Learn about SEO and apply some basic techniques on optimising your website for search engines
I’ll walk you through what SEO is and how you can apply some basic techniques on optimising your website for search engines. While there are plenty of sites explaining SEO out there, few I found explain it in a super simple way that anyone can understand. When you’ve read all the steps of SEO explained simply, you’ll be ready and armed to optimise your website!
1. What is SEO explained, simply?
SEO simply means Search Engine Optimisation. ‘Duh…I know that!’ So what does that actually mean. In a nutshell it means getting your website showing on the first pages of search results (and ideally number one!). Forget about being at the top of page two or page three. Page one is where you need to be to placed to really be beneficial.
OK, Let’s talk a step back and understand how people searching.
Most sites are found by people using search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing etc. and type in some words. Let’s say they are looking for daily deals to buy online. You might type in the search box: ‘daily deals’ or ‘ daily deal sites’ or ‘ daily deal sites nz’.
Let’s quickly look at another example. Lets say you are looking for a hotel to stay in Wellington. You may type in the keywords: ‘hotels in wellington’ or ‘places to stay in wellington’ or if you’re on a budget ‘cheap places to stay in wellington’ or if you’re after something special ‘boutique hotels in wellington’, or as you can see below, ‘hotels with swimming pools’!
These words are called keyword phrases. They play a very important role in SEO. We’ll take a look at that in more depth soon.
Once you’ve typed in your search (keyword phrase) and hit search, your familiar search results page will show. You’ll have a look, and probably like most people, click on several links on the first page. You can see the importance of being on page one as very few people click to the second page. Sometimes you’ll see a few search results right up the top that look slightly different – these are search results that people pay to display – there is normally no more than 2 or 3 of these and sometimes none.
So what what determines what’s shown on the first page or search results?
Search engines all have their own ranking algorithms that are secret and not known publicly. However there are some techniques we can employ using those keyword phrases to optimise your website (or a particular page) to help that you show on the first page of search results.
2. Why should I SEO my website?
People optimise their website to attract new business and to get new customers or clients. It’s as simple as that.
In this day and age businesses need an online presence – your customers and clients probably expect it too. This is particularly important if your business is solely online. By optimising your website for search engines, you can help ensure that people will be able to find you online.
For my site TheSniff.co.nz, over 75% of people coming to my site are from search engines (also known as organic search). You are likely to see similar results when your site is optimised for search engines. That is from a optimised website. If your website is not search engine optimised, it is likely you’ll see nothing like that.
You can add Google Analytics code to your website to simply see how many people are coming to your site, where they are coming from (through searching, or directly typing your URL in), how long they are staying, what pages they are getting to (or not getting to) and many, many other stats. I’ll talk about this in more depth later.
3. Selecting the right keywords
Choosing your keywords you want to target is the first part of optimising your website for search engines. It’s also the most important thing of SEO and sometimes the hardest part.
There is an immense amount of competition out there for keyword phrases on the internet. Some keywords would be impossible to rate highly for because of the large amount of people also targeting those same keywords. Also some of the competitor sites are long established websites that already do a great job of SEO already.
If there are lots of competition in your business area it means you could target those competitive keywords and potentially never show in the top 50 search results, or choose slightly different and/or more specific keywords (which less people may be searching for) but instead greatly increasing your chances of showing up on the 1st page – which is really all that matters!
What are people searching for?
The first step of choosing your keywords is think of how you would search for your business? Run some search on these keyword phrases and see who come up. Google’s auto suggest (image below) is also very handy to understand and get ideas of what and how people are searching.
Try not to be too generic
Let’s look at some examples. Let’s say you run a law firm in Wellington specialising in property. You might think good keywords would be to target ‘law firm’. But are pople searching like that? probably not. The secrete is to be more specific. So instead of just ‘law firm’ try targeting something like:
- Property lawyer in wellington, or
- Wellington law firm specialising in property
Consider the competition for those keywords
a. target ‘daily deals’ that has a lot more in a lot more searches but also a lot more competition therefore risk showing up on page 3 or 4 – and likely never being seen.
b. tweak the keywords and get a little more specific, where there are fewer searching but show on the front page.
I chose b. So, instead of targeting ‘daily deals’, I chose to focus on ‘one day deal sites’. The outcome was that reached #3 for ‘daily deal sites’ and #2 for ‘list of daily deal sites’. Not bad considering the competition!
You can get creative and target different keyword phrases on different pages and then see through Google Analytics which pages are working the best in terms of attracting visits from search engines. Another great feature in Google Analytics is seeing what the actual Google keywords people are using to find your site.
SEO keyword checklist:
- Make sure they are not too generic – Try to be specific as possible. For example, if you’re a hotel, you wouldn’t just target ‘hotel’ but perhaps add in the location name or if you’re a budget hotel, add ‘budget’ or ‘cheap’ in the mix.
- Consider another phase – Instead of hotel, you may want consider an alternative for example ‘accommodation’
- Don’t have too many – Having too many keywords in your phrase can dilute they strength – aim for about 3 to 5
- Make sure they are relevant to your business – the more closely the keywords relate to your website, the better they will preform.
- Don’t use superfluous words such as ‘great’ ‘amazing’ etc.
- Make sure you’re happy using those keywords throughout your content! We’ll look at that next.