If you are a beginner at web design and online marketing, it’s likely that the SEO basics have you flummoxed, we’ve all been there! If you wonder what SEO even is, it means Search Engine Optimisation.
The search engines, or web browsers, are for example Google, Firefox, Internet Explorer.
They are what we all use when we search for info online, such as “birthday cake”.
The results that come back are ranked based on what other people have previously found useful. And they are individualised, depending on your location and your previous searches.
How does Google know if a page is useful? The most basic test for Google is how long someone stays reading on the page, and whether they click on any links on that page to go to another spot on the website. This tells Google that your page and website have answered someone’s query adequately, that the content is useful and the website is user-friendly.
So what that really means is that good SEO will help search engines like Google select your website when people look for a product or service using search terms that can be found in your written content.
The big question you might have is ‘Why does my website need SEO?’
Let’s see, if I do a Google search for “birthday cake” the results on Google include over 58 million pages. That’s right: 58,700,000+ pages. (Kind of chuffed my client’s page, Buttercups, is on Page 1).
So how will Google know to show your website above others, preferably on page 1?
By using good SEO tips that will help you increase your ranking in the natural listings provided by Google.
SEO can be quite a science but the basics are actually quite simple and go like this.
- Make sure that your written content includes words and phrases that people will naturally search for. (These are often called keywords, but really they are phrases). So if you make birthday cakes in Bakersfield, those keywords should be part of your written content. That way when someone actually searches for those keywords there is every chance they will find you on the first page of Google. Now you can use variations of those words leading to your website so, for example, “best cake maker in Bakersfield” might be another option.
- Include sufficient written content. When someone searches for a birthday cake Google will possibly show your results but only if it thinks that your page is likely to be relevant to the search results. So that’s where some written content added to your blog matter. This gives you more opportunities to explain and describe what you do. You could write a short blog about a special order, a wedding cake, a gluten free recipe, add photos of the happy birthday crew… Be mindful however of not stuffing keywords all of your content in the hope that this will influence Google results. The Google algorithms, which are the formulas used by Google to provide search results, are extremely sophisticated. If anything they will penalize you if it looks like your content is written for robots rather than some humans.
- A very important thing is still that your site is user friendly and actually retains visitors for more than 2 seconds. So, it’s best if your website loads fairly quickly, if the homepage is attractive and contains an interesting mix of short texts and images (think of it as your shop window), is easy to navigate. Refreshing your content (via the blog for example) also helps.
- Another way of showing Google what your website is about is to tag your images with relevant key phrases. If your image is called 54751.jpg, Google will have no idea what your image is about as it can only read text, not images. But if you rename your image “Gluten free chocolate birthday cake”, then Google will have a much better idea of what your image is about. In your image description fields there should be an area called ALT Tag, that’s what the search engines read.
- Make it easy for readers and link your social media and website. On your site, add links to your social media such as Facebook or Instagram. And on your personal and business Facebook pages, make sure you add the link to your website.
- SEO is a complex part of website design but managing it yourself is perfectly doable. Just break it down into small tasks and do it step by step. When I built my first website 5 or 6 years ago, which was my own as I could not afford to pay a web designer, I rose to page 1 on Google in less than 2 months. This was for my specific search words which at the time were “Copywriter Sunshine Coast Australia”.
I could go on forever explaining the finer points of SEO, and I am not an expert, so I think it’s more useful if I give you links to some essential reading.
These two websites are great go-to resources for pretty much anything to do with digital marketing, website design, and social media: