Search Engine Optimisation or SEO as it commonly abbreviated has evolved dramatically over the last decade. Once a minor discipline and a subset of the many skills needed by web designers, search engine optimisation is now big business and encompasses many disciplines including web design, advertising, marketing, and journalism.
Whilst the exponential growth of the Internet in the 21st Century has opened up a huge commercial opportunity, ensuring your potential customers can find your website before they find your competitors has become a mammoth task and for larger companies at least one that is more and more often outsourced to an expert SEO company.
If you’re just starting out online, however, there are some relatively simple steps you can take to form the foundations of an SEO strategy that you can employ to get your web content ranked highly by the search engines.
1. Choose your keywords wisely. Don’t try to get ranked for too many and don’t choose the most competitive ones if others are just as relevant to your business and attract good search volumes. You can check this using the Google AdWords keyword tool.
2. If possible include your keywords in your domain name and in your site title, meta tags, image alt tags, anchor text and use them liberally in your site’s text content.
3. Keep your site’s code up-to-date with W3C standards and include a site map.
4. Update your website on a regular basis. The best way to do this is by including a blog.
5. Create a Google Places listing for your business including your website’s URL.
6. Link your site to your Google Plus account and other social media profiles and make sure you post any new content on these also.
7. Create a YouTube channel and make original videos echoing your site’s message and link them back to your site. Use the video Titles, Description and Tags to include the keywords you are attempting to rank for.
8. Write informative and educational articles around your keywords using the Author resource box to include your site’s URL and syndicate these as widely as possible. Using an article submission service for this can save a lot of time and they are generally inexpensive.
9. Use Social Bookmarking sites like Delicious and StumbleUpon to archive any new content you produce.
10. Submit your site to the open directory project Dmoz and all relevant online business directories.
This list is not comprehensive and there are many more SEO strategies you can employ but it should provide you with solid foundations going forward. Once you have completed these simple steps your customers should at least be able to find you in the search engines although depending on how competitive the marketplace is you may still be outranked by your competitors. If this is the case, give it time, rankings take time to settle and you may find as time passes your site’s rankings start to climb. If, however, commercial pressures mean that you have to compete for the number one spot straight-away you’ll almost certainly have to spend some money. The key areas you should consider investing your money are obviously in your website itself, it’s design and usability but also in online advertising. Using online advertising to drive traffic to your site can be costly if you have no experience and increasingly falls within the remit of an SEO Consultant.
If, however, you are keen to learn then start with Google AdWords. Google AdWords allows you target your ad placements by keyword and used correctly can actually improve your page rankings on Google with the added benefit that your customers may see your business not only in the paid ads but also in the organic search results. This a great way to build authority, trust and brand awareness. Facebook ads are also popular and allow you to target your customers by precise interests – what they like! Also consider Google AdWords for Video, Bing, AOL and depending on your business sector LinkedIn.
Remember anything that drives relevant traffic to your website and that does not infringe on search engines guidelines is likely to improve your rankings allowing you to benefit more and more from the free organic traffic – so ultimately money invested in improving your search engine optimisation is soon recouped. This is why SEO companies are so prevalent now. One point to note is that search engines constantly update their search algorithms so staying up-to-speed with these developments is crucial. What works today might not work in the future. The best way you can future proof against these developments is on your site itself by keeping your content compelling, fresh and professional.