Search engine optimization: How to make your website work for you.
Your brand new website is ready and online: new design, new logo, all ready to receive business. But this is where a new venture can easily fail. Just because you have an online presence does not mean anyone will find you in the massive ocean of the world wide web.
As a budding online entrepreneur you will have come across the term ‘search engine optimization’, or SEO for short. It pops up everywhere and there are plenty of ads for companies offering their services to improve your website’s SEO. But what exactly does this mean?
How do search engines work?
Search engines such as Google and Yahoo send out their ‘crawling bots’ which are basically programs discovering and scanning your website. They detect links within a website, newly added links, and scan your content. So on a very basic level, a search engine optimized website is one whose structure is easily scanned by the bots, classified as “good user ability” and whose content is relevant to the topics of the urls. Why is this important? The whole point of having a website is to be found when potential customers/followers are searching for topics within your industry. You want your website to appear at the top, or at least in the top 10 search results.
You want to be found and you need to choose some keywords for which you would like your website to rank. This means, which words or terms will people type in a search engine for which you want your website to be found? Once you have a list of keywords you are ready to start.
We have compiled a list of the key elements of SEO to get your ranking started.
Every website needs to have a sitemap. For the search engines it is like a roadmap to understanding the structure of your website. This sitemap needs to be submitted to Google, for example, when using their webmaster tools (more of this at a later date). The sitemap contains how each page is internally linked on your website. These links will be scored by the search engine.
Once your internal links are all cleaned up and optimized as much as possible, you will need some established websites to ‘link back’ to yours. Search engines consider backlinks as a sign of trust and quality – if other sites feel your website is worth linking to, the search engines will reward you for this. Remember it is all about quality links, not quantity. In fact, creating a frenzy of backlinks can lead to your website being penalized and banned from search engines.
Search engine algorithms are updated all of the time. But content is the essence of any good SEO scheme. The more relevant content your website contains, the more it will be seen as an important search result. Relevant content is keyword rich, and also genuinely describes areas of interest to the website. For example, a piece written on the digital transformation of gadgets used in the car industry is valuable content.
- Social Media
Social media accounts with regular posts and links to pages on your website is a great way to start your SEO campaign. This also creates brand awareness, getting your name out there. There are speculations that Google, for instance, does not consider social media backlinks as important. However, if you manage to share interesting content which goes viral (valuable backlinks) perhaps this is not to be overlooked.
- Domain Name
This might be obvious but the initial choice of your domain name can make things easier regarding search engine optimization. Consider which country your target audience lives in, for example. This will affect if you choose a .com, .co.uk or any other country extension. The choice of the name itself is important too. You could have a descriptive name with the topic of your industry included, for example “www.westlondoncars.co.uk”. This domain name is clearly about a car business located in West London.
- Directory Registration
This is especially useful if your business is a local one. There are many online directories around so take the time to contact each one of them and add your business in their listings. This will rank you highly in localized searches. For example, an optimized and content rich site, “www.NewYorkCars.com”, could rank on page 1 of search engines if they are also registered with a New York address under cars as an industry.
We hope this list gives you an insight into some basic search engine optimization methods and inspires you to delve further into the subject. More on SEO coming soon…
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