Search engines can be a powerful way to channel targeted traffic to your website. But, generally people will only click on websites that are shown in the first couple of pages of the search engines results. Search engine optimisation is the process by which an individual can optimise their website so that their web pages rank higher in search engine results for certain keywords or phrases.
There are two major areas that search engines use to rank your website:
- Keywords & key phrases
We are going to look at each of these areas in detail, but before we do – the rules or algorithms that search engines use to rank web pages, change constantly. If search engines are a key part of your website promotion strategy and you are in charge of it, then it is imperative that you keep up with what is happening in the search engine world. The best resources that we have found on the Web for keeping abreast with changes are:
- Search Engine Watch (www.searchenginewatch.com)
- Planet Ocean (www.searchengine-news.com)
We are not going to look at any of the more advanced forms of search engine optimisation as these methods can change quite drastically over a number of months.
In this section we will cover the fundamentals of search engine optimisation. It is recommended that you look at the sites above for a detailed view of the advanced concepts of search engine optimisation; even better, hire a professional. Talk to the Support Team for our recommendations for a search engine optimisation specialist.
Before you optimise your website for the search engines you need to decide what keywords and key phrases you will target in the search engines. You will want to target keywords and phrases that your target customers will be searching on.
Try to think about keywords and phrases that are not too common. Also think about combinations of keywords such as “barbeque steak, order online, New Zealand”.
Think about your target customer– put yourself in their shoes. If you were your customer, what would you type into a search engine if you were searching for your product or service? Unless you have a well-established brand, they will definitely not type-in your brand name. They are going to search for the type of product or service they are looking for, or the features of the product or service they are looking for.
Start brainstorming a list of keywords and phrases that your target customer is likely to be searching on. Think about what your product or service does. What are the features?
Check out your competition to see what keywords they are targeting. You can use the Meta Magic (http://www.siteowner.com/system/meta.cfm) website to check out the keywords your competitors use.
Think about misspellings, variations and strange ways of typing your key phrases. It’s amazing how much traffic you can receive based on words that are spelled incorrectly.
Geo-targeting your keywords is where you target your keywords at a particular geographical region or population segment. Remember – most search engines are global. But if you can only deliver products or services within a specific geographical location, then consider targeting your keywords at that geographical area. For example, if you deliver Indian meals in Albany, Auckland, then use keywords like “New Zealand, Albany, Indian Food”.
Finally, once you have a long list of keywords and key phrases it is time to do some analysis on them to see which are the best ones to target.
WordTracker (www.wordtracker.com) is a tool that tells you how often people are searching on a particular keyword or phrase and how many competing websites are targeting those keywords or phrases. WordTracker is a paid service, but it does have a ‘demo’ option that allows you to check the search results of the ‘AltaVista’ search engine only. Often the demo option will be enough to give you a good overall idea of what is happening with each of your keywords.
You can also download a free tool called “Good Keywords” (http://www.goodkeywords.com/). Good Keywords works in a similar way to WordTracker.
Based on the information provided by WordTracker or Good Keywords, you should be able to narrow your list down to a small set of keywords and phrases to target.
Now you should be able to produce a list of the following:
No.1 Keyword or Phrase
Your No.1 keyword or phrase is the priority keyword or phrase that you would like to target in the search engines.
Secondary Keywords or Phrases
Your secondary keywords or phrases should be a short list of secondary keywords and phrases that you would also like to target.