If you’re at all interested in making money online then you may have heard the term ‘SEO’ branded about a couple of times. However as this is a fairly random collection of three letters you’d be forgiven for not knowing what that stands for or means. This is a shame however, as if you own a website, or are considering owning one, this can make all the difference regarding your success and ensure that your site is seen by thousands of people daily if done well. Here we will address what SEO is, and how to do it.
What Is SEO?
SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ which should act as a pretty big clue as to what it entails. In case you’re still struggling though, SEO means ‘optimising’ or tailoring a website so that it is attractive to the search engines such as Google and is likely to come up in a search. This is very important as search engines provide web surfers with the ability to find any website they are looking for and that will include yours. Optimise your site for the search engines and you will give people a means of finding your website.
More specifically though, SEO tends to focus on targeting certain ‘key words’ or ‘key phrases’ and getting Google to associate these with your website. This way, when someone types in that phrase, Google will bring up your website at the top of the list and that will mean that people will click it a lot. People then will tend to do key word research first then and will look into which keywords are searched for regularly but at the same time have minimal competition. This way you will be able to more easily bring the right people to your site.
Elements of SEO
Of course that’s all very good and well, but the question is how to go about making a site attractive to Google and particularly how to target specific words and phrases. Fortunately this is rather simple to accomplish but does involve several disparate elements.
Optimising a site for a search engine is dictated by how search engines work and the ‘algorithms’ these search engines use to find the sites. Essentially Google and similar tools are looking for the site they think is most useful for the person searching so that that person quickly finds what they want and gets quality material back. So Google is looking for relevance and quality in a bid to serve its users.
Keywords and Content
In order to check for relevance Google looks for those key words and related phrases. This way if your site contains a certain phrase repeated a few times along with some synonyms, Google will presume that your site is on that topic. Likewise if your site contains file names with those words, or links to your site with those words, then Google will use all of this to ascertain the site’s topic. So in order to target your site for that key word or key phrase you simply need to repeat it throughout your site’s content and repeatedly mention the same words in your articles. At the same time you should put it into your file names and into your coding so that it’s in the meta tags and in the site title. Be careful not to over do it however as you will that way look as though you’re spamming the site. If the inclusion of all the keywords means that your content is unpleasant to read then this will damage the quality and Google will see it as a ‘black hat’ (meaning evil-SEO) attempt to trick the ‘spiders’ (which crawl the sites to learn the content).
The other way to make your site more appealing to Google is to include lots of content so that Google repeatedly sees your site and so that you have more material to be brought up in searches. The more writing on your site, the more there is for Google to find, and the more regularly your site will be brought up in searches. So make sure that you update your site as regularly as possible with lots of content in order to keep it looking active and ensure there are lots to search.
The other aspect Google is looking for is ‘quality’. Of course this is not something an algorithm can really calculate (though it will get better so ensure to spell your articles well and phrase yourself well for the day when that comes), so currently Google uses the recommendations of others to judge quality – specifically it looks at links as endorsements. This means the more links you have to your site then the better Google will presume your website to be – people wouldn’t link to it otherwise right?
So of course the real aim is to do this naturally – to include good content so that people want to show their friends and family and post the links for this reason. However you can also help yourself more by posting your links on trusted sites such as ezine articles (they let you submit articles in exchange for two links back to your site) or on forums. The bigger and better known the site, the more it will benefit you. You can also ‘trade links’ with people by advertising to other webmasters that you want to swap and this way get your site on lots of other webpages as a result.
This is only a very basic overview of SEO – it gets much more complicated than that. However using just this advice, hopefully you will be able to grasp the fundamentals and start tailoring your code and content with Google in mind.