Search Engine Optimisation is a term you often hear mentioned in the same sentence as website. So how important is it?
Mentioned in our blog article Geek Terminology SEO or Search Engine Optimisation refers to the process of fine tuning your website so that it appeals to search engines. It provides the basis for good high ranking organic appearances in search results.
Search engines, Google in particular, have an extremely complex algorithm that is used to rank the results they display for a given search. This algorithm is continuously refined and adapted to suit the patterns searchers use, the results that search engines deem relevant to their users and the methods employed by websites to make their content attractive to the search engine bots (programs that crawl the web looking for new and updated content).
As search engine users generally only look at the first 20 or 30 results from a given search and sometimes not even that, it can be a tremendous boost to your website traffic if you appear well up that list. That makes effective SEO a necessity and as the only cost involved to the site owner is the work involved in optimising your website it provides great return on investment.
So how do I optimise my website?
Normally this is something that will be handled by your web developer, however you can and should have input into the process to ensure the best results.
While there are literally hundreds of factors looked at by the search engine algorithms there are some areas that are key to obtaining good results.
- Relevant content – the Google website itself will tell you that the best way to help your site rank well with them is to provide high quality, well presented and relevant content. This means including terminology that is unique to your product and/or industry, also referred to as keywords.
- Don’t try to spoof or trick the search engine crawlers by using keyword stuffing. Include material that is only related to your site and only use methods that legitimately present your content. Included in the search engine algorithms are methods for identifying trickery and if detected you can expect your website to be penalised or even excluded from results.
- Ensure your pages are optimised properly – this means the carefully implemented use and placement of page titles, meta tags and keywords.
- Links – both incoming and outgoing. The more valuable of the two are the incoming links and the more valuable of those are from websites that rank well themselves. Needless to say it can be difficult to obtain incoming links from websites that already have a good reputation with search engines. Avoid links to and from sites that have no relevant association with your site content because they can be seen as trying to inflate your ranking illegitimately (see point 2).
- Commit to a long term program of refinement – the best results cannot be obtained overnight (despite what some hawkers would have you believe) and require a dedicated program of fine-tuning to change your optimisation to suit the habits of users and the changes to the search engine algorithms.
Given some effort and time it is not impossible to rank well in search engine results without the need to spend large amounts of money. What’s more, results obtained through a dedicated approach to SEO will not only be more sustainable but they will also be more resilient.