Friday, 27 January 2012

Search Engine Optimisation: What, Why, When, How, Who, Where and Which?

SEO = Search Engine Optimisation

What does it mean?
Optimising the way your website is seen by search engines means to present comprehensive data in a certain way - just like you would present business prospects with a document, using headings, sub-headings, summary, details and links to make it easy to follow.

Why optimise?
Websites that have been optimised to present the content in a way that Search Engines can easily index with relevant words are likely to show results more quickly that those that have not. This is not all that has to be done; search engine algorithms also include a number of other factors, such as volume and quality of links into your website, popularity (i.e. number of visitors, length of time spent browsing, etc.) and other activity. With millions of websites competing for attention, it is essential to optimise your website for search engines, most particularly for Google, with its near-monopoly.

When to optimise?
Optimise as soon as possible and regularly, at least every three months, for continuing good results or your competitors may put in greater efforts and leap above you. Also, search-terms evolve over time so you need to ensure that your content keeps pace.

How to optimise - the basics:
  • List the keywords that your potential customers are likely to use to search for the products or services that you supply
  • Allocate each keyword to a page or pages of your website that have most relevant content
  • Prioritise the keywords - because the most important need to be (a) near the top of the content (b) repeated for emphasis
  • Write or re-write the page content for human consumption, making sure that you include the keywords listed above.
Behind the content, the source code also plays a vital role; you may need technical assistance with the following:
  • "Friendly url" should be meaningful and contain a major keyword, i.e. rather than /product1
  • The page 'Title' should be unique for each page and include the most important keywords in a short sentence or two (maximum 70 characters).
  • Meta Tags (Description and Keywords) should be included on each page. Description is the more important and is a longer version (about 160 characters) of your page title; Keywords is a list of the top 10 or so keywords that are contained within the page content and not an opportunity to supplement the content (refer the lists you made for each page at the beginning of this exercise), e.g. flying widget,flying gadget,air propelled widget, etc.
  • Header Tags are used by search engines to identify and prioritise key components within the text of each page. H1 will be used for the most important heading or identifier. H2 & H3 tags can be used for various sub-headings.
  • Image Attributes (Alt and Title) add descriptions to images. Not only do these attributes enable a search engine to associate keywords to an image but they are useful information when images are not displayed. Alt is used by text-to-speech software to describe images to visually impaired users.
A Sitemap file can be uploaded with your website to assist search engines flow through the website pages, making it easier to index all the pages listed in the sitemap. There are free tools available to generate a sitemap file for you, e.g.

Who can perform the code optimisation?
Depending on how your website has been written and on what platform, you may be able to do it yourself, you may be able to shop around for a service supplier you feel comfortable working with or you may be locked in to your website designer/supplier.

If you don't have the technical ability or accessibility to update your website, there will be a cost involved but you can minimise this by preparing the content yourself and, in many cases, viewing the HTML source code to review the elements for optimization.

Where do we go from here?
Anchor Text (the words that are clicked on to link elsewhere) and Links - both internally and externally - can increase the importance of the landing pages. For example, using the term 'flying widget price' on the home page as the anchor-text link to the product page, that also contains an H1 of flying widget price, is an indication that this key phrase is critical to the website page.

The same applies to external links. One of the best ways to improve your website's search engine position is to have other websites linking to yours - and not just the home page. Sometimes, you will have no control over this but if you are using social media or writing a blog, you do and, instead of using 'click here' as the anchor text, you can choose a relevant phrase.

The more quality links you have, the better your ranking on Google. A quality link is from a website with a high page rank and content that is relevant to the content of the linked landing page. It is the regular building of external links that can be time consuming and, although some can be managed in-house, it's often easier and more cost-effective to contract an external team member for a few hours a month while you concentrate on your core business.

Which tasks are best managed in-house and which services should be outsourced?
Obviously, this varies between organisations and the personnel available but, in general, building followers on Linked-In is personal; Facebook and Twitter can benefit from posts with personality and could be co-managed.

Newsletters, a weekly blog post, press releases and articles should be written or edited and posted by the Internet Marketing specialist but will need periodic input. Other opportunities may include reciprocal links, comments on similar posts and forums.

This is our core business. The BPc will guide you through optimisation or manage your optimisation and linking projects for a monthly fee or an hourly rate. We are also able to create websites for a range of budgets, either in standard code or open-source CMS using Wordpress. We always aim to give best advice.

View our Client Portfolio Blog.
For internet presence and website performance, small to medium businesses, please email The BPc in the first instance:

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