Search Engine Optimisation is, to put it into simple and rational words, a systematic series of processes that will result in the website moving up the search engines until it can move no more. The good news is that you can perform many if not all SEO practices yourself. In this article internet marketing expert Brian Bentley BSc (Hons) reveals some useful do-it-yourself SEO tips.
Keyword and competitor research
You have set up a website because you want to sell something; products or services or both. Ask your best mate what they would search for should they be wanting what you have on your website. There’s part one of your keyword research done.
Part two is: expand the list to include variations and, perhaps, locations. Put all these on a spreadsheet and check where your site is. If it appears nowhere in the first five pages, then it’s nowhere.
Who are your main competitors? Are they above you in Google? For what search terms are they above you in Google? There’s part three of your keyword research done and your competitor analysis done at the same time.
SEO also includes seeing what search terms are performing and working on the pages harbouring those that aren’t. Poking round Google Analytics to see where folk are coming from, what pages they are landing on and what they do thereafter should lead your SEO process for the day. Oh, another reason to do the fortnightly thing is that, when it comes to checking rankings again (two weeks after your last session), Google will have been to have a look.
Content remains king
Algorithms may well have changed, and changed back again, but the one key aspect of any website that Google has always put right at the top of its lists is content. Google can’t actually read the words themselves but it can measure a whole heap of other criteria that will determine, in part, whether your site gets ranked well or not.
Those criteria involve how long a user stays on a page i.e. reading the content. Good content will have the user on there for longer. Really good content will push the user towards the next page, relevant to the one before but (hopefully) the buy it now page.
Statistics state that we have just seven second to capture the users’ attention and keep him on the site. Those seven seconds are taken up with reading the first three lines of copy, not looking at the banner image nor checking out pictures of staff.
‘Content is King’ – both for search engine ranking and for the user. Thankfully, the major search engines now realise that good websites have content that has been written with the user in mind and copy crammed full of keywords just doesn’t read well at all.
Buried deep in the search engine algorithms is a measure of how good each page’s content is. By measuring the time that a user spends on each page, the search engine can judge the suitability of the content. Search engine gurus have now come to understand that properly written content will contain keywords in a density of some 5% and, bearing in mind that web users scan – they don’t read – it is hard to justify reams and reams of content. After all, 5% of a lot is the same as 5% of a little.
Also, whilst on the subject – please ensure that, if you want to rank for a certain search term, it at least gets a mention on the site, better still have a page to itself. That may sound daft but I’ve lost count of the amount of clients who ‘want to be top’ for searchtermxyz when there is no sign of searchtermxyz anywhere in the content on their site.
Probably the biggest problem facing a website owner and his rankings is inbound links. Thankfully, Google’s changes in algorithms are mostly designed to seek out and penalise bought links and spam links. Given the way that Google is going, the prudent way to link build is not do any at all.
One bad link can wreck years of ethical SEO but we are of the mind that, if Google penalises sites that have spam or bought in links pointing to them, then we could all attack our competition’s rankings with a gung-ho link building approach. If a website is good enough, it will obtain natural, good links over time anyway.
If you would like to see more of these helpful SEO tips, then “SEO – From Beginner to Boffin” written by Brian Bentley BSc (Hons) is the right book for you.