Do It Yourself SEO – a quick guide
I know that business owners in today’s environment are always looking to self-implement and do things themselves in order to save on costs and fees of getting things done professionally.
Whilst I don’t agree with that model of business (I believe you should do what you love/know and get somebody else doing the rest) I like to see people learning more about things like SEO so that they can try to do it themselves.
I’ve written a quick elements guide here which shows basically how a website is structured, from an SEO point of view. It is intended for those who are new to SEO or who are trying to learn more about it.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is one of the biggest ‘grey areas’ in online marketing. It is full of jargon, confusion and misinterpretation – a common excuse for SEO consultants to charge a big amount of money to small businesses.
I like making things easy, SEO included. So what I am going to do in this elements guide is to go through some of the core basics of SEO that you, as a non-Internet marketer business owner, can implement into your website. This article is not intended for experienced SEO gurus and experts who always seem to comment on ‘basic SEO’ blogs that the content is too simplified. To them, the clue is in the title my friends. This guide is for people who know nothing about SEO or have been told a whole bunch of jargon about it and want to understand it slightly better to get a general jist of it.
SEO is not a quick fix, however, and using the easy methods below will not suddenly catapult you to the top of Google. Successful SEO is made up of many (hundreds, even) factors and contributors and requires patience. To achieve good results, not all factors and contributors need to be met – doing a few of them very well can be enough.
Ok, so obviously you need some good keywords/keyphrases that you want to be found for in the search engines (different search engines like different things in terms of SEO, but that is another article in itself!).
For the purposes of this article, I will use the old favourite, ‘Blue Widgets’, as our keyphrase.
Website Optimisation (also known as on-page optimisation)
Depending on how your website is made, it will have the following basic options for you to edit (not in any particular order):
1. Meta Keywords
2. Meta Descriptions
3. Page Title
4. ALT Text for images
5. Body Text
6. H1 Headings
7. Bold Text
8. Anchor Text
Within the above, you will want to have a good density of your keywords/keyphrases (“Blue Widgets”). A basic way of looking at the above for our keyphrase would be like this:
Meta keywords are made for search engines only – so that they easily grasp your page’s most important topics. There is a special meta keywords tag, which is supposed to briefly list the topics of your webpage. And it is wise to put your most valuable keywords into it.
A meta keywords tag is not obligatory, and some sites do not make it at all. Still it takes so little time to make that if you are serious about optimizing your page, there is simply no reason why you shouldn’t have a good meta keywords tag.
practical example of a Meta Keyword tag:
Blue, widgets, blue widgets
This is just a short sentence/paragraph to describe the website/business – must make sense to read in continuous prose! Search engines look at a page’s meta description to find out what your page is about. You also see meta descriptions quite often – if you make a search in Google and look at the results, you will see some text under each link in the results page. Most often, these texts are pages’ meta descriptions. Meta description may not be extremely important for optimization, but still you have to make sure it looks attractive to search engines and to people.
practical example of a Meta Description tag:
Blue widgets supplier based in London can supply all types of blue widgets and can deliver in the UK.
Search engines pay certain attention to titles, and show them in their results pages. this is also the text at the top of your Internet browser’s window
practical example of page title tag:
Blue Widgets – London based Blue Widget Supplier
ALT (Alternative) Text for images:
The image alt text is used to display text when an image cannot be seen, for example in the case someone visits your page with a browser that has image loading turned off to let pages load faster.. Obviously, using alt text makes sense for humans: many users prefer to work with images disabled or some users of the Internet are visually impaired. What is more important for you now, alt image attributes also have value for search engine optimisation.
Search engines don’t see images. They only read normal text. Your keywords may look fantastic and eye-catching on an image – but the only guarantee that Google will see them is the alt text. Therefore making alt text attributes and including your keywords into them is another efficient & good practice SEO technique.
practical example of a Alt text tag:
Blue widgets, blue widgets London
This method used to attract lots of abuse by people ’stuffing’ lots of keywords ‘behind’ the image. Don’t do it!
You want to strike a good balance between keyword density (how many times you mention your keyword) and keyword prominence (how early on the page your keywords appear). You must write your body text (and much of the website, for that matter) with a human visitor in mind and not for the search engines. If the site has good, fresh content and is regularly updated the search engines will come and find you anyway. Your body text needs to make sense to human readers whilst having your keyphrase mentioned within the text.
H1 Headings (and H2, H3…):
In HTML code, headings are marked with h1 to h6 tags. These tags simply define the size of your headings, as they appear to the user. Among these six levels of headings, h1 is the biggest one and h6 the smallest. This is an example of an h1 tag:
As we want our headlines, titles and other important things to look prominent, we normally put them into h-tags. And just like people think that the most prominent text or headline on a page is more important than the rest, search engines pay more attention to what is written within h-tags. It is important to them how you use your keywords in headings. The biggest heading, h1, is most important to search engines. So to get a better ranking, use your major keywords correctly in h1 tags.
When a website is ‘read’ by Google, bold text stands out. Simple as! If you can put your keyphrases in bold through your body text whilst still maintaining the theme of the website, go for it!
Anchor text is when a keyword/keyphrase is linked to another webpage. Commonly known as a hyperlink. For example, instead of having a link to Google’s domain (www.google.com) an anchor is the word ‘ Search Engine ‘ which is clickable and takes you to whatever website it is linked to.
A good practice to consider is to find relevant websites to yours that have a good reputation and are legitimate (i.e. not ‘link farms’) and asking the owner of the website to link back to your site, using an anchor link. So instead of them linking to a domain you would ask them to link to that site, but using the words ‘Blue Widgets’.
Remember, each link pointing back to your website is seen as a vote of confidence in your website. You just have to be careful what sort of sites you put your link on.
There is much more to talk about, especially anchor texts and building links pointing back to your website (which is more off-page SEO than on-page) but by looking at the above sections of your website, you will have started some basic SEO.
Remember this – having a website is like a shop. If nobody can find your shop, you won’t do much business through it!