Beginners guide to SEO: How to Optimise your website content for search

By Gary Swanepoel Front-End Web Developer

Whether your a new website owner of been in the game for a while search engine optimisation (SEO) can seem a bit weird. There can be lot of rules, some which change frequently and aren't easily documented. But most are tried and tested SEO basics which anyone can learn and apply to their content to increase traffic website searches. We recap on some things you can easily do to get the most benefits.

First things first .. What is SEO?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is exactly how it sounds: optimising your website’s content for search engines. Google (and other search engines) can easily find the content for each of your pages and provide that information to those looking for it on the internet.

SEO is NOT THE SAME as PPC or Pay Per Click links which is also exactly as it says. You pay for the privilege to be in the advertising spaces.

The Add This team give a clean summary in regards to what is SEO and why to best optimise for it.

Why You Need to Optimise Your Website for SEO?

Users who are searching online will be more likely to find you, which normally results in increased website traffic. One case study by Backlinko shows an incredible 385% boost in organic traffic that resulted from SEO focus changes.

Search Engine Journal, says that 70-80% of users ignore the paid ads, focusing instead on organic search results.

If done correctly SEO is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to drive more traffic to your website. It can take a little bit of time but by not optimising for search, you’re leaving the door open for your competitors to take your customers.

How Search Engines Work

A search engine has three main purposes.

  • Crawling: A search engine runs a software program called a “spider” to discover content on the web.
  • Indexing: The search engine analyses content to determine what it is about, indexes it so that it’s quickly retrieved for other queries.
  • Querying: The search engine fetches a list of results and presents them to the searcher. These results appear on Search Engine Results Page or As Google puts it, “…our algorithms look up your search terms in the index to find the appropriate pages.”

search engine results page

What’s an Algorithm?

Google’s algorithm is a computer program that analyses a series of unique characteristics of each web page it indexes. This helps Google serve up the most relevant pages in response to a user’s query.

How do I get top position for a Search Engine?

We get asked this all the time. In the past, many SEO experts were in the business of gaming the system in hopes of getting top placement on SERPs to attract users. They churned low-quality, “thin” (300 words or less) content pages on a variety of topics and would pack these pages with keywords. At first, this scheme worked, until Google caught on and updated its algorithm to foil this strategy. Like the recent Panda SEO update for March.

These days your content must be high-quality especially for the user. In essence, if your content impresses a human, then it will most likely be identified by Google.

If Google trusts your page enough to display as a top query result, then that page better deliver a great piece of content to the viewer. If a high percentage of users result in a high bounce rate, Search Engines will penalise you for it.

Two key characteristics of content that we know Google favours are Content Length and Content Relevance.

How to Use Keywords for SEO

If you don’t have great content, then all the keywords in the world can’t help you. (And in fact, too many keywords–or “keyword stuffing”–will hurt you, in the form of Google penalties.) Keywords can help determine what you’re going to write about so you have a better chance of more traffic. 

What Are Title Tags?

A title tag is the title of your page or article. Your title tag is going to appear on SERPs and when you share your page on social media media (if your social meta data is set up correctly).

Here are some recommendations for optimising title tags for search for both your user and for search bots. 

  • Your title tag should be around 50 characters which prevents a the title from getting cut off in search results.
  • It must accurately describe the context of the page.
  • Your keywords should be towards the beginning of the title tag.

What is a Meta Description?

A meta description is also a brief summary or description or your page content, but it’s composed by you. If Google see your description is relevant to a user’s query, your meta description shows up in SERPs as a snippet. If you don’t compose have own meta description, Google decide on it's own snippet pulled from the content on your page.

How Do Links Help With SEO?

There are two different types of links you can include in your web content: internal links and external links.

An internal link connects one page of your website to another. For instance, your homepage might link to the “contact us” page on your site. In the case of an internal link, the source domain and target domain are the same. Internal links help users (and spiders) navigate your site easily and efficiently.

An external link is a link in your content that directs the user to a different, outside domain. Done right, links to external content should show that your content is well-researched from reputable sources, which Google likes to see.

Now What?

Hopefully this will give you a good understanding of some of the basics. The next step is to talk to your website developer and discuss some strageties that you can implement to improve your websites performance.