What is search engine optimisation (SEO)?
If you’ve got a website and an email address listed, chances are you get inundated with dodgy emails from ‘SEO companies’ with Gmail addresses. Their generic sales pitches try to make you think there are things wrong with your site and how they can fix them.
You can safely ignore those emails. They will take your money, probably wreck your rankings and eventually stop responding.
It may get you thinking how you can improve your website traffic and generate more enquiries or sales however, and might lead you to wonder what search engine optimisation is. This is a VERY broad question though, and to answer that you need to work some things out first.
What do you mean by SEO?
Search engine optimisation can mean various things, but they all mean making your site more attractive to search engines so they show your site high up in the results shown to searchers.
The most fundamental is having a well coded, mobile friendly site that loads fast and uses a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate. Site speed is a factor in rankings now. These things fall under Technical SEO. If we’ve built your site then chances are all this will be taken care of and all of our websites for counsellors include an SSL certificate.
Once the technical side of things is taken care of, you’ll need good content for search engines to pick up. The technical and content aspects are parts of On-site SEO.
Off-site SEO & Link Building
There is also Off-site SEO, which involves things like directories, social media and other forms of building links back to your site. We’ll focus on content for the rest of this article and come back to the other aspects in future articles.
Before you can optimise for anything or carry out any of these kinds of SEO activity, you need to know what that thing is. In this case, keywords. Keywords are actually short phrases like ‘web design newark’ or whatever products or services you sell.
Before you get into this though, you need to know your market and how they search for what they want. This might need the help of a marketing specialist to define your target audience and your distinct offerings. If you’re a window cleaner in Mansfield that is going to be easier to work out than if you’re an IT support company in a large city.
Choosing a broad keyword like ‘counsellor’ will be impossible to rank a new site for without a huge budget. Narrowing it down to the local area or a niche makes things easier – these are often called Long Tail Keywords. “Counsellor Nottingham” is easier to generate traffic for.
You can use the Google Adwords Keyword Planner to see what kind of search volume and competition exist for your example keywords and related terms.
Once you’ve got some data, you can make a spreadsheet of keywords and map this to your site pages. You may want to rearrange your site and/or add more pages at this point so you can use a keyword per page and snag extra traffic. The bigger your site is the better (as long as it’s all good content).
How Long Does SEO Take?
Bear in mind it might take a while to start seeing improvement to your search engine placements, or your efforts might not even have a positive effect if your competition have strong sites and are constantly working at their own SEO.
This has been a quick and dirty guide to the types of search engine optimisation and the importance of researching relevant keywords. As you can see, search engine optimisation involves a lot of different areas that all work together. We’ll come back to each area of SEO in future articles.