Simply, What is SEO Anyway?

Put simply SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and it’s like saying this site is built in such a way that Search Engines can understand what each page is about and index them correctly.

SEO Organic Ranking

Now Google is of course just one Search Engine that exists, although as it’s the most well known even among non-technical folk it is ultimately the one that matters.  This is mostly because it’s being used more regularly and it receives the biggest volume of searches when compared to the other offerings.

If you take the time to thoroughly optimise your website for SEO you will discover that it will be indexed naturally in the other major search engines as well, such as Bing and Yahoo, with no additional effort required on your part.  Although they are less frequently used compared to Google, the traffic these other Search Engines generate can still be extremely beneficial at increasing the visibility of your site, so they should never be ignored completely.

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Why Bother With SEO?

Well, simply put, optimising your pages with well thought out SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) best practices will help the Search Engines index them correctly, which will serve to place your pages closer to the top of the returned search results.  The benefits of this obviously are that people will find your business, services or products first rather than your competitors.  A little bit of knowledge on how to best approach and incorporate SEO into your own pages can serve to provide you with a massive edge over your rivals, and ultimately result in more sales.

The greater number of pages you put together with SEO in mind, the more pages you can organically rank well for within the Google search results.  It is even possible to have so many of your own site pages ranked highly that you can take up the entire first page of results, which I am sure you will agree can only be a good thing.  The difficulty of achieving this however depends on how competitive your type of product, business or service is.

How Does Google See My Website?

Google and the other major Search Engines use an algorithm consisting of some complex code and a mathematical scoring system to rank pages based on a number of different internal and external factors, but in this article we are focusing only on SEO so we are talking about targeted keywords mostly.  This includes how often those targeted keywords occur on the page, and how well written and relevant the text on the rest of the page is to those focus words.

“Keywords are key” is a phrase I have used in the past and it is a good way to think of SEO.  Keywords are either single words or small groupings of words, which can sometimes be confusing.  For example shoes is a keyword but running shoes can be referred to as a keyword too, rather than two keywords.  As such some people prefer to use the terms keyword phrase or long-tail keyword to make the distinction between the usage of a single word or multiple words.

At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter how you reference them as long as you understand the principles behind their usage.  Each page of your site should focus on only one of these keyword phrases, and you should construct relevant content around it.  If you think of each page as a specialist, excelling at one specific subject, it will help you understand what to aim for.

More technically these keywords should exist in the title, meta description and h1 tags (part of the code that makes up a webpage) as well as throughout the main bulk of the text that makes up the rest of the page.  Do not worry if you don't understand the code I am referencing as it is not likely you need to be familiar with any of that, instead you will probably enter these details through a nice friendly interface, like the page manager in Wordpress.

Which Keywords Should I Use?

A lot of research can be done up-front to find out exactly which keywords to focus on to receive the best results for the kind of product or business your promoting, but generally speaking your pages should all have a unique title containing words that best describe what your page is all about.

For example, if you were selling shoes the page for one of your specific products may simply have the title Shoes but that is not very descriptive, better to state something like Nike Running Shoes - Womens to broaden the number of words that people can search for to find the product.

This technique is also known to be more effective at converting to a sale, as people looking for shoes tend to be just browsing, whereas someone searching for womens nike running shoes is much more likely to make a purchase as they know exactly what they are looking for.

It is also important to note that the position of keywords in the title matters to the Search Engine indexing service.  Words closer to the beginning are given more attention when interpreting what your page is about.  There are diminishing returns for each following word, so it is a good idea to use the focus keyword at the beginning of the title.  You should also include your town or location as a keyword if you’re providing area specific services as this can help your page to be found by local customers more easily, people who search for shoe shop bournemouth for example.

How Would I Search For My Site/Page?

It is often a good idea when trying to plan which keywords you are going to target, to determine what you yourself would actually expect to type into Google to find your page.  Maybe you would include your town if you specialise in local services?  Or maybe you would type the product name or brand directly if you knew what is was?  It's possible you would type a specific detail or direct feature such as a colour or technical term in the case of a product or service.  Give it some thought to be sure you come up with the best option for your specific needs.

