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What is SEO and why should you be doing it?

what is seoSo what is SEO? Everyone’s banging on about it and you feel like you need to be doing it but you don’t know where to start. So, what’s all the fuss about? SEO – Search Engine Optimisation or getting seen in Google is spoken about like the magic pill of getting traffic to your website. You have probably heard you need keywords and that’s your SEO done. Now, it may just be my opinion and I hate to tell you this but keywords isn’t the be all and end all of getting traffic to your website, along with if you add some keywords to your site will you instantly show up in Google. It just doesn’t work like that! Choosing keywords and implementing them into your site just tells Google what you want to be found for in the search engines it doesn’t magically place you there.

It’s just the beginning…

Everyone wants their website to be found in Google and SEO is a way of doing that and choosing keywords is a part of that but it so much more. So to cover what is SEO keywords is as good as any a place to start. My number one bug bear is that people choose A KEYWORD – as in one word. This is far too broad and that will be near impossible to get featured on the top 10 in Google for, the competition is so large you may as well just give up now. Let me explain that a bit further. So, for instance, say you were a travel agent and you used travel agent as your main keyword for your site. It is highly unlikely that you will ever get near the top 100 in Google for this keyword as the main players and high street names have teams of people that not only use keywords (which is such a small part) but are working day in and day out adding content to the site and driving traffic, which Google is far more interested in!

But what keywords do you use?

Like I said it would be very rare for you to get ranked for a one or two word keyword, not impossible but rare unless you have a very small niche. So basically you have to go back to that infamous target client and start thinking like them, what would they type in to Google if they were looking for your website. So, for example, on my site my target clients of women running their own businesses are highly unlikely to just type in website. they are more likely to type in something like I need help creating a website or how to design a website and so on. So even if I did manage to get ranked for web design, my target customers still might not even find me as that’s not what they would be typing in to Google. These are normally called long tail keywords or keyword phrases and are what people are really talking about when they say keywords, they don’t mean a bunch of words such as website, wordpress etc. Instead think of something like – ‘how do I create a website?’ – now I can imagine someone searching for that and so that’s a search I need to be found in! Generally, over time Google will start ranking your website for what it thinks your pages are all about, automatically, so writing good quality and relevant content that your potential visitors (think target customer or ideal client again) wants to see.

What else is involved in SEO?

Google also has issues about how many people visit your website and how long they stay for, as that to them tells them far more than a couple of keywords – it tells them that someone has typed something into their search engine, clicked on your site (that loads of other people have as well) and stayed around to read what you have to say as it’s really relevant to what they were looking for. Google REALLY likes this!! As you are providing the visitor with exactly what your customer is looking for, and Google has done it’s job and suggested a site with exactly what it thinks they need.
What that means for you is that the number of visitors to your site is not as important as the number of visitors that stay around and actual read what you have to say! You don’t want to drive just anyone to your website and they just leave as it isn’t relevant to them as Google hates that and will penalise you in the search rankings as they can see exactly that those hundreds of people that visited your site clicked off in the first second – they then take it upon themselves to think well there’s something wrong if people are clicking off this site straight away, this company is obviously not providing what their customers need so we won’t be recommending them in our search engines! Google also loves backlinks – these are links to your sites from other sites – and no I don’t mean buying links or links from really spammy sites that Google most likely already hates – they will then associate your site with them and the outcome is not good! They want to see other established, sites they love linking to your site because they recommend you. A good way to do this is to get guest blogging gigs on sites you would recommend to others (that way you know they are good) and in turn they usually let you link back to your site! Also get yourself featured in directories of sites related to what you do – so women in business networking sites are great for this! Along with leaving relevant (and NOT promotional) comments on other peoples blog posts and writing testimonials for others with a link back to your site. Driving TARGETED traffic to your site is also great for getting on Googles nice side  This is where social media, blogging and advertising come in. It’s all well and good for you to have hundreds of people in your Facebook group but if they never leave it and visit your website Google just doesn’t know about them and that shiny new website you created (or paid to have created) is left lying in the dust with no one looking at it. Now, I am not a social media expert and it’s something I am learning. But I know not to just post a link to my website in every post, I know not to sell in every post and I know I have to build relationships then people will more than likely ask for my contact details or visit my profile or page and find my website address – also as they have actually sought out my details they are more than likely going to hang round on my site for a while as it’s what they have been looking for. Now blogging is a great way of getting your website found as they say that the last page people will find you on is your home page (unless they search for your business name or actually type in your website address). The pages that are more likely to get ranked in Google, whether you specify keywords or not as Google picks them up through what you write anyway, are your blog pages – as these are far more niche and so tend to be picked up and ranked quicker. These are the pages where you are writing about something specific that your target customer needs help with, so automatically you are including words that feature in the questions they have as you are basically answering it in your post. Nearly 10 years ago, before Facebook pages and groups were even a thing. I had a party ideas site for girls. It was a blog where I wrote about party ideas for girls basically – so it did exactly what it said on the tin! Yes I included keywords but also worked on providing good, quality content that my visitors wanted to read each and every week, along with spending time posting in directories, parenting sites and Q & A sites. I built up quite a following and after around a year (these things do NOT happen overnight – you don’t just add a few keywords and yup there you are number 1 on Google!) I was getting around 40,000 visitors a month Worldwide. Returning to work (as it wasn’t a site I was aiming to make money from I just enjoyed it) I saw myself spending less and less time adding content (Google LOVES fresh new content as it gives people reason to go back to your site more than once) and my visitors started falling… and fast! Instead of being on the first page of Google for most of my pages I was no where to be found. The moral of that story is that I knew exactly what my visitors were looking for, I kept up to date with the latest ‘crazes’ that turn into party ideas and I basically worked my but off to provide people with what they wanted to see – so Google loved me! When you stop doing that or you think ooooh I’ve got a website now the visitors will flow in so I don’t need to do anything else to it Google does not want to be friends with you! So in conclusion, what is SEO? Well it is all of the above things but writing quality and relevant content full of value is THE BEST way of getting people to your site and seen in Google!

What is SEO? Top Tip

A great WordPresss SEO tip (and for some other sites as well) is that you can install the Yoast plugin, enter a keyword and update your meta description (what is shown in Google and on social media as a description for the page), alt tags (naming your images with your keywords), scattering a few of those keywords throughout the page and using them in headers etc. This is good practice, especially as the meta description is what will be seen in Google and if you share your site on social media and it also helps you get a focus for each page.