Search Engine Optimisation – who to believe

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We are getting more and more queries from both existing and potentially new customers asking about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and what we can do to push their site up the search engines to that sacred first page of Google.

Search Engine Optimisation and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are both large and complex subjects. In summary SEO is the process of optimising and modifying your page/website content to make it relevant to the search engine for specific keywords or key phrases. In contrast SEM is the process of getting your domain name out and about on the Internet and ensuring that it is submitted to relevant web directories and search engines.
A combination of both of these techniques is required in order to achieve search engine listing success.

When a company contacts you and tells you they’ll do all of your SEO for you to achieve good results in Google there are a few things you need to ask them:

  1. What keywords and key phrases are they going to target.
  2. What changes are they going to make to your website.
  3. What directories and search engines are they going to submit to.
  4. How are they going to monitor the success of the campaign.

Getting high up in Google search results is not hard for a rare keyword or key phrase; it is hard for commonly used search terms however. But what’s the point of being number 1 in Google for a search phrase that no one is using?

We encourage our customers to do their own SEO. Why? Because it’s actually not that difficult. You know the most about your business, you have the ability to refine the text on your website regularly and update its content, you only have one website to worry about as opposed to a customer base of maybe thousands of websites to continuously monitor and update.
So what do you need to do to optimise your website?

SEO:

  1. Decide on the keywords and key phrases that are most relevant to your website.
  2. Populate your meta tags with these keywords and phrases. By meta tags we mean the HTML title tag and the description meta tag. You can also populate the keywords meta tag but few (if any) engines use this. WebMe customers can easily modify these tags via their CMS.
  3. Read through the text in your website, you should have some keywords in header tags (h1, h2) and also in the text throughout the page.
  4. Right, that’s the SEO side done, now you need the search engines to find it.

SEM:

  1. Submit your websites to the search engines (our search engine submission service will do this for you).
  2. Submit your website to popular web directories (dmoz, Aviva, botw, etc.)
  3. Try and get linked to from other relevant websites. Search engines increasingly rely on the number of other websites linking to yours as an assessment of how relevant your site is for a keyword. Contact other website owners and ask if they’ll link to you. Post on blogs and forums with your website linked to in your signature.
  4. Keep at it. It’s a long process and generally never-ending.

Remember there are no overnight solutions to achieving good organic search results but you can do it yourself if you’re happy to spend a few hours a month doing so.

The Myths

No one is a Google partner, no one knows Google’s (or any other search engine’s) indexing algorithm; no one can guarantee search results. We had a customer recently say that Yell.com had told them that they were a Google partner and could help their search engine listing. This is not true. Yell.com are an authorised AdWords reseller, not a partner – two very different things. Another SEO company told a customer that by not renewing the service with them they would disappear off of the Internet – not true.

Have a go at doing it yourself, here’s some useful links and tools:

  • Google Keyword tool – find out how many people are searching for a particular phrase. If a company says “I’ll get you to number 1 for ‘yellow beaked tadpole'”, take a look at the popularity of this search, the fewer people that are searching for it the easier it is to get to number 1.
  • Yahoo site explorer – allows you to explore all the web pages indexed by Yahoo! Search.
  • SEO Browser – search engines don’t see images or JavaScript. Use this to see how a search engine sees your website.
  • Bing Webmaster Tools – use the Bing Webmaster tools to improve your site’s SEO, submit your sites and XML-based Sitemaps to Bing, get data on which pages of your site have been indexed, backlinks, inbound links and keyword performance.
  • Google Webmaster Tools – provides you with detailed reports about your pages’ visibility on Google.
  • Google’s starter guide to SEO – download this PDF to get you started on your SEO journey.
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