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SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, is one of those things that no website that’s serious about ranking can ignore. It’s seen as somewhat of a black art but the basic techniques are really very simple to accomplish.

Essentially there are two things you must keep in mind when setting up your SEO on your website. Content is King and Live by the Link. Let’s break these two down a bit.

Content is King

Content is the information in your website that is easily read by search engine bots (those curious little programs that scurry around the Internet gathering information). This means text, pure and simple. That’s bad news for full Flash sites I’m afraid. While the major search engines like Google are starting to read Flash files there is a lot of superfluous coding inside them that makes it very difficult to extract meaningful information. Images, while great to have on your site, contribute little to your rankings. You can do small things with images, such as changing the file name to something relevant (e.g. seo.jpg) and using the title and alt tags (e.g. alt=”this is an image showing search engine optimisation in action”) but that’s about it.

Now, if you want to rank highly you must have plenty of text on your site. It also has to be relevant text. If you have a website devoted to the nuances of Bonsai gardening then it’s not much use having pages and pages of information on your favourite football teams quest for the finals.

It also helps if the text you have on your website is something people on other websites are going to link to, which brings us neatly to…

Live by the Link

Relevant text, and lots of it, is great for helping your rankings, but people have to get to your site in order to read it, and that’s where links come in. The text in the link is also very important. The text of the link tell the search engine what it should expect to find when it follows the link, so having a link that says “How to grow Bonsai” is much better than “Click Here”.

But how do you get people to link to your site? Well there’s the simplest method which is ask other websites to exchange links with you. That’s where you put a link on your site to their site, and they put a link on their site pointing to your site. If you have friends that have web pages then ask them first. If you have friends that have high ranking websites then that’s even better. Links fromĀ  high ranking websites is better than links from low ranking sites.

Now I know what you’re thinking here. This is all well and good but I don’t have time to do all this work, I have a business to run. Why can’t I just hire someone to do it for me?

Getting someone to do it for you.

Hiring someone to optimise your site is a good idea, but be careful. SEO is something that not many people understand, and there are a lot of people out there claiming to be “SEO Experts“.

So how can you tell if they can do what they say they can do?

There are some things you need to remember when deciding on who you get to do your SEO.

  • If someone claims they can get you to the top of Google for certain keywords then make sure you know what those keywords are. Getting to the top for “Bansai By Bruce” is great if your business is called “Bonsai By Bruce” but is that what people will be searching for? If they already know you exist then are sure to find your website address, but what about people who just want to find a business that deals with Bonsai? You can be guaranteed they will be searching for “Bonsai” or “Bonsai Gardening” or a host of other terms that your site isn’t optimised for.
  • Proper Search Engine Optimisation is not a “Set and Forget” mentality. You can fill your site with relevant text, get those important relevant external links to your site and you will probably start to rank quite highly, but it won’t last. Your content has to remain relevant and that means the text has to be updated, the links have to increase, the search bots have to know that your website is keeping up with the times. Be very wary of “SEO Experts” that claim they can get your site to rank highly with no mention of future updates or keeping your website information up to date.
  • The absolute best, no fail way of telling if your chosen SEO Expert can do what he says he can do is to search on Google. Now in all fairness SEO is a competitive industry, so don’t think that because your expert doesn’t rank one or two for a search for “Search Engine Optimisation” then they are a waste of time, but it would be nice if they ranked in the first couple of pages. Another way is to use locality for your search. Say for example you live on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. The you would do a search similar to “Search Engine Optimisation Sunshine Coast” which should show you all the local SEO consultants. Is your expert one of them?

I hope this post has helped you to decide on how you go about optimising your site to rank highly on Search Engines, or at least given you some tips on who you should choose to do it for you. I personally know of some companies charging nearly $1000.00 for what I just told you so you’re ahead already.

Dale Haffenden