Perspectives

Unravel the mysteries of SEO – a quick guide

You probably know that SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. A term that’s often bandied about – but what does it actually mean? Is it some kind of dark art that demands you hire the skills of an SEO expert? Or is it actually a lot easier than you might think?

The simplest approach to SEO is with the following question: Which words or phrases would someone type into Google (or Bing, or Yahoo or whoever) if they wanted to find your website?

Let’s sat you run a high-end kids’ party business for the Manchester area. We’ll call it Bubbles Parties. People might search using phrases such as:

Bubbles, Bubbles party, Kids party entertainer Manchester, Kids party entertainer near me, Kids party ideas Manchester, Bespoke kids party ideas, special kids party ideas, fun kids parties, luxury children’s party ideas, etc.

These are your potential “keywords”. Don’t forget to include your company name, so that people looking for your specific site becomes a relevant search when people type those words into Google. This is called natural or organic search.

But there’s only so much room on a search engine’s results page. What if Google finds loads of Kids’ party companies? How can you move yours up the list?
You can pay to ‘buy’ those key search terms, so that when people look for them, your company should get bumped higher up the list. This is called paid search, and these are the listings that contain the ‘Ad’ logo.

But before you get into the intricacies (and expense) of paid search, you need to optimise your natural or organic search. Here’s how:

1. Test your keywords and see who is coming up at the top of the (free) search results. There will usually be two or three firms who dominate all the key search terms. Are these your competitors? If so, what are they doing or saying on their website that is making them appear there? How appealing is their site compared to yours? How often is it update?

2. Whittle down your keywords/phrases to the eight or nine main ones that mean people are really looking for someone like you.

3. Ensure those keywords appear frequently in on your site. The terms need to be used naturally and only where relevant (your potential customers – and Google – can spot keyword-stuffed copy a mile off), and appear in both headings, sub-heads and the meta data (the “tags” behind the site).

4. Make sure you update your site regularly with really good, original content. Google (usually rightly) assumes that sites which are regularly updated are those of more successful, dynamic businesses. Consider launching a blog and pick off a couple of different key words for each post (e.g. “Our most fun bespoke parties ever”, “Why we’re London’s premium kids’ party provider” etc).

5. Ensure there are plenty of links around your site. Google loves links, so even if they are internal ones (e.g. in your “About” section, you could add, to find out more, Contact us, they make Google like your site better and act as natural way for people to stay engaged with it.

6. Use social media (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) to promote your blog posts, so there are lots of in-bound links to your site too. Who knows, someone might even share a post, and that’s when Google really starts to take notice.

7. Give it time. There are no quick fixes (or cheats) anymore. Google wants to serve the right sites to the right people. If you stay focussed, you should see results in 6 to 12 months.