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SEO – The Ultimate Beginners Guide

Is your website search engine friendly?

SEO, sounds daunting right? Well it can be, but it’s something you should care about! SEO is Search Engine Optimization, in layman’s terms, it is all the little things you do to your site that help you get a good ranking on search engine results.

So, let’s start with the complete, absolute basics.

Search Engines

Anyone with any experience of the internet will know the value of search engines. They’re a crucial way for your users to find you. Now you may think it would be as simple as searching for a few keywords and then bam! Up your site pops! Well it is that easy, for the user at least. For you and your site, it’s a little more complex. Firstly, imagine how many sites there are out there that are similar to your own. Imagine how many may use the same keywords in a search – quite a few isn’t there? If you’ve used a search engine, you’ll know how many pages of results pop up. Users can’t be bothered to trawl through all of these, so the higher up your site is on the list, the more likely you are to be visited. Unfortunately, it isn’t up to you where you appear on the list, that is down to the search bots.

Now, search bots are the technology that complete the search for a search engine. They trawl through the internet looking at millions of sites. What they’re looking for are the keywords that the searcher is looking for. So let’s say someone is searching for unicycle riding dogs, the bots will look all over the internet for the keywords ‘unicycle’ ‘riding’ and ‘dog’. Simple enough really.

The next step the bots take is to rank all those thousands of sites with the relevant keywords. Now, bots are very very clever. But they don’t understand relevancy in the same way a person does. This means they rank pages based on their popularity. The way the bots do this is through mathematical equations. There are many factors in these equations, two of the simpler ones are:

  • How the user interacts with the search results – success can be measured by how long the user stays on each site they click, so if they click on a result then quickly hit back, the bots see this and assume the site was no good. The longer the user stays on a result site, the better it must be.
  • Links mean popularity – when a site is shared, a link back to the site is created. The more of these links there are, the more popular the site is, bots count all of these links as levels of popularity.

Different search engines use different equations to rank popularity, it can be helpful for you to know about them but it can give you too much to worry about. Generally, if you make your site lovely for your users, you will become more popular in search engine results.

Getting your site search engine ready

So, you know how the search engines work, now, to apply some of that newly acquired knowledge to your site.

First, ask yourself how your site looks? Better yet, ask someone else. You want your site to look professional so your users trust you know what you’re talking about. Professional sites tend to be sleek, trimmed down and uncluttered. This doesn’t have to be hugely difficult, just get yourself a couple of nice shiny pictures and graphics. Investing in a designer if you don’t have one, even just for a couple of images, can work wonders if you aren’t techy.

Once you’ve got a site that looks the part, you need to make sure it is search engine optimized! This can get tricky but follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way.

  • Make sure relevant keywords are there – so we’ve talked about search bots using keywords to find your site, well they need to see these keywords on your page to know what you’re about. Make sure these are written and not contained in images and videos, search bots don’t understand these.
  • Don’t overload keywords – the temptation can be to cram your site full of keywords, resist! This can be seen by search bots as spam and could get you ignored from search results.
  • Get some links back to your page – these can come from shares and links from other sites. Get your site out there, ask your users to share you with their friends. Not only will this make you look more popular to search engines but it’s great promotion! Get your site on other sites, try blogging about similar topics and linking back to your site.

This is just a very basic grounding in SEO, the tips and tricks can get pretty complicated, so start off slow and steady. As you work on it, you’ll find your understanding will grow. Research more complicated SEO techniques and give them a go, soon you’ll be a SEO master!

Author Bio

Written by Ellen Brown, Marketing Assistant at Blooie.