What is SEO?
SEO, short for Search Engine Optimisation, helps websites to be found by search engines, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. SEO is a blanket term used for all the different factors that web designers and the like do to improve organic, not paid, search engine results. You can pay to get to the top of Google search results but getting to the top of an organic search is free and can have higher and more long-term return on investment.
As top positions on the search engine result pages receive a majority of the impressions and clicks, so ranking in these top positions can result in significant traffic increases for your website. SEO is one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies because it targets users who are actively looking for your products and services online.
How does a Google search work?
Using automated programmes called crawlers or spiders Google gathers information on all websites worldwide. Once the information is gathered Google creates an index of keywords which it uses to match the website to your search query. Google has an algorithm that determines how websites are ranked and in turn determines the order it displays the results on the search engine results page (SERP).
Find out from Google How Search Works
A Web page’s PageRank depends on a few factors
- The frequency and location of keywords within the Web page: If the keyword only appears once within the body of a page, it will receive a low score for that keyword.
- How long the Web page has existed: People create new Web pages every day, and not all of them stick around for long. Google places more value on pages with an established history.
- The number of other Web pages that link to the page in question: Google looks at how many Web pages link to a particular site to determine its relevance.
So how can I improve the chances of my site getting to the top of a Google search?
As search engines are governed by complex algorithms there is no magic way to make your site appear on the first page of a Google search. It takes a lot of effort to convince them that you are worthy of one of the top spots! However, over time, as your website grows in its rankings, it will become easier to rank well in other related key words.
Here are a few simple things you can do right now:
Write great content
Content has become an important ranking factor in SEO. Google favours websites who publish regular content that is valuable. The more you are publishing valuable content on your blog or site, the more Google will crawl your website and the more indexed pages you will have in the search engine domain.
Text formatting makes webpages easier to read for search engines. Use H1 tags for your main headings and H2 tags for your subheadings. All of these headings should include a target keyword that is relevant to the page it is about.
Add Title, Caption and Alt Text. Search engines can’t see images so the only way they know what an image is for or about is through the name and text around it. You should also optimise images for the web as how fast your page loads is important to page rank.
Keywords and Meta Data
Keywords are words or phrases placed at strategic intervals in your website text and code. Search engines work by matching a users query with words on a website, presenting a list of websites as an answer to their search. Good rankings can take months, or longer, depending on your keywords and how many other people are trying to get the number one spot with the same keywords.
Meta Data is information specifically for search engines and isn’t displayed on your website. Typically it is displayed in search engine results as a short description under the link to the page.
Check your Permalinks in WordPress
Search engines need nice urls to help them understand what your pages are about. Google and other search engines often choose pages with the key words in the url to display first because it knows that the page is relevant.
Link Building – backlinks
If sites link back to your site it demonstrates your sites popularity and will increase your ranking. As more external sites link to you search engines will conclude that your site provides quality information and should therefore be ranked higher.
If you write interesting content you most likely already get links back to your site however here are a few simple things you can do to encourage more:
- You could utilise guest blogging writing for another site. This will encourage links, traffic and subscribers and give your site loads more exposure.
- Leave blog comments – these will drive visitors to your site and if you are a regular contributor the site will more than likely add a link back to your own site.
- Use social media – install social media widgets
- Have useful, informative content or faqs