The world of digital marketing is ever changing, but there is one thing that remains constant; the importance of Search Engine Optimisation (AKA. SEO). There are a number of popular search engines such as Ask Jeeves, Yahoo, and Bing, but none hold the same level of importance as Google, nor do any possess its enviable ability to set the rules of an entire industry on a whim. Capable of drastically affecting the volume of traffic that any and all websites receive, each Google Algorithm update could be a game changer. You just have to look back to 2012’s Google Penguin update to see that.
For those who are unfamiliar with it, the prospect of carrying out SEO is about as welcome as a game of five finger fillet, but it does not need to be all that daunting. At times it might seem like Search Engines are attempting to tie your hands, but you have to bear in mind that they are businesses like any other and everything they do is geared toward providing their customers with the very best service possible. Sites carry out SEO in order to reassure Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines that their website is the best one to direct enquiring customers toward, and they will do exactly that when Search Engine Optimisation techniques are carried out consistently and to a high standard.
There is a good deal to learn about search engine optimisation but the basics revolve around the implementation of keywords. Keywords are the foundation of any good organic site and are used to inform Google what a site is all about. The first step anybody carrying out SEO ought to take is researching which keywords would best suit the website they are working on. The best way to approach this as a beginner is to list down as many words or phrases you believe to be directly relevant to your website and would be searched for by potentially interested viewers.
There are a number of ways to determine whether the search terms on your list are viable options to build your website’s SEO upon, but one of the most reliable and accessible is the Google Adwords keyword tool. So long as you already have a Gmail account, setting up a Google Adwords account is a breeze and though the keyword tool is actually designed to help users put together Google Text Ads, it is also a great indicator of how often a keyword or phrase is searched for and how many other websites are targeting it also. Depending on how frequently you intend to undertake keyword research, other options are available and worth looking into. The SEMScoop keyword tool, for instance, is a good alternative to the Google AdWords Keyword tool, as it provides a lot of additional data to help businesses pick the most suitable keywords.
There are two different types of keywords, Long Tail and Short Tail, and it is essential that you target a mixture of the two. Short tail keywords consist of between one and three words, whilst long tail keywords are search terms consisting of four words or more. Taking the above as an example, ‘Yoda Seagulls’ would be considered short tail, whereas ‘Star Wars Bad Lip Reading Yoda’ is long tail. Neither one is inherently better than the other and they each serve their own purpose, but generally speaking short tail keywords are less specific than long tail and will target a broader audience. For this reason, we’d strongly recommend utilising more long tail keywords than short tail.
By the way, using either of the two example search terms should lead you to a video of SEAGULLS! (Stop It Now) — A Bad Lip Reading of The Empire Strikes Back. Enjoy.
Good & Bad SEO Techniques
Like any job, search engine optimisation can be carried out well or poorly. Good SEO techniques are referred to as White-Hat SEO, whilst bad SEO techniques are known as Black-Hat SEO. Having said that, you should be aware that Black Hat SEO is not necessarily ineffectual. As a matter of fact, you may initially see remarkable improvements in a site’s ranking as a result of Black-Hat techniques, however, once Google catches on you will be penalised. If anybody ever promises they can near-instantly and dramatically improve your website’s organic Google SERP ranking, they are almost certainly advocating the use of Black-Hat SEO practices.
If you want your website to have a long and healthy life then the White-Hat route is the only way to go. Unfortunately, White-Hat SEO is time-consuming and arduous; but if it were not then what would be the point? Google rewards hard work by funnelling traffic your way, and there is no one out there who can say that is not worth the effort. White-Hat SEO techniques include regularly updating your website with original, keyword-focused content (such as blogs), attracting and encouraging organic inbound links, establishing unique Meta-Data for web pages, and making sure that there are no 404 links on a site. We have put together a list of top 5 SEO practices that are sure to give your website the best possible start, but a comprehensive list of Google’s do’s-and-don’t can be found on the Google Webmaster Guidelines support page.
There is far more to SEO than keywords and avoiding Black-Hat techniques, but everything else would be wasted on a site defined by poor practice. You have nothing to lose by making sure the foundations are firm before building on them with more advanced SEO techniques. You may find it time-consuming, and there is no doubting that it will be, but it’s nowhere near as taxing as recovering from Google sanctions whilst correcting years worths of mistakes.
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