Search engine optimisation you can do yourself. Really.

There’s not much new in the world of search engine optimisation, but I’ve found myself advising several clients on the subject recently, so I’m guessing there are a few readers who’d like a summary.

With many business-to-business websites in the UK getting more than half of their traffic from Google, even a 10% increase can be the equivalent of tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of advertising. And getting a 10% increase should be easy for most websites which I look at.

Yet I see very few companies investing the modest amount of time and money required, because, well, SEO is just not that sexy, is it?

There are several parts to SEO, including ensuring your pages get links from other sites. But perhaps the most elementary exercise is improving your ‘on-page’ search engine optimisation. As I’ve written many times before, doing this is not black magic, and you don’t need experts to get the important stuff in place. If you don’t have the time, sort out what you need to do and get a contract writer to do it. We’ll even do it for you, if you don’t have a writer to hand.

Depending on the state of your website, you might see results worth a small fortune, and they are measurable, because you know how much it costs to buy visitors through search advertising.

So, what does need to be done? The standard three-stage plan hasn’t changed for many years, because it’s doing nothing clever, just helping the search engines to do their job properly.

The first stage is to sort out what you want to be found for. Using ‘keyword research’ tools, the data from your search advertising campaigns and just plain industry knowledge, write a list of 20 to 200 search terms for which you wish to rank.

The second stage is to allocate the pages on your website to be the ones which you want to rank for each of your searches. Ideally, if the search term was important enough to make your list, there should be a separate page for it, but if you have alternate terms for the same thing, maybe one page can cover two or three.

The final stage is to make sure that the pages reflect the search terms you’ve associated with them. This means they need title tags which contain the search term, and that the content of the pages are authoritative references for those terms. Pages which just contain 50 words, or a bunch of links to other pages, are not going to impress Google’s algorithms. You need to write the equivalent of a Wikipedia page, even if it’s only about your products. Think: “If I’d just typed ‘blue widgets’ into Google, and clicked on the link to this page, would it give me something interesting to read about blue widgets?”

As part of making sure the pages reflect the search terms you’ve associated with them, they need good title tags. They will also be more attractive in the search results if they’ve got good description meta tags. More on that exercise tomorrow.

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