Search Engine Optimization – A Do-It-Yourself Guide

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization is a series of activities and techniques designed to get your website to feature prominently in search engine results.
Think of it as creating a spider web where you place listings on directory sites, profiles on social media sites, comments on industry forums and blog articles that are all ultimately linked back to your website.
The more facets you have to your web the more likely people are going to find you.

A quick word on Directory Sites – these come in all shapes and sizes some free some not. They have a range of benefits where some are limited to a text listing only, while others give you additional promotion on their social media channels, blog and website allowing you to expand your spider web. Only the ones that allow you to link to your website have any value.

Search Engines
Search engine results are the list of possible choices that are presented to someone as a result of searching in Google. It is important to feature high in these results as the searcher is unlikely to go past page 2 or 3 before trying a new search.
Typically what is entered in the Google search is called keywords and it is important to have the right keywords in your website so that Google can link the search with your website. The closer the match for the keywords on your website the better chance that you will feature well in the search engine results.

There are two main types of keywords:
1) The first kind is short and fairly generic – for example property or restaurant and will generate massive search results that may or may not be helpful.
2) The other type are known as long tail keywords and are more specific to the particular business – for example property for sale Bredasdorp or restaurant farm stall Napier. These types of keywords are great for getting your location in the mix for that local advantage.

Website Optimisation
If you have a CMS (content management system) like joomla or wordpress you are going to find it a lot easier to optimise your website than a traditionally hard coded, custom website. Content management systems allow website owners to make fast changes, add content and with the regular updates in the software and coding they remain current with the trends and search engines. If you don’t have one yet then consider it for the future.

Take a look at your website and try to see it from a visitor’s perspective. They typically want information fast to make a quick decision and will turn away from too much text. Nice visuals with some short and clear descriptive text work well. Focus on the main points to draw them in.

For search engines and for humans it is important to have a title. A general “Welcome to our website” loses you so many possible keyword opportunities. Google looks for the titles of pages and uses them to rank your site along with the first paragraph of text. Rather have something specific to your business or product and if you are looking for local clients include your location.
For example Property for sale in Bredasdorp or Restaurant, Farm Stall and Vintage Clothing in Napier.

Think about what people search for when looking for you and write those keywords into your text. It is important to keep it readable as we are ultimately trying to get the visitors to read your content and besides search engines don’t need vintage clothing or a place to live. This applies to your social media posts too.

As Google keeps on changing and updating how they show the results, you’ll always get the better of it if you stick to the basics like providing quality content and thinking about your visitor’s experience rather than what the search engines might like.

Start a Blog
The problem with websites is that once you have the contact details, products and home page sorted then the website remains relatively static. Google looks for websites that are regularly updated and the best way to have new content on your website is to have a blog.
A good blog will give back to the visitor.

Try not to go the 101 ways to flog your product route with the blog. Rather try to provide useful information, solve a problem or address a specific topic. Like things to consider when buying your first house.

Blogs give you a great opportunity to add some of those keywords and over time will give the search engines lots of content to bring up on search results. If you give back you will generate a following and people will keep coming back to your website. This also builds trust that will shorten the buying cycle.

Remember to link to other similar articles, important topics and products within your website. If a page (product or product article) has a lot of internal links to it built up over time with the blog then the possibility that it will rank high in search engines increases significantly.

The best place for a blog is on your website and not an external source like Blogger, tumblr, etc. This can be easily done with a content management system even if your website is the custom hard coded type. You just have a content management system loaded up to your website and link to the blog from your website. Once in place the content management system can assimilate the website (products, contact, etc.) and the old website can fall away.

The main focus of a blog is to get repeat visitors as Google like these and to direct your readers to your website and get them into the sales funnel.

Social Media
Social media sites have become more and more business friendly, allowing businesses a platform to reach people on a more informal level. It is important to keep it friendly and post things that are likely to be shared.

Also use the social media channels to post your latest blog article so you can bring people to your blog and to your website. This generates traffic to your website which once again is tracked by Google.
Blogging should be the heart of your social media campaign.

With Facebook make sure that your link address is simple and easy to remember for
Usually when you start you get a whole string of numbers at the end. If you have 25 likes or more the link can be shortened. Go to your Facebook page and in the top right click the edit page button and then update page info and there will be an item called page address. You can edit this.

It is important to keep producing regular content and linking it to your website. Active websites and social media channels show a healthy business and work on spinning that spider web nice and wide.

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