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OK, so what is SEO?

At a first glance Search engine optimisation (SEO) may seem very complex but is easier if you start with an understanding of the basic components of SEO. The most common and basic terms of SEO are On Page and Off Page, which I've loosely defined as follows:

On-page SEO - what you do to your own websites to get the search engines to love it/them.

Off-Page SEO - how you use the internet and other people's website to get the search engines to take notice of yours.

In this article we won't be looking under the bonnet to see how it all works and how to do it – that would take a book - but we'll be examining how the components help you to be noticed and loved, posed as a series of questions.

On-page Optimisation

There are three main tenets to on-page optimisation: Page Content, Page Structure and the Architecture of your website.

Page Content

  • Have you researched the keywords or phrases that people are using to find information you are able to provide.
  • Do your pages include those keywords in the content.
  • Are pages well-written and do they provide relevant, substantial quality content
  • Is the content “fresh” and up-to-date. Search engines are always looking for information about “hot” topics.
  • Do visitors spend significant time reading the content on your website, or do they quickly “bounce” away elsewhere.

Next, these are the “nerdy” or “techie” bits:

Page Structure

  • Do your Title tags contain keywords that are relevant to the content on your page.
  • Do your Description tags describe what you web pages are about.
  • Are your headlines and sub-headings by the use of title tags with keywords relevant to the page.

By the way, if you haven't guessed it, tags are the way in which you hightlight to the search engines what your page is about. The search engines will then determine from the content whether what you claim is substantiated.

The Architecture of your website

  • Do your web pages load quickly.
  • Are your web-page addresses (URLs) short and do they contain keywords that are relevant to the content on the page.
  • Is it easy for search engines to locate all the pages on your web site.

Off-page Optimisation

There are four main tenets to off-page optimisation: Linking, Social Credence, Trustworthiness and Relevance (though this latter is also addressed by on-page optimisation too).

Linking or, more accurately, Back-linking

  • Are links pointing to your site from respected, trusted, quality sites.
  • When linking to your website, do the words used to link to your websites contain the keywords associated with your webpage.
  • Are there many links pointing to your webpages.

Social Credence & Reputation

  • Do respected persons on social networks, such as blogs and other social sites like Facebook and Twitter share your content.
  • Are there many other websites sharing your content.

Trustworthiness

  • Do all the links and sharing indicate that yours is a website of authority.
  • Has your site been around for a considerable time, operating in much the same way during that time.

Relevance

  • What country are you located in.
  • Which city or local area are you located in.
  • Do people regularly visit your site and/or “like” it.
  • What do your friends think of your site.

I apologise for some of the technical aspects of the above and by now you probably understand why SEO can scare people. This also isn't helped by the fact that there is a right and a wrong way to “do” search engine optimisation. For example do you, or anyone you've hired to help with your search engine optimisation fall foul of the no-no's?

The No-No's

  • Extensively use the keywords that you want your pages to be associated with (also known as “keyword stuffing”.
  • Use colour or webpage design to “hide” the keywords that you want your pages to be associated with.
  • Been creating links by making posts on irrelevant blogs or forums etc. Also known as “link spamming”.
  • Provided “shallow” or “thin” content i.e. of no real substance, whether on your own-website or posted on others (off-page).
  • Obviously used tools to create links to your site and/or is it obvious you are paying someone to create links for you.
  • Do you show search engines different pages than humans – assuming you know how to!

Then finally, there are other signs that the search engines might use to determine whether yours is a website worth looking at. These are indications that people, or even other search engines, are blocking your site from their search results for some reason.

SEO is making my brain hurt!

And well it might, given there are so many aspects to SEO. And you won't be surprised to hear of course, that some factors have more relevance than others when search engines decide whether and where they will put you on the first page.

However, you just need to be aware of the factors and slowly and patiently build towards your goal. After all, like Rome, SEO wasn't built in a day.

 

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