Whether you’re a small business optimising your own site for search engines in your spare time, or a larger business wondering whether to spend a small fortune with an SEO agency, it’s easy to get bewildered by the options available. Here’s a simple starter kit of tips for basic search engine optimisation, inspired by an ex-colleague of mine, Simon Penson, who learnt his craft on the website of Todays Golfer Magazine, and now works with a range of clients on SEO research and copywriting. The Emap specialist interest sites we launched together grew their traffic almost entirely through content-driven SEO and spent very little on paid marketing. My own view on SEO is that it helps enormously if you are either a wordsmith yourself, or know a good journalist, so you can incorporate your keywords without distorting the copy.
1. Create your site for people, not just spiders
So long as you make it easy for spiders to see your site (ie avoid flash, images, frames etc) then you really should focus on content that is relevant for your audience. A site that is easy to navigate and rich with content will rank well. However, an easy win is to make sure your title tags feature your keywords, and reflect the subtle differences in content and purpose on each page.
2. Research keywords carefully
Take your time to research your keywords using gut feel and google’s free tools. This is an important stage. Consider what your competitors are focussing on and work out if you can take a different route; maybe by looking at the long tail. Try to use the language your customers use rather than your own company jargon.
3. Build visitors gradually
SEO is a long-term game and you need to build up traffic gradually, rather than expecting quick results. Linking requests are time-consuming and easy to neglect, but they will incrementally grow your credibility and ranking. Building a profile for yourself and your business on forums, blogs and social media sites will also help push you up the rankings.
4. Keep updating content
Invest the time to keep adding (keyword-rich) content, ideally through a blog as this is simple to update regularly, and will also attract user comments. Check all the other pages in your site and keep them up to date; this shows google et al that you care about yout site. Can you add existing content in bulk to your site, eg by building a digital archive?
5. Invest in online marketing
At first SEO may seem a big investment of time and money for a very uncertain return. But keep dripping in the effort and/ or cash and you will reap the benefits long-term. Consider supporting your SEO with a little tactical PPC to check how much traffic your favourite keywords drive.
I’m interested to hear about your own experiences in search engine optimisation, and especially your success stories.
Carolyn Morgan’s consultancy business, Penmaen Media, creates practical digital media and marketing strategies for businesses who want to use the web to grow their revenues. We have access to a network of digital media and marketing experts. If you’d like to learn more about how you can use well-optimised content to grow your web traffic, please contact us for an initial discussion.