Christmas is just around the corner and I can hear Santa and his helpers preparing to bring you more gifts on SEO to increase visitors to your websites.
No doubt you’ve come across the acronyms SEO, SEM, PPC and terms like keyword density, Meta tags, black hat and white hat, it’s enough to make you reach for a glass of soothing eggnog.
What does it all mean?
SEO stands for search engine optimisation, a process for improving the ranking status of your website in the SERPS – search engine results pages like Google or Yahoo. In particular the natural or organic results to the left hand side of the search page.
SEM is the acronym for Search Engine Marketing where you pay an SEO consultant to have your website ranking on the first page of the search engine pages. An SEO consultant will create, submit, monitor and analyse your campaign for you or you can sign up for Google Analytics and Ad Words and manage your online marketing yourself.
PPC or Pay Per Click simply means a paid advertising campaign either through an SEO consultant or Google Ad Words. A fee is only paid when someone actually clicks through to your site. These search results appear to the right hand side of the search page under sponsored links.
How’s that eggnog, are you still with me?
Keywords are the search terms and phrases people use when looking for products, services or information. Keywords are found in the source code of the view drop down list of a web browser. Keywords are also written into the main body content of your site. They act like markers to the search engines bots and crawlers to help find your site, analyse whether the content is relevant to your particular industry and rank your site accordingly.
Meta tag titles are also found in the source code and contribute to your site’s ranking status. Meta titles are what the search engines use to index your website and give your page its title.
Meta descriptions naturally give a description of what your site is about and this usually comes up under the title on search engine pages. Your meta description should be as compelling as possible as it could make the difference of getting clicks through to your site.
And finally white hat and black hat simply refer to the right way and wrong way of optimising your site. White hat are the good guys playing by the rules while black hat you guessed it, are the bad guys that break the rules and subsequently get you penalised and blacklisted, resulting in search engine purgatory for your website.
Some of the things that can get you penalised are keyword stuffing, where you cram lots of keywords into the body of the text and the content doesn’t read well. Search engine spamming where you repeat unrelated phrases, or inserting hidden or invisible unrelated text within the html code.
Why you need to know all this?
- You need to know this if you want to drive more traffic to your site and convert that traffic to customers.
- You want to know what the most common keywords people use when searching for products and services related to your industry, so your site can be easily found.
- You will be in a better position to attract more customers who are specifically in the market for your services resulting in a higher conversion rate than if you were targeting randomly.
How is your page ranking?
Ideally you should aim to be on page one of Google, Yahoo or MSN’s bing. The nature of search engines is that they are constantly changing the way they search and rank websites. So there may be times when your site position will fluctuate.
The reason for this is that search engines are always looking for fresh, new and current content and to maintain an egalitarian system, giving everyone the opportunity to showcase their websites.
Consistent ranking on the first three pages of the search results is the optimum result.
Pay Per Click or Organic SEO?
Whether you choose PPC, organic SEO or use both methods is ultimately your personal preference and how much time, effort, cost and risk you’re prepared to bear.
The quickest way to generate website visitors is with a PPC campaign. Results are immediate and measurable. You have greater control of your campaign settings and activities.
Cost is involved, initial set up of the campaign and ongoing costs according to the volume of traffic to your site. Some keywords cost more than others, particularly if they are popular in your search category.
The PPC Campaign ends when the budget runs out, and your site immediately disappears from the search pages.
There is less risk with a PPC campaign as the results are predictable and the cost involved is predetermined.
SEO can take anywhere from one to six months before you see meaningful results but essentially your site is listed for free apart from the initial cost of hiring an SEO consultant to optimise your site. Visitor clicks to your site are free.
Most people use the organic search results, so a higher volume of traffic will come from these searches as opposed to PPC.
SEO or organic listings last for many months after the site has been optimised so your site can be ranking consistently on page 1 for much longer without the need for additional optimisation.
Optimising your site is an ongoing process, requiring constant monitoring and evaluation.
There is no guarantee that you will achieve or retain improvements to your page ranking. Changes in the way search engines rank sites and the appearance of new websites can affect your SEO efforts.
As you can appreciate, SEO is a huge and technical topic to cover in a newsletter. I’ve really just touched on the basics to show you that SEO is an important element to consider when creating your website.
If there is anything you would like to know more about please feel free to give me a call or email, I appreciate any feedback.
Merry Christmas and have a safe and happy New Year.
Until next time,