Free SEO Guide
Getting into search engine optimisation can be a tricky task as you wade through all the blogs, SEO guides, SEO guide and other instructional articles available online. Knowing what’s what can take a while, but there are certain terms that everyone with a website should know.
To start off, you’ll need to know what SEO (search engine optimisation) entails. This is the process of trying to raise the profile of a website, by increasing its traffic through increased rankings on search engines, particularly Google. SEO is comprised of many ongoing tasks, often small in nature, but each contributing to an overall success. Many of these are detailed below.
Your initial research should be used to discover your keywords and phrases. These are the terms that relate to your site that are most likely to draw in visitors to your site. The ideal mix is a term that gets high search volume but doesn’t have many sites competing for the search engine rankings. With small or new sites, you may want to consider long tail keywords – phrases that are longer but a lot more specific to searchers who may look to make an immediate purchase of goods or services from your site. It’s generally easier to rank well in the SERPs (search engine results pages) for long tail phrases. These keywords are important to use in your site’s copy and as anchor text in links, although keyword density (the practise of repeating keywords a certain number of times in copy) is archaic, having the keywords in the right areas is more important.
Using Google Analytics
Finding out who comes to your site can be done using an analytics package such as Google Analytics which can show important metrics such as conversion rate (the percentage of visitors that make purchases) and the bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who immediately leave your site). This information can be used to find out problem areas on your site, such as a certain page or product that doesn’t lead to a sale, and could do with rewording or a redesign.
Pagerank Does it Matter?
PageRank is often used as a judgement of how successful and popular a website is, ranging from 0 to 10 (best). This is a Google-specific ranking based on aspects such as age, backlinks and site quality. PageRank is often used as an indicator to those practising SEO as to whether a site is worth gaining a backlink from. The ranking system gets its name from Google supremo Larry Page and can be seen on every site by downloading a suitable toolbar.
Importance of Backlinks
Backlinks are one of the most important aspects of SEO. Originally, search engines used to count one link as one vote for a site so the more backlinks your site had, the more popular it was seen as. This led to link farms and Google started to attribute value to links, depending on anchor text and how trustworthy the linking site is. Link farms became popular with those who use black hat SEO techniques and quickly lost their worth. Black hat SEO regards dubious practises and if often associated with people trying to trick Google, rather than playing to its guidelines like white hat SEO followers.
Reciprocal links (or exchanging links) is the practise of webmasters linking to each other’s sites, but, like link farms and directories, this too has become less worthwhile in the algorithm in recent times. The algorithm is an unknown formula used by Google and other search engines to judge the value of sites, although various educated guesses have been made, no one outside the Mountain View headquarters knows the specific details.
Passing through editorial value was seen as a sign of trust and led to a boom in article directories, although these have recently lost a lot of power due to the panda update. Yahoo Site Explorer is one of the most popular tools for keeping track of backlinks.
Internal linking is also a vital part of your link strategy, although set slightly apart from your backlinks. This practise involves creating anchor-text-rich links between pages on your site, showing search engine spiders the important terms on your pages and helps them to find all your pages, as well as keeping them travelling on your site for as long a time as possible. Make sure to use good keywords as your anchor texts rather than phrases such as ‘Click here’ or ‘Read more’. It’s also important to have header tags (h1, h2, up to h6) in your content. The most important words or phrases should be in the h1 with supporting keywords shown in the later headers.
An outbound link is common in blogs and news articles, linking to relevant sites on similar topics. This again shows Google which topics your site deems as important and if you’re linking to respected sites this can be seen as a positive indication, although can also boost the backlinks and SEO value of competing sites.
Gist of Meta Data and Tags
Meta Tags can relate to three main elements: title, description and keywords. The title is an important area to tell users and search engines about your content and these should change for each page of your site. There are many different thoughts to best practise although one of the most popular is to split each page into three sections: Page Specific Information | Category Information | Branding. There is a limit to characters that will be shown in search results – for a long time thought to be 70 – but this is changing all the time.
The description can be useful for keywords and often, although not always, is the snippet shown on SERPs. Meta keywords have ceased to be useful for a long time on Google, although may still hold importance on smaller search engines, and having no keywords may be seen as a negative indicator.
There are many other phrases that you’ll come across in your SEO life, but knowing the basics in this SEO guide will help set you on the right path. Once you start to set all the pieces together