So your website is complete, it is a triumph, a masterpiece, a beacon of gloriousness shining out above us all, making everyone who looks upon its majesty feel inferior. Or at least that’s what you tell your mates down the pub because you’ve not had one single solitary visitor. Welcome my friends to the wonderful world of SEO.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine (SERP) -- including Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines (source). It is quite possible that you’re making the same face that I did when someone tried to explain it to me in much the same way. In this article I hope to help you get a clear understanding of what SEO means and how YOU can get it working for your site.
It is as this point I’d like to share a disclaimer. Reading this article will not guarantee your website getting to the top of the first page of Google, nor will it get you ‘server-crashing’ traffic. Follow the advice herein and your site visibility will improve. Keep doing these things and who knows…
Understanding What SEO Means
Imagine Google is a massive library. It has different sections and each book on its shelves represents a website. Let’s imagine that you work in this library and it is your job to organise the new ‘books’ coming in. The first book that you pick up has a picture of a dog on it and the title is ‘Paws for Thought Dog Groomers – West London’s Premier Dog Grooming Service’. You smile and trot off, pushing your trolley as you go, to the West London Dog Grooming Section. Placing the book on the shelf you get an overwhelming sense of satisfaction that when someone comes to the library looking for a ‘book’ on West London Dog Groomers, they may just pick this very item up.
The next book has a blank cover except for the title ‘Home’. It has no pictures, text or any distinguishing features at all. You open it up, flick through the pages, turn it over and over in your hands but it’s no good. Nothing. You through it over your shoulder and go about your business.
Hopefully my analogy is clear enough but just in case it is not – All SEO does is tell the search engines what your site is and where it should be stored for reference. It really is that simple. So please put your trolley to one side, button up your cardigan and I will take you through a few things that will help your site get recognised by the search engines.
An artist's impression of what Google's library might look like.
An artist's impression of you as a librarian in the Google library.
SEO Tip 1: Site Titles and Long-tail Keywords
How many websites have you seen where the site title in the tab at the top of the browser window is ‘Home’ and the contact page is ‘contact’? Probably a few I would bet. This is not a good thing as this does not tell Google what the page is and who it is aimed at. Going back to my dog groomer analogy, the title on the homepage of their website was ‘Paws for Thought Dog Groomers – West London’s Premier Dog Grooming Service’ so there is no doubt that if someone was looking for a dog groomer in West London then the chances of them visiting this site would be increased.
This leads me into keywords and in particular ‘Long-tail’ ones. So many of you know of SEO keywords and that you would like your site to rank highly when one of those words is typed into Google. But really think about it – really thing like your target user. What would someone most likely type in if they wanted to find your site? Could your service and location be summed up in one word? Possibly not. The fact is when people are looking to buy an item or service they are initially very broad with their search terms (Dog Groomers), this is the research phase, but when they are ready to commit they will be very specific about what they want and where they want it (Dog Groomers West London.
Now this next piece of information is very important. Google (and others) are getting very clever so please don’t just put ‘Paws for Thought Dog Groomers – West London’s Premier Dog Grooming Service’ in every sentence or paragraph as this will have a very detrimental effect on your rankings and visibility.
SEO Tip 2: Changing, Valuable Content
As I have just mentioned Google can now tell the difference between ‘SEO Optimised’ content and truly valuable content. I’m sure this means that the human/robot wars are mere decades away but let’s cross that bridge when we come to it. So we need to make sure that we keep the content on our site up to date and valuable. There are a few ways that we can do this. Firstly get your social media feeds on to your website. This means that the content on your site will change as often as your tweet or Instagram your breakfast. Secondly, start a blog on your site. Post something new every day, week or month and then share that on your social media feeds. It is just like waving a big flag to attract the attention of your potential audience.
SEO Tip 3: Your Sites’ Performance
Google looks at how your site performs both on mobile and desktop, so first thing to say here is that you need to make sure that your site is responsive. If you go here you can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to analyse your site and make suggestions on how you can improve its performance.
There are several other ways that you can get your site seen by more people but I hope that this is a nice little insight into understanding what SEO actually is. My real hope is that I stop at least one person paying a fortune to someone promising them #1 Ranking in Google and delivering something like this.
If you have any questions or need any help with something design-related you’ve read about here or elsewhere then please don’t hesitate to drop me a line.