Search engine optimisation is a process by which a website is designed in order to maximise the potential that search engine has to effectively index your website and thus rank it accordingly.
These days everybody is concerned with having their site rank number one in search engines such as Google or Yahoo etc. However, achieving these desired effects comes down to a few different factors which fall in to two different categories: steps which you can control and steps which are (slightly) out of your control.
Before we continue, its important to note, that in your dying quest for a high ranking website, the one thing you must have is patience. Getting a site to the top of a search engine is not something that can be achieved over night, or over a few weeks, for that matter. So if you are approached by a SEO organisation or consultant that claim they can "guarantee instant results" or "permanent top rankings", watch out as they are likely to be trying to con you. If getting your website to the top of a search engine was easy, then everyone would be doing it, and if everyone was doing it, they would still be competing for one top spot. So bear in mind that Search engine optimisation is about doing the best to give your site the best chance of ranking high.
There also other reasons for why it is good to be patient. Google's "SandBox Effect" would be one such reason. Broken down, this is basically a period of time (a lot of people believe it to be 9 months) whereby Google holds back from giving your site a ranking, and thus allowing for your site and business to prove it is genuine, and not a flash in the pan, quick scam site, looking to rip people off. For further information you can read more on Google's SandBox Effect.
Content is king! Writing good content is believed to be one of, if not, the most important aspect to being successfully discovered on the web. Writing good content is about having quality content which is relevant and unique to your site. It includes the correct use of grammar and spelling. Doing these things will attract visitors to your site, but more importantly, will encourage them to stay there and read what you have to say, and furthermore, make them recommend your site to others.
Another method which will help you attract new and returning visitors, as well as search engines, is the process of regularly changing or adding to your content. This gives the visitors a reason to check back, whilst search engines will notice if your content is often changed and so will return more frequently to index you site.
Using clean, valid code will help boost you site ranking. Current techniques such as separating content from design, are a professional approach to web design that will help future proof your site, which may in turn help save you money in the long run. While more and more people are accessing the web through different mediums, if your site only favours one particular method, then you could be potentially missing out on a very large market.
Accessibility links very closely to the above point about using valid markup code. The W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines list many things which should be done in order to build your site in the correct manner, and thus allowing the visually impaired, or people with other disabilities to effective visit your website. A website design to obey the accessibility guidelines will automatically be practicing excellent SEO.
Each page should have a descriptive title relevant to the content of that page. A lot of sites forget to do this and end up using one title to cover the whole site, rather than changing the title of each page to reflect what that that page is talking about.
Some people believe that using SEF urls helps to allow a search engine robot index you site. What is a search engine friendly url? Well, take a look at the address you currently see in the address bar:
This is a SEF url because is does not contain query string to let the server know which data to fetch from a database. A query string for the above address would normally look like this:
Search engine robots may have difficulties with the above URL and may stop at the question mark and not even look at the query string, which may often determine what page is being viewed and the content that is being defined.
Ok, so this isn't completely out of your control, but it's the one thing that comes down to you, and ultimately your content and product. Having sites link to yours is not only important because it get visitors to your site, but because Google rates a site's importance by how many external sites link to your site, and furthermore what the PR is of those sites linking to yours. So basically, the more sites you can get, with high PRs, linking to yours, the higher ranked your site is likely to be.
So there you have it. There are other things to talk about on the subject of SEO but the points mentioned above are the main factors to take into consideration. Effective SEO is the process of combining these methods - it's just good, honest coding practices!
If you would like us to review or perform SEO on your website, please get in via our online contact page, or call us on 029 2075 0437.