What is Search Engine Optimisation?
All websites have goals such as to sell online, collect leads, attract advertising, reduce costs or brand your business. In order to fulfil those goals your website needs to attracts visitors and convert them into customers.
Attracting visitors, the right sort of visitors, is a vital part of running and marketing a successful website. Where do you find them? How do they find you?
Search engines, such as Google, are one of the primary ways internet users find websites. In fact 81% of internet consumers find websites via search engines*. So website’s that have good rankings in the search engines can see a high level of visitors to their site. And if done right these will be highly targeted visitors who are searching for what they are offering.
So how do you get high search engine rankings? By ensuring your website is optimised for the search engines. This process is known as Search Engine Optimisation or SEO. SEO helps you increase your website’s visibility in the search engines. This is done by defining the keywords your prospects would use to find your products and services, designing your website in a search friendly manner, incorporating your keywords into your website and attracting quality relevant links from other websites to your site.
Search engine optimisation can be performed in conjunction with designing your website or at a later date. I always prefer the two to be done together as designing your website with the search engines in mind from the get go can save you time and money.
Benefits of Search Engine Optimisation
There are many benefits of having your website optimised for the search engines. Some of the main ones include:
Traffic, Traffic, Traffic
Traffic, or visitors, is the main goal of SEO. The more visitors to your website the more opportunities you have to convert them into customers.
Not only are you attracting more visitors you will be attracting qualified prospects, i.e. people who are looking for what you are selling. You are much more likely to convert a qualified prospect than visitors who are “just browsing”.
Low Entry Costs
The more competitive the industry the more you’ll need to spend on SEO but generally speaking once your website is optimised it will continue to send targeted visitors to your website over a long period of time. And incorporating your SEO from the start, when your website is being built, will help manage your costs.
Target Hundreds of Keywords
You can target 10 keywords or hundreds if not thousands. The more keywords you target the more rankings and traffic you will achieve. Websites selling products online, for example, will benefit greatly by ensuring that every product page is optimised for that specific product. This can enable to site to rank for each product they sell.
Increased Brand Recognition
The more visible you are in the search engines the more recognisable your business becomes to your prospective customers. This helps you to develop trust and awareness so when the prospect is ready to buy they will feel like they already know your business.
Keeps You Ahead of Your Competition
By making sure you are visible in the search engines you will help keep your business ahead of your competitors. You can be sure they will be looking into SEO, if they haven’t already, so you have no time to wait.
The performance of your SEO campaign can be measured and tracked, which will allow you to analyse what works and what doesn’t. You can use this information to tweak and adjust your efforts to attract in turn more targeted visitors and convert more prospects into customers.
Optimising Your Website
There are no quick fixes when it comes to Search Engine Optimisation. To ensure success you need to do it right from the beginning. Be wary of anyone who’s promises seem to good to be true. Some simple traps to avoid:
- Search Engine Submission Services or companies that promise to submit your website to thousands of search engines. Ask yourself how many search engines do you know of? The main 3 search engines you should focus on are Google, Yahoo! and Live Search (MSN).
- Reciprocal link schemes – these definitely don’t work and can in fact harm your search engine rankings.
- Anyone who suggests they can help you “trick” the search engines by implementing techniques such as using hidden text on a page or creating doorway pages.
- Anyone who tells you all you need to do is add Meta Tags. Avoid this like the plague.
So how do you optimise your website? You have two choices:
- Do It Yourself
- Use a SEO Specialist
Do It Yourself
There are so many online resources focusing on SEO. so if you don’t have the budget for a professional, or you have the time and inclination to learn, this could be the option for you. Bear in mind that you will need to spend a fair amount of time reading, learning, testing and testing some more.
Some more popular resources that I recommend to help get you started include:
Cre8asite is an online community that focuses on all element of building a website including SEO. I admit I’m biased, I’m an Administrator there, but it’s a great place to learn about creating successful websites.
More resources will be listed at the end of this article.
Alternatively there are a growing number of online courses where you can learn about SEO, from professional SEO’s in a structured environment. Do your research and make sure you choose a reputable company with a solid track record and a name in the industry. One I recommend is Search Engine College run by well known SEO Kalena Jordan.
Use a SEO Specialist
Using a SEO specialist will be the option for most businesses. There are a number of different options when choosing who to work with:
- SEO Consultant
An SEO consultant is an individual who specialises in SEO and generally does not offer additional services such as web design. An individual SEO is a good choice if you already have a website.
- SEO Company
Same as an SEO consultant but on a larger scale.
- Web Design Company
If you need a website designed as well as optimised choosing a web design firm that can do both is often a good option.
Whoever you choose make sure you do your homework and that the company you choose can provide you with results. As I said above avoid anyone offering you quick fixes. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
Search Engine Optimisation is a vital element in your website success and can deliver increased visitors, increased conversions and increased sales. Who doesn’t want that!
* Source: Forrester Research Inc.