Apologies for my tardiness on getting this up on the blog, but here, as promised AGES ago, is the Lowdown on Search Engine Optimisation.

Here’s the original Lowdown video from The Production Office and below it you’ll find a more detailed look at SEO with links to the resources I used to put this one together.  Any questions, please feel free to dip into the comments section.

Search Engines

We all know about search engines like Google and, well, Google really.  But how do they work?  Very simplistically, Google sends little bots, like computerized robots, out around the whole of the world wide web to see what’s out there.  The information they gather from various parts of all of the world’s websites are then pulled together by Google so that when you type in a search for something like Chris Jones, it can tell you about all the places you can find references to those words on the ‘net.

Search Engine Optimisation

SEO, then, is a way to make sure that those little bots scouting around the internet will pick up on your site.  But more than that, what SEO does if you use it effectively is to make sure that your site and your pages are right at the top of the listings so that when people come looking for you they can find you quickly and easily.

But there’s no point being the top of the listings for a search term that no one is searching for; you’ll get no traffic! So check the Google external tool or Wordtracker to find some words you can be top for, you know, the ones that people are actually searching for.

•               http://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal (make sure you select UK if you’re in the UK) also through AdWords

•               http://freekeywords.wordtracker.com

The Four Golden Rules

One: Have a keyword strategy.  There’s no point competing for hugely common or popular search terms like “DIY” or “Hollywood”, but you may have more luck driving your site to the top of the list with more appropriate keywords for your audience.  You need to target the right searchers, not just any searchers.

Two: Have a well-structured website.  The structure of your website can play a key role in how easily the bots can pick up on your site and bring the information back to the engine.  But structure also means the “visible” part of your site – after all, an ugly, hard-to-read website makes click-throughs from Google useless if people leave your page straight away.

Make sure your site structure contains categories & page names with keywords in them. That way Google picks up your content and themes it under your keywords, so your content gets found in the search engines.

<a href=”http://www.mysite.com/red-widgets/i-love-red-widgets.html”>www.mysite.com/red-widgets/i-love-red-widgets.html</a>

<a href=”http://www.mysite.com/red-widgets/i-dont-like-blue-widgets.html”>www.mysite.com/red-widgets/i-dont-like-blue-widgets.html</a>

Three: Have good content. It seems like a given, but we’re not just talking about interesting and compelling copy for people to read when they get there.

You need quality content that adds value to the searcher’s experience, not just good content. Google loves that stuff!

At the very least for super basic SEO:

1. Have a descriptive title tag for every page on your site and put your popular keywords in there. This appear at the top of each listing, so make it catchy.

2. Have a meta keywords tag with about 10 keywords separated by a comma that describe your page. Don’t stuff all your keywords in there!

3. Have a meta description tag which briefly summarizes your page. It’s used for the search engine listings, right under the title.

4. Sprinkle a couple of your keywords in the page copy, but don’t over do it.

Four: Promotion. One of the key ways of boosting your ranking is having other pages on the web linking to you. So it’s time to leverage all those social media contacts you’ve made on Twitter and Facebook since these Lowdowns and get people linking to your site from theirs. Here’s a tip for free: it helps if you reciprocate.

Linking is known as “off-page optimization”. Just make sure when people link to you, they put your keywords in the anchor text of the link like this:

<a href=”http://www.applelover.com/types-of-apples.html”>i love granny smith apples</a>

“i love granny smith apples” is your anchor text and gives you a better chance of ranking for ‘i love granny smith apples’.

More Than The Basics

As the video says, this is only the briefest of overviews to the SEo process and its capabilities.  For more information, check out these resources: