Search engine optimisation (SEO) can be a complex process, but its principal objective is very simple: to make websites more prominent in search engine results pages (SERPs). Prominence in this context means visibility or position, which is often referred to as search ranking. SEO, therefore, aims to improve the search ranking of websites.
Why is Search Ranking Important?
Google dominates the online search industry, although Microsoft's Bing is gaining market share. Whilst a single dominant player is rarely perceived as a good thing in any industry, for the time being with 85.74% of the UK market share according to Statista in 2017, SEO experts focus on Google. And Google plays an ever evolving game with websites. A game that is subject to changeable rules. A game that takes time to understand. A game that features millions of players.
SEO professionals refer to this game as the Google Dance, which may be explained in various ways. In essence, sites can plummet or rise dramatically through the rankings as a result of changes that, ostensibly, only Google knows about. Sometimes the algorithm changes. Sometimes a new site is shuffled up the order. Sometimes a site changes position for no obvious reason. The point is that search rankings are dynamic; they have to be in order to ensure that the most important sites for each keyword rise to the top of SERPs. So far as Google is concerned, the most important sites are the most relevant (to the keyword) and the most authoritative in terms of their stature, history, size and popularity.
Search ranking is so important because search-engine users rarely ever click beyond page two of SERPs. Many never make it past page one. This means that only ten listings (excluding image and news links) might ever be viewed for a keyword by certain users. The vast majority of searchers will only be exposed to these results. Considering that many keywords produce hundreds of millions of results, that level of exposure is clearly a significant constraint. This is where SEO steps in. Websites that rely upon search traffic cannot expect to be competitive or successful unless they reach the top of SERPs. And this is exactly what a professional SEO strategy will achieve.
How Does SEO Improve Search Ranking?
SEO in its most basic form consists of four core areas: the creation of authoritative original content; the ability of a website to deliver a mobile-first experience; the acquisition of inbound links and other technical factors which includes https and on-page meta data etc... There are over 200 other aspects of SEO, but these are by far the most important. Good-quality content that is carefully optimised around relevant keywords suggests to Google that a site is pertinent to a particular search term. A healthy, steadily growing number of links to a website tells Google that it is an authoritative source. Google rewards relevant, authoritative sites with a higher search ranking, thereby increasing exposure.