Beginners Guide to SEO

Congratulations!  You’ve made the decision to take your business online.

You’ve built your website and you’re ready to start taking orders, but where are all the customers you thought would be knocking on your virtual door?  Perhaps they have gotten lost?  Or is it that they would be on their way to you….if only they knew you existed!

If you are not clued up on Search Engine Optimization, then, unfortunately, it’s going to be the latter. They simply can’t find you.

Search Engine Optimization, (SEO for short), is the process of improving the ranking of your website on major search engines such as Google.  The higher a website’s ranking, the nearer it will be to the top of the search result listings and in turn the higher the chance of people seeing your website.

Each search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo! etc) has its own ranking algorithms. These are complex rules that determine how to rank your website for a search query. Search engines never make these algorithms public and regularly change how they work, so SEO can take a little guesswork.

When someone types an enquiry in the search box of any search engine, it is the job of that search engine to provide the most relevant websites for whatever query the searcher has asked.

Let’s say, for example, you search for a big brand such as “Amazon”. As you would expect, will pop up at the top of the list. This website takes the number one slot in the search results because they have their SEO in place, as well as the fact that search engines often rank big brands higher automatically.  Plus, Amazon has probably paid more to be there.

But what happens when you use the search term “books”? This is a much more generic term and can throw up thousands, if not millions, of results. How do Google and the other search engines determine who should be top of the pile?

Well, apart from the sponsored links from advertisers who have paid to have their ads displayed, (these are normally featured at the very top of the page), Google finds the most relevant website based on the SEO work that has been carried out.

Not only does it mean that the keyword “books” has been used well within the site, but that the website is known, trusted and has lots of links from other websites pointing back to it. SEO can be quite a complex business, but when carried out well it can give you great results.

Using Keywords in SEO Website Content

One of the most important considerations in SEO is your website content. It needs to be well written and needs to target relevant keywords in a natural way.

But a word of caution: If you litter your website with too many keywords Google will penalize you by moving you down in the rankings. Never try to cheat search engines. They are very clever and can tell the difference between keyword stuffing and well-written content.

For example, let’s say you have a website that is all about cheese.  Naturally, when people search for the word ‘cheese’, you want your site to come out top in the search engine results. You might be tempted to write an article which mentions the word cheese many times (blog posts are a successful way in order to gain SEO ranking with updated content and uses keywords relevant to your business), in order to get your site ranked highly by the search engines and so appear at the top of the search results.  It could even read something like this:

“If you are looking for information on cheese recipes, read this article which is written on the topic of cheese recipes. This cheese recipe article is an excellent cheese recipe article. This cheese recipe article will help you make good cheese dishes. This cheese recipe is an easy way to make dishes using cheese. In this cheese recipe article, you can find a lot of information on making cheese dishes. This cheese recipe article talks about which are the best cheeses to use, where to buy good quality cheese, how to make good cheese dishes etc. Read this cheese recipe article to learn more about making cheese dishes.”

It doesn’t make good reading and it certainly doesn’t show a natural use of the word cheese, and overusing the keyword ‘cheese’ in this manner will guarantee that Google and the other search engines will penalize your site by dropping it down the rankings.

So how do you go about optimizing your site for the best search results?  First of all, you need to determine what keywords or phrases your potential customers are most likely to type in when searching for your particular product or service.

for example, if we were looking for a florist in Florida.

The keyword would not be ‘florist’.  It is just too generic. There are thousands of florists out there, far too many for your customers to be able to find you. Most likely, they will be searching using the phrase “florist in Florida” or something similar in the search engines.  So give some thought to what terms your customers might use to find YOU, (normally your product or server + your town or city).

Come up with the two or three most obvious keywords for your business, then use these within your website content. The basic rule would be to have your main keyword near the top of your web page or in the first paragraph of content and then use it a couple of times more throughout.  Add your secondary keywords in the body of your web page content.  Search engines will then be able to read these keywords on your website and send you potential customers who are looking for these phrases.  Just remember NOT to overdo it. Use them in a natural manner and they will work effortlessly for you.

Keep Your Customer in Mind When Designing Your Site

It is so important to provide valuable and informative content for your visitors, as today, more than ever, Google rewards websites which provide good, helpful content related to whatever line of business you are in. But Google wants to be sure your site is respected and an authority on the subject you deal with before it sends anybody your way.

So if we use our florist example again, you could provide an article or two about flower arranging or how to choose the best flowers for Mother’s Day. You could go a step further and create a video showing how best to display flowers, both in a vase and as a flower arrangement, or show how to prolong the life of floral displays to get the most from them. The idea is to create information that is going to interest your target audience.

How to Get Fast Effective Results

The quickest and best way to get more exposure for your business and turn that trickle of web visitors into a flood of sales is to hire a specialist SEO company.  SEO is a steep learning curve which really can take a lot of time and effort, time that will take you away from the running of your business.