Search engine optimisation has become a very important topic for webmasters and website owners looking to improve their search engine rankings and attract more customers to their websites. Yet the subject is still widely misunderstood, often misrepresented and occasionally shrouded in secrecy. So what exactly does search engine optimisation entail? In order to get to grips with this question let's start by splitting the subject into 3 distinct areas.
- Keyword Research
- Page Optimisation
- Link Building
1. Keyword Research
Keyword research is the first stage in any successful SEO campaign and it's important to get this right from the start. Here are a few useful tips:
- Try to select popular keywords that are not overly competitive.
- Use keyword research tools to ensure you choose the best keywords. The Google AdWords Keyword tool is one of the most widely used keyword resources.
- Make sure the keywords you choose are relevant to your site.
- Don't be too general - choose specific keywords directly relevant to your market.
- Choose keywords that cover all your main products and services.
- Focus on keywords related to your most profitable or best selling products.
For futher information please see our article: Keyword Research Essentials
2. Page Optimisation
Once you've completed your keyword research you can now optimise your web pages in accordance with the keywords you've selected. You'll need to look at each of your pages in turn to see which elements can be optimised for which keywords. Here are some of the main factors to consider when thinking about webpage optimisation:
- Provide at least one page of content focusing specifically on each of your chosen keywords.
- Check your site for any structural issues that may have a negative effect on your search engine rankings. Things to look out for include the use of frames and flash.
- Make sure your site navigation is clear and consistent.
- Whenever possible use text links for navigation rather than img.
- Use a site map.
- Ensure your site has no broken links.
- Write good HTML and validate your code to ensure to ensure your pagaes are error free.
- Optimise your title tags and your meta description tags. These tags should be unique for each page.
- Where appropriate, include your keywords in header tags, alt tags and anchor link text.
- Include your main keywords in your page content and use related and similar terms where appropriate.
- Write interesting content and provide useful information so visitors will stay on your site longer and will come back for more.
3. Link Building
Link building is universally acknowledged as an essential ingredient for search engine success. In one way or another, all the main search engines consider link popularity in the algorithms they use to determine which web pages to rank. External links to your site are regarded by the search engines as indicators of popularity and authority and can help to boost your rankings for a range of keywords.
Link building should be seen as a medium to long-term strategy rather than something that can be achieved as a one off exercise. Here are a few key issues to bear in mind:
- Unsolicited one-way links are the most valuable kind of links. In order to achieve such links your website needs to have something worth linking to. Interesting, useful and valuable content is of paramount importance here.
- Links from high profile, authority sites are worth far more than links from low quality sites that no one ever visits.
- A variety of links from different types of websites is better than too many links from just one type of site.
- Avoid companies who offer to submit your site to hundreds or thousands of search engines automatically. These companies use auto-submission software to submit your site in ways that could potentially harm your search engine rankings.
- Submit your site to some of the top web directories such as DMOZ, Exact Seek, Best of the Web and others.
- Regional directores and vertical directories dealing with your specific market or niche can also provide good links.
- Writing articles and press releases about your company, products and services is a good way of promoting your business and gaining backlinks.
- Try to get some links from other sites in your field who already have a good ranking in the search engines. Companies within the same field which offer complimentary products and services can often be a good bet here.
- Don't forget possible links from friends, customers, suppliers and other business partners.
- Blog and forum posting can also work well as part of a varied linking campaign.
It's important to remember that search engine optimisation is really just another type of marketing. The main objective is to promote your website and your business to as many of your potential customers as you can. With a bit of patience and perseverance SEO can have positive results, but it's not a one off activity, or a secret sauce and you'll need to keep up with industry developments to ensure you stay up-to-date with current best practice.
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