SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the way in which websites are made visible in Search Engines organic rankings. These are unpaid positions ranked solely on how important your website is deemed based on search keywords and certain metrics that search engines will analyse.
Simply put, harnessing a great SEO strategy will help direct traffic and relevant leads to your site which in turn will give you a much greater return on your investment to your site. For anyone with little or no SEO expertise, this article will give you the basic know-how, in simple terms, to help you get well on your way to becoming more visible within search engine results.
Know The Basics
Before any business can start working on their SEO, the general workings of Search Engines should be understood. This doesn’t have to be in great depth, but understanding how pages are found and ranked can be important in beginning to optimise your website correctly.
Search Engines use ‘crawlers’ to scout the Internet for various site pages and, in turn, index them. This is the first step in saying “I’m here!” From there, other factors such as how authoritative your site is perceived as will greatly improve your visibility. By providing great content and driving links to your site, you will be seen as a ‘go-to’ site for your niche market. We’ll go into these points in more depth further into this article.
Once you have an understanding of how websites are added and organised within search results, you can begin to look at the reasons behind why. Using tools such as Google Analytics, you can see what keywords your own site, as well as competitors’ sites, is ranking for and where traffic is coming from.
Toolbars for your browser, such as SEOBook, will show you various metrics such as PageRank and how many links are pointing to the domain in question. These are all ways of determining how authoritative a site is considered to be based on these metrics. For the SEO novice, these may be something you want to look into further down the line if you haven’t already grasped the basics.
Determine Your Objectives
First and foremost; you need to know what your SEO objectives are so you can target your strategy in the right way and aim it in the right direction.
Remember, SEO isn’t a defined process and it is all based on a variety of metrics. You need to ensure you know that every step you take with your SEO is for a valid reason, otherwise you will waste time and money and see no valuable results. For example, if you want to generate more traffic, you need to make your site more authoritative. This, in turn, will generate visibility, whether it be through linkable assets or organic search results.
Make a list of what you want to achieve from your website that you aren’t currently, these will be your ‘SEO Goals’. Once you’ve got them in mind, you can begin to start digging down into the nitty gritty details.
Your audience is the most important part in all of this, as they are where your money is going to come from. If you aren’t reaching your audience, then something isn’t being done right. Many businesses fail to succeed online because they don’t fully understand what their niche is. If you don’t know what segment of the market you want to target, you can’t target anyone specifically at all and are unlikely to see any solid results, least of all any results that you can track accurately.
SEO helps to point the right people in the right place. If you want t o sell a certain product to a certain group of people, trying to get a huge group of people under a specific keyword won’t be as financially productive as accurately targeting a smaller group of people under a niche keyword – those are the people who already want what you have to offer. This is where keyword research comes in…
Keyword research is hugely important, and will be one of the most valuable activities within SEO for your site. By discovering what keywords your customers will be specifically searching for, as well as competitors, you can start to dissect the market up and see where you can come in and snap up the custom.
By analysing the changes in search trends and the shifts in demand, businesses can make an informed choice on what keywords to target. Google Keyword External Tool is a great little tool to get you started, as it has an easy to use interface and allows you to accurately analyse what people are actively seeking.
You should always try to target long-tail keywords. Large keyword, that is, keywords with a large amount of searchers per day may seem like attractive targets – but in reality these only represent less than 30% of overall web searches. It is much harder to target broad terms, as there will always be authoritative figures filling up these search engine pages, which are very difficult to compete with.
SEO Friendly Site Development
Make sure your site is visible to Google and other search engine sites. By making sure you have robots.txt files in the right places, crawlers will be able to pick up and index your site and its pages. Any good web developers should know how to do this if you aren’t a dab hand at website workings.
Utilising a good blog will attract people to visit your site as well as encourage people to link to your site. Never copy and paste other peoples content or use other material you find online to bulk up your site. This is considered ‘duplicate content’ and Google will automatically drop your site down in rankings if it sees you are doing this.
Content and Link Building
As we’ve just mentioned, having a blog on your site and posting regular content can be massively important to your site and has invaluable SEO rewards. By putting the time and effort into writing well written and informative articles you can encourage people to a) link to your posts and b) offer an attractive reason for people to want to come back to your site.
Building links from other websites to your own is a valuable market. Search engines see where and how other links are pointing to your site, and based on their relevance and the authority of the specific domain that is linking to you, in turn bumps up the value of your pages for your niche.
You should try and build up relationships with other blog owners who already have a strong footing within their market. By guest blogging – offering them free content which includes a relevantly placed link to your site you can also harness the SEO power that is passed on through ‘link juice’.
Any old links are pointless links, and spamming links into splogs (spam blogs), via comments or in forum posts is not the way to go. When it comes to link building safely you definitely need to keep in mind quality, not quantity. Although ‘black hat’ SEO strategies may see short term results quickly, these are unsafe ways and can be burned down just as quickly, in which case you will be in a much worse position than when you originally started.
Actively using Social Networks to connect with your customers and fellow authority figures within your niche can help boost the online presence of your content as well as your website. It’s easy to get a good piece of content ‘out there’ on sites such as Twitter by utilising functions such as #’s to connect with people who are interested already. An online presence and personality will make the difference.
Research And Analyse
You wouldn’t plant a seed and stop watering it once the plant began to bloom, and the same applies when developing your strategy. Sometimes too little of one thing or not enough of another can be just as detrimental as doing nothing at all.
Not posting on your blog often enough can be a factor in a decrease in traffic, or posting links on irrelevant sites can also be unproductive. SEO is an ongoing activity, and you can’t simply get to the top and expect to stay there. It needs to be nurtured and built on over time to create a solid and lasting ranking.
The outcome you want to achieve is conversion; more specifically, a good conversion rate. This is the term for the amount of visitors who come to your site who then go ahead and take action, whether this be a sale or similar. For example, if from 100 visitors, 10 people made a purchase, this would give you a conversion rate of 10%. The higher this percentage, the better your site is doing. By optimising your site to improve your conversion rate you will ensure that your ROI (return on investment) is as profitable as possible.
Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools will be good for analysing just how well your site is doing. You can see in terms of time span how well your traffic and search rankings are developing.
This is also useful when you want to analyse competitors’ sites and see what they’re up to, and how well their strategies are working for them.
Finally, you should always keep in mind that your website is the final push in getting a sale. A poorly designed site is likely to drive away customers and if your site isn’t easily navigable this will remove the element of trust. Before taking your SEO strategy by the horns, make your website as top notch as it can be. Using research methods such as A/B Split Testing or Multivariate Data Testing can highlight any elements of your site that could do with editing.