[How-to] Get to Grips with SEO
SEO’s been around for a long time and has seen many changes. It’s still a fairly cloudy subject that’s full of jargon, so what is SEO all about?
SEO stands for search engine optimisation. It refers to various techniques that ‘optimise’ your website and your content, so that it performs well in search results (for search engines such as Google).
Let’s briefly stop there and rewind though. SEO requires a lot of effort – so why even bother trying to rank highly in search results in the first place? Well, Google alone handles over 3.5 billion searches every single day. So people (and potential customers) are clearly online. It’s estimated that at least 80 percent of internet experiences start with a Google search.
But human behaviour after a search is just as important. After they’ve searched for something, most people tend to choose an option from page one. And if they don’t choose the top result, the chances of them choosing the second drop dramatically. Even more so for the third, and so on.
If you’re not at the top of page one, you’re almost certainly losing out on a lot of potential revenue. And with there being close to one billion active websites out there, competition to get to the top of page one (and stay there) is tough.
So I think we can agree, SEO is important for any business.
What SEO techniques should I employ?
There are a lot of SEO tactics to try out and some are more important than others, but to keep things simple, I like to divide key SEO strategies into four areas.
Metadata: Create metadata in your website’s CMS. Metadata makes it easier for Google to find your content. The titles and text also show up in a search result, so it’s actually a crucial sales tool, because it’s your last chance to convince someone to click on your link rather than someone else’s.
Keywords: It used to be the case that you’d get a high search ranking if you crammed your copy with relevant search terms. But not anymore. Google will penalise you if you appear too spammy, so only have a natural smattering of keywords in your content.
Backlinks: These are like virtual references, just like the ones on your CV – they’re external links to your website. The emphasis here is on quality, rather than quantity. It’s better to have one very respectable, well-ranked website pointing to your site than it is to have 100s of links on shoddy sites.
Content: Google is a business too and they care about pleasing their customers. They want to return quick, accurate and useful search results. That’s why their clever technology is built (and continually refined) to reward original, authentic and quality content. Write ebooks, craft blogs and create infographics, videos and the like in order to gain Google’s respect.
Matt Press is a marketing specialist at Splash Copywriters
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”