Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is one of those things that many claim to be good at but only good, professional outfits actually are. It’s also changeable, especially recently with Google’s drive to rid the web of search spam.
It used to be relatively simple, get all your meta-data in order, focus on keywords and what the competition use, ensure articles and blogs are choc-full of keywords (so much so that they read terribly) and off you go.
Every day, I get offers in my inbox telling me how great someone’s SEO services are and how they can get me to the top of the rankings by doing exactly the opposite of what they should. In other words, all of the above.
Google Panda and Penguin updates have already changed the way that SEO works; in order to sort the wheat from the chaff, it’s concentrating on getting rid of link farms and content mills in order to give better quality results when searching.
Whilst this is to some extent a good thing, a lot of legitimate websites have suddenly found themselves well down on their usual ranking and some seem to have disappeared altogether.
So what’s the answer?
Quality for a start, especially over quantity. If you’re going to have a good site then it’s important that you plan it out somewhat. So understand your business, include it in your business plan (this is not just for new businesses, all should update their plan every six months to maintain focus).
Target audience: who are they? Understanding the demographics of your audience will enable you to better tailor your content to them. There’s little use putting convoluted words on your site if your audience don’t understand what you’re going on about. Optimise your site with them
in mind, not the search engines.
Use title and meta descriptions for each page, so that potential customers can see what it’s all about when they find you on a search engine.
Social sharing is a must, it’s becoming increasingly important that people are engaging enough with your site to share, this means that content is valuable and the search engines will pick up on this.
Optimise each page to ensure that your customer knows exactly what you do and make it easy for them to contact you.
Blog, blog, blog – did I mention that enough times? Don’t have a blog that gushes about your products, your customers have your web pages for that. Blogs should be industry relevant and well-written, invest in a professional. Of course, you can use the odd keyword, but a well-chosen title and similar phrase included in the text is better; keep the blogs as natural as possible.
Offer to guest blog on a higher–ranking site; use one of the many rank-checking services online and aim for 6/10 or higher, at least make sure their ranking is better than yours. Make sure you include a link to the site in your author bio when you guest blog. If you can’t write, have someone do it for you.
Link-building: there are suspicions amongst many SEO experts right now that this is becoming less important to search engines and could in fact run the risk of harming your ranking. However, ensure that any links you include and link to are quality links and stay away from linking for the sake of it.
Quality over quantity
Yes, I know I’ve already mentioned this but it can’t be emphasised enough that quality content and links are your best possible chance of success. This should be apparent over all the social channels you use as well.
Get a quality site built and ensure that not only is the copy and content perfect, but also what the search engine actually sees. Search engines crawl your site and often look the closest at your sitemap. This means that by investing in a quality web designer who really knows their stuff, the underlying code will be well written and tidy, as well as making sure you don’t have too many pages that get no traffic.
Flash is very pretty for some sites, but it’s long been thought that search engine spiders can’t analyse them very well. So if you have a flash intro page, perhaps it’s time for an update.
It’s such a thorny subject that we could sit here picking over the ins and outs of it all day and it’s still not 100% understand what search engines are up to, but good practices, content and a good webmaster will get you going.