Search Engine Optimisation Simplified

 

Just what is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?  According to Wikipedia it is:

"...the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via "natural" or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results".

How does it affect me?  According to Wikipedia:

"the earlier (or higher) a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine."

You will know from your own experience that you work your way down the results page, sometimes you will go to page 2 and if you are really desperate you'll look at page 3.  Then you will redefine what you are asking for. 

OK, so how do these search engines work?

In a nutshell, the three main search engines Google, Yahoo! and MSN Search use spiders or bots (Googlebot works for Google, Slurp works for Yahoo! and MSNBot works for MSN Search). 

These spiders/bots read web pages finding keywords and new data that they add to a giant index.  The index is then sorted by various means (mostly secret to avoid mis-use) to create a list of results for any search criteria. This criteria can involve previous search history by an individual and their location.  Each search engine will produce different results.

In essence the search engines try to put themselves in the place of the user.

How can I make sure my website is the first company on results page 1?

Google SEO Starter guide advises "you should base your optimisation decisions first and foremost on what's best for the visitors of your website".  They go on to additionally caution that "Focusing too hard on specific tweaks to gain ranking in the organic results of search engines may not deliver the desired results".

Yahoo! notes that pages should be "designed primarily for humans, with search engine considerations a secondary concern"

MSN simply says "The best way to attract people to your website, and keep them coming back, is to fill your webpages with valuable content in which your target audience is interested."

The two most important factors which are essential for good ranking positions are website optimisation (content) and link building.

Link popularity is the main factor major search engines use to rank web sites. This makes link building an integral part of any effective search engine optimisation strategy. 

A few simple recommendations

Firstly, secondly, thirdly, always...  remember your reader;

Choose a title for each page that accurately and succinctly describes the content - try to keep within 6 words;

Use language, keywords, etc that your reader will be familiar with;

Use menu names that are logical and describe in one or two words the content;

When you are asked to provide a description write a short succinct phrase describing the page or image;

Introduce your website to the major search engines: you'll find full information in the members section when you log in to your website, look at Submit your pages to popular search engines there is plenty of help and advice

Check your links - a dead end frustrates the reader and so it will frustrate spiders and bots; 

Do update your website every so often, add new information, if you are an accountant make sure you include the latest budget report at the earliest opportunity, or if you have just published a new catalogue of products take the opportunity to mention it on the website;

Do add yourself to good quality directories, if appropriate take advantage of social media sites (did you know the Royal Albert Hall is on Facebook?), add your business to Google's Local Business Centre.

Finally

Don't get so bogged down in SEO that you forget that once someone has entered your website you need to satisfy their specific requirement, at a price they are willing to pay combined with service that meets their expectation.  You can have a thousand visits, but if no one buys you're no further forward.  


Editor's note: Over the coming months I will focus on a simple SEO action to help you improve the search results for your website.

 

Further reading:

Google

Yahoo! 

MSN Search Engine Guidelines

 

 

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