SEO – What is it?
SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, is a methodology that allows you to raise the importance of your site within the Search Engine Ranking. I am going to talk specifically about Google – but the same applies to all search engines. SEO is a HUGE and constantly changing (and I am talking on a daily basis) topic, so what I write today MAY be obsolete tomorrow, however the things I am going to cover are the major issues that don’t seem to change too much.
Why bother with SEO?
There are billions of users out there looking at billions of web sites every day and unless you have an incredibly niche market with a very unique set of keywords to describe it, then you are going to be competing with literally MILLIONS of web pages to get that person to choose your site. For example, I ama Photographer – if you type “photography” into google.com.au it returns 402,000,000 hits – in other words, I want someone to pick me, little old me, out of 402,000,000 websites!
For the keyword “photography” my SERP Ranking is
- 959,713 on the Australian Index
- not found on the US Index
For the keyword “digital photography” my SERP Ranking is
- 20 on the Australian Index
- not found on the US Index
There are hundreds if not thousands of sites you can go to to check your SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Be aware though, google has it’s indexes spread over thousands of servers all around the world. Most of the SERP checkers will use the US server/s to check rankings – and unless your site is really well optimised, you probably won’t even rank. Make sure you use a SERP checker that allows you to use google.AU – the Australian index. One of the best I have found so far is http://www.semrush.com – this one allows you to select the Google index you want to use (for your country).
First, what are the main things to do to make your site rank better.
Major Impacts on SEO
External Links to your site are very valuable. Google has a Pagerank for each web page and the higher the rank, the more influence that page has (the ranking is from 0-10, 10 being the highest). It is better to have links from a few valuable sites than from many low ranking sites. The site that is linked to recieves the SEO benefit, not the site being linked from.
One way links from external sites rank better than reciprocal links.
Make sure you are consistent with the way you get people to link to your site – http://www.mydigitalphotography.com.au is different to http://mydigitalphotography.com.au – try to always use http://www.mydigitalphotography.com.au
Treat every web page on your site as if it was a DIFFERENT website. Why? Because there will be many keywords that you are trying to attract. Don’t try and attract them all to one page. Use each page to attract a different keyword or set of related keywords.
Put links to your pages throughout the text on your Website, Blog, Social Media posts and anywhere you can. The more links coming IN to your site the better (even links to a page from within your website count).
Add lots of text. The ideal amount of text is around 1,100 words on a web page. Spiders love text. Any more than that and people may not read it. If you have a longer story, break it up into multiple pages with links to the Next and Previous – more pages, more words, more links – all good for SEO. Use your keywords regularly in your text.
When you post a picture in Social Media, make sure you link back to your site. I am a bit careful with this one, because some people ONLY use links back to their site and a lot of people won’t click on it because they know it will take them out of the site they are on. Mix it up – sometimes put the link on the image, sometimes in the body of the text.
Make good use of Headers – within each page, Google looks at the significance of every word – if words are in a Header, they are ranked better than the same word in the body of the text. Use your keywords in your headers.
Use your keywords as much as you can – the more often a word appears the higher it ranks. However, don’t just repeat the word over and over again – google knows what you are trying to do and can penalise you for it.
Make sure your Metadata is complete – although it isn’t as significant as it was, it still counts.
Use Alternate text on images. Google does not know what an image is – it uses the alternate text on an image to catalogue it.
Use common misspellings for your keywords. Not all throughout the text, but I generally put them in a group at the bottom of a page.
Use Social Media and Blogs to drive traffic to your web page. This is probably one of the most important things today with the massive growth of Social Media. I am on Google+ , Facebook, Twitter , LinkedIn, Youtube and Instagram. On every one of these sites are links to my website, my blog, and each of my other Social Media Accounts. Make good use of the “About” page in your social media – have links to your Blog and your Website in all of them.
Use Hashtags (#). Hashtags are rapidly becoming more important. Create your own and put it on your posts. Use hashtags so that random people who have never seen a link to your site can find it if they are interested in your products and services. People can search for a # just like they can search for a URL. If you search for a # then you will find all occurrences of that # including the posts from you, with a link back to your website.
Print your website on all of your company documents – people always keep copies of invoices and receipts – they don’t always keep your business card. Make sure your website is on your invoice as people often go back to these to find your details.
These are some of the main things you can do to improve your site. The google spiders check over 200 different things every time they go to a page – way too many to even try and cover here (even if I knew them all). Good SEO will improve your visibility on the web. Bad SEO may make you invisible. Be wary of companies that claim they GUARANTEE you page 1 on Google. No one can guarantee you – not even Google will guarantee you that.
Other Things you can do to improve traffic
Always use your website link on any correspondence, digital or otherwise. You want people to know where your site is. Every email, post, invoice, receipt, letter, radio ad, tv ad – they all need to have your website on them.
Be active on your social media. The more you interact with others, the more traffic you will get.
Thank people for liking your posts. In G+ I thank everyone for liking or commenting on my posts – this takes a lot of time, but it is worth it. As a bare minimum click the +1 or Like button, preferably thank them personally (although this doesn’t seem to be the norm in FB). Interact with people on your Social Media as much as you can.
Thin carefully about your domain name. I chose MYdigitalphotography for a number of reasons – MY is my initials, but it is also a word (acronym) digital and photography are major keywords. So, MYdigitialphotography is adding to my SEO every time someone links to me or every time I post about my business. It is a bit long to type, that is the only down side!
Update your content regularly. You do all this SEO and drive people to your site – but if they see the same old thing every time they will stop going there. You have to give people a reason to come back.
Of course, the best thing you can do is post quality content and lots of it. You can follow all of the above, but if your content is boring, people will not stay on your site. I like to think of it this way – SEO is your marketing (getting people to come to you) and the website is the Sales (people will buy your product).
Things NOT to do
Don’t try and trick Google. It might work for a while, but when they find you, and they will, they will penalise your site and you will disappear off the grid.
Don’t just write your keyword(s) hundreds of times – they will ignore or penalise you.
Don’t try and hide your keywords by using the same background and foreground colour (google knows about this).
Don’t subscribe to dodgy link farms. They guarantee you hundreds and even thousands of links to your site – but these farms rank very low and they do very little for your SEO.
Don’t just copy text off other sites and pass it off as your own – google will find you and you will be penalised.
Be careful with re-directions and gateway sites – if it looks like you are trying to fool google, they will work it out.
SEO is a huge topic – it can’t be covered properly in a small article like this. In fact, it is so large that no-one can know everything about it – it is massive and it is constantly changing. But if you do all of the things in this article, you will improve your SEO.
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