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SEO 101

Posted 18th September, 2013 by Aliysa

So you’ve spent hours making a flashy new website, it’s up and available for the world to see, but then follows a colossal anticlimax as traffic slowly trickles in. Well maybe your website is not as good as you think... or maybe you’ve neglected SEO.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation is an inbound marketing technique that helps search engines like Google find and rank a website or webpage higher in ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ listings. The higher up and more frequent a website appears on search listings, the more visitors it will gain. Research shows the top three organic search results receive 60% of click-throughs!

And the good news is you don’t have to be a webmaster to take the basic steps to make your site SEO friendly. There are many SEO techniques, some advanced and others more straightforward, easily within the capabilities of a novice web user.

Basic Steps to Improve Your Sites Search Engine Ranking

1. Know and use your keywords

Researching and identifying the keywords to use on your site is a critical stage in SEO. Keywords can be used in your websites content, titles and domains to help you effectively reach your target audience. The Keyword Planner tool in Google Adwords is really handy for establishing which keywords you want to rank highly for in search results.

Try and use your keywords to give each web page a short relevant and unique title that will provide search engines and readers with a clear indication of the contents. This will help draw the attention of both readers and search engines.

Keywords within content are most valuable when used in moderation. Don't make the mistake of using the same word over and over again in a 600 word web page; not only will it frustrate readers and dictate your writing style, but it could potentially result in your site being penalised by Google for ‘keyword stuffing’.

2. Create and submit a site map

A Sitemap is a web page that lists all the pages found on your website, you can see Tsohost’s site map here. Sitemaps are used by search engines to affirm the web pages of your website are indexed correctly. Uploading your Sitemap to Google Webmaster ensures Google knows about any previously elusive web pages and it can provide metadata about specific types of content on the site.

When creating a Sitemap ensure it’s an accepted format, Google recommend a number of third party sitemap generators.

3. Add quality content

We’ve all heard it before, content is king; websites with unique high-quality content will rank higher in popular search engines on their own merit. Websites that are original, informative, useful and add value are more likely to receive regular and new visitors, who share the website using backlinks, which in turn attracts more visitors. Remember: quantity is not quality. Take your time when creating content to guarantee it’s not rushed and it’s of good value to your audience.

4. Secure backlinks to your site

The number and quality of backlinks to your website is used by search engines to push you up the search engine rankings by determining the relevance and usefulness of your website to a keyword search. Backlinks from high-ranking, relevant websites also helps crawlers (the programs search engines use to scan and analyse websites) find your website. Cultivating relationships with other respectable websites in your industry is advised for building high-quality backlinks that Google and co love! It is possible to buy links to boost your ranking, but avoid this at all cost! It can increase traffic to your site in the short-term, but the ever-watching search engines will inevitably catch you out and subsequently boot you down the rankings as punishment.

5. Be active on social media

An active social media presence across different platforms encourages the distribution of content and can increase a websites popularity. Social interaction impacts the results delivered for local searches on tools such as Google+ Local or Yahoo! Local, which is especially important for small businesses. Google claims that 97% of consumers search for local businesses online!

6. Get your coding right

This is slightly more advanced, however, don’t feel daunted - coding isn’t reserved for the pros: there are plenty of tutorials available online to get you started. Use heading tags properly and your copy will be easier to break down for users and search engines alike. Your main page title should use a 'h1' tag and additional subheading tags ('h2', 'h3', etc) help search engines categorise content. Use of Flash for navigation menus is a big nono - it may look pretty, but spiders struggle to read these links, so it’s best to stick to HTML.

Of course there are many other SEO techniques deployed by businesses large and small, and as search engines keep their ranking algorithms shrouded in mystery, the effectiveness of numerous methods is disputed. But by simply following these SEO guidelines you will be sure to improve your websites organic search engine ranking, which could prove extremely fruitful for business.

Categories: Tips, SEO

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