Search Engine Optimisation isn’t rocket science, it isn’t smoke and mirrors – no matter what some companies tell you, and it certainly isn’t something that needs to cost a fortune. It is just common sense applied to an understanding of what a search engine is and how it works.
However, due to the confusion, I thought I should write a quick and simple explanation to help provide a better understanding of what SEO is and how it’s ‘done.’
This isn’t a check-list or a how-to guide to SEO – it’s simply an explanation in normal language that will hopefully dispel some of the myths surrounding SEO.
SEO starts with analysing your customers to find your keywords and key phrases
There is a need for your services and people are looking for these services, but, what are they doing to find them? When we’re talking about SEO we’re specifically looking at on-line behaviour so we need to know what these potential customers are typing into the search engine when they’re looking for these services.
“…analyse the past behaviour of your potential customers to find out the words and phrases they’ll be using in the future.”
How do we do this? Assuming we don’t have the resources for a focus group, the fastest way is to perform a search for the words and phrases people use when they want to find your products and services. Basically, we’ll analyse the past behaviour of your potential customers to find out the words and phrases they’ll be using in the future. This list is often refined down to the few really important phrases and these are the ones we’ll focus on.
It’s important to note, however, that these words and phrases aren’t necessarily going to be the ones that receive the most number of searches – they’re the ones that will be achievable within the budget, for example, if you are selling computers wanted to compete against Dell and Amazon, you’re going have to throw a massive amount of money at it for phrases like ‘new computer’ or ‘new laptop.’ If, however, you went for some of the more niche search terms that wouldn’t return the big players, you can make sure your getting your piece of the pie for a fraction of the budget.
Optimise your on-site SEO content
There are a thousand and one things normally wrong with your average website that are getting in the way of it indexing properly within the search engines. Everything from correct meta descriptions, meta keywords, titles and a correct hierarchical use of HTML to badly written code, poorly optimised images and cheap hosting. Unfortunately, by the time we point this out to people it’s too late and the cheques been cashed, however, it normally fixable.
“[on-site SEO] is an area that most SEO companies don’t focus on either because they don’t know how to do it or they simply can’t be bothered.”
The most important onsite changes are getting the copy right. Using the keywords and phrases we found in while profiling the customers, we need to optimise the text to the correct length, the correct mark-up and the correct keyword density. This, however, is an area that most SEO companies don’t focus on either because they don’t know how to do it or they simply can’t be bothered.
A good example of this is when the most recent updates to the Google algorithm caused many sites to drop out of the rankings overnight – and there were some very high profile victims – simply because their SEO company had tried to deceive Google by ignoring good quality content, on-site SEO, and best practice one-content protocols and simply focussed on building inbound links from poor quality websites.
“The recent Google updates were great news for us and great news for our customers.”
We have only ever focused on high-quality content focussed SEO so the recent Google updates were great news for us and great news for our customers. Where other sites dropped out of the rankings, the sites we had optimised shot up the rankings.
Focus on inbound links from high quality and relevant sites for better SEO
“The volume of quality inbound links and the better quality those links are all go into the equation which says where your site should appear in relation to your competitors”
Once the on-site SEO is complete it’s time to turn our attention to the inbound links. As we’ve just seen, Google isn’t stupid and certainly won’t tolerate an attempt to deceive it. Therefore, your inbound links have to be the high quality. Publishing articles, press releases and good quality links all bring Google back to your site when they’re found and, in turn, increase Google’s opinion of how important your site is. To put it very basically, the more important your site is, the volume of quality inbound links and the better quality those links are all go into an equation which says where your site should appear in relation to your competitors. If you have poor inbound links, the opposite will happen and you can even find your site is being repressed in the results.
It’s actually amazing when you realise that the only reason there is such a huge SEO industry is because the majority of sites have just been built badly by people who don’t know what they’re doing and that no one has ever realised that sites need to be built from the visitor’s point of view.
Get this right at the start and your 90% of the way there. Good quality content, compliant code, adherence to standards and a focus on your customers is the foundation for a robust and solid website that naturally indexes really well.
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