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What Is SEO?

 

SEO is essentially creating website content so that it ranks highly in the search engine “organic”, “natural” listings rather than using paid ads as a mechanism to get on the best position on the search page. Nowadays Search engines reserve the top and bottom sections of a page for their paid ads. This means that the organic listings are restricted to the middle section of the page and so the top ranking webpage SERP is pushed down to something like 4th in the overall list.

SEO listings

SEO can be confusing because search engines, like Google, have secret methods of ranking a web page. They remain secret so that people can not take advantage of the “rules”. Historically it was pretty easy to get ranked highly - you just stuffed your content with keywords and away you went. As more and more websites were created the need to become more sophisticated in how to merit a web page became essential.

The aim of Google today is to reward content that is of high informational value and has a number of keywords that are both relevant and naturally distributed in any piece of content. The content should be a natural read relevant to the page subject have a sensible number of links and not be a keyword driven nonsensical page. It measures your page value by the quality of backlinks to the page. Backlinks are links from other sites to your page sometimes referred to as external links.

These links also need to be a natural process. Today Google penalises sites that attract a large number of links from free directories, paid for links, forums, paid blogs and more. Like the page content, Google now believes that links should be naturally created by other people that find your page interesting. Links that you create yourself, for your website, are now frowned upon as it is not a measure of your content’s worth. The idea is to force people to create interesting relevant content. The more valued content you create the more chances you have of getting more natural backlinks. If you can get a backlink from a government site, or an educational site, or a highly ranked site that is relevant to your website then you will be rewarded. A proper backlink strategy can be the most important aspect of SEO and ranking success

 

Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising - The SEO alternative

The opposite side of the SEO equation is paying Search Engine Companies to advertise on their listings pages. As you then become a paying customer these advertised listings are positioned normally above or along side or below the unpaid listings called organic and our charged on a Pay Per Click (PPC) basis. Simply put every time someone clicks on your ad and goes to your site, you pay a price for the keyword(s) you have selected that were used to find your ad. The higher the agreed price the higher up the advertisement listings you go. It’s an auction system and the more popular the keyword the higher the price. Your advert only appears as long as you continue to have a PPC campaign in place. If you have a big budget available it can create results. There is also a quality element that assess the relevance of your ad to the page your ad is sending the viewer to ( the landing page) This was introduced so that ads could not use non relevant keywords to encourage people to click on the ad. Again Google wants a level of relevancy even in its ads.

SEO is a more durable method as it is an evolving process that will last. It also is of benefit as it goes hand in hand with website improvements. A mixed approach can sometimes be a smart way to go especially in the start up period when your SEO has not really started to generate site visits. There are many articles on this on the internet.

The Search Engines and Good and Bad SEO

A word here about Good (White Hat) SEO and Bad (Black Hat) SEO. Despite some developer’s anger towards how search engine companies keep changing how they rank websites and penalise SEO “tricks” we think in general they are trying to “police” the internet with pretty fair principles. The latest round of Google algorithm updates mean that Google ranks sites favourably if they follow White Hat SEO principles including –

  • Content is unique - If your article is merely a copy of some other article on the internet you can be penalised.
  • You do not keyword stuff content - If your article mentions your keyword(s) too many times and does not really read normally you can be penalised. 
  • Content is relevant to the keywords. Using popular keywords that are not relevant just to attract visits will lose rank.
  • Your meta tags are informative and not stuffed with keyword repetitions and irrelevant keywords.
  • You are not hiding keywords in “hidden content”.
  • Your site is healthy - minimising errors and broken links, fast loading, images optimised, Search Engine Friendly URLs….
  • Your images have relevant file-names and are preferably unique and not from libraries.
  • Quality backlinks to your site are considered a huge endorsement of your site and your content value. They are a very big influence on site ranking.

In general terms Google is now penalising sites that it believes are of poor quality and are trying to unfairly manipulate the ranking process with Black Hat SEO tactics. Black Hat SEO tactics are those that contravene Googles Webmaster Guidelines Good SEO techniques and philosophy will minimise any penalty potential and only help to improve listing ranking. If you write content that is informative and relevant and you are not trying to manipulate the search engine guidelines then you should be on the road to high rankings. The process does take time and requires patience.

How do we use SEO?

There are two categories of SEO - Onsite and Offsite

Onsite SEO

This, as the name implies, involves the steps taken as part of the site design, site management, content creation, and keywords to promote your site to the search engines. Part of this is merely good practice in the design, the elimination of errors, site speed, an a honest approach to SEO and quality content.

Offsite SEO

All that is done to create quality backlinks to your website. Quality backlinks are those from authority sites (highly page ranked sites and relevant to your keywords) that link to your content and preferably with anchor text. The theory being that if an authority site links to content on your website, using relevant keywords as the text hyperlink, this indicates that this highly regarded site values your content. The basic concept of Offsite SEO is to have hyperlinks with anchor text on authority websites or blogs that link to content on your site. Google potentially penalises the use of paid for backlink schemes. Your content should ideally promote these links naturally but you can inform people of the existence of this content in various ways - personally tell people, use social media. link internally from your own blog. Spreading the word is the way to get people to see your content and then hopefully these visitors spread the word themselves and links to your content grows. Be aware that a big spike in the number of backlinks you get all of a sudden is an indicator to Google that something unnatural might be going. Anything you do to promote your brand and your information will naturally increase your number of backlinks.

You need a mix of both Onsite and Offsite SEO strategies and by adding a proportioned amount of Pay Per Click and Social Media marketing it only adds to potential visits and brand exposure.

SiteShack SEO

We offer White Hat SEO services. We have a range of flexible SEO plans available. We also advise and manage Per Per Click campaigns and Social Media marketing. Feel free to contact us for an obligation free introduction. You can also try our free SEO Site Audit

 

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