No matter how brilliant the design, if your website has not been optimised for search engines, it may not attract much traffic or be easy for people to find. Search engine optimisation (SEO) helps your website to get noticed amongst all the others out there in web-land, and can lead to increased site visits and sales.
What does SEO entail?
In a nutshell, it involves structuring or configuring your site in a way that is in line with guidelines from search engine companies, particularly Google. By doing so, your site is more likely to be ranked nearer the top of page results and be easier to find when people do web searches.
Effective SEO involves the following:
- Providing quality original content including web pages, blog articles, newsletters, videos, images, and infographics. Google places a great deal of emphasis on the quality of a site’s content, so this should be a top priority.
- Using relevant keywords in the content.
- Creating accurate and unique page titles and descriptions.
- Creating user-friendly, descriptive URLs for web pages.
- Making the site easy for people to navigate and use.
- Ensuring that the site’s pages are quick to load.
- Using self-explanatory anchor text when linking to another page or site.
- Configuring the site so it can be easily accessed and used on mobile devices as well as desktops.
- Using Google’s webmaster tools for the technical side of SEO.
- Other practices, such as making use of guest blogging and Google Plus.
SEO myths and facts
There are no magic formulas for SEO. Once upon a time, it was possible to use various tricks – such as the copious use of popular search terms, or paying other sites to link to yours – to get better rankings with search engines. However, Google put a stop to this and now focuses on the quality that is provided to the user.
SEO myths still abound as well. These include the myth that SEO is dead, that you need lots of backlinks (links from elsewhere pointing to your site), and that guest blogging is no longer relevant.
The truth is actually not so black-and-white. Good SEO these days is more about quality than quantity. This means that it is not dead at all, but that site owners and webmasters need to focus on providing a great user experience, and ensuring that any content that goes on their sites is high quality, relevant to the audience, truthful and original.
Tips for SMEs
- Unless you are skilled in SEO, it’s a good idea to hire a professional SEO company to optimise your site and to deal with the technical issues.
- Post regular content on topics that your users are likely to be interested in. The content should provide quality information, and be useful to your audience. Hire a professional to put videos, infographics or articles together if you need to. You might find you need to send files back and forth when you’re having content created, especially in the case of videos. When it comes to how to email large files that would ordinarily choke your server, a virtual fax service such as mBox can help.
- Use keywords or search terms in your articles, and make sure not to overdo it so that they sound natural. A blog article full of meaningless keywords is not pleasant to read and may even earn you a Google penalty.
- Make sure to get your site configured for mobile devices. This can have an impact on rankings, and certainly improves the user experience.
- Consider using well-regarded guest bloggers, quality backlink building, social media participation, and paid ads.
The focus of your website should always be squarely on your audience and what you can provide for them. SEO doesn’t replace this focus, but is an important part of boosting your web presence overall.
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