What is SEO?
Having a great looking website is nice, but if no one knows about it, it’s failing in its primary purpose. Whether a hobby or a business, websites are meant to be seen. The object of SEO is to attract more visitors to the website.
Short Answer: Seo is Search Engine Optimization.
SEO vs. SEM
Nonetheless, SEO should be considered from the outset, before you even start creating your website, from choosing your website URL and naming the page files and images. A well made website will be built ready-optimized for search engines. Conversely, a badly made website will struggle to show on search engines at all.
The Science of Search Optimization
- Identify Your Target Market or ‘Niche’
Your website will have at least one, and usually several topics, each with it’s own target market or niche, ie people who search for that subject online. Each niche has a sector of the internet dedicated to that subject – blogs, social media, online stores, forums, directories and so on, which will be important when you come to link back to your site.
- Keyword Research
Knowing your keywords and key phrases is vital to attract visitors who are searching your key subjects and related fields. It is often useful to do a search for the website’s topics, products or services and look at competitors’ keywords, titles and descriptions. If you are signed up to Google Adwords they have a very useful keyword planner which shows related words and phrases, and their popularity and strength of competition.
- Good Coding Practices
Google have stressed that they favour websites with clean coding and fast page opening speeds. This means it is important to remove unnecessary coding and correct any coding errors.
- Tags and Metatags
Key words and phrases should be used in site and page titles and descriptions, links, headings, image titles and descriptions and in the content. Each page should use its own group of keywords.
- Sitemap Submission
Create and submit an XML sitemap to search engines. This makes sure all your pages are indexed in order for them to show in searches. Now that Bing have taken over Yahoo, Google and Bing are the 2 remaining main english-speaking search engines.
- Responsive Design and User Experience
Today over 50% of internet users access the internet via a smart phone or tablet. So websites should be responsive to any screen size, from the smallest iphone at 320 pixels wide to wide screen monitors at 2560 pixels wide. Google stresses the importance of user experience (UX) of a site, not only that it fits all screen sizes, but also that it is easy to navigate and information is presented clearly.
- Quality Content
Content should be unique, well-written and informative. Each page or article should have a pre-defined topic reflected in the page Seo including headings, sub-headings, links and content. Ideally keyword research should be done for all the main text of a website.
- Optimized Content
Any images used should be correctly sized and at screen resolution (72 dpi) as a picture that is too big will slow the page opening speed. They can be optimized for web use by using image editing software such as Photoshop.
- Fresh Content
Search engines spiders crawl the web regularly for new content and so give prominence to websites that are updated frequently with fresh material. A blog can be a good way to do this, but it needs to be useful information, and topics relevant to the website. As a rule of thumb, a blog article each week is ideal, but once a month will prevent the website becoming forgotten to the search engines.
Create Niche Backlinks
This is where SEO goes offsite. Having optimized your website it is now time to begin search engine marketing. We need to erect some virtual sign posts to direct people onto the site. We do this by putting up external links (backlinks or inbound links) on appropriate niche-relevant sites. Search engines put great emphasis not just on the number of inbound links to a site, but also to the quality of these links.
There are a large number of directories where you can link to your site for free. They usually have a paid option also where you can include more information. These can be locally based directories such as local news or local services, or they may be sector relevant such as travel, accommodation etc.
These are great for attracting visitors who are in your target market or niche. Although not every topic has a forum dedicated to it, there are an amazing number out there and many forum users will benefit from information you can provide in a forum post and will visit the site to find out more.
It is not recommended to put links in comments willy-nilly. A comment that is not relevant to the subject will usually get deleted and is unlikely to attract quality visitors. However, there are places where this is beneficial to all. For example sites such as tripadvisor encourage people to add comments and if relevant, a link to a site.
- Reciprocal links
Another way to build links is to trade reciprocal links with other websites in the same or related fields. This way both sites benefit with a link.
- Good content
Good content will encourage others to link to your site without you even asking.
- Social media
This is where SEO becomes SEM. Social media provides perhaps the best means to link back to your website. And today there are perhaps thousands of different social media platforms, the best known being Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Reddit, Pinterest etc. The best approach to this is to create a page or group for your site/topic and regularly post articles with links to the relevant page on your site.
If you have a website and it isn’t getting many visitors, chances are it hasn’t been optimized for search engines. There are a number of SEO tools available on the web to help analyze your site and provide SEO solutions.
- SEO Check
You can do an seo check by submitting the URL to an SEO checker website. There are number of sites that provide this service for free, and it can give you a good idea of the SEO issues or your website.
- SEO Tips
If you want to tackle your site’s SEO there are plenty of websites providing information and tips for best SEO practice, not least of them the google webmaster blog. But be warned SEO is time consuming and much of it requires a good knowledge of web design and coding.
- SEO Tutorials
Alternatively you can sign up with any number of courses which provide SEO tutorials, with videos, webinars and ebooks.
A Search Marketing Strategy
So the purpose of SEO is to maximize web visibility by optimizing the website to search engines, pushing it up the list and onto the first page of as many relevant searches as possible. But search engines are no longer the only focus for providing quality links and thus visitor flow. With the rise in importance of social media, this has also become a means to drive traffic, but like SEO it is also time consuming. Because of the expense of the time involved many businesses now favour paid advertising, which can be keyword targeted on search engines, social media and on blogs and sites across the web.
These 3; SEO, social media marketing and paid advertising form the key elements of an overall search marketing strategy. A balance between each element depends on time and cost factors, which in turn depends on the overall budget. The SEO company or whoever is providing your SEO services should begin with an analysis of your website and online marketing strategy and provide a proposal best suited to your needs and budget.