The Fundamentals of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Understanding Search Engine Optimisation
When we speak to new clients in the early stages of a project, they frequently ask something along the lines of “will my new website get me on the top of Google?“
This question belies a very limited understanding of the issues involved in SEO. For example, it is very easy to get to the number one position for a search on your business name - it is unique to you and there is little competition for this phrase. However as soon as you start talking about more general terms related to the product/service you offer, this inevitably leads to more competition and therefore much more time and effort involved in ranking highly for this term.
The question also implies a misunderstanding of the amount of work that is involved in SEO - ie. that they may be working under the assumption that simply by building an ‘optimised’ website that the site will then rank highly for whatever term(s) they want. This is not the case - it is crucial to realise that SEO is a long term goal that can take months or years of ongoing efforts to achieve, depending on how competitive a keyword is.
For example, in the case of a very general, non-specific keyword search term such as ‘computers‘ you would be competing against the whole world and every conceivable computer related product and service. This would take years of work to achieve a top ranking in Google and would attract very low quality, un-targeted traffic. However the more specific you get to your business, in terms of the service you offer and the geographic location in which you operate, then the more realistic it is to achieve good results and higher quality visitors. Therefore a search term such as ‘computer repairs perth‘ is going to be much more realistic and beneficial.
Before Anything Else, First Do Your Research!
Even with much more specific keywords, some sectors are still very competitive and will take months of hard effort to get to high rankings in Google, Yahoo & Bing etc. Even then, the search term may not actually attract significant amounts of traffic. Therefore to avoid much wasted time and effort it is crucial to do some research to determine exactly which keyword phrases you wish to target. Often a bit of research will point you in a different direction than you originally had in mind.
The best place to start doing your keyword research is Google’s Keyword Tool.
This tool shows you an estimate of monthly traffic as well as the amount of competition and gives you loads of ideas for additional keywords.
On-Page Elements of SEO
Inserting Keywords into Meta Tags & Page Content
Once you have identified your list of keywords you then want to use the Content Management System on your website to integrate them into the meta tags and page content. (We will be adding a series of Video Tutorials showing you how to do this in the near future.) This is often what people think of as SEO, but its more helpful to think of this as simply letting Google know what the information on your web pages are about.
‘Content is King!’
More important than simply inserting the keywords into the appropriate places in your pages is to have fresh content regularly being added to your website. For search engines content really is king and the importance of this cannot be underestimated.
These changes you make to your website can be described as the ‘On Page’ elements of SEO. The other, more time consuming and in many ways more important side to SEO are the ‘Off-Page’ factors…
Off-Page Elements of SEO
The SEO work that is not undertaken directly on your own website is hugely important and requires a large amount of effort and ongoing work. This includes things such as building links on other websites that point to yours (inbound links), directory submissions and social media activity.
Links pointing to your website are counted by Google and used in the algorithm they use to rank websites for particular search terms. The basic idea is that websites that offer good useful content will naturally have people post links to that site.
A good way to start building the number of inbound links to your site is to submit your site to as many different online Business Directories as possible. Start with ones most specifically related to your area of business and work out from there to more general business directories. Not only will this help build your link popularity it may also attract significant amounts of quality traffic to your site.
Engaging with your customers on social media platforms such as Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter are becoming increasingly important to search engines. (As Google Plus is Google’s version of Facebook, it is likely that they would place more importance on this as their own platform.) Having an active social media presence will help market your site, grow your presence and reputation and will also help with your SEO efforts.
If all of this seems too complex and time consuming it may be worth considering outsourcing your SEO work to a specialist company. The Web Shop can tailor a package to suit your needs, so please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.