Crash Course in SEO – Search Engine Optimisation
Ok, so your website has been designed and its now live on the web. As you may already know, this does not automatically mean that people are going to find it when they search Google. Once your website is online, its up to you to promote and market your website to help it show up when people search for the service or product you offer. You may have heard about Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO for short. This is the process of getting your website listed on Search Engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing and trying to get your website to rank above the competition, and as close to the number one position as possible. Sit back and do nothing; and you will soon be watching tumble weed blowing across your keyboard.
The chances are, unless you are very fortunate, you are not the only person offering the same service or product locally or nationally.
If you are interested in being found on Google, one of the first things you will do is search Google for the product or service your offer and then ask the question, “How to get ahead of my competitors on page one of Google?”.
Well, there is no straight, short answer to this except for that you simply have to do something to impress Google more than the websites that are ahead of you. This maybe by having a bigger website with more pages of content, having more websites linking to yours, working to promote your website on Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter or even advertising in something called a ‘Phone Directory’, ‘News Paper’ or ‘Magazine’ which apparently some people use for seeking out information rather than the internet.
If you are lucky, the websites that are already ahead of you in the results will be poorly designed, poorly optimised, and the owners will be doing very little to promote them. Google is only showing them in the results because, well, there is just nothing better. You need to be that ‘something better’.
All this fun and games, is called ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ or ‘SEO’ for short.
Need Some Help?
If you have no idea where to start with updating and improving your websites SEO, then I am happy to take a look at it for you. I offer an SEO Update Service for a small fee, which will ensure the basic elements of good SEO are in place on your website and hopefully improve the business your website generates for you. Please get in touch for more details.
Types of Google Results
There are three types of results you will often see on Google. The Organic Results, which are the main results down the centre of the page. These results are shown based on how well Google ranks and respects your website, and decided by a number of factors including the age, size and quality of the website as well as how many other web pages link to it. If you have a result in this area, it is free – and does not cost anything if someone clicks on the link to your website. Secondly, are the Adwords or Sponsored Results that usually appear at the top, right and bottom of the page. To get a result here, you need a Google Adwords account and set a maximum bid and daily budget for how much you want to pay each time someone clicks on your link. This is a great way to boost your website onto page one of Google, but can also get quite expensive if you have a lot of competition. Lastly, you will sometimes see Map Results, which are usually displayed for local searches, and show results based on how near a particular website or business is located in relation to an area searched for.
If you do operate a business to a local area from a physical address with a phone number, I strongly advise you add your website to Google Maps by submitting your details here . Its free to do. Please read the details below under ‘Links From Other Websites’ first, and remember to include your keywords such as what you offer, who you offer it to and the areas you cover in your business / website description when submitting your website to Google or any other online directory etc…
Keywords and Content
The most basic element of good SEO is the use of Keywords and good content on your website. Keywords are the words that describe the service or products you offer.
As you will discover, if you have a number of different brands, products, services or areas you want to appear for on Google – you will most likely need a page for each that has unique, well written text and other content optimised for each subject or ‘keyword’.
At the very least, your home page and any other description you use to describe your business or website on other websites and social media MUST include exactly WHAT services or products you offer, WHO you offer your services or products to, and WHERE your provide your service to. For example, “Roses is a Florist in Poole Dorset. We offer flowers and floral bouquets for Weddings, Birthdays, Funerals, Anniversaries, Valentines Day and other Special Occasions. Free Delivery throughout the Bournemouth and Poole area”.
It is vital that the words you expect to be found for are included in the content, (text) on each applicable page.
Specifically, your home page is always the most important page of your website and this should always have at least a couple of paragraphs of text that says exactly what it is you do in the first few opening lines. This is not only important for your visitors, but also for Google as when someone searches online, it scans every web page in its records and shows those that include the searched words in the results.
If you offer a number of different services and products, its likely you will need to have more than one page on your website. Its important that each page on a specific topic, opens with a paragraph of text that includes relevant keywords in the opening line and features other content optimised and specific to the keyword. See additional information under ‘Size Matters’ .
Always write content naturally. Don’t attempt to spam each page with repetitive use of keywords or copy text from another website.
If you have a number of products or services and cover more than one town or county, then trying to optimise a small website for all your keywords is going to be very difficult. A larger website with more pages of content unique to each area of your business will perform much better than a website with everything thrown onto a single page.
While your home page can still summarise all the important aspects of your business or website, to stand the best chance of competing against other sites and ranking well for each of your products, services or keywords; you will need a page per keyword or area.
For example, if you are a Builder in Bournemouth and want to see your website appear in Google results for all your services, you would need a page specifically designed and optimised for each service and area. eg; Garage Conversions Bournemouth, Conservatories Bournemouth, Roofing Bournemouth… and so on.
