What is SEO and How South African Businesses Can Benefit?

SEO, What Is SEO, SEO in SA, SEO for SA, South African Businesses, Entrepreneurs, SEO for busy entrepreneurs, SEO Marketing, Digital marketing, Marketing online, business marketing online
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In this article we’ll be breaking SEO down into easily digestible information. We know that digital marketing can be a lot to process. But we’ll get you up to speed in no time. But let’s start with the bare-boned basics. Let’s delve into what SEO stands for and what it is.

What does SEO stand for?

SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimisation. Now I hear you, you might be wondering “What is a search engine”? In essence, a search engine is any application that you use to look for information on the internet. While most people prefer to use Google as their search engine (me included) there are multiple applications that you can use like Bing, Firefox, Duck Duck Go etc. 

The abovementioned paragraph is a gross oversimplification, so let’s get into the nitty gritty details below. You can skip ahead to “What is SEO” if you’re not into technical lingo. 

A search engine is a software system designed to locate web pages that correspond to a web search. It systematically explores the World Wide Web to retrieve specific information requested through a text-based search query. The findings are typically displayed as a series of results in what is commonly known as search engine results pages.

What is SEO?

SEO (Search Engine Optmisation) is optimising your website so that search engines like Google or Bing can easily go through your site, see the information it contains and match it to the correct search queries or phrases that people use to look for answers on the internet.

What is SEO in simple terms? It is the act of making your website as easy to read as possible, otherwise known as indexed, by search engines. There is a lot of technical mumbo jumbo that happens behind the scenes to make it easier for search engines to index (or read) your site. But we’ll get to that in a minute. To answer the simple question of what is SEO, let’s put it into practical terms  by looking at a real-world example. 

Example of SEO in action

So indulge me for a second, and imagine the following scenario. Your business isn’t bringing in the revenue it should. And you’ve decided it’s time to bite the bullet and hire a digital marketing agency. You know you need help, and you need it FAST. So, what do you do? 

Chances are, like many other South African business owners, you hop on over to your laptop (or phone) and quickly type in “digital marketing agency”. In a split second, you have results. There are multiple different companies that pop up as digital marketing agencies. You can click on the result that looks the most appealing and request a quote or maybe you browse their site to see the services they offer. 

You’ve just experienced Search Engine Optimization in practice. You used a search query “digital marketing agency” and Google went through all of the websites that they have indexed. Giving you the results of websites that most accurately answers your search term.

And that’s it! That is what Search Engine Optimization in action is in a nutshell. Now, let’s get into some of the finer details and key terms that you will encounter when working with SEO.

How SEO Works & Key Terms You Should Know

In the abovementioned example, we’ve shown you how SEO works in practice. However getting to that point requires a lot of work and dedication. Getting your site indexed by google (or any other search engine) can be a grueling process.

However, if you start it the methodical and correct way, your website can flourish! 

Here are two key terms you will encounter when trying to figure out what SEO is and how it works. 


If a search engine is a fire, keywords can be considered the fuel. Everything that happens online, and is served up in search engine results, are as a result of keywords. While we’d like to think that Google and other search engines are some sort of mythical creature that is all-knowing, it is simply not true. 

A search engine runs on algorithms. These algorithms are designed to sift through information and give people using the search engine, the closest, most helpful results. Think about it from a business perspective: If you Google “digital marketing agency south africa” and google repeatedly gives you results for companies that do newspaper ads in USA, you would just stop using Google. Because the search result doesn’t match what you are looking for.

So, search engines like Google use keywords to filter through websites. So, now it is up to you to create content to answer your target market’s questions as accurately as possible. You can probably instantly think which keywords would match your business, right? 

We’ll do a deep-dive into keywords at a later stage! Let’s get into some other SEO key phrases you’ll need to know when getting started with SEO. 


Backlinks refer to the number of other websites on the internet that send people to your website address. Search engines use this metric to see whether other people or websites on the internet are recommending your website as a source. 

Let’s go back to our trusty real-world example. Imagine you are in a room with 100 people. You have a chance to talk to each person for 10 minutes. In these conversations, you mention that you are in need of a South African digital marketing agency. Once you mention this, 80 out of the 100 people recommend Mana Marketing. However, 2 people out of the 100 people recommend a company called Prigma Marketing. Without using the service, someone at work asks you if you know about a digital marketing agency in South Africa. How would you repsond? 

In this scenario, you are the search engine. Chances are, even though you have not used the marketing agency, you have seen 80 other people recommending Mana Marketing. Therefore, when someone asks you if you know about a marketing agency, you recommend Mana because you’ve heard good things from them. 

In its essence,  backlining is the “word of mouth” for your website. You want other websites to have links or mentions to your website to let the search engines know that you are reputable. This is a more complicated topic than just this, but it requires an in-depth blog post which we will soon release.

Alt Tag and Text

Alt tags and text is descriptive information added to images on a website. These elements help search engines understand the content of the images since they cannot “see” visuals like humans do. Additionally, alt tags improve accessibility for visually impaired users, making the website more inclusive and SEO-friendly.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO involves optimizing the technical aspects of a website to improve its search engine rankings and overall performance. It includes tasks like website indexing, XML sitemap creation, URL structure, and ensuring proper site architecture. By addressing technical SEO issues, a website becomes more crawlable and user-friendly, leading to better visibility in search results.

Site Speed

Site speed refers to the loading time of a website’s pages. It is a critical factor in SEO as search engines prioritize fast-loading sites to enhance user experience. Slow-loading pages can lead to higher bounce rates and lower search rankings. Optimizing site speed through various techniques, such as image compression, caching, and reducing server response time, can significantly improve SEO performance and user satisfaction

There are many more technical lingo you will need to learn, and we are planning on releasing a SEO Important terms cheat sheet pretty soon! Keep your eyes glued to the blog to make sure you don’t miss this!

Let’s Talk Statistics: Why Should You As a South African Business Owner Care About SEO

It’s easy to try and turn a blind eye to something like SEO as a business owner. Learning new tech lingo can be a challenge, especially when there is such a massive, overwhelming amount of information available on it. 

However, now that you know what SEO is, it’s time that I tell you why you, as a South African business owner, should be jumping on this bandwagon before it’s too late! 

How many people in South Africa use Google 

It’s no secret that everyone all over the world uses the internet to do business. With the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, even those who were hesitant at first have been forced to interact online.

But the internet has evolved into a money-making machine that is taking the world by storm! And it has given us no signs of slowing down any time soon. 

Stats for internet users in South African according to StatsSA

According to StatsSA, as of January 2023 43.5 million South Africans are currently using the internet. This is a significant increase since 2013 when only 25 million were using the internet. StatsSa reported that 90% of South Africans will use the internet by 2027. 

In 2021, South Africa saw around 23.6 million people using the internet for shopping purposes. 

This is a staggering number of people. To top it off, the online space is only growing, and it’s time for South African businesses to grow with it instead of fighting against it. 

At Mana Marketing, we are taking a hand-on approach to digital marketing, which includes helping small South African businesses leverage the power of SEO to increase their target market all over South Africa. 

Now that you know what SEO is, the basic mechanics of how it works and, how many people in South Africa are using the internet, it’s time for you to take the next steps. 

Book a digital marketing discovery session with us to see how you can grow your business online. Or, if you feel you’re just not ready to take that step, keep a close eye on our blog! We’ll be releasing content every week to help South African business owners master the art of digital marketing. 

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