The dark art of SEO
SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is a subject of endless amounts of speculation and myth, of course in an ideal world you want your website at the top of page one on the google search listings (I’m using google here to represent all search engines, but let’s face it when it comes to search engines we are basically talking about google, do you use anything else?), but then so does everyone else! There are large numbers of companies out there who will charge you varying amounts of money to achieve this by various means, some more dubious than others, however the truth is that no one can 100% guarantee results as nobody but google knows all the details of how their search algorithms work. However there are a few accepted rules to follow and like most things in life there are no easy shortcuts.
The most important thing to start with is to ensure that your site is completely accessible by the goggle search engines which means coding in with latest html5, ensuring that all the text is accessible (ie don’t use images instead of text, and if you really have to because you need a particular style make sure you provide alternative text that matches the image.) In terms of the content of your text try to make sure that you include some ‘key’ words within your headlines and body copy that people are likely to use as search terms when looking for a site in your sector, however don’t be tempted to go over board endlessly repeating keywords, this will likely make no difference and will make your copy read badly, ok you get someone to your site but if your copy is terrible are they going to use your service?
Links are another good way to build a reputation for your site, there are two main ways you can generate links to your site: 1. Mutual links with associated suppliers, related services or trade bodies etc (ie you link to them on your site and vice versa) 2. Publish quality content that is useful and valuable to your industry so that other sites wish to link to it as a resource. The google uses the rationale that if you have lots of people linking to your site than you must have relevant, quality and useful content and therefore ranks you more highly.
There is of course lots more techniques to use but this is a good overview, and don’t forget the traditional marketing techniques: advertising in the local press, postcards, flyers etc promoting the site. You will need patience, it will usually take a number of months before any meaningful results start to come through. I won’t promise that by just using these simple techniques you’ll be number one on google but you’ll be off to a good start that you can build on in the future.