Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is commonly seen as the golden key to huge amounts of website traffic. Marketers need to be aware that SEO is a structured process that on many occasions will improve the amount of traffic that you get your site, but that there is no magic formula to success.
Think about it this way; if you are a lawyer in a small town in Arizona, a town with only three lawyers, then your chances of getting a high position in the search rankings is fairly good if you optimise your site (in fact even if you don’t!). There are only three lawyers therefore you should get a top-10 space. However if you are a lawyer in New York City, you are in a much more competitive environment. Where there are thousands of lawyers and law firms even if you have the services of the best SEO expert, your chances of getting a top space are remote. In this situation you are better off paying for a placement or sponsored link. Most webmaster design their SEO for Google.
The rest of this lesson will look at SEO, with an invaluable tip regarding Google at the bottom of this page; something to look forward to.
- Content is king! It makes sense that the material that your users want to read should be the most important aspect of any webpage. Make your content compelling, make the content unique, make it relevant and informative, and make sure that your doing something original and engaging for your readers. The point here is don’t try and trick the search engines; if it is something that people want to read, then in an ideal world it will rank highly in the search engines.
- Keywords are they skeleton of any good content. Keywords do tend to stimulate much debate within the SEO community. The advice has to be to write your content naturally and not to over pepper the text with too much repetition of specific keywords. However the search engines are not intelligent enough to be able to interpret specific nuances, so use your keywords and some synonyms but keep it clear and concise.
- Links are almost as important as content, especially when dealing with Google. The Google algorithm is probably the holy Grail of any SEO expert, because obviously Google is the largest and most intuitive search engine, and its pay per click service can be quite profitable. However don’t forget the other search engines such as Bing.com and Ask.com (amongst others); since it becoming quite reassuring that your website ranked highly in more traditional search engines.
Matt Cutts, Google’s Head of Spam, is a respected sage on the topic of SEO development;
- The idea is that links are almost like votes; so the more links you get more highly your website will rank – right? Well in fact no. The most powerful links come from respected websites e.g. CNN or the BBC, universities or well-respected government organisations. However links from less reputable websites will have the opposite effect, and in fact Google will penalise website if there are too many less reputable links. Problem is how to get rid of these links, especially if they come from an aggressive competitor. This is another ongoing debate with Google. So try to generate authoritative links from robust sources. Again you need to generate truly valuable content that other sites will want to link to; inform other websites that your site exists; you could create your own blog so that readers want to return to read your new content; in effect you need to market yourself and your site.
- Search engines will find you. These days you don’t need to submit your site to search engines. However you need to make it as simple as possible for the bots to find you and to crawl your site. One commonly accepted way of doing this is via sitemaps (www.sitemaps.org). A sitemap is an XML file list URLs and some of their metadata In other words a sitemap navigates the search engine around the best bits of your site and offers some details about each page.
- There are more mechanical aspects to consider such as H1 tags and titles; however to be honest these days they matter less and less. As long as your site is correctly engineered then it will rank. WordPress is an ideal example of this and there are other content management sites available such as Drupal, WolfCMs and more.
- Let’s dispel some more SEO myths; there is no ideal length for a page in terms of words; focus on popular keywords, since the long-thin-tail is full of keywords that nobody searches for; H tags don’t really affect ranking (i.e. headings and sub-headings) just keep clear and concise; if you buy links, Google will not throw you out and in fact it won’t be that interested; you don’t need to update your site frequently – if it is contemporary it will rank; despite my earlier point, the lack of a sitemap isn’t a problem because the search engines will find you; finally you don’t need to submit your site to any search engine.
- Try to follow Matt Cutts; he’s the Head of Spam for Google and he offers many clear and simple videos on what’s hot and what not to worry about in relation to Google’s search engine.