What is SEO?
Before we consider how to do SEO on our own website we need t understand that Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is the process of optimising your website so that you appear as high as possible in search results in Google, Bing etc. There used to be all kinds of techniques to achieve this, and you could pay companies good money to get them to employ the ‘tricks’ for you.
But the search engines are businesses, with the searchers as their customers. They want to keep those customers happy by returning good, relevant results.
So the search engines continuously refine their algorithms. These are a process/set of rules that is followed in determining which webpages to return as results to search enquiries. These refinements are often carried out to weed out websites that are still employing the old SEO tricks.
So, how do we do SEO nowadays?
It’s actually simpler than it has ever been. To get found on a search engine all we have to do is make sure that our website offers what a searcher is looking for. Imagine you head to Google and search for a red hat to buy. Do you want to see a website that was last updated in 2010? Do you want to see a website that says “buy red hats here”, and then turns out to be a load of links to other, unrelated, websites? I’m guessing not.
You want to see sites that offer various red hats for sale. Sites that look trustworthy and safe to buy from. So how do the search engines try to find these ‘good’ sites? They look for indicators that the site is current, relevant, has a decent reputation, offers the product or information the searcher is looking for, offers unique content etc. And in the case of Google, they check if you are using plenty of their products.
How do we add these indicators to our site?
- Current – keep fresh content e.g. blog posts, new products or any other updated content, e-newsletters.
- Relevant – content that the searcher finds informative, engaging, helpful, or entertaining. Also pay attention to your location; if you are a Nottingham plumber make sure you reference Nottingham.
- Public reputation – reviews, blog comments, activity on Social Media, your Social Media posts on your site etc.
- Internet reputation – relevant links to your site from high quality websites such as Local Government, the BBC, Huffington Post etc.
- Information – use relevant keywords; make sure a page about blue widgets contains the phrase ‘blue widgets’ in the pages title, in the page text, the meta tag description and in the image name of any pictures on the page. However, do not go overboard and put ‘blue widgets’ in every sentence. The text must read well.
- Unique content – just as it says, make your content unique. Do not copy anyone else’s content; do not use product descriptions given to you by suppliers. Rewrite them to suit your business.
- Google products – use Google+, use YouTube, have Google analytics on your website, claim your business on Google Maps to get the orange pin.
What SEO techniques can I do myself?
Follow the list above and also make sure that, once you have established your keywords, that they appear in the page name, URL slug, content, page meta title and meta description.
To help with this I recommend you follow all the on page instructions that ‘Yoast SEO’ provides.
So what are SEO companies getting paid for now?
It’s all very well knowing you need to add fresh content all the time and sprinkling your keywords about and ‘engaging’ on Social Media, but we often do not have the time for this.
And what if we are saying the wrong things? It’s no good posting to Twitter “we sell red hats” every five minutes. That is of little interest and gives no value to the reader. You need to share things that people will want to read because they do not think they are being sold to. “Do you know why red hats are sexy?” will get attention, and is more likely to result in sales. Special offers and discounts are different though. “50% off red hats today only” is of interest.
And what if no one is even listening anyway?
So it is a bit of a catch-22; by spending the time on this content we will be more successful. Yet we cannot afford to spend this time until we are more successful….
The solution may be to buy in this kind of SEO expertise:
- Have regular blog posts written for you.
- Get genuine followers and likers found for you (do not buy followers etc!)
- Show Social Media feeds on your website
- Have your Social Media campaigns run for you.
- Have keyword research carried out for you; there is no point using a keyword that no one is searching for in the first place.
- Have your Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools accounts managed for you.
If you decide to go down this route use a reputable company, make sure you have a budget for this work and monitor whether it is successful or not. Lots of traffic to your site might be great, but if the visitors are not doing what you need them to, buy something, call you etc. then they are not worthwhile.