What is SEO? And how it can help your business


The first installment of a two-part series on SEO, ‘What is SEO? And how it can help your business’ focuses on explaining SEO and what it can do for your business. Tune in next week for a guide to employing SEO strategy for your business.

The often perplexing rate of progress in the digital world can prove a stumbling block, especially to start-up businesses who don’t have the time required to develop their digital dimension whilst concurrently juggling the process of building a business. Unfortunately, the need to constantly improve the digital side of the business can be the crucial difference between success and failure in many, if not all fields.

SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is one such tool that can prove seriously advantageous in giving a business an edge over a competitor and yet it is a little understood process. So the time is ripe to enhance your business by getting savvy with SEO; to help here’s the bite-size basic guide to SEO and how it can help your business.

What is SEO?

SEO refers to the process of enhancing the visibility of a website via “organic” or un-paid means in search engine results. In basic terms we can divide SEO into two areas: on-page and off-page optimisation. The former, as the name suggests, refers primarily to the content of your site including: HTML code, written content and images; with search engines- such as Google and Bing- ranking websites based by determining their quality and relevance to users.

Search Engines do this by using “spiders” or “bots” to browse a website and analyse the copy written upon it and the use of keywords or phrases in said copy that people may search for. This data is then used to determine the relevance of your site when someone enters a phrase on a search engine.

If you run a spa, for example, then it is important the content of your site includes phrases that relate to your services that people may search for, such as: “massages”, “saunas” or perhaps “relaxing day out.”

Off-page optimisation refers to something known as back-links. Back-links are in-bound links- so links on similar sites that divert traffic to your website. This could be a link to your spa website on a blog about the top ten spas to visit in England or Oxfordshire or any other related page. Search engines value such links highly and use them to determine how trustworthy your site is.

Too Simple?

At this point you may query the feasibility of competing with larger companies and you’re right. If you’re operating in a saturated market such as the health and beauty industry, it’s unlikely you’ll get to ‘page one’ of the search results when competing against the bigger, longer established brands unless you have serious resources to call upon.

This certainly doesn’t mean SEO is only useful to large companies however, and here’s how it can help small businesses and start-ups.

Can it help my business?

Even if you feel you can’t compete, SEO is a useful tool. This is especially true if you: operate within a niche market, offer a unique product or service or work within a defined geographical location.

For example, people will customise searches and are likely to search for a spa in their area e.g. “spas in Reading.” Therefore by optimising your site to include such keywords you’re likely to draw in specific, local traffic.

Then you can enjoy the benefit of SEO, namely: driving more traffic to your site by appearing higher on the more specific search results. Thus, if your website is up to scratch, these increased visitors could be turned into customers.

Read part-2 in the series which provides a more in-depth look at the specifics of SEO and how to go about optimising your site.