A client asked me about Search Engine Optimisation today.
It’s generally not very complicated depending on the strategy you want. It basically involves registering your site with Google to allow its robots to track you better. Also register with other major search-engines.
The best advice is always to create a site that is a useful resource for people to give them a reason to visit there. As well as tagging your site with key words, the actual text you have on your site determines the quality of the resource.
For example, if you are a tax accountant, and have a thorough guide to submitting your tax form, including tips on saving money, etc, that text in the website would attract search queries about submitting tax forms and saving money. So the text you have in the website is the first way to optimise search results. Added to that the accountant could add a taxation calculator? to help you work out your tax online. It would require more tailor-made programming for the site, but would in return gain a lot of traffic because of the usefulness of the resource.
If you add photos and videos, PDFs, podcasts, etc, that gives people further reason to visit. Google have never made all their algorithms public, but they often hint at what gets you the best rankings. One key tip they give is to get links from other websites that are popular. This can involve cross-linking (ie Iâ??ll scratch your back if you scratch mine) or simply providing a site that gets people talking and linking to you.
Then there is also the social media strategy which entails updating blogs, comments, links, information, and generating a buzz on social networks like Twitter of Facebook to drive traffic to the site and create interest in the service or product. Or just giving other people the opportunity to comment on your site with social media follow links such as RSS. Tagging your site on Delicious is another road-sign to direct traffic to your site.
It depends how much time the client wants to spend improving their online presence as well. There are several strategies to get attention including Social Media, email campaigns and advertising.
Personally, I find my blog is already becoming a personal resource, a mnemonic journal of strategies, ideas, skills and meanderings that I am happy to share with the online community, just as the online community provides a valuable resource for me. This week I plan to add links to share my favorite design blogs, and also post some examples of successful design jobs I have done in the last months, the techniques I used to create them, and the free online design resources I used in their production.
Finally on the topic of Black Hat SEO. I don’t like it. I just consider it a waste of time and resources. I have had to do it for clients in the past because they insisted. The request took the form of creating a second URL which had key words the client thought would attract customers. When people clicked on that site they were redirected to the clients original site. I advised the client that Google had already put strategies in place to punish this type of behavior, but the client was adamant. If they had just spent their time and money writing quality information to help people, they would have gained just as much ranking from Google, if not more, improved the quality of their site and not created confusion about URLs and what site the user is actually visiting. Black Hat is all facade and no substance, just like spam.
Craig’s basic SEO tips
1. Your website provides a good experience for the visitor with quality information, design and functionality
2. Your website mentions key words that people are searching for
3. Popular websites link to your website
4. Your website is easy to bookmark, share socially and follow