Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is not a magic formula, it’s not a dark art in which only a select few know the secrets. Used correctly and while following guidelines (mostly set by Google), it’s a logical process of optimising a website to ensure it is found in search results by the target audience for the right keywords and phrases.
Good SEO helps the right people find your website content when your website content is right for them
So many website owners bolt on a bit of SEO (if any) and then hope for the best. Truth is that failing to do ongoing research, failing to monitor what’s working and just leaving everything to chance is not an effecting Internet Marketing strategy.
Your SEO lesson in a nutshell
Here’s a run down of what SEO is based on advice of many SEO experts with many years in the business of optimising websites:
Keywords (and phrases), the foundation of SEO to some extent, are the words and phrases (often phrases of several words) that define the topic of your page and must always be true and relevant.
Keyword stuffing (loading a webpage with keywords in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking) and an ‘optimal keyword density‘ are so last century. There is no ‘ideal keyword density’ despite what many SEO companies and out of date books might say.
Search engines do not place high importance on keywords and haven’t done so for some years!
Keywords and phrases should be used naturally within your website content, title, headings etc. Remember you are writing for users not robots.
Meta descriptions (which usually display around 155 characters in search results) are an important click through rate (CTR) factor because search engine users can see what your website page is about before they click.
Use your well chosen keywords within your page title, at least one heading (H1 or H2) and within the body of your page(s).
When you add images to your pages, include an ALT tag that contains a brief explanation what the image is and include a keyword (not stuffed) within that text.
The two most important places on your website pages for keywords are the titles and body content.
Rank tracking (monitoring where your website is positioned in search results) is one of the most important (and on-going) parts of effective SEO. Monitoring your ranking positions helps to evaluate what onsite and offsite search engine optimisation practices are working.
Google’s very own (free) Keyword Planner can help you carry out accurate keyword research. The Keyword Planner provides up to date information about the average number of monthly searches for a specific keyword.
Another important tool that is freely available from Google is Google Webmaster Tools which, when added to your website, give you endless data you can use to make key decisions about your website optimisation including what search terms your website appears for and which searches actually result in your website traffic.
Search Engine Optimisation is made up of two-parts; the most important part is the on-site SEO (things you do within the pages of your website) and off-site SEO (the links you build to your content etc).
Getting links here, there and everywhere on content that is unrelated to the content on your website is not a good SEO strategy. It might have worked 15 or more years ago (briefly) but not now.
Google is constantly updating it’s mysterious coding (algorithms) and, most recently, websites that are not optimised for mobile devices have been penalised as Google attempts to provide the best results for all users.
Featured Snippets (on Google, of course) increase trust and click through rate (CTR) and are extremely useful for users, especially with mobile and voice-only searches.
Similar to Google’s Featured Snippets, Rich Snippets (used on Google, Bing and Yahoo search engines) also help to boost CTR by giving the search engine user much more information about your website which can include a brief description of the page, reviews and ratings, product price and availability, etc.
In recent years, site authority has made a big difference to rankings on Google and building long-term high quality inbound links boosts the percieved authority.
When researching keywords and phrases, a high cost per click (CPC) is an indication that word or phrase is a very competitive word or phrase and you’ll have to work extra hard to get good rankings.