The purpose of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation is to make a webpage rank highly with Search Engines for it's keywords.

SEO = Search Engine Optimisation

The purpose of SEO is to make a webpage rank highly with Search Engines for it's keywords. If you're not sure what this means, read on and you'll see it's simpler than it sounds!

Keywords and SEO

Keywords are the words that a user types into search engines like Google, Yahoo or Duck Duck Go. Any of these search engines will bring you back results for webpages that are relevant to the words that were typed in.

Search Engine Results Pages are also known as SERPs

The first page of the SERPs lists the top ten most relevant web pages, ranked 1-10, for the keywords searched. These are known as the Organic Results (more on that later), and they usually come after Ads and Local Business (map) listings.

Searching with Keywords
  1. People start searching by typing in keywords
  2. People rarely search with just 1 keyword
Enter keywords into Search Engine
Search Engine Results
  1. There are 10 organic results per page
  2. These are displayed after Ads and Local Business listings
Search Engine Results Page

For your web page to be ranked highly for the keywords bed and breakfast dublin, then at a minimum, your web page will need to contain those keywords, and related ones like B&B in order to get a high organic search ranking for it.

What is Organic Search Ranking?

In Google's SERPs there are 3 types of results listed, usually in this order:

  1. Ads
  2. Local Business Listings (usually shown with a map)
  3. Organic Search


Ads are paid for listings. That means they will be displayed, and marked as an Ad, because the business has paid for them to appear for any combination of keywords they've chosen. You won't pay for the ads unless a user clicks on it.

The advantage of going the Ads route is that your web page will appear higher up than local business or organic search results even if it's not particularly well optimised for the keywords concerned. The disadvantage is that it's advertising, so you have to pay for it. You can explore Google Adwords here.

Local Business Listings

Local Business listings are free. They are only displayed when the user includes a town/city/country in their keyword search, for example: bed and breakfast dublin.

This is a great option if you have a physical premises where customers can find you. You can include photos, opening times and special offers. Also since anyone can review you, it pays to be responsive to your visitor's comments. You can add your local business premises to google for free at Google Business Profile.

Organic Search

Organic search is also free but with something of a twist. Each search engine has it's own secret algorithm for ranking web pages with specific keywords. It's entirely up to the search engine as to whether or not your page gets displayed and it's worth remembering that most people don't go beyond the first page of the SERPs. If your webpage has an Organic Search Ranking of 11 for a particular set of keywords (like bed and breakfast dublin), then bad news - that's on the second page of the SERPs where few ever go. So the idea is to get your webpage ranking between 1-10 for your chosen keywords so that you're on the first page.

The organic ranking that any webpage gets is specific to the keywords used. You may have a page that ranks No.4 for the keywords bed and breakfast dublin, but only ranks 23 for the keywords B&B ranelagh, and doesn't rank at all for the single keyword dublin, or the single keyword ireland or the completely unrelated single keyword horses. (And don’t worry, most people type in 2 or more keywords at a time. And don't worry about uppercase/lowercase, it's all really lowercase as far as Google is concerned). The ranking of pages according to keywords is solely at the discretion of the Search Engine concerned, therefore we can define SEO as The art of achieving higher organic rankings with Search Engines for chosen keywords in your business/service category.

This is why many businesses will hire expert SEO firms that specialise in keeping up with the algorithms so that your page ranks better in the organic results than your competitors. It is a long and expensive road, but website visitors are more likely to click on your webpage if they see both an advert and an organic ranking.

SERP Results - ads, local business and organic search results

If you want to DIY some basic SEO for your website, see this article: Use the Keyword Planner for Better SEO.

Some Q&A

Getting a decent (page 1 of SERPs) organic ranking is a long term effort and getting results can be slow. However, if you're willing to get your pages optimised by a good SEO person and you arrive in positions 1-4 of the organic results for a keyword(s), you will be well-placed to receive a lot of clicks for that page for free. Organic rankings don't last forever (because search engine algos change), but they are definitely long-term (months to years) compared to a paid listing which disappears immediately you stop paying.

If you're nowhere near the first page of the SERPs, then you can certainly boost your presence using a paid listing. Don't expect huge results for generic info style Ads. People tend to click on Ads because you're offering them something they want - like discount prices or a cheap meal tomorrow night.

No it does not. However, the reverse can be true. If you have a paid listing and certain keyword(s) you bid on match well with your targetted webpage then that keyword's "quality score" goes up. That means your paid listing might cost a little less or be shown higher up than an equal bid with a lower quality score for that keyword(s).

For generic searches, people are more likely to scan through organic results before they click. However when they are looking to purchase something, they're more likely to click on an Ad. If you think about it, it makes sense.

If I search how to use wind energy at home?, the Ads are offering the prices of wind turbine kits but I'm in the research phase, so I'll probably scroll through the organic results and click on one with a title like: How to use Wind Power at Home Today. If instead I searched for refurbished ipad prices, the Ads should return results that include prices and offers. Because I'm in the mood to buy, I'm more likely to click on an Ad with an enticing offer.

The main keyword(s) for a web page should always be in the page title. A common mistake is using keywords in page titles that promote the business instead of the customer. As an example: which of these titles would you be more likely to click? (Ans: the second because it's customer focused.)

  • Best HR Company in Ireland (keywords: HR Company Ireland)
  • Reduce your HR costs by 50% (keywords: Reduce HR Costs)

Another mistake is optimising keywords for the entire site instead of individual webpages. Business owners mistakenly believe that if they use generic keywords like HR Company, that will lead to their homepage getting into the SERPs. No way, because the competition is too great. Build slowly and focus on targeting specific keywords on individual webpages instead. As you get more individual webpages into the SERPs, your site starts building reputation which can result in the homepage entering the SERPs.

Find out what keywords people use to search for your goods/services. There's no point in calling your night class a nocturnal programme for oenophiles when it's really a wine tasting evening class. Do your keyword research.