Are You Ignoring Basic Search Engine Optimisation at your Peril?
Last week I went to a ‘Digital Marketing’ networking event in Southampton and met some cool people doing some great search engine optimisation, social media and design work for their clients. Why? Because they were all small independent specialists who were passionate about what they do.
As an aside, I can’t bare the term ‘digital marketing’ because to me it embodies the bloated and over priced online marketing agencies that often provide very little value for money to their clients. If you want more ‘bang for your buck’ online there is a growing army of solo consultants that will deliver great results for you.
Anyway, now let me tell you the whole story that inspired this blog post. At the networking event I met a guy called Babul who had just sold his restaurant business and was interested in geting in to
search engine optimisation consultancy. Babul had been doing a lot of studying but couldn’t believe how simple search engine optimisation seemed to be.
Here’s the thing, Babul and I had quite a debate, because he couldn’t believe that the fundamentals of SEO were so simple when so many people get it wrong. The truth is SEO is generally easy if you stick to the rules, it gets complicated when you try to cut corners or believe that the latest greatest software will do it all for you.
Now let me explain, the methods of SEO, (Search Engine Optimisation), aren’t as far along the path of evolution as you might think. Sure, just like with the recent Google Panda update, search engine algorithms cause ripple effects in the online marketing world every time they are changed, but the tried and true methods of SEO are much the same as they have always been.
Don’t get the wrong idea here, while there are certain strategies for getting your website to the top of the search engine results pages, like link building, web 2.0, article marketing, etc., it is really the core ‘On Page’ Search Engine Optimisation methods that you need to start off with, in order to have a solid foundation to branch out into these other areas.
The core methods of search engine optimisation or at least the short list, involve the right Domain Name, accurate Title Tags, proper Page Name, quality content, frequency of updates, popularity of topic, reputation of your site, and number and quality of backlinks.
Remember, this is just a short list of all the factors that will affect your rankings. In truth, there are over 200 of them, that need to be addressed for effective search engine optimisation.
Keep in mind also, that you shouldn’t focus on just the home page for your search engine rankings. You should be treating each page on your site as individual, and go through the SEO strategies we discuss with each and every page that you want to rank.
At a very basic level, there are two very important elements to search engine optimisation that we’ll discuss today and you should absolutely pay attention to them.
Let’s talk first about your domain name (URL). If your site is new, then chosing a domain name that contains a keyword that you want to target is better than using just your business name. If you’re trying to optimise your existing site then getting your URL structure is key.
First off, make sure that although your domain name should favour your targeted keyword phrases, you should not be too “hyphen-happy”. If you have more than two hyphens in your proposed domain name, you need to scale back. In other words, if your keyword phrase is only two words, but the domain for those two words is taken, then don’t be tempted to add silly phrases like “the-best-ever-keyword1-keyword2.com kind of thing.
Secondly, your URL structure can be manipulated to contain keywords too. For example www.yourdomain.com/discount-keyword-and-keyword is better than www.yourdomain.com/productid1257_%category21.
Just be careful to protect any of your existing URLs that have already been indexed by Google because changing them to a new structure can make your rankings drop like a stone. To protect them all you need to do is set up something called a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one for each existing page on your site. Your webmaster can do this for you.
Next, let’s review the proper use of title tags in your search engine optimisation strategy.
As bad as the mullet haircut was/is, it’s a great analogy coined by my friend Michelle Chance-Sangthong about the right way to create your title tags. The catchphrase for mullets was “All party in the front, but all business up front.”
Using it for an SEO analogy, you want your best keywords as all business up front, and your “party” in the back is the strong motivation and reason for your prospects to click through to your offer of products and services. An example would be:
Blue Ray DVD Players: Free Delivery on Orders Over £100
There is no need to stuff unnecessary keyword “fluff” to fill up your title tag. In the search results pages, it is the title tag that shows up as clickable, so this is the reason to compel searchers to click on it. Fire all of your big guns at once right here in the title tag. You want it to please the search engines with its relevancy, and please the visitor because they see it as a solution to the problem they have.
Here’s the thing, depending on how much competition there is for a given keyword or phrase, even a slight tweak in your title tags could give you a boost of a few positions or even several pages in the search engine results.
Next time we’ll talk about some of the other ‘on page’ search engine optimisation factors that will help improve your rankings.