If you’re new to owning a website, or are looking to start one up for your business, then you probably haven’t heard about SEO, or you have but you’re not quite sure what it actually is.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation; this is the process of driving traffic from web content into search engine results.

As a beginner myself, I spent hours tearing my hair out over online tutorials, sifting through various articles and step-by-step guides. What I’ve learned is that you should consider SEO as some kind of strange science that takes time and patience to understand. I’d probably recommend dedicating an afternoon with a cup of tea or coffee to get your head round it, because once you get to grips with understanding SEO, you’ll definitely be able to see the benefits of how it can improve not only your online identity, but also drive users/customers to your site.

Let’s start with the basics; Search engines such as Google collect information about web pages to help users find exactly what they are looking for. They do this by using algorithms to turn that information into useful search results.

A search engine algorithm is a set of rules, or a unique formula, that the search engine uses to determine the significance of a web page; these algorithms can tell a search engine and it’s user whether your website is relevant to their search. These algorithms differ depending on the search engine and also change over time depending on what is considered most relevant/important; e.g. the highest ranking search results on Google will be different to that of Bing.

If you’re a website owner/looking to start a website, these search results matter, because when your webpages have higher rankings on Google for example, more users/potential customers and clients will be able to find you.

The key to achieving higher rankings on search engines is to make sure that your website has all the essential requirements search engines need to turn information into easy to read, useful search results. This is what is known as ‘Search Engine Optimisation’.

Most of these essential requirements are pretty obvious; use of words, titles and the amount of useful links that your website has can help boost your SEO.

You should also consider that when one website links to another, it is usually a recommendation, telling readers that it contains good information. A web page with a lot of links coming to it can look good to search engines.

If a word from another respected website is relevant to your web content, it can be linked to your website. In doing so, search engines can establish that your website is related to that word. This way when someone searches for the relevant word, your website will rank well. Of course, there is a certain knack to getting other websites to link back to your own; I found that Entrepreneur.com explains this pretty well.

Finally, you should also keep your website up to date; sites with a reputation of new and interesting content, as well as a growing number of good external links will also rank better with search engines.

As I said, SEO sounds and looks like complicated stuff, but really once you start to get the hang of it, you’ll see that all you need to understand it (and use it to your advantage) is common sense and good organisation/time management skills.

Take a look at our Top 5: Tips for SEO Search Engine Optimisation.

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