A Quick SEO Starter’s Guide
If you are new to the concept of search engine optimisation, then you need to read this concise starter’s guide from start to finish. It is important to have a basic working knowledge of the fundamentals of SEO, as well as the potential risks, in order to make a smart decision when it comes to hiring a team of SEO specialists to work on your website.
Before we begin, please note that SEO changes regularly, so even if you do have some SEO knowledge, you will likely still benefit from the up to date information contained within this article.
Most of us use search engines on a daily basis to research various topics, to study, catch up on the latest new and weather, and, significantly for businesspeople, to search for products and services that we may want to buy online.
Whenever you do a search in google, yahoo, bing, ask, or whatever your preferred search engine is, you will be presented with a list of results, with the top ranked sites for each search phrase getting most of the clicks from searchers.
This presents a lot opportunity for businesses.
If a company has a well known brand through conventional advertising or PR, then their websites will be found by people who are searching specifically for their business – for them. In most cases, though, a business website that is ranking well will get more traffic for general phrases, namely, phrases that aren’t directly related to their specific brand name or website. This is really where search engine optimisation, or SEO, comes in.
For example, let’s say you own a business called Cutting edge carpentry, you are based in Dublin, and your website address is www.cuttingedgecarpentry.ie. If your business is well known in Dublin, then you’ll likely have people who search for ‘cutting edge carpentry’ visiting your site. The reason for this is that your site will likely rank at the top for your company name with very little SEO work, due to the fact that your site is obviously the most relevant for that specific phrase.
While this is a good start, you are limited by the number of people who are searching simply for your business, which they already know about. What you really want is to rank for more general phrases, like ‘carpentry services’, ‘carpenters in Dublin’ and so on. The volume will likely be higher, and the visitors aren’t looking specifically for you – this means that if you can rank at the top for these and similar phrases, your business will be exposed to people who previously didn’t even know that your business existed!
This is the power of SEO.
The basic mechanics of search engine optimisation:
In order to get high rankings in the big search engines, you will need to pick the keywords that you wish to rank for. This can be tough to do if you are a novice, although often common sense will give you a good start. The phrases must be descriptive of your industry, products, or services, and they must have consistent search volume. This process is known as keyword research.
Once you have your list of keywords, you’ll need to put them onto your website. There are specific parts of your site, including your page titles and descriptions, where visitors and search engines will notice your keywords. When you write your content, you should also think about including some of your chosen keywords in your page text.
Now that you have your site set up and properly optimised, there is more work to be done. You need to look at the process of off page SEO. This refers to any promotional methods that take place outside of your website. The most important parts of off page SEO these days are link development ( when other websites link back to your site ), and social mentions ( when someone mentions your site via their social media accounts ).
Off page SEO, if done right, can give your site a tremendous boost in the search engines.
Things you should know:
- SEO is as much an art than a science. Results vary from one site to the next ( if only slightly in most cases ).
- Algorithm updates can occur at any time, and can affect your rankings – nobody can legislate for this.
- Over optimisation penalties now exist with google, for off page SEO, as well as on page SEO. This makes it possible for a competitor to perform ‘negative SEO’ in order to deliberately damage your website’s rankings.
- Nobody can 100% guarantee you high rankings – beware of any agency that says that they can.
- SEO takes time, often months before you see results.
If you feel that SEO could be for you, then contact us today – we’ll give you the very best chance of success.