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Search Engine Optimisation – a beginner’s guide

Search engine optimisation is a form of marketing that consists of “improving the position that your website appears at in the ‘organic’ search results returned by sites such as Google”. But why is search engine optimisation so important in the modern day?

Search Engine Optimisation

Despite Google bringing up millions (sometimes even billions) of search results, 75% of users never scroll past the first page. Therefore, it’s vitally important to be as high up the list as possible.

The easiest and quickest way to get on the first page of a search engine is paid ads (such as Google Adwords or Bing Ads). The system, which operates on a pay per click basis, places an advert for a website at the top of each page of search results.

Whereas this may seem like a quick and easy way of boosting traffic to your website, a recent survey revealed that almost 80% of people ignore Google-sponsored ads. Furthermore, they can also prove quite costly, especially for commonly-targeted search terms.

Nevertheless, there are ways in which you can boost your search engine presence without having to break the bank.

Content

The key to successful SEO is ensuring you’ve got the correct balance between search engine friendly content and information that is relevant to your website’s users.

The way in which this is achieved is by inserting “keywords” into the content. Keywords are certain phrases that people are likely to type in to a search engine in order to find what they are looking for. This involves a lot of second-guessing. It might sound quite complex, but it’s actually very simple.

For example, if you were in need of a plumber in Scunthorpe, you would most likely search for “plumber in Scunthorpe”. If you wanted to read a review of an egg whisk, you’d search for “egg whisk review”. If you were looking for One Direction tour dates, you’d search for “One Direction tour dates”. You get the gist.

However, having variations of the keywords embedded within the content is also beneficial in SEO, as it may see you rank for other terms as well – increasing your website’s range. For example, if you’re trying to rank for “salon in Northampton”, also consider using “hairdressers in Northampton”, “hair styling in Northampton” and similar variations.

Many SEO experts will suggest that a webpage should contain over 300 words for it to rank effectively. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. According to Google: “One of the most important steps in improving your site’s ranking in Google search results is to ensure that it contains plenty of rich information that includes relevant keywords, used appropriately, that indicate the subject matter of your content.”

The post continues: “However, some webmasters attempt to improve their pages’ ranking and attract visitors by creating pages with many words but little or no authentic content. Google will take action against domains that try to rank more highly by just showing scraped or other cookie-cutter pages that don’t add substantial value to users.” This suggests that the quality of the content is more important than the length, as long as you don’t go off topic.

Social Media

In recent years, social media has seen a significant rise in use, mostly because of its instant accessibility. Recent figures suggest that over 80% of Twitter users access the site through mobile, with over 500 million Tweets being sent every day. Based on these facts and figures, it comes as no surprise to see search engines incorporating social media into their algorithms for SEO.

Like television, radio and billboard marketing, social media offers visibility. In terms of SEO, the more a link is shared across social media, the more likely it is to rank highly on a search engine. However, simply spamming links to your website across Facebook, Google+ and Twitter isn’t helpful either. Once again, it’s about getting the correct balance.

One of the most effective ways of distributing your link across social media is by placing share buttons at the bottom of the content. This allows readers to spread the word to their friends and followers with the click of a button.

It’s also worth building up your social profiles as much as possible. Simple things such as having an avatar, filling out your bio and regularly posting updates can have a big effect on your SEO.

Unfortunately, search engine optimisation is more of a marathon rather than a jog round the block. Using these techniques won’t give you instant results, but you will definitely see the benefits in the long term.

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