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Introduction to SEO

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

What is SEO?

SEO or Search Engine Optimization, refers to all the techniques used to increase rankings in organic search results.

Organic site traffic

The Acquisition report that sits within Google Analytics breaks down all the different channels that are driving traffic to a given website. So you can see the traffic that’s coming through organic search, paid search, direct, referral, social, and so on. For most websites across all industry verticals, organic search drives the highest percentage of sessions (visits) to the site. This demonstrates the importance of organic rankings and organic traffic in overall SEO.

Benefits of SEO

SEO offers many benefits:

  • With SEO, you appear high on page one of a search engine’s organic rankings. The higher an ad rank you have, the higher percentage of traffic that’s going to come through to your site and the better your click-through rates are going to be. Minor changes in ranking can have a huge impact on the success of your site.
  • As well as delivering site traffic, a strong organic ranking has the benefit of improving brand awareness, brand acceptance, and trust. Web users tend to trust the brands that appear at the top of organic search results, especially for high involvement purchases.
  • Organic search is often the top-performing channel in terms of sales, return on investment, and other website engagement metrics.

SEO versus PPC

Search engine results pages are constantly evolving. Typically, paid ads appear at the top of a search results page, and organic listings appear beneath them. Previously, there were three ads at the top of a search results page and seven ads along the right-hand side. However, Google have now removed all right-hand side ads, so now you can have up to four ads appearing at the top of the page. Organic listings appear below the paid ads and there are ten organic listings displayed on each results page.


What are the main differences between SEO and PPC?

With SEO:

  • ‘Free’ website traffic: Traffic is free, in that clicks on organic links don’t incur any cost. The cost is defined by the SEO practitioner who will be carrying out the work and this will be on a project basis.
  • Long-term investment: SEO projects are a long-term investment. It can takes weeks, if not months, for changes to have an impact and rankings to improve, so patience is required.
  • Stop SEO, rankings will maintain for a while: If you stop carrying out SEO, your rankings may maintain for a while, but if competitors have active SEO strategies, it is likely that you will be overtaken.
  • Good for core pages that rarely change: SEO also works best for core site pages that will not change. It is difficult to optimize pages that may change regularly or that may only be active for a short amount of time. So you should focus on the core pages of your site.

With PPC:

  • Pay per click: The cost is on a pay-per-click basis and is dependent on the competitiveness of the given auction.
  • Short-term investment: PPC is a short-term investment and you see immediate results. As soon as you activate your campaign, you will begin driving traffic to your site.
  • Stop spending, traffic stops: If you stop spending, your traffic will decrease immediately.
  • Good for time-sensitive/urgent campaigns: Paid search is particularly useful for time-sensitive or seasonal campaigns, where you can use paid ads to capitalize on increased search volume.

Many advertisers engage in both SEO and PPC campaigns at the same time to ensure they have maximum presence and visibility on the search results pages.

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Shane Lyons

Shane Lyons is head of Search & Analytics at Mediaworks, an award-winning media and communications agency. He has been working in Digital both in Ireland and abroad for the last 8 years and now specializes in SEO and Analytics.

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    SEO Setup
    Shane Lyons
    Skills Expert

    This module introduces the key concepts for setting up SEO and the elements to consider before beginning an SEO project. It outlines the key technical elements you need to consider when implementing SEO, how to implement on-page SEO, and how to implement SEO in a mobile environment. It explains how a business can improve its SEO strategy and local SEO. It also demonstrates how to measure and report on the effectiveness of your SEO campaign and the key SEO metrics to measure.