
search engines to tell you that by the order in which they rank results.
That is why most people only ever use links one to five in search engine results pages
(SERPs). And that is why getting one of those top five rankings is so important for website
SEO is therefore a two-way game. It is about helping search engines process and interpret
web pages according to specified search terms more accurately, finding a compromise
between their inherent limitations and the more sophisticated value judgements people are
But it is also about using the machinery of search for your own advantage. An unoptimised
page is very likely to fall victim to many of the shortcomings in interpretation a search engine
algorithm has and risk appearing low down in the rankings.
By avoiding all those shortcomings, SEO maximises the chances of a page being identified
by a search engine and placed high in the rankings, boosting visibility and helping that site to
grow its audience.
Find out more
Looking for help with your SEO?
As part of our full range of web development and digital marketing services, Ultimate Creative provides honest, professional expertise on all aspects of search engine optimisation.
No jargon, just great results. Contact us today to find out