Wednesday, 18 July 2012

What is SEO?

Wikipedia says: Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's "natural," or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic"), search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list...

This is a good definition of what SEO is (if you want to read the whole lot just click Wikipedia). A website is much like any product, it needs some sort of marketing so web surfers can find it. Whether you are running a business or just creating a website as a hobby, you will want to engage with others, which is the point of the internet (read its fascinating story here). The internet is a network after all. It allows sharing of resources and information. And a lot of it is still free. Of course, this depends from country to country - personally I have found that Italian sites are less generous with free content compared to British and American websites.

Tons of free stuff online
The cynic in you will think: but why are companies and individuals offering stuff for free? There is a variety of reasons: personal promotion, brand engagement (marketing, advertising, corporate identity), willingness to contribute (many people like to help so take on unpaid volunteering roles, so why not be helpful online?), the thrill of being an authority, followed by people all over the world (if you like to wear an expert hat, that is), creativity (artists, writers, musicians...) and inclusiveness (yes, if you live in an isolated area or work from home, virtual watercoolers and answering people's questions/dilemmas can make you feel part of a community). 

Hang on, this is not an academic tome. Back to the point, SEO allows your website to get good rankings for your selected keywords. What is this keyword business? Well, as in real life people are really fond of labelling things and people, the same occurs in the virtual world. If you want surfers to find your website or blog, sprinkle relevant words that relate to it. Not any odd words off the top of your head, specific ones that rank high in searches. 

Google AdWords Keyword Tool

Google keyword tool

When I offer any SEO advice, this is where I go to find the right keywords for any business (including mine). Shooting keywords at random is not a good idea, nor is keyword stuffing (read about Penguin and Panda here). You need to find out which keywords rank high and use those in your website and blog (if you are using Blogger, keywords are called Labels). So you found your keywords/labels, what's next? 

To illustrate my example I am copying and pasting part of the source of below. Can you see the real words among the gobbledygook (aka html code)? So go to your site's source and put those relevant keywords in. I'd have a nice sentence about you in the description line, rather than disjointed words, search engines like this best. Really, just a short one describing your business. If you want more about going to the source, click here. And if you want to know what an SEO specialist is, click here.

<meta name="description" content="Low prices on digital cameras, MP3, sports equipment, books, music, DVDs, video games, home &amp; garden and much more. Free UK delivery on Amazon orders."/>
<meta name="keywords" content="digital camera, LCD TV, books, DVD, low prices, video games, pc games, software, electronics, home, garden, video, amazon"/>

And with this I sign off and let you mull it over.


If you are working in marketing, you might want to check out this great discussion on LinkedIn: 

What is the next 'BIG thing' in digital marketing? You will have to join the Digital Marketing group to do so as it's a closed group. 

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