Understanding SEO

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SEO. Business owners of all shapes and sizes lose far too much sleep over this. They receive scores of calls from people trying to get them to take on SEO contracts, which might be fine but you need to know whether your expectations are reasonable and whether or not your money could be better spent elsewhere.

Define your search terms

It may sound obvious but you need to decide what search terms you want to target. You can create a list of these by thinking about how potential customers will search for you, these don’t tend to be generic terms. You have two jobs - get your users to click on you and once they have clicked on your site be relevant. It is better to get 100% clicks from a targeted search term and a high conversion rate than 10% clicks from a broad one and tiny conversions. What they do once they’re on your site is often ignored.

Content

The first bit of advice I would give you is this: You are not Google’s customer, the Internet user is. This means that if Google send a user to your site the information has to be there that they would expect. Bearing that in mind ask yourself if the content of your website would be useful to people who use your target search terms? If the answer is no then Google will not put you at the top of their rankings no matter what you do.

The simple things URLs, titles and descriptions

There are a few very simple yet very effective things you need to check:

  • URLs - do your URLs make sense and contain your keywords? For example if you want to perform well for "Yoga classes in Scarborough" do you have a page at something like www.yourdomain.com/yoga-classes/scarborough?
  • Page titles - these are the things that search engines use as the listing title. You can check what these are by right clicking on your website and clicking view-source. Then simply search for "<title>". These need to contain your key phrases BUT be relevant.
  • Page descriptions - these are important in just the same way as titles. You want to look for meta name="description”.
  • Get links - you want as many reputable websites to link back to you as possible. This has two benefits, they’re perceived as good sources of information so if they link to you, you must be also. It also increases the number of times you get crawled by a search engine.

Page speed and SSL

There are also a couple of other things you can do which shouldn’t break the bank. First up does your site load as fast as possible? Compressing images and minimising stylesheets should take a short amount of time but make a big difference. Search engines like quick sites because it means their customers aren't frustrated.

The second thing to think about is getting an SSL certificate, even if you don’t take payment. We discussed that in a previous post.

Do you even need SEO?

We’ve covered this in another post so we won’t repeat it here but it is worth asking yourself the question. Can you spend your money elsewhere in a way that you’re more in control of?

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