The more you edit a website, the more you hear about SEO and how ‘this isn’t good for SEO” or “you should do that for SEO”. So, what exactly is SEO and why should we care about it as a University?

SEO is Search Engine Optimisation – the process of making a website, and web pages better or more optimised for search engines. This means making sure a website can be found quickly and easily by those using a search engine. Trouble is, we all use search engines several times a day, and there are millions of websites all indexed on them, so SEO means competing with those millions of websites to meet the constant demands of internet users.

We want instant search results

Where things get more complicated still is that as users, we have short attention spans. We do not have the patience to hunt for the websites that we need and finding information instantly is one of the most important things we value from the internet.

When a results page is returned on a search engine it’s generally only the first few web pages listed that get visited. In fact, according to Backlinko the first web page listed receives around 31.7% of the traffic and only 0.78% of Google users click on any link on the second page of results at all.

If you look at a search for “University of Essex” on Google you’ll notice that Google says it has returned ‘About 102,000,000” results, and on average page one only has six web pages listed on it. So, the aim should be for our website to appear on the first page of a search engine for a particular query, but better still, the first item on the page. But to get there, you need to compete with millions if not billions of other websites striving for that same position.

Help is available

Some of the ways, as web authors, you can help get your content to that position can be found on the staff directory but knowing how to write well online isn’t enough. The Web and Digital Media Team can help you understand the nuances of being a University and how it makes SEO much trickier. Their advice can help your chances of ranking well.

This is the first blog in a series of blogs covering SEO; seeking to help all web authors and those involved with the website maximise opportunities with search engines and understand how they work and why it is important we do well on them.

Next time, I’ll cover ways in which we can compete for that top spot and give you hints and tips to improve your content for your target audience.