Search Engine Optimisation is a subject that many people think they know what it means, yet when asked often say ” It’s what gets you onto the first page of google isn’t it?“ This is true and yet it is such a small part of the whole SEO story. There are so many myths and variables associated with this subject that books, websites and internet guru’s have committed themselves to just this one element of what really makes your website work on the internet.
I will not be going over all the historical facts of the rise and rise of SEO other than to say it is one of many things that needs to be considered when building a presence for your business on the internet. I am therefore going to lay out in a very simple and explanatory way the essential elements required with SEO.
Ok to start with when we speak of search engines, we tend to say Google because it accounts for the vast majority of searches carried out on the internet. There are many others eg MSN, Yahoo, Altavista, Lycos to name a few, and they should not be dismissed as they often do searches in a different way and can give superior results.
Search engines are essentially a document retrieval program that follow links on the internet and catalogue web pages. They analyse the pages and with the inbuilt sophistication they can figure out what the pages and websites are all about, so when you enter a search term into the the search bar you are presented with the most relevant web pages. The best analogy would be to a dating or match making service, trying to get the best match with the information available.
The three main elements of website optimisation are:
- On page
- Off page
On page refers to the elements of your website that tell Google what to index your page under. This is achieved with things like the HTML title tags, the image ALT tags, the image file names and the textual content. The most important though is the title tag (best described as the label for your page ) which will synchronise with any off site work and help create some good results.
Off page is all about links coming in to your website. This can be achieved in so many different ways, here are a few to give you an idea: Article submissions, video with links built in, forums, and links to directories. What you are aiming to do is get your website as much exposure as possible and lift it up through the ranks in the search engines.
Keywords are important and a common sense approach would be to write down all the terms you think people would be searching for in your website product or services. For example with a cake decorating theme, maybe people are looking for icing techniques or cake design. You then need to research and expand your list as though you were anticipating what someone was actually typing into the search bar. A good free tool for this is Wordtracker, there are many paid services available, but this is a great starting point.
These are some of the basics and the good thing is if you wish to build your own website there are many tools out there that can help.
I will be writing about my absolute favourite website software shortly, so take a trip back soon.