Beginner's guide to search engine optimisation

Posted by Rob Kendal on 07-Oct-2015 15:00:50

So you're interested in launching your website up the search engine rankings but don't know where to start? Maybe you're not ready to hire an agency to help out just yet, or maybe you just want to do what you can to help kick-start things and keep the costs down later on having tackled some of the work yourself.

Whatever the reason, whilst we at Red Guerrilla offer a complete search engine optimisation (SEO) package, we also love to help people out with free advice and support, hence you're reading this quick-tips guide to get you on the road to page one of those valuable search listings.


cover image to beginners guide to search engine optimisation article

Back to school - an SEO report card

Before we go any further I'm going to recommend you leave this article. That's right I'm sending you away but it's for your own good - of course I want you to come back and read the rest of the article once you're done. For now though, I'm going to recommend you visit some of the sites below and get a report card, of sorts, on where you're currently at in your SEO efforts.

The services these sites offer, such as UpCity's SEO Report Card, will give you an idea of the sorts of things you need to implement to improve your site and consequently your search page rankings.

The sites below are all FREE to use, either for a one time service, or on a free trial basis - no strings, just FREE. Visit the sites, put your website URL in and leave them spinning away generating their analysis.

So, now that you've got a good idea of where you stand, you should also have (through your site reports) an idea of what you need to implement. Some things will be more technical than others so feel free to only take on what you're comfortable doing. Don't worry if you're not familiar with html, or other website code, there is plenty you can do without this knowledge to make a difference.

SEO - a game of two halves

Whilst the black magic that powers the search engines is always evolving, a broad over-simplification of their focus would be to say that if your site is considered relevant and it is fast and well structured, with few technical issues, then you'll do well when it comes to being found when people are looking for you.

With that in mind, there are two parts to good website optimisation: on-site and off-site work.

On-site work

This is the process of making any technical improvements to your website, which you should be in control of. It might be that you need to fix some broken links, add some headings, or make sure that the keywords you want to be found for (i.e. 'plumber in chester', or 'freelance copywriter', or 'website redesign yorkshire') are present across your site - in page headings, meta descriptions, and importantly, in your pages' contents.

Now, what needs doing will be very individual to your particular website, but even if you can't tackle the coding side of things, there's a good chance you can make a huge difference if you can edit the content. If you're using a content management system then you can make sure that the structure of your content is in good shape by simple things such as your headings follow a good, logical order (from H1 down to H6), adding 'alt' tags to images to describe what they are, and including the search terms you want to be found for throughout our content where it is a natural fit.

Another important step is to get your site a sitemap, which is effectively an index for your website that lists its pages in some hierarchical order. Once you have it uploaded to your website, be sure to register with Google and Bing webmaster tools and submit the URL of sitemap on your site - more than likely it will be 'http://www.yoursite.co.uk/sitemap.xml'. This will ensure the search engines index your website more accurately and usually much sooner than they would without one.

Off-site work

Offsite work is concerned primarily with creating interest in your site to drive traffic to it. This is achieved mainly through the generation of backlinks, that is links from other websites to your website. The more links to your site, the more the search engines are likely to view your site as relevant and therefore something that someone looking for your particular set of keywords, or search phrase, would like to see show up higher in their search results.

Now, not all backlinks are created equal. There are services you can pay for that will guarantee links to your site in the thousands - well that's great right? No, actually it's not.

You see if you over-egg the pudding, with too many backlinks too soon, the clever search engines will suspect that you're falsifying your popularity and this can actually *negatively* affect your ranking or worse, you could be blacklisted and not appear at all for a period.

Where the back links come from also make a huge difference. There are some sources that will again incur the wrath of the search engines if they link to your site as they are known to be iffy operators at best.

You can usually steer clear of this sort of trouble by not paying for backlinks, and certainly don't trust anyone who guarantees you a certain ranking position within a certain time frame. It's more than likely that you will be at the mercy of some sneaky and Machiavellian tactics which might succeed in the short term, but will ultimately be harmful and short-lived going forwards.

It might seem like a minefield, but the easiest thing to do is to create a number of listings across free online directories, such as FreeIndex, and on the search engines' own business listing pages, such as Google Places, which helps you appear in local searches on Google Maps.

Getting social

The importance of social media can also not be underestimated. It is very worthwhile setting yourself and your business up with a profile on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and Google+. They all assist in adding to your backlink collection of course, but don't just set and forget them.

It's important to keep your social media profiles up to date and try to provide engaging content. It should reflect your social voice and that of your company, but yes, posting funny pictures of your dog is acceptable every now and then.

Ultimately you're trying to generate engagement with your audience and reach out to them, providing them a platform to interact with you - so make it count.

The short version

In summary here's what you can do to perform better on the major search engines:

  • Visit some reporting sites to see where you are and how you can improve
  • Take their recommendations and implement them on your website to fix your on-site SEO issues
  • Start generating quality backlinks to your website through registering on free index listing sites, having reputable people review your products and services, and similar activities
  • Get social! Sign up for all the social media channels you can and write some interesting material in your profile. Use your social media pages to run promotions, provide some noteworthy content, help and advice, and market your products and services
  • Remember, good SEO takes time, and you shouldn't expect to be turning people away in a matter of days!

 


 

What next and what if I need more help?

Fortunately we at Red Guerrilla are experts in the field of websites, web design and search engine optimisation and can definitely take the headache and confusion away in helping you optimise your website.

We have a simple, straightforward approach to optimising your website, using both on-site and off-site techniques mentioned above.

Plus, when you opt for one of our search engine optimisation packages, you'll receive monthly updates with how your site's doing and what's been done so far so you'll always know where you stand. Not only that, but there's no contract so you're free to trial our services with out fear of being tied in.

If you're interested in finding out more about how you can do more on the web, then drop us a line and ask about our FREE website report to see where you stand. No strings, no obligations, just friendly advice.



 

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Topics: Guides & Infographics Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Written by Rob Kendal

Rob has enjoyed a rewarding career in technology, from IT infrastructure through to software development, working with clients such as Virgin Holidays and the NHS. He understands the needs, challenges and logistics involved in making technology work for business and how to market it effectively.
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