If you ask a cross-section of people what SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) actually is, you’ll probably get a whole bunch of different answers.

If you ask us, SEO means nothing more than getting the absolute best possible exposure on search engines (Google, Bing for example) with your website.  In other words, creating the optimum website which Google trusts, understands and respects enough to choose to show it to people who are searching for your content.

So how do we do this?

Well, be under no illusion – there’s very little technical knowledge involved with good, white hat (good practice or ethical) SEO.  In fact, ever since the Google algorithm changes known as Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird, there has never been more of a focus on content, and the way in which human beings interact with your website – rather than any technical trickery that a search engine optimiser might use to their advantage.

There are 2 key areas of SEO known as “on-page SEO” and “off-page SEO”

On-page SEO is basically all of the things you can do to a webpage to maximise its content and layout for a search engine. For example:

  • Creating an informative and descriptive main header statement (tagged in HTML code as H1).
  • Using secondary, informative headers further down the page (tagged in HTML code as H2, H3 etc).
  • Alt tagging images so that there is a text based description of each image on your webpage, for the benefit of the visually challenged.
  • Writing great, unique content containing words that are commonly themed within your industry.  Google is smart enough to recognise the general theme that you content should be covering.
  • Internally linking aspects of your content to other pages of your site which may further explain certain matters.
  • Linking to external websites that may be of further use to your visitor.  Be sure that any external websites you do link to carry some existing credibility online.
  • Use video content to encourage your visitor to spend as much time on your site as possible.

Off-page SEO is all of the things that you can do externally, outside of your website to further improve your rankings online.  For example:

  • Set up social profiles which link back to your website.  A link to your website from another website acts almost like a vote in favour of your website, but only if the website linking to you is relevant in the eyes of a search engine such as Google.
  • Encourage relevant sites to link to your content.  Easier said than done!  These types of links are extremely powerful but very hard to come by.  A great tip is to leave positive reviews about a relevant product or service on your own website – then to alert the company which you have reviewed about it.  If you’re lucky, they’ll link to your review content from their own website.

In a nutshell, always grow your website in favour of your human prospect rather than for Google.  If you ever find yourself doing things to please Google, rather than to create a better experience for your visitor, you’re probably doing something wrong.

When it comes to SEO, perseverance is key.  Create a website that is an amazing source of information for your visitor, easy to move around, encourages them to stick around and interact, and encourages natural, relevant external linking and you’re well on your way to internet success!