SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation is a crucial factor that must be at the core of every online business wanting to drive customers to their website. It is now estimated that there are currently over one billion websites and more than a trillion individual pages on the World Wide Web. The days of building a website and sitting back waiting for customers to connect have long since passed.
Without an understanding of the basics of SEO and some well-designed strategies, chances are high that your online business will be dead in the water before it’s ever had a fighting chance to compete.
SEO is not just for specialists
For many people, SEO has a kind of mysterious aura about it; it’s the nuts and bolts under the hood of the internet that those with an online presence are generally aware of but do not necessarily understand how it actually works.
There are SEO specialists who command lucrative sums of money to work their magic on behalf of businesses who believe that they don’t have the time, skills or capacity to learn the basic elements of the SEO craft. This attitude is understandable given that for many industries, the internet is often used as a platform on which to promote, rather than conduct ones business.
Who cares how Google works?
A mechanic that wants to reach more customers doesn’t necessarily care how the internet works or how Google happens to rank web pages. What they do care about is standing out above their competitors by being found on the first page of the search results and converting subsequent enquiries into financial transactions and profit. These valuable queries, calls and emails come from customers who otherwise may never have found the mechanic’s business if not for the fact that they appeared on the first page of a Google search.
SEO: The simple facts
The main key to understanding SEO is to explain it plainly, so let’s break it down a little. In the simplest of terms, what Search Engine Optimisation involves is intentionally making your website more appealing to both customers and search engines so that you get free organic traffic (potential customers) visiting your pages.
Your business needs to explain what it is all about it in words that can be matched up well with people that are searching for what you offer by entering certain keywords and phrases. The more relevant or useful the search engine deems your webpages to be, the higher they will rank and the more often they will appear as relevant results to people’s searches.
The times keep on changing
It hasn’t always been the case, but search engines prefer to rank websites in order of usefulness, relevance, history and authority. In the past there were ways to use a kind of digital sleight of hand to fool the search engines into ranking pages higher on the scale of relevance than was actually warranted.
Black hat trickery
People would stuff pages with related keywords, use low quality articles and change them ever so slightly to give their websites the appearance of having more unique content than they actually did. Others would spend time spamming forums with website links in signatures or buying and exchanging links with other sites in an attempt to make it seem as though traffic was coming from all over the web to visit; therefore the site must have some special appeal or influence.
Pain and frustration drive new practices
Google has become particularly savvy at sniffing out these tactics and have created more complicated methods to analyse whether a website legitimately meets the ranking criteria their search engine uses. This is partly because while Google has the most well-known and often used search engine, they also sell ads to businesses that cost money every time they are clicked.
Overcoming the lose/lose scenarios
When potential customers are falsely driven to inferior sites with poor content, they tend to become frustrated with Google for recommending it and reluctant to waste more time clicking on ads that may or may not be relevant. Google also loses money when traffic is diverted away from targeted ads to a supposedly relevant website that really offers no value at all. It makes no sense for Google to reward such sites by ranking them highly with what equates to free advertising, so instead they have tightened the ranking criteria and penalised or ‘de-ranked’ sites who continue to offer thin content or attempt to ‘game’ the system.
Specific SEO strategies that are simple and free
So, now that the history is covered, what is it that business owners can do to in terms of SEO that doesn’t cost a fortune or take a genius to figure out? Well, as it happens, there is actually quite a lot that can be done to earn a higher page rank. In fact, Google provides specific guidelines on exactly the kind of structure and information they like to see for a site to be considered useful and relevant.
Although there are literally hundreds of ranking factors, there are a few main points that can be easily implemented by business owners with even the most basic of skills.
(Original) Content is king
The most basic change any business can make is to ensure the content of their website is useful, relevant and helpful and that it provides excellent value to those who browse the site. Just as with offline businesses, those that go out of their way to provide an excellent customer experience will always rate higher than competitors who are going through the motions and offering very little service.
A website that has original, relevant and compelling content will continually draw appreciative customers who will likely share what they find with their own circle of friends, family and peers. Google analyses this content, compares it with other similar pages and ranks it accordingly. Information copied, cut and pasted from other sites does not rank well, if at all but unique and original content is genuinely rewarded.
Correct use of keywords
It is important to put yourself in the mind-set of the customer who is searching for the exact kind of service your business offers. What kind of terms might they search for, what exact words and phrases would they be likely to enter into Google? Include both general and specific terms within the content of your pages. There is no need to go overboard as content disproportionately stuffed with keywords won’t read naturally and will affect the user’s experience. It may also flag Google to treat your site with suspicion and a low ranking rather than respect.
The power of links
Having your site or pages linked to other well-regarded sites is definitely a quick way to climb higher up the ranks of the search engines. These links shouldn’t be gratuitous or excessive, but if an older more authoritative site backlinks to your website this can provide a fantastic boost. Links reflect the reputation and character of a site, similar to a friend vouching for the good standing of a person they know but you have not yet met.
You likely trust your friends judgement and the new contact will probably rate higher in your estimation than a complete stranger who is an unknown quantity. By having a link from a site Google already ranks well, some of the trust rubs off onto your site. This is why it is important to cultivate genuine links whenever possible and to avoid linking with sites that have thin content or use questionable SEO tactics.
Consider linking to the local Chamber of Commerce, a free local business directory, writing a guest blog post for an older site or perhaps offer a testimonial for a service you have used and ask if they mind linking it back to your own site.
Page descriptions and site layout
Be sure to give each webpage on your site a unique title and include a brief description of the content in the metatags. Search engines take snippets of content and attempt to match them up with user searches. If you include brief summaries of your content with keywords, this text will appear in the search results and customers will be more likely to click and visit your page.
Google also tends to prefer websites that are well structured with an ‘About Us’ page, ‘Privacy’ and ‘Contact Us’ pages. These pages are not difficult to generate and signal that your website is legitimate, transparent and designed to be helpful to your visitors and customers.
Learn, Act and Grow
Search Engine Optimisation is a topic that ranges from straight forward to incredibly secret and complex, yet it needn’t scare business owners away from understanding the basics and implementing incremental changes that will eventually bear productive fruit. There are numerous online resources that are both reputable and free and within a very short time knowledge and skills can be gained that can continue to yield great returns for very little input.
Author Bio. :- Priya is a Technical SEO at Hopinfirst, a leading mobile app development company which provide best ios app development and Android app development Services.