Thursday, 24 October 2013

Bath Business and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

This is for all you businessmen and businesswomen in Bath, Bristol and beyond who have a website or are intending to have a website for your company or business. This is a brief, uncomplicated explanation of what SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is all about.

It is simply how to manoeuvre your website as near to the top of the first page of a search engine, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo etc. as possible. And for it to remain as constant as you can to keep it, in that position, or near to that position.
Business in Bath, SEO, search engine optimisation, Bristol, websites, website designer
Google's Search Engine
Imagine you're a pop group and you release a new single. Your aim is to have a number one selling record and that is reflected by where you get to in the pop charts. You may go in at number 29 or number 10, to then creep further and further up the charts to a higher ranking position.

Often people will see it there and on that alone assume it is a great song. So more people go buy it and push it up still further.

A search engine performs in a similar way. If people see your website on the first two pages and particularly on the first page, then they assume you must be better than the competition. In reality it does'nt mean anything of the sort of course.

Where a website sits on a search engine says nothing about how good a plumber or electrician can do their work. What it does say however, is that your marketing techniques of optimising your website for the best possible position on a search engine are better than the competition. Get it?

Wikipedia defines search engine optimisation as follows:

Web definitions
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's "natural" or un-paid ("organic") search results. ...

We all know that Google is the biggest of the search engines. Like the others Google has rules and follows certain practices which determine how websites perform or are ranked on their search engine. These rules and practices change from time to time, so it’s vital to keep up or your website can go down the rankings as quick as it went up. That’s where sound professional advice can help to assist this process.
Google ranks websites which are relevant and commanding the appropriate layout. That layout includes number and quality of pages, the amount and type of wording, the relevance of photos, images or video, links to other websites, how your website interacts with other mediums on the web such as Twitter or Facebook etc. All these things and more can help Google measure the relevance by analysing all this information.
If you already have a website or have been looking into the idea of having one you will come across the term…… 'keywords'. Keywords are simply the words which people use to search for particular things on the internet. So if you were looking for a plumber and you live in Bath the most likely words you write into Google are ‘Plumber Bath’ or Plumber in Bath’ (these then constitute as the ‘Keywords’).

You may also write ‘Central Heating Installation Bath’, knowing that Plumbers do that type of work. So the Plumbers website needs to ensure all these words are placed into the text of the website to cover all the ways people will search for the services or products they supply. So depending on the nature of your business, there could be a whole range of keywords or combinations of keywords which will be used by people searching for whatever it is you offer.

Another term you will hear when constructing your website is 'links' or ‘backlinks’. Basically it is how  you link to another site or how another site links back  to your site. This can be done in a number of ways. Your site may well link up with the professional body to which you belong. They too may then link back to you. It may well be that other websites link to you, but you don’t to them.

Either way, what Google does is measure these through what is known as Google’s algorithm. This is the software it uses to rank website pages and decide which one it deems relevant and important to then increase its visibility. Visibility in this case means to go up the rankings of its pages, as a website is more visible the closer to the top page it gets. This is because people will rarely go searching beyond the third or fourth page of any search engine.
Another way to look at it is that a link from you to another website page is like casting a vote at the polling station. It suggests that you are offering a vote of confidence in that website and that the website you link to is a good one to follow. Google will see that and respond accordingly, as it likes to measure what we like to see. However, there are links which are better than others or links which are not useful or can decrease the visibility of a website. A bit like voting for the bad guy, Google will recognise the bad guy and penalise you if you have links to him. Links are a necessary part of your online marketing strategy to get your website up those search engine rankings. So again this is where good sound professional advice and support comes in.

What the link ultimately should do is:

1. Send valuable traffic (visitors) to your website
2. Inform the search engines that your website is one that is commanding

Google promotes pages to the top positions which it deems to be commanding or authoritative.

Business in Bath, SEO, search engine optimisation, Bristol, websites, website designer
The Basics of Search Engine Optimisation

This means you need to write the relevant content and build links which will support this.

This is about quality not quantity. As 15 or 20 links from relevant websites to your website will have a better impact than 100 poor valued links, which can lower your ranking.

And don’t just let it sit still. Keep doing it, improve on it, update it.  Add new text or refresh what was already there. Google responds well to this.

SEO is also about the internal workings of your website and how it is constructed. The construction of a website is as complex as constructing the inside of a computer. If we could see inside a computer then we would see an array of electronics that would baffle and bemuse us. If we were given all the internal parts separately and told to put them together, joined at the right places to the right pieces and then programme it accordingly we would be at  a loss. Well the construction of a fully functional website is no different. Below are just a handful of the things you need to consider if you were going to construct your own website from scratch:

  • Make sure your title element (tag) describes the page and uses keywords. Every page needs its own title tag. The text in the title tag is used by search engines for indexing your page. It’s also used in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) as the text in the link that links to your page.
  • Make your URL’s Search Engine Friendly. They can help to describe the page and use keywords. Keywords in URL’s can help you rank for a keyword or phrase.
  • Describe your page in the meta description element (tag). These elements should be unique for each page.  If you write good meta descriptions Google will highlight keywords that match the search and this could mean the difference between getting a click and not getting a click.
  • Use the me keywords element (tag) for important keywords. Only add keywords that describe the page, don’t add unrelated keywords.
  • Use a CSS based design and adopt web design best practices for styling your page. Search engine spiders don’t see what users see. They have to parse all the code that makes up a page including all your HTML.
  • Make sure your page content is correctly tagged. For example if you have a main header make it an H1. By tagging your content you are providing the search engine spiders with a clue about what’s important on the page and what isn’t so important.
  • Use Google Analytics to measure what is working and what is not.
Hmm! Thinking that there may be a need for a professional website designer now?
Business in Bath, SEO, search engine optimisation, Bristol, websites, website designer
Professional Web Designers in Bath
So go out there and create a great website. Provide a website with the services or products that you know people are looking for and in a way that they will search for. Share (link) your great website to other great websites and then watch how many more visitors go to your site. That in itself will improve your search engine rankings for starters. That’s what we call optimising your website. That’s search engine optimisation (SEO).
So make sure you are up to speed with the latest goings on with Google, Bing, Yahoo and the other search engines out there to get the very best from your website. Get good professional help and support from those who are keeping their eye on the game and know the ins and outs of the various algorithms and practices that these search engines are using.
Blogger for Bath Business Web Ltd

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