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SEO – An Introduction: The What, Why, and How for Beginners

Posted By Sing!, 20 June 2016
Updated: 21 June 2016

If you have a website, or are looking to get online you have probably heard of the term SEO used before. If not, this article will provide a basic overview for anyone new to the concept – and why it is an important term for anyone looking to cultivate an online presence.

WHAT IS SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION? 

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, and is the process of making sure that search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo notice your website and index it prominently when a potential customer is performing a search.

Being familiar with good SEO practices means being familiar with the algorithm used by search engines to determine what will appear on its front page- as well as its second, third and so on. By properly optimising your website, you can better ensure that your page is the winning result of that equation.

WHY OPTIMISE YOUR WEBSITE?

Studies have shown that a large majority of individuals who are looking for a business online will rarely venture farther than the front page of a given search engine. Instead of going to the second page when they don’t find what they’re looking for, most are more likely to simply vary their search terms and try again. As a result, the front page will get as much as 42% of all click-through traffic, with attention to second and third pages cut down to 11% and 8% respectively.

But you don’t just want to be on the front page. The ideal goal is to be at the very top, and you might be surprised how big of an impact that position can make for your website. Below, you can see the result of a study that tracked the gaze and focus of the human eye on the average Google Search.

The first few results are the ones getting the most attention, and that attention translates directly to business. The website ranked first on any given search will get nearly 33% of all click-through traffic. Similarly to which page of Google you’re located on, this rate will drop off rapidly after the first place selection has been decided.

The better the SEO is on your website, the better the chance for your website to appear on the front page of a search engine, and compete for the lion’s share of web traffic. Understanding this, one can see why SEO is such an important skill to be familiar with for anyone with an online presence.

AN OVERVIEW 

Understanding SEO as a term is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to getting your website where you want it to be. Having the basics in mind when building upon your website is a great start to getting your site noticed.

DESIGN QUALITY AND USABILITY 

Make sure that your website is easy to use and navigate for visitors. All live pages should be fully operational, and there should be no duplicate or broken content (404 and 500 errors, for example). This is important for your visitors, but is a key part of good SEO practices as well. When a search is performed, bits of data called “crawlers” or “spiders” go out into the web to look for quality results, navigating the internet through links and focusing on keywords. Like your human visitors, you want these crawlers to be able to find their way around quickly and easily, with as few dead ends as possible.

KEYWORDS - KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

If the Internet is a highway, then keywords are the road signs that let search engines know that your website is out there. These are the terms that your ideal customers will be typing into the search bar, so knowing what keywords to choose means knowing your audience. You want to focus on the right words that will make your business stand out, but also easy to recognise. Say you are looking to promote your new coffee shop. Aiming to be the front page result for a general term like ‘coffee’ means that your website will be competing with a massive number of other websites around the world- 1,110,000,000 pages to be exact.

By choosing more specific terms, such as ‘Dublin gourmet coffee’ you can narrow these competitors down to a cool 212,000.

You can go on to push ahead of these remaining search results by being smart about where you place these keywords now that they’ve been selected.

There are select sweet spots on your website that Google will focus on when looking for the right result for a search.

  • Your website’s URL
  • Your Title Tag
  • The header (or H1) tag
  • The alt text for your featured images
  • In your web page itself – though no more than 2 to 3 times is recommended.

(HIGH QUALITY!) LINK BUILDING

If keywords are highway road signs alerting potential customers to your website, link building is the road itself that will lead them to it. You want your road to be well-paved, illuminated, and most importantly – connected to other high-traffic roads that people are likely to be driving on. While keyword optimisation helps Google determine your websites relevance, link building establishes your website’s quality. Only the best sites make it to the front page. This is established by backlinks – other quality websites linking back to your own.

This can be done in a number of ways, the following of which are just examples to help you get started;

  • Press releases from news sites
  • Reviews on well-established and local blogs
  • Online journals and websites with a strong web presence.

The more quality websites out there that link to your own, the better your search ranking will be. Be careful to avoid ‘link schemes’ or scam websites that might offer to link to your website in order to manipulate search engines, as these can have a negative effect on your overall rank. You will also want to avoid stale linked to abandoned or outdated websites. Keep your website up-to-date, relevant, and accessible, and watch it rise to the top of the rankings.

CONTENT IS KING 

Building up your website with original, useful and relevant content is arguably the best way to establish your website’s authority. Now that we’ve established how backlinking and link building is important for setting your rank on search engines, you’ll want to provide other websites with something that they’ll want to cite or feature on their own pages.

If you own a coffee shop, post an article with some tips on how to brew the best cup of coffee, or a post promoting that new line of drinks introduced for the season. When thinking of SEO, your site should be more than an online business card with your logo, location, and working hours. It should be a resource for your customers and like-minded individuals across the internet.

IN CONCLUSION 

Similarly to how a website needs to be regularly updated in order to stay relevant, SEO is an ongoing process that needs upkeep to be maintained. Regularly researching the ranking of your keywords, links, and other elements is vital to making sure that your website remains relevant and visible.

To learn more about how you can get your website moving up the ranks of search engines contact us here at SING! Today.

This post was originally published on Sing.ie.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sing! is a performance digital marketing agency which focuses on improving sales performance through digital channels. Our team combines digital marketing strategists and specialists. We make sense of the bewildering array of digital marketing tactics and technologies to select the right ones to meet your business challenges head on and help you achieve your growth ambitions. Our goal is to see businesses prosper from the selection of business relevant digital marketing options. 

www.sing.ie


 

 

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