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A beginners guide to website search engine optimisation

July 1 2013

Search Engine Optimisation or what is commonly referred to as SEO is the technique of ranking a website in the organic, that is non paid, results area of the search engines.

A beginners guide to SEO.

Search engine optimisation is some what of a mystery to many small business owners and even veteran marketing people. There is a hell of a lot of Chinese whispers and rumours when it comes to SEO, but overall it is not fully understood by many people. I have clients that I meet who say they have heard this and that and you have to do this to get your website ranked, but in reality SEO is not an exact science so there is no 100% solution.

Every business no matter the size, needs to have their website ranking. Since the demise of the Yellow Pages, Google has become the main advertising arm of businesses Australia wide. Simple put, if your website is not within the first couple of pages of this search engine then you are basically lost in the online wilderness. Unless you have a shop front with heaps of passing foot traffic, SEO will be your only ally in getting online traffic through to your website.

If you are a novice to the web world and are just starting out in business, or if you currently have a site and business has been a bit slow lately, then the mantra that should be ticking over in your head is the words: SEO. Basically, it is the only way possible at this stage to drive online inquiries and in turn, grow your business.

Who Are The Main Players For Search?

There are really 3 main search engines; Google, Yahoo and Bing. Online search is favoured in some countries by some search engines, but in Australia, by far the most popular engine is Google. In all my years as director of Hopping Mad Designs, I have never ever been asked to rank a site on Yahoo or Bing. Everyone, and I do mean every person we do SEO for want’s, actually insists, that they rank on Google.

Why is Search Engine Optimisation Necessary?

Many people that we design and build sites for become quite relaxed, even carefree about having their site ranking. They feel that they have been in business for so many years, without any SEO work, that they can grow their business with just a new website. This is not the case. Having a new website and not implementing a SEO campaign is like getting a complete set of new company brochures designed and printed and then putting them in storage. Unless, you brand name is so well known that people will  search for your website by name, SEO is the only avenue available to draw attention to your site.

How Much Does SEO Cost?

This really depends on the competitive nature of your keywords and industry that you want to rank in. For example, it is going to be a lot easier to rank a company for say ‘ web design in Darwin’ than it will be for ‘ web design in Sydney’. Reason being, the Sydney market is much more sought after than the Northern Territory market, which means more resources are needed to rank the site. Hence the higher cost. A good rule of thumb is, the more competitive the keyword or phrase, the more the SEO cost.

Is SEO a Long Term Strategy?

In short the answer is Yes. It is not a good idea to turn SEO on and off like water. You need to be continually working on your SEO in order to maintain your ranking. Think of it like this. Imagine you are at the top of page 1 for your main keyword and you stop your SEO. Over time what will happen is that your competitors who are doing their SEO will eventually take your place. Obtaining and maintain your prime spot is what SEO is all about and this is why it is advisable to keep it going.

Who Can Do My SEO?

Most web design companies when building your site will be able to do your SEO. Once the site has been built talk to them about their abilities to do SEO for you on an on going basis. A word of WARNING here!! Many people say they can do SEO, but not everyone can. People will exaggerate their abilities to get your business, but the reality is that only a handful of really good web companies can actually do a professional SEO job. Hint; check the web design companies SEO ranking and if they are on page 1 or 2, for their own keywords then they should be able to rank your site.

What are Keywords?

When people are searching online they use Google. And what they type in the search box on the front page of Google to look for a product, service or bit of information is termed keyword. So for example, if I am looking for landscape designers in Sydney, my keywords would be landscape  designers  Sydney.

What are some Common SEO Mistakes and Misconceptions?

1) You can do SEO yourself. This is the main misconception, and is due in part by people listening to friends or relatives. They have heard you only have to do x, y and z to get ranked, but it is a much more complicated and involved process.

2) All I have to do is stuff as many keywords as I can think of on my site and it will rank. This used to be the case but over stuffing of your main keywords is of little use nowadays and will just make your site look ridiculous.

3) I can pay $200 per month and expect great results. This is insane. SEO companies that discount excessively to get your work will not do a proper job. Ask yourself this question, if your business needs to rank to drive sales, what is the point of choosing the cheapest company, knowing that they will not be able to perform. If you are serious about an online digital campaign, then you must pay for this service accordingly. Cutting corners, hassling over price and bargaining is not a good marketing start.

4) Offshoring your SEO to save money is a good idea. Wrong. Why on earth would you trust your business to someone in a foreign country that you have never met.

5) Companies should be able to guarantee their SEO service. The search algorithm is forever changing, therefore nothing can be guaranteed. You can do your best, but at the end of the day, working with Google is in some cases guess work.

6) All you need to do is be active on social media and this will drive my web rankings. True in part, but this is only one contributing component to the whole jigsaw.