For small business owners the terms Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), SEO strategy, or Search Engine Marketing (SEM) may mean very little, if not being downright confusing!
You probably know that they have some importance regarding websites but are unclear on exactly how they influence the success, or failure of your website. The following SEO article aims to inform you on the importance of a carefully executed SEO strategy to optimise the success of your website.
Search Engine Optimisation is the process of making a web page highly relevant for particular keywords. Selectively using chosen keywords throughout the content of a page will help a web page be indexed and have more likelihood of ranking well on spider-based search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN/Bing (the three biggest Search Engines to consider).
The key for search engine optimisation is the use of selected keywords within relevant content. Basically, this content is delivering what people are searching for in search engines and thus will rank well. This is a very simplified definition and there are many other factors at work as we will see by answering the following questions.
Caveat- you cannot pay to have a high listing in a search engine. Recent eye tracking studies have shown that the organic listings are viewed three times more than sponsored advertisements, the reason why organic search engine rankings are SO important for small business websites.
The vast majority of website traffic is driven by search engines (in the range of 85%). Just think of how often each day you use Google, MSN or your search engine of choice. In Australia alone, each day there are over 6 million searches done, and that's just on Google Australia!
The majority of users do not go past the first page of search results. So in a nutshell, getting free and targeted traffic to your website relies heavily on ranking well with search engines. This is why SEO strategies should be an integral and important part of web design/development.
Search engines find relevant content for their search results by sending out spiders or robots which crawl websites and record their information into databases. Complex algorithms are then employed to determine whether a site is useful and should be included in the search engines search results.
The most important thing to the search engines is to be delivering meaningful results. If they deliver irrelevant results their customers will go to another search engine. Relevant results keep them in business.
Search engines make their money by generally showing real results, also known as natural or organic listings, on the left hand side of a page, and then showing paid results, (advertising) on the right hand side of the page, and more recently along the top.
When selecting an SEO firm to undertake an SEO strategy for you be sure that you know what you are paying for. The promised results should be based on increased enquiries or traffic which will take varying amounts of time to achieve.
It is difficult to promise actual search engine rankings (ie- Number 1 results at Google), but increases in traffic will come from search engines finding you in some way, whether through improved content and keywords on your own site, or from linking strategies pointing to your site site from elsewhere.
Beware of results that are achieved in a deceptive way. Look out for words like cloaking, mirroring, shadowing and the use of link farms which are illegal strategies to gain search engine rankings and likely to have your site penalised in the long term.