Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the business of getting your business to the top of the results page on Google when someone searches for a term related to your industry.
This is important because more people search online when looking to buy a new product or service than do anything else.
As a general rule, sites that appear near the top of the results page get more traffic and therefore more potential business. Your mission is to get to position one on the first page, which, depending on what industry you operate within and how achievable it is - varies greatly in time and money.
If you operate in a niche and follow these basic principles you stand a good chance of getting to at least page one...
Search providers like Google & Bing use 'spiders' to determine their search result rankings. A spider is a piece of software that crawls the web to identify what is written on website pages and in particular any keywords and phrases. So, when someone searches for that keyword on Google (for example) they can work out how relevant your website is to that request.
Because of this, it is important to make sure your website has all its keyword areas correctly filled out and includes the words or phrases which people may search for; when looking for a business like yours.
If this sounds a little Greek don't worry, Google has a free tool to help called the Google Adwords keyword tool. This is actually designed to help potential advertisers identify the most relevant words to use in their ad's but you can also use it to research what should ideally be on your page.
When you know which keywords should be on the page, make sure they are in the body of text and not in places like imagery which is an SEO no-no. In addition to the body of text, keywords should also appear in an unseen area called 'metadata' which is where spiders will look for key information.
If you don't know how to do that, your web designer can help. But if you have a little knowledge of HTML or your website is run by a management system like WordPress, then it may be more straightforward that you think.
Your sites PageRank is a score out of 10 that is based on Inbound & Outbound links to and from it. If your site is linked to by another site with a good PageRank, your ranking will improve.
At this point you may think the more links the better but you would be wrong. Artificial ways of linking, like Link Farms, are especially frowned upon by search providers. It is not just the number of links, but also the quality. Social Media - like Google+ - is particularly good for this, as are professional bodies and certain directories.
A good rule of thumb is to make sure whenever you reference an external site or source, you use a hyperlink. Internal links (to and from pages on your own website) encourage people to spend more time on your site by real people and spiders mentioned earlier. It is worth making sure your menu structure and available quicklinks are clear and easy to use too.
Just like the Google Adwords Tool, there is something which can help here too and it is a Google Chrome browser plugin called PageRank Status.
The more your site content changes, the more frequently spiders will revisit your website. This is a particular reason why a regular Blog is so good for SEO. That, and the fact that is illustrates your expertise in your area of business.
Staying upto date
Google and Bing change their algorithms periodically so they can improve their search results so more people will use their service. Because of this, SEO is something which needs to be monitored in order to get the most benefit although some basic principles - like those described above - are universal.
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