What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and how can it help my business?
Every business needs a well performing website these days, but how can you stand out from the crowd and reach potential new customers? It is true that the look and accessibility of your web site are important but search engines do not ‘read’ a web site in the same way that humans do, and unless you are ranked in the first couple of pages of a search, you might as well be invisible. This is where Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) becomes important to a business.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation is a means to increase traffic from free listings displayed by search engines, that is, not the paid for ‘results’ that also accompany a search term. It is a way of convincing the search engines that your website is what the user is looking; which is vital for them because if results are not relevant, the user will go somewhere else for their information.
How does SEO work?
Everybody would like to be at the top of page one for every conceivable search that might relate to their business. In reality, you will have to find a niche in an over crowded market. Large companies have a lot of fire power when it comes to pushing their brands to the top and spend big money to do this, but it is still possible for the little business to make their presence felt with a little bit of help from an SEO guru. The main tools are using relevant keywords, gaining respectability with links from external sources, and having constantly updated content.
Search Engine Spiders
Spiders are tools that search engines use to crawl through the internet, examining both the visible text on a webpage and the hidden text in a page header, which might be addressed specifically to them; but they cannot read text embedded in an image. These are the middlemen that will broker your website if they like what they find.
The Importance of Keywords
Put yourself in the mind of a potential customer, you have exactly what they want to find, but what words or phrases will they put into a search engine to find you? Simply by changing one word, inn to hotel for example, will dramatically increase the chances of being found. Now look at what similar sites are using, if you can find a unique term that customers will still use, like ‘character hotel’ you are on to a winner. The keywords need to appear frequently, and in context; and in the metadata in the header as well as the visible text.
Links to your website
Links are the currency of the internet, if you have lots of other sites linking to yours this will push you up the rankings lists, and the more highly respected the site linking to you, the more credibility you gain. Internal links are also important so that spiders can find their way around; dead links will reduce your ranking, so good housekeeping is essential. For a small company it is worthwhile outsourcing this vital area.
Make Content Relevant to your website
Spiders thrive on fresh text; if a site becomes stale they go looking for newer information. This also applies to humans, a blog or list of new goods or services on a regular basis will help to keep both customers and robots coming back.
Keep SEO Up to date
The constant battle to keep search results relevant means that search engines are constantly reviewing how they monitor content. Google purchasing You Tube meant that embedding videos in your site became an advantage. The basics remain the same but it pays to have someone keep you well informed.
Guardian Article – What Is SEO and how can it help my business?