What is Search Engine Optimisation


What is Search Engine Optimisation

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is probably the most important aspect to your new website and yet strangely most people give no consideration to it when planning a new site.

In short, SEO is the discipline dedicated to the design and optimisation of a website to maximize success in the various search engines.

SEO can be split into two distinct factors, each of which plays its own role in helping your sites rankings:

  • On-page optimisation
  • Off-site or external optimisation

On-site Optimisation

On-site optimisation focuses on everything you can control on your own website: content, website design, links, use of keywords, and the proper use of “HTML tags” inside each page. Don’t panic, we’ll discuss later how you can adjust these factors even if you know nothing about HTML. SEO is a topic that almost needs its own book; however I’d like to highlight a few things to think about.

  • Domain names are critical – the usage of your primary keywords (the words or phrase people will use to on search engines) in the domain name will do more for your future position in the search engines than almost any other factor. Choose your name well!
  • HTML tags – just behind domain names in importance are the title tag <title>, header tags <h1, h2, h3> and alt tags for images <img src=”keyword.jpg” alt=”keyword” />
  • Proper URL usage – whenever possible, use keywords in the names of interior pages. For example: www.yournewsite.com/services.html would be much better named www.yournewsite.com/web-design-services
  • Write good content! Without strong content, all of your other SEO efforts will fall short of your goal. Use your keyword(s) early in the page, and then again in the last paragraph. When appropriate, use bold formatting on your key words in the actual page body, and use the important key words inside links.

Off-site Optimisation

Off-site optimization refers to the ranking factors that are usually out of your control. The most important off-site factor is the number of links to your website. Search engines see a link to your site from another site as a vote for your website.

Of course, it’s never that easy! Some links are more valuable than others. Some specific points to consider when going after external links back to your site are:

  • Links to your website from directories such as True Local, Dmoz.org, Hotfrog, and other similar sites carry significant weight
  • Avoid obtaining links from sites that are nothing more than “link farms”, or pages of hundreds of links.
  • Seek out links from other sites with the same theme as yours. The more links you get like this the better, as Google and other search engines value them higher than a random link from a website outside of your theme.
  • Avoid obtaining links from “adult” and pharmaceutical web sites unless your website is of a similar nature.
  • Avoid paying for links. Google frowns on this practice, and may penalize you if they figure it out.

An extremely useful SEO program that offers a free version for users to try is Web CEO – http://www.webceo.com. With Web CEO, you can easily track your rankings on all of the major search engines, find keywords, and learn how to optimize your pages on  your own.

SEO has grown into a true art, a separate function from web design. This does not mean you should neglect SEO while building your site. On the contrary, keeping the above in mind will pay dividends almost immediately.

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