SEO, or search engine optimisation, is a term which is thrown around a lot in the world of web design, yet many people are a bit vague on what it actually is and how it can help their website get on the first page of Google.
There are even many web developers that don’t include search engine optimisation as a standard part of the website development process, which always seems very odd to me, as it’s a bit like building a car and leaving the engine out of it. A search engine optimisation plan and an SEO strategy should be part of your website, even before development has commenced.
You don’t build a home without a plan and goal in mind, so why should a website, where your business lives online, be any different?
When it comes to Google, we all want to be on the first page, as this is your free ticket to online success. People pay thousands of dollars a month to Google Adwords to be placed on the top or sides of the search engine results, so if you can get there free, you not only save considerable money on pay per click advertising, but you are almost guaranteed it will generate sales or service enquiries regularly.
Now, the only problem with Google is there are only 10 spots on the first page where your business listing can show up, and if you type in any of your major keywords your sure to find a lot more than 10 search results. Don’t let this concern you though, as almost 90% of those other results won’t be optimised for Google.
There are a handful of factors you need to consider if you want to be in those top 10 search engine results, and literally anyone can achieve the result when you understand how simple SEO really is.
Many SEO services may try to convince you with a big list of technical terms or lingo such as back links, page rank, authority, etc to make it sound like it’s hard, or expensive to rank on the first page of Google.
SEO is not rocket science. SEO is actually very, very simple.
What most people, and even many web seo specialists don’t realise is that Google have actually designed search engine optimisation to be dead simple, if you look at it in a very simple, logical way, which is by imitating life and treating your website as a person.
Most SEO specialists won’t explain it in the following terms I am about to, but I think you’ll agree it makes it sound extremely simple, and if you give it a go you’ll find your website ranking will in fact increase very quickly.
In real life, a person with great knowledge on a particular topic could be regarded as an authority in their field. This is the same for your website. If your website has good quality unique and original content not found anywhere else on the web and Google thinks is a benefit to its readers then it starts regarding you as an ‘authority’ in your niche. If you regularly add new content on the same topic then this increases your ranking as you are actively being an authority.
To increase your authority, you would do what a person does in real life, spread your information of interest around with others, and when they share and refer you to others suddenly you become more visible to others and they want to know you. You have just gained additional authority.
People always seem to get confused about back links, but in fact it is very simple. Think of high ranking sites as the popular kids at school, and you want to be popular as well. First you have to let the popular kid you exist and that you have something of interest for him to become your friend. Once he accepts you in and have a direct link with the popular kid then you are perceived as being popular as well. The more popular kids you hand around the greater your popularity and trust grows. But if you were to hang around with the bad kids then your popularity also dwindles.
So if you look at a popular kid as a High Page rank (High PR) and a bad kid as a Low PR then this makes it much clearer.
If you try becoming friends with too many popular kids all at the same time then you look fake, just as you do to Google if you try and get too many backlinks all at the same time, so trickle your back linking out to make it look more natural.
While keywords aren’t as necessary in optimisation as they once were, they still play a big part for Google to understand what your website is about, what you do, where you are located etc.
If your site was a person and say that person sold tshirts, and it walked into a room full of people and started saying, ‘I sell red shirts, I sell blue shirts, I sell cotton shirts’, etc, then it would get pretty annoying. So if you use the same keywords too much on your website Google also gets ticked off and penalises you.
But if the same guy walked into the room and instead said ‘I sell red cotton tshirts made in Australia and available in 3 sizes for just $15 each’ then he has given his listeners more information of interest. So for your site, rather than fill it with the same keyword, but instead use information that assists in people understanding what you do, who you are, etc and you’ll find this increases your rankings.
Now, if the same chap then went on to not only explain about the shirts but possibly give them away free, or give them information that found interesting enough to share with their friends, he has now gained ‘authority’. Authority is more important than just ensuring you have the correct keywords, as authority tells Google you also have information of interest that people want.
4. Meta Description and tags
A meta description is a single line that says what your web page is about. If the site was the person selling tshirts, then the description would be something like, ‘Mens Australian Made red cotton t-shirts in large sizes with free delivery’. Immediately this tells Google exactly what you are selling, making it easier for them to index your site.
5. Mobile Responsive Site
Recently Google started changing their algorithms to favour sites that are developed in a mobile responsive format. This is a format that changes to a mobile-friendly style when viewed on smartphones or tablets. A site that is not mobile friendly is like a building that doesn’t have wheelchair access. If not all people can access it then you get penalised.
The fact is, around 60% of any website’s traffic now comes from mobile devices, so Google wants to ensure you are providing them with a site that they can confidently promote for you. If your website is not mobile responsive yet then you could be missing a lot of traffic and could soon see your rankings slip. Most good developers now always build in mobile responsive themes.
You’ll actually notice on Google mobile searches now that Google will tell you if the site is non-mobile responsive, and have actually started penalising sites on their mobile search results.
6. Retaining a good ranking
If you have followed the steps mentioned above you should see an increase in your rankings almost immediately, but you need to work at it to keep it there.
SEO is a bit like going to the gym…you can’t just do one work out and expect to see muscles a week later. SEO is a commitment which should be revised on a regular basis to maintain or increase your rankings. Adding more backlinks, more content, fine tuning the existing descriptions, images, etc is all appreciated by Google, and they reward you in exchange.
SEO tools such as SEO Profiler can assist greatly by showing you your current rankings across the major search engines, as well as how you rank against your competitors.
On top of this, you can also ‘sky’ on your competitors, and view their website’s strengths and weaknesses, so you can work on improving your own site to beat them in these areas. This can effectively help you dominate your SEO niche.
Remember, Google WANT you to rank well as it means they can sell more advertising to your competitors.
Follow these steps above and do a regular SEO workout on your site and you’ll find yourself on the first page in no time, and possibly there for a long time!