SEO is the practice of improving and promoting a website in order to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines. There are many aspects to SEO, from the words on your page to the way other sites link to you on the web. Sometimes SEO is simply a matter of making sure your site is structured in a way that search engines understand. MOZ, via The Beginner’s Guide to SEO
SEO is a specialized field and better left to the professionals. However, there are a number of things you can do to ensure your website is Search Engine friendly.
Be warned – there are many charlatans out there! As soon as someone boasts about the number of ‘hits’ they get, the red flag should go up. The term ‘hits’ is misleading. If your front page has 70 objects [images, widgets, text blocks etc.] on it; then every time you get 1 view, it will register 70 ‘hits’. Rather enquire about unique visitors, the number of visits, bounce rates, pages read and time spent on each page.
- Choose the correct domain,
- Stay away from Flash,
- Choose your keywords carefully,
- Choose your content carefully,
- Sitemaps are still important,
- Monitor page load-speed,
- Go big or go home – Google loves long posts.
- Make sure your META TAGS are in place,
- Meet Alexa,
- Add reciprocal links,
- Monitor Page Rank.
If you are a South African business, selling South African products and/or services, then register a .co.za domain. Google used to rank .com sites higher, but this is no longer the case. It’s a good idea to register and either ‘park’ or redirect the .com site to prevent someone holding you to ransom in the future.
Flash Macromedia sites are very impressive, but they take long to load and create barriers to the Search Engines.
Your keywords should be short phrases that refer to location and product/service e.g. ‘garden route accommodation’. Avoid using ‘South Africa’ in the phrases as this will get lost in cyberspace. Don’t go for popular keywords that have no relevance to your site – Google has wised up to that one.
Google loves original content and penalises you for cutting and pasting content from other sites. Make sure your content all ties together like a well-written essay – make the top of your home page the introduction and the bottom the conclusion with the body logically distributed throughout the rest of the site. The better it all ties together the higher your ranking will be.
Make sure you have an xml sitemap loaded.
Page-load speeds are still an important ranking factor, even though the internet is now infinitely faster than it used to be.
Google love BIG sites so don’t be afraid to expand your sites to include the local attractions in your area and any other relevant information. The articles listed to the right are good examples of that.
Open your website in a browser e.g. Internet Explorer. Click ‘View’ then ‘Source’. Near the top of the code, you will see the words, TITLE, DESCRIPTION, and KEYWORDS. Make sure these are there and make sense.
Go to http://www.alexa.com/, download and install the Alexa toolbar. It will give you the page rank for every website you open and will enable you to monitor your page rank. Google ranks website from 1-20 million+ with Google being No.1. Makes interesting reading to see how you are doing.
The more links there are pointing to your homepage the better – particularly if incoming links come from sites ranked higher than yourself. Create a ‘Links’ page where you link to other websites with similar content in return for them returning the favour.
Search ‘page rank’ on Google. Find a suitable site. Enter your URL and you will get a rank out of 10. You should be aiming at 3/10 – anything better than that is spectacular.
The Bare Minimum Essentials of SEO
- Activate Google Analytics and Install the Tracking Code
- Setup Google Webmaster Tools
- Are You Mobile Friendly?
- Create and Submit your Sitemap to Webmaster Tools
- Are You Indexed in Google?
- Check Your Permalink Structure
- Choose between www and non-www site
- Check Page Load Speed and Optimize
- Optimize Your Images to be “Seen” by Google
- Fix Broken Links
- Install a SEO Plugin
- Install a Social Sharing Plugin