How to start with SEO
When people first become interested in SEO they often run about like headless chickens trying to figure out how to better their websites ranking.
The following is a very basic overview on how to start to achieving success with search engines like Google.
- Understand your audience.
As daft as it sounds, you would be amazed at the amount of people who don’t even consider this.
Simply put it’s not just a case to rank on Google, but you need to rank on Google for phrases people interested in your information will search for.
There are a number of resources online (including Google AdWords) which can give this information.
It’s also a great idea to ask real people what they search for.
- Research your competition.
Look at your competitors websites, often if you look at the source code to a website you will see target key phrases in the <title> tag, and also in their meta keywords (if they use it) as well as in the meta description.
- Limit the scope per page.
Although some websites seem to achieve appearing on Google for many phrases on each page, the truth is that the more phrases you SEO for the less success you will achieve per page. In addition for a landing page you want the pages message to be tightly focused with a killer call to action. (Trigger to cause the user to buy or make an enquiry)
- Measure visitor data before and after SEO.
This is a must, without measuring the result of your SEO work, how do you know it’s been a success? Google’s Webmaster tools, has a great set of tools, which not only show click data but also the times key phrases appear in search. Google Analytics can provide the same data but in my experience Webmaster tools is suited much more when you start to look at data.
- Give Google time to re index your changes.
Although pages can appear on Google very quickly, normally changes to pages may not be reflected for a good month. It’s also important to note that positions on Google constantly move, so it’s not unknown for a change to result in a negative more only to reverse the trend a week later.
- Keep at it.
While it’s true some pages seem to be in the top 10 at all times, some ranking factors are outside the normal monthly cycle. In short Google will trust older websites and pages more. This does not mean you are stuck with the ranking you are giving, but constant improvements to the quality of your writing and the quality of websites linking to you will over time keep improving the ranking your site. The reverse is also true, so being proactive, you can maximise the positive and minimise the negative affect of website changes.
- Search Engines love information based websites.
Google was born out of the need to index academic websites. Google algorithm therefore places great emphasis on the length and quality of the text on any given web page. Part of this is down to Google not being able to ‘read’ visual elements, but also from the fact that websites that contain useful information are more likely to have inbound links from third party websites.
- Don’t cut corners.
Google keeps a close eye on websites where there is unusual traffic flow. Or to put it into plain English, if you bulk buy inbound links, Google will be able to tell and ban you.
Google also wants to show unique information, so information copied from other websites or websites with lots of content duplicated across the site is likely to be penalised also.
- Accept your current limitations.
As with all areas of the web, SEO advice changes on a daily basis, often you will hear about the latest way to get around Google, generally ignore this advice. If the technique is a loop-hole, Google will find it and once removed will either depress your rank or if it’s deemed to be an exploit, this may result in a ban.
- There are no SEO experts.
SEO techniques simply come from the idea of trying to understand what Google is trying to do. With all techniques which are based on reverse engineering rules, it involves an amount of guess work. There is nothing wrong with trying something out and measuring the result even if it goes against the grain.