Beginners Guide to SEO

Updated: Jun 11, 2020

This guide looks to introduce you to the world of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) from a very basic high level and we cover the various different tactics that you can deploy to get the best results in Google.

What is Search Engine Optimisation?

Search Engine Optimisation (referred to as SEO & Organic Search) is the process of improving both the quality and quantity of traffic to your site through search engines such as Google and Bing.

The Stats you need to know about SEO:

  • Google has over a billion people using each of its products and services each day.

  • Google now processes over 6.6B search queries a day worldwide and 15% of those have never been searched for on Google before.

  • By 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice searches.

  • 55% of teens use voice search daily and 44% are adults.

  • YouTube has 1.8B monthly active users and 500M mobile views per day.

  • By 2021, the video advertising will grow to a £17 billion industry.

  • 97% of Google revenue is from advertising through Google AdWords, YouTube ads, etc.

  • In Q1 2019, Google earned £33 billion through ads alone.

  • 80% of people ignore Google Ads.

  • In 2018, they reported an incredible 3,234 algorithm updates — an average of almost 9 per day, and more than 8 times the number of updates in 2009.

The SEO strategy Cycle

How Does SEO Work?

Google considers 100s of ranking factors as a part of it’s algorithm to assess where a page should rank on a search engine results page (SERP).

In the past, it was possible to manipulate the algorithm through spammy techniques (such as bulk buying links) but there has been a number of updates by Google to reduce the effectiveness of these techniques and even reports that some companies have seen their sites removed from search results for using them (known as a penalty).

The algorithm is constantly being reviewed and changed by Google. Indications from recent updates show that sites which focus on improving the customer experience & building a strong, trustworthy brand will be rewarded.

How does Google rank your website?

Search engines have 3 primary functions: crawl, index and rank. Google crawls web pages, images, videos, etc. on the internet using robots.

It then indexes the information in a huge database of content. When a user types in a keyword or phrase, this triggers the algorithm to list content in order of relevance to the searcher’s query.

This is known as ranking. The SERPs layout and content vary depending on what a user types into Google. It can include images, maps, questions, video, business listings, etc.

Paid vs organic search

SEO results typically appear below the “Ad” or “Sponsored” listings (these are known as paid advertising results). When a user searches for a product or service, several results are usually displayed with different elements depending on what you are searching for.

Pay per click advertising, or PPC, requires a media spend and is determined by Google’s AdRank system and can be optimised with various PPC management practices.

There are four main elements of SEO...

1. On-Page SEO

The goal of on-page SEO is to make sure Google can find your web pages so they can rank them when people search for keywords or phrases.

When Google crawls your site and sees repeated themes throughout, it can understand what a page is about. Google also considers user experience as a ranking factor, so if your site offers a poor UX, i.e. not being mobile-friendly, it’s unlikely you will grow your traffic long term.

Essential for getting your website found online.

2. Off-Page SEO

The goal of off-page SEO is to get other websites to mention and link to your website. This is also known as “Link Building”. Think of each link as a vote for your site’s content. Some votes have a higher authority than others, for example a link from a major news website will have a bigger impact on your organic rankings than a personal blog.

It is generally considered bad practice to pay for links, as search engines consider this manipulative and spammy - you have to be careful to avoid any loss of listings in this process.

Great for building your authority in Google.

3. Technical SEO

The goal of technical SEO is to ensure that Google can easily find and interact with important pages on your website. It includes tasks such as mobile UX, site structure, site speed, fixing broken links and pages to name a few.

Improving your site’s technical performance is vital for SEO as it can affect metrics such as traffic and conversion rates, which are key to increasing revenue.

Common flags for poor technical SEO is a decline in traffic, low conversion rates and launching a new site that doesn’t perform well.

Great for improving website performance.

4. Content Marketing

The goal of content marketing is to target audiences with engaging content in order to drive more awareness and conversions with you brand. Great content tries to answer the user’s problem or query in a comprehensive way. This is why in-depth content outperforms shorter content from an SEO perspective.

Great examples of content marketing include blogs, videos, surveys, lists, guides, step-by-step tutorials as well as explainers.

Great for improving website performance.

Key benefits of SEO

  • Scale - Grow your business online with more traffic and sales long term.

  • Consistency - Once your site is SEO-friendly, results tend to be steady and consistent, which can be a competitive advantage.

  • Measurable - SEO gives you trackable ROI, which you can use to make informed marketing decisions with.

  • High ROI - As there is no cost when a user clicks an organic search result, SEO can have a high ROI from campaigns.

  • Site Performance - Improving your site’s SEO tends to bring improvements in conversion rates and revenue.

  • Issue prevention - Optimising your website on a monthly basis will ensure that you flag and fix issues regularly.

SEO benefits to other channels

Improved website performance

SEO not only drives traffic but it improves the user experience and technical performance of your website. The process of optimisation improves website speed, depth of content and creates a logical site structure for your customers to interact with.

Stronger paid performance

As your organic traffic increases, your paid channels gain a larger audience to re-target. Optimisation of the product and category pages also improves the conversion rates of paid traffic and Google Shopping targeting.

Increase in social mentions

Driving traffic to your site through SEO can cause after effects such as social mentions, sharing links, etc to your content pages - which all serve to send strong signals to Google that your page is very relevant to the topic at hand.

Improvement in secondary KPIs

An increase in traffic through SEO can have benefits to your secondary KPIs. For example, you may receive an increase in the number of mailing list subscribers, remarketing audience size and engagement.

Potential pitfalls of SEO

No Quick Fix

Most SEO changes take a minimum of 3 - 6 months to really see the benefits. There are no quick fixes. You have to invest long term to see results which is a challenge for some businesses, particularly new websites.


There are 200+ ranking factors to consider and the list is constantly evolving. Understanding what SEO is and how you can use it to your benefit takes a significant investment of time. Getting to grips with the basics is a good start.

Algorithm Updates

Google has continuously evolved over time, meaning that 5 year old tactics simply don’t work. It’s important that you, or your agency, keep up with emerging SEO trends, which will help you to avoid issues and gain a competitive advantage.


1. SEO allows you to increase your traffic through search engines.

2. You have 4 main tactics for SEO

On-Page Optimisation

Off-Page Optimisation

Technical SEO

Content Marketing

3. Pros - High ROI, improved website performance and growing your traffic long term.

4. Cons - There is no quick fix, it’s a changing landscape and you need expertise to deliver an effective strategy.

SEO Terminology

  • Keywords - Words or phrases that are used to match your ads with the terms that

  • people are searching for.

  • Click-through-rate (CTR) - Measures how often people click your site when seen in the search results page.

  • Conversion - Is when a visitor completes a desired goal after entering the website. This can be filling out a form or making a purchase.

  • Return on investment (ROI) - Is a metric used to determine campaign effectiveness. ROI is calculated by revenue/cost. A positive ROI means the campaign is generating more revenue than expenses.

  • Algorithm - Update Is when Google makes a change to how it’s search engine works. This generally lead to small to significant changes in rankings for all websites (depending on how much has changed).

  • User Experience (UX) - Covers how your site looks for users who visit and interact with it.

  • SERP - Short for Search Engine Results Page, which is what appears when a user searches for something in a search engine.

  • Rankings - Is the position that your site appears at when a user searches for your target keyword.

  • Page speed - Is how fast your website loads for users who visit. A slow website can cause users to get frustrated and not convert into a customer.

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