SEO - Search Engine Optimisation

What Is SEO?

Basically, SEO means making sure the content can be found — so your authoritative blog post on “how to feed chickens” hopefully appears somewhere in the top 10 results when a user searches Google for that particular phrase. Of course, no one can guarantee you’ll ever rank well, and ultimately it is the *quality* of your content that will keep you up there as a reliable source of information, but SEO is the launchpad from which you start and give yourself the best possible chance.

Why You Should Care About SEO

To many people, search engine optimization is some kind of black art that simply doesn’t apply to blogs—some even think of it as some kind of “illegal hacking” to make your website more attractive to the Googlebot. While that side of the subject certainly does exist, the majority of SEO techniques are simple common sense that should be applied to every website on the internet. There are also some practices you need to be careful of, as they can really hurt your standing with Google. Let me tell you from experience that SEO is something you really have to consider from the start—it’s very difficult to change things once you’ve built up a backlog of blog posts indexed, and you’ve already got visitors and links coming in from other blogs—and you’ll be stuck in the land of blog mediocrity until finally you give up posting one day. Believe me, I’ve been there.

Disclaimer: No one can really know how the Google ranking algorithm works, and it’s for that reason that attempting to game the system is foolhardy at best. What you can do is follow a set of best practices published by Google themselves, listen to advice from those with experience, and make your own decisions. In the end, much of SEO is simple commonsense, and as long as you write quality content for which the content is easily identifiable—by humans—then you should do just fine. Google uses over 200 factors in determining your ranking.

First Steps for SEO

Choose a set of keywords and if possible, focus your blog on a single topic. If you write lots of high quality articles on a single subject, and the subject is in your blog title and domain, then you will rank well for that keyword. It’s as simple as that. My own site, ipadboardgames.org is currently ranking on the first page in Google for the keywords “iPad board game(s)” precisely because it is focused on one topic only, and has quality, trusted reviews that are linked to around the web.

But what if your site is not about a single topic—such as a general “about me” or personal blog? This is the most difficult to consider for SEO so you can expect to not rank particularly well for anything other than your own name. Try to write about a few unique, niche topics that you have expert knowledge on and you’ll find you get a lot of traffic from those which will convert to regular visitors. For example, I once owned a blog that was a mix of mediocre tech tutorials, but one article was about how to install Windows using Bootcamp on a Macbook when the superdrive was broken—at the time it was one of only a few pages around detailing the process, and was even linked to from piratebay.org, which literally rocketed the blog to around 500 visitors a day.

A third type of blog you may be interesting in creating is about you, but also offering your professional services. In this case you still need to target some particular keywords “tree cutting Wisconsin”, but it’s important you also regularly publish and share your specialized knowledge on the topic, thereby establishing yourself as an expert. Simply putting up a “business card” site just isn’t enough anymore—you need to produce fresh content on a regular basis.

General SEO Advice for Any Site

The first thing you should do if launching a new site is to get a personalized, unique, relevant domain name like yourdomain.com. Depending on the type of blog you’re planning on making, the domain name is a good way to get a head-start with your Google rank. Basically, “exact match domains” are a key sign to Google that your site is relevant to a particular topic. All things being equal—an exact match of the domain will always win out against something generic. Subdomains don’t count, by the way.

Set Correct Meta-Tags For Title and Description:

The page title is what appears in the user’s browser at the top of the screen—as well as the title shown in Google search results. WordPress does quite well by default on titles, but you should avoid any that are too long or you may want to adjust the structure slightly. The meta-description is not human-readable on your blog itself, but it is used by Google in the search results page if you have one. If the description isn’t set, Google will attempt to extract some part of your page that it deems relevant to the search query (in fact, it may do this anyway and just ignore your perfectly crafted description if it thinks it isn’t relevant to the user at hand), so make sure you set one. By default, WordPress doesn’t set a description, so you’ll need a plugin for this which I will describe later.

Use Images to Your Advantage:

One easily overlooked area of incoming search traffic is from Google Image Search. In one site I’ve managed, the traffic shot up 100-fold overnight because of a single image related to recent news—with that in mind, you can leverage images as an untapped source of traffic. Specifically, the image ALT and TITLE tags need to be set so they are relevant to your keywords. If you page is about “feeding chickens”, and you have a photo of a feed mix you made, with the filename “DSC1001.jpg”, and no ALT or TITLE tags set, you are throwing away a big traffic opportunity. An easy way to make sure you leverage this is to fix the relevant fields when you upload images using the WordPress image uploader (see the screenshot), but what if you’ve forgotten to do it for all your existing posts? In the case, install the helpful SEO Friendly Images plugin. It will automatically add relevant tags to all your images, according to the title of the post they’re attached to—it’s not ideal, but certainly better than nothing.

Avoid duplicate or “low quality” content:

It should go without saying that copying someone else’s content is bad, but many websites would previously do this automatically by simply “scraping” RSS feeds—there are even WordPress plugins that will do this for you. Make no mistake though, this practice is now easily recognizable by Google and results in a swift de-indexing of the offending site. It is therefore absolutely crucial that you don’t copy and paste content from another source—make sure your blog posts are original! This doesn’t mean you can’t embed YouTube videos or quote another page, but make sure you do something else on top of that. You should also make sure that each page of your site has a significant amount of good content—Google will penalize you for “low quality” content if you publish a post with just two or three sentences on it. So does this mean you can’t post little thoughts or links you find? No, but it does mean they shouldn’t be a blog post. Consider using the “asides” post type of the default twenty-eleven theme which shows the posts on the blog without giving them a whole separate page—or post them on Twitter. A good rule of thumb is that a blog post should be at least 300 words.

All major search engines require websites to have certain ingredients for a higher ranking. Our Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy ensures the key areas such as keywords, meta tags, navigation structure and content are optimized to improve organic rankings. We strive to make your site SEO friendly as well as user-friendly.

SEO does not stop there though. Google wants to see that people are talking about you on social media as well. We have you covered with automated posting solutions and manual post creation. Whether content is yours or you need us to find content for you – we have you covered.

Search Engine Optimisation is the process for getting your site and content listed in Google, Bing and other search engines. The higher the rank, the more customers see your site when they search.

There are three main areas to focus on. One is the content – It’s uniqueness and value to the website visitor, the second is the technical aspects of keywords, image descriptions for the disabled etc. and the third is the popularity of the site.

Google has over 200 ‘Ranking factors’ (and many hidden ones to stop people gaming the results)

As SEO experts, we do our best to address the three areas outlined above to achieve the  highest ranking we can for you. Bear in mind that those sites in the number one position sometimes spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to achieve the number one spot. If you want to be number one in a very competitive niche it will not be quick and not be cheap. Do not despair though – there are other ways, for example, your business might be called ‘Blue Widgets’ – we can get that name ranked whereas we can’t rank you as highly for ‘Widgets’.

Local SEO allows you to shine when people look for “Blue widgets in my town”, another area where we can help you promote your business.

Content needs to provide value to your customers – not just a publicity piece on you. Here we use clever technical writing to promote your content to rank in the search results. Carefully structured and linked content will increase your visibility. Keywords and headers, lists and infographics all make a difference.

Finally we come to your visibility. Visibility on relevant social media platforms can help a business immensely to engage with customers and manage their reputation in both good times and bad.

The other side of visibility is the promotion of your business through building links to your site from relevant sites. This gets other websites promoting your site and using your content with acknowledgement as a market authority.