What is SEO and how does it work?

Last updated: November 28, 2017
Posted by: Sally Davies
Categories: Marketing

What is SEO and how does it work?SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. SEO is the process of adjusting a website to make sure search engines such as Google can

  • access your website content so that the;
  • content to be indexed, ready for when;
  • someone searches for something relating to the content on your website.

What is the aim of SEO?

To get your website to show on search engine result pages when someone is looking for a product/service or searching for an answer related to something that you are offering.

To get more visits to your website. More visits = more enquiries.

How does SEO work?

Web pages are created using code. This code is called HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and it’s what is used to achieve the look of a web page such as the fonts, colours, graphics, and layout etc.

Content on a web page is made up of text, images and videos. Search engines read the text and code to build an index of the content of each web page and store that information in their index. Images and video are ignored.

It’s very important to have ample text content on each web page to provide the search engines with enough information understand what the web page is all about.

Each web page should focus on one topic (keyword phrase), instead of covering lots of topics where the focus would be watered down.

So having more web pages would allow you to target more topics. That’s why it’s a good idea to have useful articles (blogs) on a website because with each article you are covering another keyword phrase that will result in traffic.

How do you implement SEO?

SEO covers 3 main areas:

  • Technical - getting the website HTML code set up in a way that search engines can efficiently access the content on each web page
  • Content - ensuring there is enough content on each web page and that the content targets a specific keyword phrase
  • Links - building links from other reputable websites back to your website to build authority

1 and 2 are part of “on-page SEO”. Links building is “off-page SEO”.

Basic Steps of On-page SEO

Step 1 is to carry out a technical website audit to establish what needs to be done.

Step 2 is to carry out the to do list from the audit

Step 3 is to carry out keyword research and establish a list of priority keywords to focus on and map them to existing web pages or mark for future web page creation

Step 4 optimise each existing web page and/or create the new web pages

Step 5 submit the updated website to search engines

Step 6 wait. Regularly measure results.

Step 7 keep producing more optimised content, grow the website to cover more topics

Is it SEO worth doing?

It is definitely worth doing if the competition for the keywords that you are going after is low. If your competitors haven’t optimised their website and it is easy for you to do better then you’d be silly not to.

Often these days competition is fierce and in that case it pays to be inventive and come up with a solution outside of the box. Even when it seems futile there could be a way.

Common SEO Misconceptions

“Loading keywords”

Many people think that SEO is just a case of loading some keywords into a website but that simply is not the case. Due to increasing competition it just isn’t that easy anymore. Google uses around 200 factors to score each web page against a keyword phrase a person is searching for and nowadays the keyword tag isn’t one of those factors.

Expecting a website to show up on Google search results for words that are not mentioned anywhere on the website

Google has become more and more intelligent but generally don’t expect your website to rank for keywords that are not contained within your website. Search engines work on text and code. If your website doesn’t contain the words related to the search term your website won’t show.

SEO is set-and-forget

Unfortunately it isn’t. If you make it onto page 1 of the search results (and most people don’t go past page 1 when searching) or better yet the top 3 positions, there is work to be done to make sure you stay there.

SEO Tricks

SEO has nothing to do with tricking Google. It is all about making sure that Google can read and index your website content properly and humans can find what they are looking for. It's a simple as that. Any dodgy techniques will have results that will be short lived.


SEO is not a one-size-fits-all and there are no guarantees. SEO is a slow drip method carried out over time. The process isn’t difficult but you’ll need to put in effort, time and patience to see results. When the results come they tend to stick.

It could be as straight forward as optimising your website or it could be that you have the competition stacked against you. It all depends on who is competing for the keywords you want to rank for and how they compare to your website.

The top 3 positions of any search results get the most clicks and more clicks means more website visitors and that means more enquiries.