Demystifying SEO - What is SEO?

So, what is SEO?

How does it compare to other online marketing options? What do I need to do to get rankings using SEO? These are just some of the questions I’ll be answering in this post - holding nothing back...

On the surface, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the use and optimisation of a combination of collaborative activities across multiple disciplines such as UX design, content development, content promotion, web development and PR. SEO is the art of making all of these efforts work together to improve your overall web presence and visibility in Google search results.


even after reading all of that, you’re probably still thinking, that sounds complicated and I still don’t really understand!!!

You’re not alone, my friend, you are not alone! That’s why I’ve made it my past week's mission to write this post and help you crack the SEO code so that you can understand:

  • What Quality SEO is
  • What SEO is not
  • Why it exists
  • The correct approach / perspective
  • What’s involved
  • How it compares to other forms of online marketing
  • What you need in order to implement an SEO strategy for your own website

First, Unlearn What You’ve Learned...

OK let’s be honest, most of us have received a cold call or two from a very persistent salesperson with a thick accent who wants to sign us up to a monthly SEO contract.

Phone rings…

Salesperson: “Hi is this the owner of XYZ business?”

Unsuspecting Victim: “uhh yeah, who is thi...?”

Salesperson: “My name is (such and such) from (never heard of company) and I am calling today to offer you page one rankings for your website!! Do you agree sir/madam that page one rankings are essential for growing your business?!?!”

Unsuspecting Victim: “umm sorry i’m not intereste..”

Salesperson: “Hold the line, I’ll just pass you on to my manager!!”

Unsuspecting Victim: “beep beep beep…”

They promise that they’ll rank your website on “page one” and that it’ll be the easiest thing you’ve ever invested in. WRONG.

Quite the opposite - the truth in most cases is, unless your site is already at the level of super stardom it’s quite a long term play with a lot of moving parts and a high level of commitment from both ends.

IF SEO is looked at through the wrong lens and pursued with the wrong approach it will be very difficult to get long lasting results.

BUT. If you understand it’s purpose and the correct approach then you’re setting yourself up for success.

The Wrong Approach to SEO + Common Myths & Misconceptions

Here's a quick video to help clarify a few key SEO topics! After this video I'll go into a bit more detail about the CORRECT approach to SEO and what's involved. Enjoy!

Hey there! We made this video to help provide SEO beginners or novice SEO buyers with the right understanding and approach toward some foundational aspects of SEO. Enjoy!

The Correct Approach to SEO

SEO is all about building earned results over time and the process of SEO is very similar to getting fit and healthy at the gym. You need to know what to do, how to do it the right way and to be consistent and invested in it in order to get great results. It’s important to understand that lasting SEO results don’t come without hard work and they don’t happen overnight. After all, going to the gym is tough work and sometimes it can take months to see any results at all… especially if you’re not consistent or you’re not eating right, but the results are certainly worth it if the market is there.

When you need a plumber, cheap flights or to find the best Thai restaurant in Surry Hills… what do we all do? We Google it.. and that’s the BEST thing about investing into search marketing, it’s all about user intent, reaching people who are actively looking for your product or service and getting your brand in front of the people who are in your target market.

What’s Involved in Quality SEO?

Ongoing Website Optimisation

Website optimisation includes a wide variety of activities that help to benefit your overall website value and experience. Website optimisations activities commonly referred to as (on-page SEO) optimisation.

Optimised content creation and scheduling

Your content is the value behind your website - Google searches for the best content to provide in search result but if your content doesn’t present well, it will be passed over. Just like a personal stylist, SEO is the action that helps your content get a date with the best Google rankings ;)

Optimised content promotion via social media, email marketing and any offline channels applicable to you.

Once you’re creating great content on a regular basis, you also need to be promoting your content on a regular basis. Great content with shares and likes will be even more attractive to Google.

Ongoing reporting and analysis

It’s important to keep a close eye on what’s going on behind the scenes of your campaign by consistently looking at the right website performance, referral and user analytics stats. Consistent reporting and analysis helps you to optimise your campaign and stay on target with your website KPI’s.

Online PR

Getting links from relevant and reputable websites pointing to your website is one of the most important elements required to get your website ranking for competitive keywords. The more quality links you have coming into a certain page of your website, the easier it’s going to be to rank that page in the top 10. There's tons of great ways to get quality links to your site including getting links from businesses you deal with, guest posting for other sites, the moving man method, collaborating on content on someone else's site, writing great content of your own and getting natural links - the list goes on.  

SEO vs Social Ads vs Search Ads

So which form of online marketing is best? It all depends on your immediate and long term marketing goals.

