Search Engine Optimisation, also known as SEO, at the most basic level involves making your site more accessible to search engines, and therefore making you more visible to your existing and potential customers.
There are ways to improve your ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for your chosen keyphrases and when a company has a particular brand name or product line they wish to be the online resource for, it is essential that they optimize for these important words or phrases. There are many examples of cases where companies failed to do this and then when launching large offline branding campaigns or product launches, their potential customers cannot find any further relevant information on them. Considering word of mouth is the most powerful medium, and that most people are likely to research any purchase beforehand online, it has never been more important for you to be readily available and easily found in search engines.
The main search engine to optimize for in most countries around the world is Google, with its huge market share and its sophisticated algorithm, it continually offers customers more tailored and improved search results, even offering personalization and localization choices now.
However it is important to note that although Google may enjoy well over 70% of the market in many countries, it is not king in all nations – some markets, have their own prevailing search engines which require very different treatment from Google.
SEO can be broken down into 2 parts – the first being on-page optimization and second, off-page. On-page involves improving site layout, structure and presentation of your content to help the search engines crawl your content and find what is important to your customers. Various on page data can be optimised such as Page titles, descriptions and meta keywords allocated to help the search engines understand what your page is about and to help you rank higher for important phrases. Off page, it is all about building up the right kind of links to important resources and useful pages for your clients and associates, to help you build up quality links into the site, which in turn give you authority with the search engines – if your page is important enough for all these people to link to, it means it is a good page in their eyes. There are thousands of offers out there for link exchanges, free submittal to loads of directories and all the promises in the world of building up links fast, but the truth is that naturally built linking strategies which do not attempt to fool search engines are the best way forward. Google’s team are always on the lookout for these rogue link farms and if you have used one such service and they are discovered, you could potentially find your site penalized and suffering a big ranking dive.
The main part of any SEO project has to be keyword research – it is important not only to determine which words your customers could potentially be searching on, but also if there are any other words you perhaps had not thought of, any ones which you are ranking for which you had not thought of and also it’s important that you do not try to rank for words which have no traffic or which are way too competitive for you to get near the top 10 on – it is easy to be number 1 in a phrase which has no competition on it, but if no customers of yours are searching on that term, there is no benefit to you being number 1 on it!
Another very major part of any SEO project is design consulting – many times there are key layout or technical issues which can prevent search engine robots from picking up the right content for your site. Or perhaps your navigation is confusing to someone who does not know your products well enough so you are losing potential new clients that way. Sometimes an independent and objective opinion on something so simple as your major website content can provide a missing link to help convert customers.
Of course any SEO project should be completely measurable, and it is important that analytics are in place both before the project and after in order to ensure that any benefits of the optimization are immediately measurable and if certain keywords are working well and bringing in the right type of customers who are converting well, then it can be a good marker to begin providing more content around that phrase also.