In the continuing irregular series on all things webby, my good mate Paul Fairburn talks Search Engine Optimisation. Paul runs Aimable Consulting. Give him a shout for social media consultations and all sorts of SEO advice, he’s a great bloke.
“I’ve heard of it, but I’m too embarrassed to ask anyone.”
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a bit like Online Dating; you want Search Engines to love you. Once they do, Google, Bing etc., will put your site high on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) if they think a searcher is looking for what you offer. Here’s a quick beginners’ guide.
WHAT IS SEO?
SEO is the set of techniques you can use to give your website the best chance of appearing high in search engine results. Google and Bing keep their customers happy by giving them useful results. That’s why you should make websites for users and not search engines.
Many things determine how a website will perform in search engine results including:
- Sites linking to it.
- The site content.
- Content ‘uniqueness’
- Content freshness
- Page titles
- The number of people who click results
You’re probably only going to be able to win for a few key search phrases (keywords). Here’s the process
Here’s how each step works.
REVIEW BUSINESS GOALS
First – decide what your website is for. If you have more than one answer, don’t worry, you can aim different ‘landing pages’ at each objective. For each one, ask ‘what is my Value Proposition?’: The single reason for someone choosing you over a competitor?
Think about your target audience. What terms will they use when searching for each Value Proposition. Think about searcher-intent; there are three kinds: Actions (Do), Information (Know) or Navigation (Go).
‘Buy Television’ is clearly an action, so if you optimise your content for those two words your site should sell TVs! If not, you won’t get credit from search engines.
Research online the popularity of these search terms, known as Keywords. SEO firms like Aimiable can help with this chore. Be specific. You won’t win for the word ‘florist’, but you might do okay with ‘Cardiff Bay florist’.
Look at successful competitors and decide which search terms they’re targeting. Decide whether to use alternative keywords or to go head to head. Which websites are linking to them? Might they link to your site too? Make a list. I sometimes find competitors my clients weren’t aware of. Don’t just look at the first page of search results; keep going.
In other words: write some web pages, or a blog.
Make your site useful to real people; forget search engines for now. Write helpful and informative content for each landing page. Include your chosen keyword search terms more than once, and in your page title if at all possible. If you already rank highly in search engines, be careful not to spoil that by changing your content! Google finds sites with recently updated content more attractive. How often should your content change? My suggestion: be fresher than your main competitors.
This means: make sure search engines can access and understand your content.
Google doesn’t watch your films or decode pictures, so don’t put important content exclusively in images, videos or Flash files. Get your keywords onto the webpage several times, and once in the title. Link out to other valuable sites, as the search engines give you credit for that.
- Website optimisation can be a technical job, but Aimiable can help you with an actionable list of improvements, such as
- Writing effective meta-tags.
- Composing strong website links.
- Making sure keywords appear correctly.
- Ensuring Google etc., see the right pages.
If other trusted websites are linking to your site, then the search engines will consider you worth recommending. Approach trustworthy websites and ask them to link to your site. Avoid ‘dodgy’ sites. SEO firms can help with this but, to get started, just use your common sense. Don’t build huge numbers of links in one go; do it gradually. Search engines can be suspicious of too many links developed too quickly.
Search Engine Optimisation needs regular attention. You won’t get to number 1 on Google immediately, and once you are ranking highly don’t think you’ve finished. Keep on:
- Reviewing keywords
- Observing competitors
- Creating new web content
- Reviewing optimisation
- Seeking links to your site
- Reviewing performance Öand then back to the beginning!
IT’S ALL MARKETING
SEO is marketing, not just a project for the IT department. To see real results, integrate SEO with other marketing, online and off-line. Target the same people with the same language.
Thanks Paul! Leave any questions in the comments, or on the Facebook page, and I’m sure Paul will be happy to help.