Search engine optimisation is a term which everybody is hearing a lot more lately and this is because the world of websites has become so much more competitive. Its no longer acceptable to launch a website and just leave it there – especially if you have any kind of online competition. Now that smart phone and tablet devices penetration has literally exploded worldwide and especially Ireland – having your website easily found has never been so important. Pretty much anyone using these or standard internet accessible devices are 70% more likely to search on google or similar search engines for a business than they are to look in a phonebook or call an operator service. So what is SEO (Search engine optimisation) – well quite simply it is the techniques that are used to make your website perform and rank well – naturally – on search engines i.e. when a potential client searches for you or your business your website appears near the top of the organic listings (not sponsored etc.) A website if properly optimized in terms of SEO should ideally should perform well in any of the major search engines such as Google, Yahoo or bing without requiring any form of payment for sponsored or pay per click ads – we feel these are a temporary solution and should really only be used for new or recently updated websites who need perhaps an initial – leg up – on the listings ladder.
It is important to remember that in order for a website to perform well there are many criterea that come together and it can often take some time to get a website ranking well in all search engines and a lot of effort depending on how much competition you may have in your field. A website which is perhaps offering unique services or products is most likely to instantly perform better in a listing than perhaps a business or service that have more competition in that particular area (example car dealerships versus a dressmaker – the dressmaker is probably going to find it easier to get a well ranked website if only because their competition is not as stiff as that of a car dealership.
At designwest when creating new or updated websites for our clients we like to advise our clients at the offset to really consider the content for their website especially in relation to the text in ensuring that it is keyword rich, well written and most importantly unique to them. Search engines are for a large part – mainly text driven and though of course there are a number of other tricks and methods that can be used to help your website perform better – this certainly one of the most important parts of any website.
We certainly don’t claim to know all of the criterea that google or any of the other major Search engines providers are expecting from a website but we do certainly know – from experience – a lot of the ingredients that will help your website perform well. The fact is that this area is hugely competitive and google, yahoo, bing etc are always developing and advancing the criterea which they deem to be ‘relevant’ or important in relation to what makes a website perform . It is perhaps important to understand that there are a number of activities that happen behind the scenes when we perform a search for something on google – this may help you understand why it is so important that you have unique and well written content in your website. These activities are as follows crawling, indexing, processing, calculating relevancy and retrieving and it is important to perhaps understand these in order to understand :
Crawling: this is a piece of software commonly known as a spider or crawler which will follow links in websites and index the information they find on their travels. These crawlers or spiders wont visit your website every day because of the sheer amount of websites around the world so will most likely revisit it every month or so. These spiders/crawlers are not like us humans – they do not see images or notice great design or flash based images – they only really care about the text based content.
Indexing: Once the spider/crawler has done its work the next part of the process is the indexing of the content it found. In a nutshell when a website is indexed the words, text on the website/page are identified and then assigned to particular keywords. So if your website is well written and has plenty or relevant keywords it will make it much easier for the indexing process to classify your pages for you hence helping you get higher rankings.
Processing: When you enter a search request on Google or bing, yahoo etc your seach criterea is compared with the information that has indexed or classified in the database.
Calculating relevancy: At this point the search engine will start calculating the relevancy of each of the pages within its database in relation to your search criterea – and this is why we re-iterate why your content should be keyword rich, relevant and unique so that it can be found easily.
Retreiving: This is the basically the last part of the process where the results of your search are displayed in the browser and hopefully if your website and its content are relevant it will be displayed / listed first and before your competition!
Another important piece of information when trying to understand the science behind SEO is the use of Algorithms by the search engine providers such as google etc. These Algorithms are used for calculating, data processing and automated reasoning – yes they really are clever little things! These algorithms help the search engine providers calculate relevance and it is a well known fact that all of the major search engine providers ocassionally change these algortithms. This is why it so important that when approaching the subject of SEO on your website that you understand that if you want to keep on top and keep your website performing well then really you need to be devoted to regularily revisiting and updating your website with relevant content that pertains to your industry or profession.
A few more tips for improving SEO on your website:
1. Your content really is king! Like we said in our Content managed section, content is like fresh produce – its so much better when its fresh. Your content most specifically in relation to the text that is in your website is the lifeblood of your website
2. Ensure your content is unique, well written and relevant. It is always better to sit down and try and write your own text about your own business because after all nobody knows your business better than you right? Never EVER copy and paste text from another source for your website as search engines will most certainly mark you down for doing so.
3. Lots of lovely Keywords! the Keywords that appear in your text are so important for so many reasons not least because they help the crawlers/spiders to categorize your website and effectively figure out what you offer. If you don’t have keywords that are ‘relevant’ to your business in your website text then you run the risk of your website not even being categorized and lost forever within the billions of web pages floating around! It is important to note though that you don’t go overboard with the keywords by repeating them too much just for the sake of it – keep it relevant!
4. Design is important – that’s why you will use us! Though good design certainly does help you in relation to SEO it does help if your website is attractive, functional and easy to load and navigate. These factors alone strongly increase the chances of your customers returning and maybe even sharing your website which in itself will help your rankings due to increased traffic.
5. Use social media and related platforms if possible. We have found that using social media can certainly help you in getting your business ‘out there’ and building a community around your business. This again helps in a number of ways but the end result hopefully being that it will drive more traffic to your business. It is important though to tailor the use of social media to suit your business. For instance facebook really suits a business like a baker or maybe a hairdresser because they can promote their works of art in a visual manner quite easily on this platform whereas maybe linked-in or twitter might suit another profession better which perhaps is more ‘text’ relevant such as an accountant giving out tax or money saving tips via linked-in or twitter hence they are hitting their target market more effectively.
6. Use backlinks whenever you can! This is something you can work on over time and is effectively linking your site to other sites and visa versa. This helps by potentially driving more traffic to your website and of course making people more aware of your business. You can do this by getting a fellow professional, friend, partner or whoever to effectively put a link to your website in theirs and you do the same for them. A lot of time you may have to ‘fish’ for potential business and contact them directly to see if you can form a reciprocal link with them but you will find that if they understand the benefit of doing this most businesses will be happy to do this.
7. Metatags and title tags! Good <meta> tags and <title> tags are crucial as they are what are used by the search engine to get a good idea of what you are offering on each page on your website and by utilizing these tags properly you can actually really help the SEO process on your website. Basiclaly the <title> or tag which appears at the top of each browser window on your website reflects what you have on your page be it a product, blog or whatever. The <met> tag is a little different in that it gives the search engine providers such as google, yahoo and bing etc a light description of what is contained on any particular page and you can actually be quite creative and quirky with these – only of course if it suits your business! Don’t ever copy <meta>tags from similar pages or businesses though as you will most certainly get a negative response by the search engines – remember always be relevant and unique and you wont fail!
There are many more tips and tricks in helping the SEO aspect on your website but the above are a great start – we could write a book on the rest!