As a website owner, it is highly likely that you’ve heard of the term ‘search engine optimization’ or ‘SEO’ and know it has something to do with driving traffic to your website and somehow increases the number of sales and your revenue. This article will (hopefully) guide you to understanding the basic concepts of how SEO works and explain how you can improve your SEO ranking with the search engines for your website.
How does SEO work?
Search engines use a number of different and often quite complex algorithms and various metrics to try and identify what a web page is about. They are constantly sending out bots throughout the internet searching for new information all day, every day, scanning through web page content trying to classify and rank it for usefulness and relevance when someone has typed in a query. These algorithms and metrics are constantly changing and updated to achieve and deliver a more accurate result for the searcher.
So, what relevance does this have for your website? Your website needs to stand out from your competitors, be visited and revisited by the search engine bots in order to gain traction, get noticed and rank in search results.
Regularly update your website
One method to capturing the search engine bot’s attention (and your customers, of course) is to make sure you update your website regularly. Writing fresh, original content and gaining/maintaining prime position i.e. on the first page within the first top ten results is the goal.
It is easy to neglect your website thinking you have already given your customers all the information they need to know, but you need to give the search engines and your customers plenty of reasons to return and revisit your website – the best way to do this is by regularly updating your website and publishing new content.
Have a blog on your website
You may think no one has time any more to read a blog about your business’ activities – but keep in mind, it is one of the simplest and easiest ways to raise your visibility and credibility with the search engines. If you spend some time brainstorming and researching key words and phrases that your customers use to find your business online and incorporate them into well-written blog articles, you are successfully using SEO strategies.
However, do not forget that you are primarily writing for human beings and so you should not write content that is crammed full of spammy key words just so the search engine bots can easily find your blog. Search engines penalize this practice and know the difference between good content and poorly written content. Getting the right balance between using the right key words and phrases and making your content sound interesting and entertaining is a careful balancing act.
Use the right key words and phrases
Try to use your selected key word or phrase within the first 100 words of text in your content and use them in your headings. However, do not over use them or the search engines will penalize you for repetition and know these words or phrases are not being used naturally.
When deciding which are the right key words that are relevant and appropriate to your business, think about the words or phrases that your customer would type in to search for your business. Go to your preferred search engine and type in these words and see what comes up in the ‘related search’, usually located at the bottom of the web page. Consider how relevant these phrases are for your business, and if useful, write them down to incorporate them into a keyword list that you can use throughout your website’s content. Use search terms that have a large number of people searching for, but the internet does not yield a large number of results.
Link to your own website
Every web page you have published on your website should have at least one link that connects to another page within your website, this improves the hierarchy ranking within your key search terms. A few tips when linking to your own website:
- Make the link open in the same window. If you are linking to another website, make sure that links opens in a new tab/window in your browser. You want your customer to remain on your website for as long as possible.
- The words you decide to make as links need to be meaningful, so use your keyword list appropriately.
- Given that people to scan than read word-for-word on a web page, links stand out a lot more because they are highlighted and more visible than regular text.
If you are intending to link to others websites, search engines assess the relevance and appropriateness of those links and decide whether those links are assisting your website.
SEO is generally a lot more complex and technical than this guide – but this is just a beginners introduction on how you can use these strategies to improve your website. Spend some time looking closer at your website and see what tweaks and changes you can make.
If you have any doubt over what will work best and where you should focus your efforts, it always comes back to your customer, think about: how your customers see your website, what is important for them and how will they best find that information they are searching for. There is no one size fits all for implementing a successful SEO strategy and simply trying to imitate your closest competitor will not deliver the same results.