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A Three Part Guide to Natural Search | Part One | What exactly is SEO?

Author: Antonio Tzikas, SEO Executive at Verto UK Ltd


22nd Apr 2015


Anyone who has even the slightest involvement in marketing or web management will have at least heard of the term SEO (Search Engine Optimization) at some point over the past few years.

The concept of SEO has been increasingly prominent in the digital marketing sphere since 2011. It has come a long way from its initial roots as a “dark art” that involved tricking or manipulating search engine algorithms into placing your site at the top of their ranking pages.

A lot has changed since then and SEO, as it exists today, is a different creature all together. Today’s SEO consultant is more likely to be found putting together content strategies and pouring over analytics data than placing thousands of links onto covert link farm websites and repeating a keyword 20 times on a webpage.

“Panda” and “Penguin”

The main cause of this big shift was two substantial updates to Google’s algorithm in 2011 and 2012, called “Panda” and “Penguin” respectively. These came down hard with severe penalties on SEO techniques using any covert activity. The impact of these algorithm updates revolutionised the industry and turned SEO into an activity based around keeping in line with Google’s rules and guidelines, rather than trying to break them!

SEO has continued in this vein and is now divided between what we call “onsite” and “offsite”. The onsite sphere is concerned with technical updates to a website to fully optimise it in line with Google’s webmaster guidelines. This ensures that the site has the best possible chance of ticking as many boxes in terms of ranking factors as possible (there are around 200 in all - so a lot of box ticking!). This encompasses everything from making sure meta titles accurately describe page content to minifying CSS to keep page loading times down.

Content outreach and sharing

The offsite sphere, however, is concerned with what we call “content marketing”. This is focused around making sure a website has a big network of other sites linking to it (this is great for rankings) and that the content is being shared across the web, including social media platforms.

It’s this content outreach and sharing that Google has put huge emphasis on over the past few years, as they want people to make their sites useful and helpful for web users. If your site fits this brief, then Google will be more confident in displaying it as one of the top results for queries in the field.

SEO should be thought of as a holistic process that not only fits into web design and development, but also into your digital marketing and wider PR activity; more of a framework than a linear process and something that is kept in mind when doing anything on the web. “Users First, Search Engines Second” is our mantra here at the SEO department of Verto, and it’s a phrase that really sums up the position of SEO in today’s digital world.

Make your site the best it can possibly be for the user and you will be rewarded in the SEO stakes.

6 May - Part Two | Is SEO Actually Important For My Business?

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