SEO – The First Step

For those who are new to Search Engine Optimisation find out how to get started on promoting your website on the internet. And learn why completing the first step thoroughly is so vital to a successful SEO campaign and high rankings in the search engines.

SEO is a process that cannot be rushed – indeed Google and the other major search engines treat a gradual improvement in a website’s search engine ranking position (“SERPS” ) as a positive factor in ranking highly. It indicates a natural growth of a website rather than one which is trying to manipulate the rankings. Unethical SEO methods, sometimes known as “black-hat” methods, can create rapid increases in search engine ranking position but the techniques that they use can be easily detected by the search engines and the results of such efforts are short-lived. They can even lead to penalties or black-listing by the search engines. This is why the majority of businesses accept that such methods are counter-productive.

The first step is to lay a strong foundation. Just as a house with a strong foundation will be stable and last a long time, so will an SEO campaign. The house analogy is also true for on-going maintenance. If you do not regularly maintain your SEO campaign then it will fall into dis-repair and start to deteriorate.

So how do you get started on ethical or “white-hat” search engine optimisation?

According to the Ditto Digital SEO consultancy the first step to successful SEO is Keyword Research and Analysis.

Many new business owners use brainstorming sessions to come up with an initial set of 5-15 keywords, which are usually phrases of 2 – 4 words in practise. They are phrases that they are familiar with but sometimes the people involved in a business are so close to the fine detail that they do not necessarily use the phrases that the average customer would use. Even if the business people are confident that they have the right keywords, some research and analysis, and possibly a technical SEO audit, can always be useful for coming up with some unexpected keywords. It is also critical in prioritising the keyword list by estimating traffic (i.e the number of expected visitors per month) and determining competition.

Keyword research can be performed by any number of tools and a good place to start is Google’s own keyword tool. However, this is heavily skewed towards Adwords Pay-per-click (PPC) users and inclined to suggest phrases with the highest advertisement revenue. The estimates of clicks per month are also very approximate. So it is worthwhile also trying another tool – many of them are free such as Yahoo! Search Marketing (previously known as Overture) and Good Keywords. Keyword tools can help with a more lateral approach to discovering keywords for a website’s target market.

Typically a keyword tool works by allowing you to type in all of the keywords that have come out of the brainstorming session and will list estimates of the number of times that keyword (phrase) was typed in per month, both locally in your own country and globally, which is useful if you are targeting a worldwide audience. It is easy to get excited about the numbers when you first see them but remember that the results are estimates and include any phrase that was typed in that included your target phrase. For example if your target phrase is “kids toys” because you sell kids toys you will see all the results for people who types search terms such as “wholesale kids toys”, “sell kids toys”, “problems with kids toys” etc. So it is important that you narrow the results which, in the Google Keyword Tool can be done by selecting the “exact” option to show only those searches where people typed in the exact phrase “kids toys”.

This process will help to refine the list of keywords to target in a link building campaign by showing those with the most visitors per month in your target region. It is very often the case that the keywords with the most traffic will be those that are the most competitive i.e those for which most businesses want to appear on page one of the search engines.

The best approach for a small business SEO is to target a range of keywords from the most competitive through the medium traffic/medium competition keywords and also including some “long-tail” keywords. Long-tail keywords are those that contain 3 or more words and have very low traffic but are very specific so that the chances of converting the visitor into a paying customer are high. Long-tail keywords are a whole topic in their own right within the field of search engine optimisation and are covered in detail elsewhere.


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