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SEO for Starters

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I know what it’s like to be faceless online in a world of harsh competition – you ask yourself “Why am I not even appearing on Page 20 of Google, let alone page 1?  What do I have to do to improve the situation?”

I started my web design business 3 years ago in Sydney, Australia, city of 5 million people.  And I didn’t appear at all on Google search results pages when searching for web design sydney. Zip. Zilch. Nothing.  There were about 500 other web design companies elbowing me out of the way.

What to do?  I read my first book on SEO.  It started off by defining SEO – always a good place to begin.  Then it told me that the primary factors in improving your ranking were, amongst other things: write quality content, decrease page load time, use internal links, and get links from Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.

I tried those things and the result was: nothing. So I contacted an SEO specialist who said I need to concentrate on a local area within Sydney due to the amount of competition. Oh and did I know my website sucked? He didn’t use those words but it’s what he meant, so I redeveloped my site.

A year later I was still struggling and I bought another ebook on SEO and I created 2 landing pages for my site – one for each of 2 suburbs.  I finally made some traction: my company appeared on page 3 for one of the suburbs for search terms web design and web development.

There are 3 prime aspects and many small ones which you need to address with SEO. The main ones are use of keywords, quality content (text, images etc), and backlinks.  Backlinks are links to your website from other websites which have a good reputation in Google’s eyes.

Keyword research is important.  It entails discovering which terms the bulk of people are using when they search for products or services such as yours.  These terms are then placed into pages of your website in order for Google to match them up.

A tricky issue regarding keyword matching revolves around location. For example, say a Google user is looking for a service in a specific suburb, area or city.  And you’re offering your service in a number of locations…therefore needing to capture customers who are searching for, say, tree felling Panania, tree felling Revesby, tree felling Padstow, etc. The way to tackle this is to have a landing page for each location or for several hub locations. But beware: if you do this wrong Google will penalise you.

To summarise, what I’ve done is:

  • Maintained the quality of my writing and increased the volume of text on each page
  • Ensured there are enough keywords on each page and created 2 localised landing pages with appropriate keywords
  • I’m working on gaining backlinks from reputable sources
  • Verified that I have the meta tags (website title and description, image titles, etc) correctly set up
  • Created a Google+ and Facebook account with links back to my site. I post regularly to Facebook.
  • Placed an entry on local listings such as Truelocal and Yelp
  • And more…

There are ways of finding out whether your SEO efforts are paying off.  One way – which is free – is to use Google Analytics.  It provides data such as the number of visits to your website, average spent on the Home page, and which other web pages on the site are visited.

Remember, what is good for you is good for Google – if you offer a website which people want to visit, Google gets kudos (and more users) for listing it.  SEO is a work in progress.  Like humans really.

Trevor Reeves

www.webthemes.com.au

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Skyje is a Blog for Web Designers and Web Developers featuring Social Networking news and everything that Web 2.0. You can Subscribe to Skyje feed.

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