Oct 14

Beginners guide to SEO

Tag: admin @ 1:39 am

What is SEO?

SEO(Search Engine Optimization), is the practice of attaining good placement and positioning within the major search engines for a chosen keyword/s using a combination of on and off-site techniques. This is done to aid search engine crawlers in finding relevant information from your site, and placing that data within their databases so that that information can be presented on matching a users search query.

Why do I need SEO?

Whether you have an online business or a more conventional bricks and mortar business, SEO is crucial in helping you to become more profitable in your business endeavours. As with any business, the more prospects or customers you get, the more opportunities you have to convert those customers into sales and revenue.

Common sense says that the more leads or customers you have online or through your shop door, the more money you will make.

With a bricks and mortar business, if your shop or business premises is located in a good part of town and near to a busy high street or shopping centre, you will naturally get a certain amount of people walk through your door. This cant be said for an online business.

If you have an internet business and don’t work hard to get good rankings and search engine placement, you may as well not exist as nobody will know that you exist. I always use the analogy of “Its like arranging a lavish party, with fine champagne, wonderful food, waiter service but then forgetting to send out the invitations”. Nobody will turn up for the big event!!

The same applies with your new website which has all the bells and whistles. You need visitors to that website in order to generate income.

What is a search engine and how do they work?

Firstly, how many websites/pages do you think there are on the internet? Who knows for sure(apart from the search engines) but you can bet that it runs into the billions.

Ok next question. Presented with so many websites on the internet, how do you know which ones are an authority on what you are looking for, are not fly by night, here one minute gone the next and have the information you are looking for? It would take you years to search each one wouldn’t it? This is where search engines come in handy. To enable us to search billions of web pages in a split second for the information that we require.

So how does a search engine manage to gather all the information on the internet and place it into a searchable database of data?

Search engines use software called spiders or crawlers that “crawl” the internet looking for hyperlinks in pages, text, images and other data to place into the search engines database. When hyperlinks are discovered the crawler will follow that link to see what it can find on the connected page, extract the data on that page and continue looking for hyperlinks. The process then continues.

Crawling is a continuous process and depending on the inbound links pointing to your site, it can happen regularly. So if you have a site with thousands of backlinks, you will probably find that you are visited by the spiders frequently, possibly many times per day. Conversely, if you do not have many backlinks to your site, you will not be visited very often meaning that your websites pages and content will not be indexed very often.

Crawlers will not take your whole site in one visit, but will rather nibble at pages here and there. They will also check the pages to find out if they have been updated since they were last pulled from your site. If they have changed then a copy of the new page is indexed in the database. If not, they are left alone.

How do search engines “rank” your pages for certain keywords?

Once your site and its pages have been indexed by the different search engines, it is then the job of the search engine to present your pages when a relevant search is performed on the search engine. For example if you had a website selling martial arts equipment (and your site has been optimized for this keyword) and I searched on the internet for “martial arts equipment”, what is going to determine who appears in number one spot within the SERPS(Search Engine Results Pages) and who appears at 1000? Its obviously of major importance that you finish as high up as possible, as not many people will search beyond the top 20 results.

Google and other search engines use whats called an algorithm(sometimes shortened to “algo” by techs) to “weight” pages and sites and to help decide where those sites and pages should be placed depending on the algorithm score for certain keywords.

Its thought(as nobody knows for sure, except for the search engines) that Googles algorithm is made up of around 100 different criteria to enable scoring. For example, the age of the domain is considered important as the older a site the more trust is placed on it compared to a site that has just popped up overnight. The amount of backlinks to a page/site, internet url paths, keyword density on a page, global link popularity and meta titles are other factors that are important to the scoring of a page.

So you can see, there are many factors which determine where your site is placed for certain keywords so its important that your site is well designed and has good on-site and off-site SEO performed.

What are links, anchor text and pagerank?

I would now like to touch upon links, anchor text and pagerank which are all important with natural ranking on search engines.

Links, backlinks or IBL`s(Inbound Links, Inbound Back Links) are hypertext links connecting one website page to another. The hypertext link can connect to a page on the same website or anywhere else on the internet. So a link or backlink is a hypertext link that points from one page or site to another.

Another important aspect of the link is the “anchor text” and the surrounding text around the link and also the theme of the page that is linking to you. So for example, if you have a martial arts website and your friend has a belgium chocolate website and he links to you using, “For great martial arts equipment click here”. Im sure you have seen hypertext links just like this?

A better link would be from a page with similar content as yours and a similar theme. The anchor text would be better to read “For great martial arts equipment please visit the martial arts site” with the anchor text containing the words “martial arts equipment”.

The search engines look for relevance of your site by the pages, sites, and links that point to them. So if your site has thousands of links pointing to it with the anchor text “click here” what do you think will be the keywords that you will rank well for? The search engine will see your site as an authority for “click here”. Be careful when choosing your links anchor text.

In the old days of search engine optimization, an SEO or webmaster was able to just keyword stuff keywords into a page lots of times, then place the same keywords many times into the title, meta data and H1 tags and they would be ranked number 1 for that phrase. Very easy and easy to manipulate. Thankfully, search engine algorithms no longer work this way as there has to be a lot more emphasis on relevance and the authority of a site.

When I say authority I mean how the search engines see your site in relation to given keywords, which now leads me onto “page rank” which is Googles measurement of a pages authority and trust. If you download the Google toolbar you will see that every time a page is loaded in your internet browser, a pagerank is displayed which is a figure from one to ten. The higher the page rank, the more trust and authority a page is said to have by Google. It can also mean that a page has either a high number of links pointing to it or a number of high quality links(other pages with good page rank) linking to it.

For example, if news.bbc.co.uk was to put a link on its main page which has a PR of 8 back to my site, that would be worth a lot as a site with PR8 is obviously trusted by Google which means that it will trust you that little bit more and award you some PR(or link juice as we often call it).

There is a debate that is constantly surfacing within SEO forums in regards to whether a site with a good PR will outrank a similar site with a lower PR. The answer to this is in my opinion is sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. One way of looking at it, is to think of PR as just another element of the Google scoring system, so if you have a good PR, the more points you will score and the more Google trusts you and your site.

How does optimisation work?

Initial website Analysis

One of first things that must be done once you have selected your chosen keywords to target is to optimize the site and its pages to aid crawlability by the search engine spiders.

A vital part of optimizing a site is to make sure certain things exist such as good unique page titles that contain targeted keywords, catchy meta descriptions, keywords a placed within the pages copy/text, good use of sites urls and filenames, good internal linking to pages using the correct anchor text and also a good navigation system devoid of search engine speed bumps such as javascript and flash.

Keyword Research

This is one of many fundamental tasks that need to be carried out before on-site optimization takes place. Its of major importance that you do your homework and optimize the site for search terms and phrases that are being actively searched for within the major search engines. It is pointless optimizing and becoming number 1 on Google or Yahoo for a keyword that nobody is using. You may be number 1, but you will receive no traffic, meaning no sales, and no income.

There are a number of free and paid for tools that you can use in order to research your keywords. These include Google adwords keyword tool https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal which is FREE to use.

You can also use wordtracker, an online tool which is used by a lot of professional SEO´s. This can be found at www.wordtracker.com . Although this tool is not free, it is a valuable resource and is well worth the few hundred dollars that it costs per year for an account.

Keyword and industry competition analysis

After choosing your targeted keywords, its also important that you find out just how competitive these keywords are. This can be found out using the following methods.

1) Use the adwords keyword tool to check to find out how much your keyword is per click. This will give you a rough guide of how competetive it is as, people will obviously pay good money for search terms that are used often. So if the cost per click is high you can bet that this keyword is searched for a lot on the engines.

2) Use googles “allin” command set to establish a keywords competitiveness. For example, if you enter into google “allintitle: chocolate cake” you will see at the top of the search results just how many pages that google has in its database that contain the words “chocolate cake”. You can also use “allinanchor: chocolate cake” which tells us how many hypertext links are pointing to pages using the text “chocolate cake”. If this figure is high it could be an indication of just how many webmasters or site owners are seriously targeting this term.

Another one to use is “allinurl: keyword” which checks for the selected keyword within the url/web address of each url that google knows about.

