Well let’s start at the beginning. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it is, broadly speaking, the pursuit of optimizing how your website or blog will perform in the results from search engine searches.
Why would you care whether you perform well in search engine search results? Simple, it’s the number one source of traffic on the internet. Studies have estimated that up to 85% of people’s searching for a product, service or news item begins with a search engine. Is SEO starting to look more interesting now?
You can spend a lot of time and/or money building the most amazing website, but without people visiting your website, it is time and money totally wasted. So, as with any business, you must promote and market your website to bring in traffic. There are many ways that you can effectively market your site. You can pay for online and offline advertising campaigns, you can slowly build it through word of mouth or you can go to the number one source – search engines.
Many experts have said that effective SEO is an art, not a science. They say this because the exact manner in which search engines rank a website is only known to the staff working for that search engine. Even the staff doesn’t know the whole picture because they are split into teams that work on various components independently of each other. This is where the art of SEO starts to get difficult.
The key to effective SEO is not being overly concerned with “knowing” the exact combination of variables required, but rather having an understanding of what works and what doesn’t. There is a mass of literature on SEO published by SEO “experts” that is available. The other issue is that search engines are constantly refining their techniques and as such become a moving target to get “absolutely” right. Understanding what is working and focussing on these variables makes your chances of SEO success much greater.
The key basic components that will get you on your way to getting better SEO and traffic are as follows.
Where possible, include the subject that your website is about in the domain name. Also try and register a top level domain name (eg.com) for the website.
Target a selected number of keywords that your website relates to. When people search for something on search engines, they will generally type in more than one word and have learnt to be specific as possible so that they get results that are relevant to what they are looking for. Make sure that is a healthy occurrence of these keywords that appear throughout your website. The more specific and specialized that your key words are, the better the chance of ranking well in those keyword searches.
Include the keywords in all key meta tags on your website. Do not go overboard with your meta tags as this will penalize you.
Become an “authority” on the subject. This increases the likelihood of other websites linking to you. Links pointing to your website are a very important part of SEO.
Search engines have software that basically “crawls” websites and gathers information of what websites are about, as well as link information etc. Load your website with good relevant copy. People often load up their websites with a bunch of pretty pictures and amazing flash elements. These are great for the human visitor, but not too much use for a search engine. Search engines love text and information, the more the better.
This is a very simplified and broad outline of what SEO is. If you are trying to improve your SEO, then you will no doubt require specialised tools to achieve better results. Don’t pay for any SEO tools of software to begin with, take advantage of the thousands of free SEO tools and software that can get you started.