Use Keywords In Your Content

You should use the keywords you are targeting throughout the text of your page as much as you can.  Although it is important to do so naturally and not just find a way to cram those words in as many times as possible.  The algorithms that the Search Engines use to index your pages are clever and will not be fooled into ranking your page higher this way, in fact it is likely you will trigger a penalty that will have the exact opposite effect.  Writing naturally and keeping the text quality high and relevant is the best way to get your page higher up the search results.

If you find you have too many keywords and you are in danger of over-utilising them you can always split them up and create more specialised, separate pages on your site.  Often if you find this happening it is usually a sign that you should be breaking up your content anyway, which on the plus-side will give you more pages to rank, and in turn more chances to appear in peoples search results.

Include Word Variations

Try to include as many different variations of your keywords as you can where appropriate.  Doing this makes allowances for the different ways people may describe your business when searching for it.  For example if you run a Hotel you would definitely want people to find you when searching for hotel, but maybe you would want to target people searching for the word accommodation as well.

Even simple things like using plural or singular versions of words such as shoe or shoes will add variation and return your page in more search results.  An easy addition that is very typically overlooked.

Time for a technical tip!  You can use keywords in your images alt tag to optimise those for the search engines too, such as Googles Image search or a site like Pinterest which specifically focuses on visuals.  This is just brilliant for a design or photography based business.  This is a great place to use word variations as well.  Again if all the code talk is confusing, don't worry.  If you use Wordpress or something similar to manage your site, there will be an option to add alternative text to images through there.  Maybe check the Help feature if you’re not quite sure how to do it.

Make Good Use of Social Sharing

If you build quality content around your business, service or product make sure that people can share it on all the Social Media sites, even if you're not active on all of them.  Googles organic ranking algorithm also tracks this kind of engagement now, so it will help to position your pages higher if Google can see that your content is popular because people are sharing, discussing or linking directly to it.

If you are regularly posting new articles to your site though then you may want to share them yourself on your own Google+, Twitter or Facebook page, and encourage your followers to read and engage with you from there instead.

What Are SERPs? Their Link With SEO

SERPs (or Search Engine Result Pages) refer to how the results are displayed in Google for whatever search term was provided and this can be directly controlled by your SEO choices.  Take a look at the image below, the text in blue is the title of the webpage, the green text is the URL (or webpage address) and the grey text is the meta description.  You can easily see how this can be used to your advantage, it functions almost like a small (and I might add free) advert for your website.

SEO Search Engine Optimisation Example

It is often good practice to use what is known as a call to action within the description section of your page to prompt the viewer into doing something.  For example you might say Click here to read all about our new range of designer running shoes or Call or visit our local shop.  Research has shown that people tend to respond to such prompts where they exist, whereas pages without them do not get as many clicks.  The ideal description contains a call to action as well as the targeted keywords.

You should be sure to use the keywords within the URL (address) of your webpage too wherever possible.  If we had a webpage titled Nike C18 - Running Shoes - Womens as an example, the URL might look like domain.com/shoes/running/womens/nike-c18 which includes all of the relevant words from the title.  Planning out this sort of structure to your website will require some forward thinking but it will allow the search engines to crawl through and index the pages easier.  This is especially useful for large commercial sites with a sizeable catalogue of different products.

In Conclusion

Make sure to target relevant keywords in your page title, description, main heading and throughout paragraphs, be broad but concise, use variations and think about what you would search for if you were trying to find your content.  See what your competitors are doing, which keywords they are choosing to focus on, maybe you can find some that they have overlooked and gain an extra source of traffic.

Make sure your content is well written with correct spelling and grammar as you only get one chance to make a first impression on the internet.  And lastly, be sure to share your content on social media sites and always try to engage with the people who comment on it or share it, after all they are doing you a great service by drawing attention to your brand.

This article covers the basics of SEO and although there are more advanced techniques that impact how your website is ranked, I believe anyone can grasp the understanding of solid SEO principles, put them into practice and start benefiting from that knowledge right away.

Looking for a professional SEO service?
If you would like to achieve better organic search placement for your products and pages, work with me to better optimise your website.  Check out my digital marketing services page for further details on this and other digital marketing solutions.

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