SEO vs Facebook Ads

Organic SEO is different to Social media ads like Facebook ads in a variety of ways. The main difference is intent. Organic SEO is a marketing channel which receives clicks based on user intent compared to Social ads which push ads into feeds that are targeted to specific users in your market but are being viewed for a number of different purposes at any one time - they’re not necessarily looking for YOU. That's not so say the old FB ad is bad, quite the opposite, the targeting options and reach capabilities of social are HUGE... it’s just a completely different paradigm to search marketing and both have their pros and cons however intent based marketing like Search Engine Marketing will usually receive higher clickthrough rates.

Facebook Ad Pros and Cons


  • Targeting based on interests, location, and demographics
  • Not quite as user intent focused (remarketing capabilities the exception)
  • Instant on
  • Large potential reach (e.g. if your ad has the ability to go viral)


  • Requires management fees if you’re looking for best results and an optimised ad spend
    • Post design and optimisation
    • Advanced targeting
    • Analytics analysis
  • Ads stop as soon as you stop paying for them

Google Ads

With Google ads, you get a little bit of both worlds. You get the ability to get great targeting options and the ability to get in front of large audiences quickly as well as the user intent factor. Compared to social ads, the only thing you miss out on is the viral potential. They do however cost quite a bit more in competitive markets and this is because search ads are based on a bidding system. You can reduce your bidding costs by achieving higher clickthrough rates however this really requires professional management which comes at an additional cost.

Google Ad Pros and Cons


  • Based on user intent
  • Instant on
  • Large potential reach
  • Great targeting features


  • Requires management fees if you’re looking for best results and an optimised ad spend (generally around 20% of ad spend)
  • Ads stop as soon as you stop paying
  • Can cost quite a bit for results if you’re targeting competitive keywords


The main benefit of SEO is that it's an investment into improving your overall online presence that continues to pay off well into the future. To give a quick comparison, SEO is more likened to an investment that grows in value and and earns you a healthy passive income over a long period of time compared to high frequency trading on the stock market that's here one day and gone the next. Top organic search rankings generally have incredibly high conversion numbers compared to search ads and social ads and they usually stick around for years, continuing to earn you visitors without you having to keep paying ad suppliers.

SEO Pros and Cons


  • High focus on user intent
  • Highest clickthrough rate (an average 30% CTR on #1 organic ranking compared to an average 7% CTR on Google Ads).
  • High conversion potential
  • Lasting results

Side benefits:

  • Better website experience (the job of an SEO includes optimising the experience of your website)
  • Better website content
  • Better business intelligence (SEO’s report on site performance)
  • A heightened focus on PR


  • Requires long term investment
  • Lots of moving parts
  • Can take a while to see results
  • Results are not guaranteed

What do You Need to Successfully Apply SEO to Your Website?

1. A quality website that can convert

There’s no use in getting visitors to your website from Google search results only to have them exit the site before taking action. It's a good idea to make sure your website is built in a way that retains visitors and does a good job at converting new visitors into either new leads or paying customers. If your website isn't too hot right now, it's probably a good idea to start looking at a plan for updating it during your SEO efforts. Implementing SEO during your site build is one of the best ways to make sure your site is search engine friendly from the very beginning and it also helps to reduce any potential redevelopment costs for SEO later down the track.

2. A drive to beat the competition

Your competition is always going to be coveting the top spot in google, the only way you’re going to obtain and maintain a top ranking position is if you’re driven to remain ahead of the game. That means having a proactive approach to your SEO efforts, this is usually what an SEO manager is for.

3. The right team

Made up of:

  • Someone who make changes to your website

    • This can usually be done by your SEO partner

  • Content writers/producers

    • Writer (preferably in-house - no one knows your product or service like your own team)

    • Graphic Design (contract)

    • Video Producer (contract)

  • Content manager(s)

    • Manage the promotion of your content on different marketing channels e.g. social, email, app, paid search etc

    • May include your graphic designer

4. A solid SEO strategy

A solid SEO strategy is built on:

  • Quality keyword research
  • A great content plan and schedule
  • An equally great promotion plan and schedule
  • A great PR strategy to help acquire those illusive backlinks
  • Onsite improvements
  • Great site and keyword analytics and insights drawn from those analytics

5. An SEO manager

The SEO manager ties it all together and provides:

  • Campaign strategy and direction
  • SEO opportunity identification (onsite and offsite)
  • Ongoing algorithm insights
  • Ongoing analytics insights
  • Technical onsite SEO implementation

If you have more questions about SEO and how to use it to effectively provide your business with long term results - get in touch either via social media or via our contact page. We’d love to hear from you!

Luke ThornComment