Search Engine Optimisation

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the buzz phrase of the moment - everyone wants to be number one on the google search results list.

The first thing to consider is what search terms do you want to optimize for? Most people when they have a new website search for their name and say "I am not on Google!" There are 2 points to consider here. The first is it can take a couple of months to get listed on the search engines. The other, more important point is that your potential customers will probably not be searching for your name. If they know your name, they probably also know your phone number or email address and will contact you directly!

You want your website to appear in the search results for key words that potential customers will use. If you make jewellery your potential customers may be looking for an anniversary present, so these may be the keywords you want to tailor a page towards. The key thing to remember is that you have a website, not a home page. Your search engine optimisation effort should be applied to each page, not just the home page. You can tailor each page to specific search terms, so that your potential customers are directed a page on your website that addresses the search term they used. This is probably a good point to introduce landing pages. Landing pages can be thought of as outside the normal structure of your website. Take our example of the potential customer looking for an anniversary present. It may not suit your website to have a section on anniversary presents as all your products are suitable gifts for a variety of occasions. A landing page can be created to address this (and other search terms). A link from the landing page will draw the user into the rest of your site. A content management system, such as hibuilder.com, will provide an option to create landing pages, with an option to automatically create the links, perhaps with a thumbnail, from the product list using a simple pull-down option.

At this point it has probably dawned on you that search engine optimisation is a lot of hard work. Yes, there are many people out there who will do this work for you at a price, but do they know your business as well as you do? You are best placed to identify the search terms that your potential customers will use.

The first stage of search engine optimisation is to identify the search phrases that your potential customers will use. Some of these will obviously be product pages or product categories. For example, wedding rings might be a product category page in the structure of a jewellery website that could be optimised for that search term. Anniversary present is an example of a search term that may need a landing page. These pages may slightly different in nature - the landing page will not have a link from the navigation and will be structured to encourage the user to visit a product page that they might be interested in. From the search engine optimisation point of view they are identical.

You could use your existing website statistics to see which search terms are popular but this will only be half the story. Potential customers that do not click through and visit your site, or ones who use search terms that do not return your site will not be included in your statistics.

Once you have your list of search terms, you need to make sure you have a page that addresses each search term. Pages may be relevant to more than one term but generally you should optimise a page for each term. There are 4 elements to the optimisation process.

  • Title - this is the title of the page.
  • Keywords - this is a list of words or phrases relevant to the search term. Ideally these should be taken from the text in the page, and included in the description, see below.
  • Description - this is not seen on the page itself. It appears in the search results list under the link, so the user will decide whether to go to your site based on this. It should summarise the page using the keywords. If the description is absent, the search engine will decide what to display in the search results, which is typically an extract from the page. This may include your navigation buttons and other information not related to the search term.
  • The words in the page should use the keywords and be relevant to the search term.

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