Getting Found In Google: Beginners Guide To SEO – Search Engine Optimisation or popularly known as SEO is the backbone of any and every online marketing strategy. The first thing to understand over here is that getting found in google search isn’t just a style statement, it is in fact one of the very few methods of getting “Free and Qualified Traffic” for your website. When a user types in a certain keyword in a search engine, he/she is basically querying the search engine and looking for relevant results, this fact makes the traffic from search engines more qualified than any other mode of advertising online. There are the laser targeting options on social media sites, display etc., but all of them constitute to interrupt marketing. For a user, a pop up or a banner on social media sites are mostly irrelevant and this can drain a lot of budget for an advertiser. Then comes the Google PPC approach, for those who are willing to get the number one spot without doing any SEO. This approach has some positive results as far as short term goals are concerned, as a lot of traffic can be driven to your site, especially in the competitive niches. However with this approach a website only stays at the top while you are spending money with the search engines and for every user visit, be it low quality, the user has to pay money to the chosen search engine. Search engine optimisation is the process of catalysing your website to get to the top of search engine rankings by using a set of on page and off page techniques. This involves understanding Google’s algorithm and implementing that understanding so that your rankings improve. SEO brings along with it free traffic, qualified users, trust etc. The basic aim of a search engine is to provide a user with the most relevant search result, from the most reliable website. A successful model for any search engine would be that the user finds whatever he is looking for on the first page, and that is where the role of search engine optimisation comes. There are two main aspects of search engine optimisation, on page optimisation and off page optimisation. Let us discuss the main aspects of search engine optimisation in detail:
On Page Optimisation:
- Keyword Research: Before jumping into on page optimisation, it is very important to conduct a keyword research, a lot of time, money and energy can be saved if keyword research is done properly. Keywords are words or phrases that a user types in the search box. Keyword research is done using tools like google keyword planner(free), seo moz pro(paid) or noble samurai(paid) etc., the basic aim here is to find out which keywords are highly competitive, which keywords have traffic, relevant keywords to your niche etc. as well as low competition is the key to Getting Found In Google. The goal here is to find a group of keywords around which our search engine optimisation strategy would work. For example, if in a car niche, a particular keyword has a lot of traffic, 100k+/month, but is highly competitive with websites like Wikipedia on the first page, it would be a tremendous undertaking to rank for those keywords and such keywords must be avoided. Good keywords are low competition, low-medium search volume and highly relevant to our niche. Long Tail Keywords: There are a lot of advantages of using long tail keywords, short and broad phrases are usually less relevant and highly competitive, a long tail keyword on the other hand are usually less competitive, highly targeted and easier to optimise. For example, buy mobile is a broad keyword and if a person only sells in Brisbane, ranking higher for buy mobile in Brisbane would be more a more relevant keyword to rank for.
- Using keywords appropriately: After deciding a group of keywords it is essential to understand where and how these keywords must be placed in order to rank better, this includes using keywords in the title, link, body and meta description. Keywords must not be overused or stuffed into the article to get higher ranking, keywords must be used judicially and in a natural manner in order to prevent the website from getting de-indexed. Some pointers on how to use keywords in the various sections of your article are:
a) The title must not be more than 60 characters and should contain the focus (or primary) keyword. Each page should contain a unique description as well.
b) Permalink structure should not contain date; numbers etc., but contain post name or keywords we want to use. Ex: www.mysite.com/post-name/ and not mysite.com/37/40000.html)
c) Meta Description: These are excerpts shown by google, along with the title and act as ad copies for your website. Meta description must not contain more than 164 characters, must contain call to action words, such as click here, in order to drive user action. Each page should contain a unique description as well.
d) Body: Article body must not contain overuse of keywords ie: keyword stuffing etc. The keywords must be used judiciously and naturally, focus on writing for the user and not the search engine, while making sure that focus keywords appear an appreciable amount of time.
e) Image name: keywords should be used in the image name rather than the default numbers or random names some devices produce, so: web-design.jpg rather than DSC00524.jpg
f) Image Alt Text: Keywords must also be used in the alternative text when uploading an image to your website. This could include the image title also
- Site Architecture: Good site architecture contains a global menu and all the subcategory pages navigable from the home page, this helps in optimal link juice flow and it is one of the most important aspects of search engine optimisation. Cross Reference or internal linking can also be used in order to enhance user experience and link juice.
- Duplication: Duplication is a big problem as far as google is concerned and this can be avoided using the rel canonical tag. Duplicate pages can come in any form, for example: www.mysite.com and mysite.com displaying the same content are essentially duplicate sites in the eyes of google and this can be avoided using the rel canonical tag.
- Robots.txt: This file tells google which pages on your website to crawl and which pages to ignore, this task can also be achieved using meta tags.
- Sitemap: You site should contain a sitemap also – this is a single page with all the links on your site. A sitemap.xml file is also necessary as this lays the foundation or index for Google, Yahoo or Bing to follow when it comes to indexing your website.
Off Page Optimisation:
Link Building: This is essentially one of the biggest factors that affect your search engine efforts, google decides a site’s popularity based on the backlink it receives from other websites, the quality of backlink, anchor text etc. With the inclusion of no-follow backlinks, the process of link building is not as easy as it used to be and getting found in google essentially drills down to a great link building strategy. It must be noted that anchor text, which contain keywords, must not be overused while link building and the ratio of brand links to anchor links should be an 85:15 ratio. Although there are many techniques for link building, discussed below are some techniques that can help achieve higher rankings in google. 1) Content Marketing: this is becoming more relevant technique of making or spreading useful and important content to draw audience with the intention of driving greater traffic to your website. 2) Guest Blogging: This is essentially one of the safest and the best methods to build links; it includes finding bloggers who want content and placing link on their website in return. 3) Article Submission: An old school, but effective technique for link building is submitting articles in directories. The only thing that must be kept in mind is that the article directories should be ‘do follow’ attributes and each article must be unique. 4) Forums: Using digital signatures with forum posts is also a good way to build backlink – this includes your forum profiles. 5) Link Exchange or Reciprocal Links: Exchanging link with high PR sites can prove to be an effective method of link building but these should be in a similar industry is also a good and safe approach to link building. 6) Blog Commenting: An oldie but still gives short term results must be used with caution though as they may appear spammy and is likely to be removed or submitted to the spam folder before it has the chance to go live. 7) Social Bookmarking: Can be an effective way for building links. 8) PR submission – or Press Release Submission is all about releasing relevant information to the various media. They are usually 1-2 pages long and can include important events, the release of a new product or service or other appropriate information. So in conclusion, while you can do all or most of the above yourself – it does take time and skill so the key to getting found In Google, Bing or Yahoo is to always consult an expert as this whole process can be done quicker and more effectively with greater results and often cost you less in the long run as you can be reaping the rewards much sooner when done right.