On-site optimisation

There are two main forms of optimization. On-site optimization and off-site optimization. On-site optimization means optimizing the websites pages, text, titles, meta data, link urls, anchor text and keyword density.

Your page/s should have good natural keyword density meaning that your target keyword for that page is used naturally within the text to show the engines that this page is relevant to that keyword. Although this is not such an issue for Google now days it does still appear to be relevant to Yahoo and MSN, so make sure you have your keyword within the pages copy at between 3 and 5% density.

A pages title should also be used correctly and should contain your keywords in a natural way that doesn’t look spammy. Try and fit them in naturally within the title as these are used in the search engine results pages meaning that the better they read the more click throughs you are likely to get. Most search engines also place a lot of value on titles and are considered to be one of the most important on-site SEO elements.

Page urls are also important as pages that have the keywords within the url are more valuable. So for example if you have a page on villas for sale make sure your url has the keywords in it such as www.mysite.com/villa-sales.html

Another important part of on site SEO is to make sure you have good internal linking using the correct anchor text. So using our villa sales page we would make sure that we have anchor text/links with the words “villa sales” pointing to the appropriate villa sales page. This tells the search engines that you consider this page to be more relevant to villa sales.

Off-site optimisation

The other very important aspect of optimization is that of off-site optimization. Off-site optimization means doing things externally to the site such as writing articles, directory submissions, forum postings, social media networking and writing linkbait.

A great way of generate more traffic to your site is by submitting your site to web directories. There a literally thousands of directories on the internet, some free, some reciprical and some paid entry. All have their benefits. Start by adding your site to as many free quality directories as possible and make sure you vary the anchor text and descriptions as to not look spammy to the search engines. It is then advisable to add your site to directories such as dmoz.org which belongs to google and also to some of the better paid inclusion directories such as alive.com and botw.org. Some of the top paid directories have been around for many years and a link back from these sites, although expensive, can carry a lot of value with the search engines. The Yahoo directory is another one that is well worth considering as it does help with your natural ranking on Yahoo.

Then, if there is a writer in you, why not write some articles on your niche and add these to the best article directories. The key point to articles is that when adding your article to the directory, you are entitled to add your resource at the bottom with a few lines about yourself, your site and/or business and then include a couple of links back to your website.

Writing articles is a fantastic way of generating more links and traffic to your site for a number of reasons. Firstly, a well written article helps to identify you(and your site) as an authority within your niche. Secondly, if it is a good article, people will download it and add it to their own site and will include the resource box at the bottom(which they are obliged to do) meaning even more links back to your site.

Articles can also be picked up by bloggers who are looking for relevant content to add to their blogs and sites. All this helps to create more and more relevant links which is great for rankings.

When you think about it, the web is all about information and content. If you write good content, people will link to it and better still, copy it and add it to their sites.

If you have the time there are other ways of generating links and traffic to your sites. If you can find relevant forums within your niche and are permitted by the forum to include a link in your signature or posting, use it, and place a link to your site. Do make sure you contribute to the forum though as spammers are most definitely unpopular to say the least.

Or you can try some of the social media networking sites such as reddit, delicious and digg. These sites enable users to share sites and is a way of “voting” for sites that you find interesting. The more votes a site gets the more exposure it gets on the site meaning that you generally get more visitors. If your site has some really interesting content or groundbreaking news then adding it to social media networking sites can bring in a lot of traffic.

Maintaining site popularity and growth

You have gone through months of directory submissions, article writing, blogging, optimization and a whole host of other practices and can now see your site starting to rank well. How do you maintain your ranking positions? Unfortunately SEO is something that must be done consistently and on a regular basis. This means that you must continue to do all the things you done in the first place to get your site ranked plus finding other ways to promote your site among the millions of websites out there.

Look for relevant sites to yours and see if you can exchange links, add new content to the site, look for new directories and add your site there, write more articles and submit them to directories, blog on your niche, add comments on other relevant blogs, post in forums, join social networking sites like facebook, use your websites url in your email signature, advertise in free newspapers and best of all, word of mouth. Tell people about your site and what it has to offer.

All the best, and good luck with your journey.

SEO Spain
SEO Services Spain
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