What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?
So quite a few people have been talking about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO for short) but not many people will understand it or what it does and why it is important. Basically SEO is a common technique used main in web design to improve a websites SERP (search engine results page) for extra traffic. As you can imagine improving the position of your website on major search engines can have a huge effect on your business or website. If your business or website was at the top of a major search engine I.e. Google, Bing and Yahoo, when people search for something the odds are they would click your website. It is said that at least 50% of all people who search for something always click the top result as it is at the top and perceived as the best. So how do people get to be at search engine and with people searching so many different things what should you be at the top for?
How do you decide the right search term?
The most important thing before trying to get to the top of a search engine is the search term you want to be at the top for. If you are a web design company then trying to get to the top of a search engine for the search term sport or cars would be ridiculous. I know that is a bit obvious when you think about it sport is searched 4,090,000 time per month, cars is searched 1,220,000 per month and web design is searched 301,000 per month. They may be searched more often than web design but it isn’t relevant and you would be misleading people who search for the search term sport or cars and the odds are they wont want web design and wont go back to your website again. So if you are a web design company would web design be the best search term to aim for? Yes and no. Yes because that is the highest search term for web design but no because there is a lot of competition. If a web design company was at the top of a search engine for web design then they would get a lot of customers and I am sure they would know a lot about search engine optimisation as well as being around the scene for a long time. When you search web design roughly 500,000,000 results come up. The odds you are going to even get on the first page of a search engine for web design is highly unlikely so we need to narrow down your main keyword search term.
How do you narrow down a search term to benefit you?
When narrowing down a search term there are a lot of things to think about. Do you want to target a specific area? Do you want to attract customers with a budget or with unlimited money to spend? To narrow down your search term, plan what you want to get out of it and focus on a specific audience. If you are a web design company based in Newcastle and you want to be the best in that area then Web Design Newcastle would be a perfect keyword. The reason why is because people looking for web design in the Newcastle area are more likely web design Newcastle. Even though Web Design in Newcastle sounds better, for example, say only 73 people search for this per month where as Web Design Newcastle is searched 2,400 times per month. 2,400 is a big drop from 301,000 but the competition has dropped from 500,000,000 to 534,000. The competition ratio for web design 1:1661 search’s per result where as web design Newcastle has a competition ratio of 1:225 searches per result. Not only is the competition a lot better but the people who would search this are a lot more likely to want a web design service than to study it or learn about it. There are many more ways of narrowing your search term down for example you sell cars as we know a huge search term but if you only sell a specific car second hand I.e. Ford Focus Second Hand then making Ford Focus Second Hand your main search term means you are targeting 1,900 people per month looking for that product.
Decided on a search term so now how do you get to the top?
This is the quite possibly the hardest part of search engine optimisation and is also the most time consuming. You have decided what your search term or search terms are now you need to get to the top of a search engine for that term. There are hundreds of factors to consider when performing search engine optimisation but I shall only cover the basic’s, if you are wanting to get proper results then I would recommend going to a professional SEO company or a web design company what perform search engine optimisation. I will only go over 5 important factors which anyone is capable of performing.
Factor 1 – Fresh Content
Search engines love new, original and fresh content. Don’t duplicate other peoples work or try to copy what they have done, come up with your own ideas and write your own content and you will go a long way. Remember to include your search terms (known as keywords and this will be explained more in the next factor) so a search engine can recognise what your content is all about and then decided to pull it up when someone search’s it. It is better to spend hours on one page than spend 5 minutes copy and pasting someone else’s hard work. Duplicate content is where you copy someone’s content and pass it off as your own. Search engines index all pages on the internet that they come across and if they find you have copied someone’s content they will mark your website down and it will struggle to get onto the first page. If you regularly update your content a search engine will discover this and it shall only work in your favour (as long as it’s relevant) and improve your position.
Factor 2 – Keyword Density
Keyword density is another important factor to ranking high on a search engine. A keyword is a search term so to keep the same theme as earlier the search term I spoke about was web design Nottingham therefore web design Nottingham would be my main keyword. The density of a keyword is the percentage of many times the keywords appear in comparison to others. Adding up all the words in view (and meta data factor 3) and finding the percentage of your keywords can be a very time-consuming act and nearly impossible to get accurate. How ever there are many tools out there that will do this for you and the majority of them are free so quickly flicking through the internet should help you find the tools you need.
