You might be asking yourself why commence with a picture of Harrods – isn’t this post about Search Engine Optimization? Well, the first thing you need to know about SEO is that SEO creates exposure, visibility and traffic. It’s like the modern version of showcasing your product on the show-window of Harrods or the ever exclusive 5th Avenue. Consider the internet has around 3 billion users and search engines generated 19.32 billion queries in January 2014. Good SEO will make sure that out of the 19.3 billion queries those that are related to your field will hit straight into you.
- Good SEO will put you at the front of search engine results. Why should you be interested in this? The higher you appear the more likely you’ll bring in traffic.
- Users trust search engines hence if you feature in the top positions you are more likely to be perceived as trustworthy by your customers.
- SEO can put you ahead of your competition. Ceteris paribus, a website that has been optimized is more likely to have more customers and make more sales.
What is SEO?
In short, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a set of rules that can be followed by web site (or blog) owners to maximize the number of visitors by ensuring that its content appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine. There are two main categories in search engine optimisation. On-site and Off-site SEO.
How Can you Improve your SEO?
So by now you should be familiar with why SEO is important and what it’s about. Now it’s time to delve into the practical part. How can you improve your SEO?
As said above, there are two stages or categories to SEO, On-site SEO and Off-site SEO. For clarity we’ll elaborate on both stages separately.
1. On-site SEO
- Page Titles – it is important to give every page a unique and representative title. There should always be a relation between the page title and the content provided by it.
- Page Description – a page description (metatag) is also vital for SEO. Google and internet users need to know what your page is about. In order to have the optimal page description provide a unique description of your website, keep it between 150-160 characters and don’t add too many keywords.
- Internal Links – internal links are links that redirect the reader to another page within the website. In order to use internal links optimally make sure they are actually useful and easy to understand for the user and search engines. Don’t overdo them or use the term ‘click here’.
- Image Optimization – following the rise of Pinterest, it has become a must to add images to posts. It might actually be true that an image is worth a thousand words. Having said this, be smart about it. Don’t overload your site with images! One of the dimensions google uses to rank your page is loading speed.
- Page Speed – as mentioned above, page speed is a key factor in SEO. Google likes pages that are good and load quickly. Why? Google wants to give the users the best result at a fast rate. In order to improve your page speed don’t only keep images to those that are necessary but also make sure you remove unnecessary plug-ins and optimise size of images. Once this is over, check your loading speed at http://www.webpagetest.org. You should be looking at something under 7 seconds.
- Mobile-friendly Websites – yesterday, 21st of April Google changed its algorithm and now web pages which are mobile friendly appear higher in search results. What does this mean? If you want to appear in the first page you better optimize your page for mobile users.
- Content is Still King – for as good as you may be in SEO, what primes is content. What is good content? Content that answers the questions people come to search engines for. Make sure this content is also error free, informative – linked to other web pages. If you want to know more about what is good content check this article written by google about “What are high quality sites”?
There are a few more ways of ensuring your SEO is optimum. Check Alex Chris’ article “SEO tips for beginners ” to get a deeper insight about the nitty-gritties of SEO.
2. Off-site SEO
So we’ve spoken about the changes you can do to your site to make it more appealing to both Search Engines and users. Now is time to delve into what you can do outside your website. The main Off-Site SEO technique is to improve the quality and quantity of incoming links. When search engines are trying to figure out whether the website is good or not one of the criteria they look at is incoming links. Who do they come from? How many? Are they reputable sites?
Having said this, you might be asking yourself, How can I get more links? There are three general strategies that people use. First you can try to improve your content. Good content causes people to want to link to your site. Second option is to Guest Post. This creates a natural link to your site. Last and some say least, pay for links (we don’t recommend this last option). Whilst some people achieve success using this option, it is not recommended. It just brings immediate success. For more info on how to improve links check this article by Corey Eridon “32 White Hat Ways to Build Inbound Links“.
So this is it. An initial guide to SEO for “dummies”. Get the traffic going.