Each page would then have its own content to explain more on that service and the area covered including images and even a Google Map for the area. For example, “We offer Garage Conversions in Bournemouth, Boscombe, Westbourne and surrounding Dorset towns and villages…”
The same can be applied if you only offer a single service but want to cover more than one area. For example, if you are a make up artist, you may need a page for each town or county you want to promote your services. Eg; Make Up Artist in Poole, Make Up Artist in Wimborne, Make Up Artist in Bournemouth and so on… with each page featuring text and other content tailored to the area.
Is Your Website Mobile Friendly?
Its not strictly SEO as such – but if we’re talking about how successful your website is, then it will need to be Mobile Optimised or Mobile Friendly to compete in our modern, digital world.
With more and more people using their Mobile Phone or Tablet to browse the internet these days, its vital that your website works on a mobile device.
As I type this, there is a spare laptop on the desk in front of me. But my Wife and Daughter are in another room sat with their iPhones glued to their hands tapping away looking for something else to buy that they don’t need.
I know, from experience, that if my Wife opens a website that doesn’t display correctly on her mobile phone, she’ll close it down and move on to the next one that does. That’s a lost sale for one poor website owner.
My Wife and kids aside, people won’t always be browsing the web on their mobile phone while at home. Many people use their mobile devices to browse Google while sat in waiting rooms, by the pool on holiday in Tenerife, on public transport or at their desk while on lunch etc.
If your website is not designed to be compatible with displaying on a mobile device, it will either not load at all, or be very difficult to view and navigate. Consequently, someone who has clicked on your website from Google, will click straight off it.
You can check to see if your website is mobile friendly by using Googles online tester – Click Here .
Sadly, if your website is not mobile friendly, there may be little that can be done to change it other than by having a new website built by a Website Designer. You should carefully consider how important this is for your business and if the cost of having a new website designed is worth the lost business you may be suffering for not being up to date.
Updating Your Website Frequently
Google knows how often you update your website. If a website is left untouched for a long time, Google starts to think the information may be out of date and will rank it lower in search results.
If you have a CMS website or a blog facility, you should post fresh content as often as you can. Just a small update to the home page, or a new post in a blog can tell Google you are still alive and looking for business.
If you do not have a blog or CMS website that you can update yourself, you will need to find a website designer to update the website for you with some new content, and re-submit the site to Google as and when.
Its far better to be able to do this yourself though; so look at options for upgrading your website to offer this facility.
Links From Other Websites & Social Media
The second most important part of good SEO is building links to your website. If you just leave your website online, and do nothing else – its very unlikely Google will take much notice of it and it will not perform very well. More so when a website is new, its important you get its name ‘out there’ and start setting up links and referrals from other websites.
Before you start this, note that links work best when they include keywords.
You will usually also be able to add a description of your website. Here, important to expand on what you offer, and include your keywords. Don’t just use marketing words and offers – explain what it is you do and the people and area you provide it to.
Your website description must include exactly WHAT services or products you offer, WHO you offer your services or products to, and WHERE your provide your service to. For example, “Roses is a Florist in Poole Dorset. We offer flowers and floral bouquets for Weddings, Birthdays, Funerals, Anniversaries, Valentines Day and other Special Occasions. Free Delivery throughout the Bournemouth and Poole area”.
Look for local and national website and business directories that offer categories applicable to your website and business. If you do offer a local service, then local web directories are better – but nationwide ones are also fine.
You should not need to pay to add you link to any website, or even provide a link back. The below websites offer free listings, and you should start by adding your website to each of these:
- Yell.com (Free Listing)
- Poole Business Finder*
*If not in Dorset, find your own local online business directory.
Be aware, that as you start to add your website to online directories, you will start to get phone calls from advertisers. If you do, just say ‘no thanks’ and put the phone down. Please, DO NOT agree to pay anyone who calls you offering top results and guaranteed results.
The more websites that link to yours, the higher Google will rank you.
Love it or hate it, Social Media is very important for website owners. Set up a Facebook and Twitter account for your website, and use each to promote your website by posting frequent links to it, and articles that people will find useful or funny, and encourage users to share and comment on your posts.
Make sure your website features icons that link directly to your Facebook, Twitter or other pages on social media. This helps your visitors like and share your website, posts and pages and promote your website for free within their own groups and communities.
Facebook also provides you with an option to target your adverts or posts to specific people based on their gender, age, location and even hobbies or websites they have recently viewed. Its a great way to give your website some brand awareness when it is new.
Getting More Technical
There is much more that goes on behind the scenes of your website that can help with your websites SEO. Parts of your website design structure help Google and other search engines understand what your website is about.
Its unlikely you will be able to change this information yourself, so its best to employ the services of an experienced website designer to take a look at your META TAGS and ensure your website has been properly submitted to Google via the Google Search Console.