Basic Search Engine Optimisation

Basic Search Engine Optimisation

Search engine optimisation (SEO) can be a cause of much confusion for small business owners trying to get noticed on Google and indeed it is often described as a black art, a mix of science, art and mumbo jumbo.

Getting listed for any one keyword (search term) largely comes down to doing a better job than the competition at optimising for that keyword. Businesses with lots of competitors are likely to find it difficult to get ranked for common keywords while if you are one of the few looking to get ranked for a keyword the task will be easier. Thus it is hard to get ranked for ‘fashion’ while it is much easier to get ranked for ‘bright blue spanners’.

There are over 200 factors involved in getting ranked on Google but in broad terms we can break SEO into two broad sets of basic tasks, on-site and off-site. In almost all case we need to work on both.

On-Site SEO

Create page titles that target the keyword you are looking to rank for and target just one or two keywords per page. It usually makes sense to use your homepage to target your most important keyword. So our friend Bob might have a home page titled ‘Widgets by’ while his other pages might be titled ‘Designer Widgets by’ and ‘Used Widgets by’ etc.

Stay on track. Talk only about those particular topics on those particular pages and try to use page headings that also contain the keywords if it does not look too spammy. Don’t worry about keyword density just talk naturally about the subject.

Include images on the page with appropriate filenames and alt tags e.g. a picture on our designer widget page might be titled designer-widget.jpg and have an alt tag describing it as ‘designer widget photo’.

Try to use descriptive urls for all your pages if your site set-up allows, e.g.

Don’t worry about meta keywords. Such little use is made of them now they are actually more likely to cause trouble than they are worth and if anybody offers to optimise your meta keywords, politely decline!

A meta description is simply a short line or two describing the pages content, it may be used by search engines as the snippet of text quoted in listings so do try to encourage visitors with it. It tends to get used most if it contains the keywords from your meta title.

Make your pages informative, the more unique quality content for the engines to index, the more they are going to like you.

Link to your other pages on your site with descriptive anchor text (the clickable words) e.g. link to the widget accessories page with a link like Widget Accessories.

Off-Site SEO

Unless you are the only site trying to get ranked for a keyword you are likely to need plenty of other sites linking to yours. Ideally these links should be from a spread of websites relevant to your industry. The greater the competition for the keyword the more and better quality links will be needed.

The best links are those made with your keywords as the anchor text on those other sites (rather than just the name of your site) and they must be free of the noFollow tag to pass any juice to your site. Make the choice to always use either the www or non www version of your site and stick with it for all link requests.

Start a webmaster tools account at Google and verify your site there. The tools account will show lots of info and help you decide what to improve as the site grows.

There are many other factors a professional SEO might look at but if you can cover these basics you will have done more than the vast majority of small business website owners and as we said earlier, it’s all about doing better than the competition!