There is no set density in which your keyword should appear for a search engine to pick up on but there are guidelines. Some people think between 2-4% is the right amount where as other think 4-6% is the best. This is all a matter of opinion and all what matters is that your keywords stand out to both search engines and readers. Do not spam your content with keywords as a search engine will mark you down for this and should you reach the top of a search engine people will not be able to understand it but don’t be funny about placing them, you can’t be to careful otherwise a search engine may not pick up on what you want your search term to be. I always like to make sure I mention my keyword at the begging just because of my personal beliefs of what a search engine’s algorithm is but the more content you write and the more skilled you become at search engine optimisation, you too will have your opinions on what works better than others.
Factor 3 – Meta Data
Things start to become a bit more complex no but anyone who has gotten to this point of the article is more than capable of understanding it. Meta data is the title, description and keywords a reader won’t see but a search engine will. Some web design software’s come with add ons to make it easy to input meta data but if not and you are experienced with HTML then you can still input this in yourself. The meta title is basically a title of the webpage you are writing. This should be no more than 60 letters and it doesn’t have to make sense. For example the home page of a web design companies meta title might read “Web Design Nottingham – Web Design | Web Designers” or something along that effect. It isn’t quite understandable or a sentence but a search engine would see this and understand they are words of importance and what the content is about.
After the Meta Title there is the Meta Description which is longer and should be more understandable to readers as some search engines display this when a result comes back to the searcher. This should be no more than 160 words and should include your keywords again. It may read “We are the number 1 web design company in Nottingham. We offer the best web design around and……” so on. The final piece of Meta Data is the Meta Keywords. This is where you should place all keywords you wish to be indexed for by a search engine and it should read like a list with a comma separating all keywords. Again for a web design company it may look like “web design, web designers, web design Nottingham….” and so on. There is no set mount of how many you can add but I don’t advice spamming it by adding excessive keywords and only enter each keyword once.
Factor 4 – Back Links
A back link is an internal link from one web page to another both on your domain. The reason for this is when a search engine lands on one off your web pages it will scan and index that web page. It cannot scan and index another webpage on your domain if there is not link from that page. For example (all links use a semi colon and not a full colon to prevent actual links) “http;//www.madeupwebsite.co.uk/page1″ has a link on it to “http;//www.madeupwebsite.co.uk/page2″ therefore a search engine can scan and index “http;//www.madeupwebsite.co.uk/page1″ and notice the link. It will then follow the link to “http;//www.madeupwebsite.co.uk/page2″ and index that as well. This is important because if only one of your web pages is indexed, the rest of your pages won’t appear when someone searches and you will be relying on people finding your website and flicking through all your pages for your website to get noticed. Another thing to think about as well is how are you going to link from page to page? This can all be done with a site map but you can have some on page links which will improve your SERP by linking keywords to pages that have been optimised for that keyword. Say a web page has been optimised for web design, the keyword density and meta data includes web design then why not link the word web design from one page to the web design page?
Factor 5 – Anchor Text and External linking
Anchor text is the words that are linked to a link. Sounds a bit confusing but instead of a a link reading “please feel free to click this link for web design “http;//www.madeupwebsite.co.uk” you could always place the link so it read “please feel free to click this link for web design” linking the word web design to “http;//www.madeupwebsite.co.uk”. Again with web design software and add on’s this is made easy but if its in HTML you would use “< href=” website “>keyword” and this would link your keyword to a website.
The reason for doing this is that you are telling a search engine what the link is. If the anchor text is web design and the content on the web page you are linking to is optimised for web design the search engine will rank you higher and index it for the search term web design. This doesn’t get you to the top of a search engine straight away and one link wont do that but to show the power of links just search click here. If you search click here it takes you to an Adobe Reader download page. The reason for this is loads of people link the word click here to that web page as it is a useful tool that people may need to view certain things.
It doesn’t stop there
When it comes to search engine optimisation there are hundreds of other ranking factors that I have not mentioned. You can go off and study more SEO techniques but this could take years to understand and as the internet is ever growing and expanding I would suggest you leave SEO to the experts as if you don’t fully understand search engine optimisation you may make things worse for your website. However should you wish to study it more in depth there are loads of websites out there and plenty of other articles and resources you can read but SEO techniques aren’t written in stone and other people will have different opinions.
The best way to learn search engine optimisation techniques would be to test them out and see what work for you but it can be a long process and it does take time. Don’t ever go with a company that promise a page 1 rank on all search engines within days as this is not possible. If a company do claim this then they are more than likely on about an ad words campaign which is completely different to organic search engine optimisation and doesn’t offer the same results as well as being expensive.