Firstly let’s get the very basics of what SEO is. SEO involves making your page the best quality it can be, you want to do this so that search engines will rank your page above other, possibly similar, pages. Now I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here as this is just basic tips to help you get along, if you do want to know more however I recommend Moz’s (formally SEOmoz) basic SEO guide.
Now that we have that out of the way let me also make a point that you can’t do a few simple things and expect to get to the top of Google (even if you hear SEO guys are wizards). You can optimize your site to help it along its way to the top of Google.
Before you do anything more, one important tip is make note of what you’re doing and when you’re doing it. You can’t see how far you’ve come unless you can see where you started. This is a good tip if you’ve made a change and you find your rank in the search engines has gone up or down; you will then know what caused it.
One easy mistake that catches a lot of people out is www verses non www it’s always a good idea to 301 redirect the empty subdomain i.e. http://yoursite.com to http://www.yoursite.com this will mean if someone links to http://yoursite.com and all the content is on http://www.yoursite.com the user and thus the search engines will find the content.
Backlinks. If you have heard about these you may be eager to go out and create some. But hold on there, you need to make sure the site you plan on getting your link on is a good site and will help pull you up the search engines rather than push you back down. Avoid posting your domain in thousands of directories which are unrelated to your business, but at the same time don’t post your link hundreds of times on a single site. Be sensible and consider where your site is being linked from.
Links out can be as good as links in! Although this may seem crazy, linking out can help you because search engines look at links going out as much as they do coming in. Not linking out can be seen a bit selfish by search engines compared to if you were to link to relevant sites, let me give you an example: A site that sells books might have external links to the books author. This is good because it can give the user more information on the authors and it reinforces the search engines opinion that your site is all about books.
Search engines can’t read images very well (they are working on it though), in order to solve this you need to tell them what the image is, this is done by filling in the ‘alt’ tag, this also helps any visually impaired users on your site as this is what screen readers will read. It’s not just images; you can give a multitude of things alt tags including Java and Flash programmes.
Whilst we are on the subject of Flash, although building a site in Flash might looks like the best thing since sliced bread it won’t rank in search engines because they cannot read the site. I’ve used the word ‘read’ a few times here, I should point out that search engines don’t read sites like you and me they read the website markup code – HTML.
Meta Tags. A long time ago meta tags used to be a lot of value to Google however as time has gone on (and the feature got abused by spammers) they are no longer of value. However having unique content in the meta can still help to a degree.
There are three areas of the Meta tags; title, description and keywords. The two you should focus on are the title and the description. The title is as you would guess the tittle of the page and the description is the same. The description is also displayed on search results, so could be considered the text that helps users searching for your site whether your site is what they are looking for.
As you can see the description is also limited to around 70 characters; remember this when creating it. The keywords aren’t really used but you can still enter some keywords that are relevant to the page.
Content is King
The content of your site is also a key thing to look into, you want good fresh content that’s relevant to your site. If you’ve made fresh content that’s great, but make sure you also give users the option to share it, the bonus of sharing it is you also get free good quality links back to your site. Make sure you keep your content updated as if your site is changing, search engines (and users) will keep checking back and giving you more opportunities to rank up. A blog can be a really good way of doing this, (e.g. review products) it can be a good way to connect to users and sell your service.
Long Tail Search
Now we’ve covered some of the basics of internal we can start to look externally. Research is a very important step for knowing the Long Tail search term.
A Long Tail search term is a longer than normal search term and it’s normally near the end of a customer’s searching session where they are looking at buying a product.
User is looking at cameras so they search for:
They then may find a brand then move to:
“Canon digital cameras”
And may even go further:
“Buy Canon 550D”
The last search term would normally convert a lot better than the first because the customer is already looking for the product you may have. On top of this you can narrow it down because there may be millions of sites about digital cameras but few still with the Canon cameras.
How can I find these long tail keywords? Well there are a lot of methods one helpful tool is Google Adwords which you can research phrases and find the volume of searches per month. Another tool I recommend is Google TrendsMajestic SEO to look at their links. You can then aim towards this search term like writing articles on Canon 550D, submitting yourself to a few relevant directories (e.g. yell.com) or run a special offer on social networks to get people to link to you. There are many ways of building links, a bit too much to cover on this one post.
One thing to remember; SEO takes time. You can’t expect to see results right away. If you also try to do too much too quickly you can find you get in trouble, you may change 100 things but have no idea out of those 100 things which one has broken your site (also another good reason to take note of what you’re doing). So do a few things and give it time to see what happen on the search engine results page (SERP).
Remember SEO is ongoing you can’t do a few things and expect it to last you need to keep at it, monitor your website and keep an eye out for any changes in Google.
Good luck, and keep at it. SEO has been described as an art more than a science.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Thomas A. Edison