Search engine optimisation is something that all business owners with a website need to be aware of. If you've got a site and want to drive relevant traffic to that site, you need to know what to do to help the search engines get a good understanding of your business, so they can rank it for the terms you feel are most suitable for visitors. It's not about tricking the search engines, or trying to boost traffic numbers in general. You need to see an increase in relevant traffic to you site (10 relevant visitors are far better than 1000 non relevant visitors, who leave your site straight away), and Google wants to provide searchers with a list of high quality sites, relevant to their search query.
1. Research your keywords: Make sure that you know what people type into Google and the other search engines when looking for your products or services. Research into how competitive these phrases are - are there any phrases that are relevant, but aren't quite so competitive? These are more likely to give you the results you want. Also think about plurals and synonyms.
2. Make sure each single page on your site has a unique title tag. If you've done your keyword research, you should also aim to use keyword/phrases in the title tag too.
3. Additionally, make sure that all the meta descriptions for each page are unique too. Since the search engines mostly show the title and description of a page in the search results, make sure your descriptions correlates to your title, includes keywords, and has some kind of call to action that persuades the searcher to click on your link rather than the result above or below you.
4. Using your keywords and phrases, look at the headers within your pages. Headers tags are like the headlines of a newspaper - your H1 header should contain your primary keyphrases, with any H2 headers containing your secondary phrases.
5. Look at your copy- does this contain keyphrases? Make sure you don't keyword stuff your copy though - aim for about a 3% ratio of keywords to copy. The content of your site should be written with your visitors in mind first, SEO second, so make sure it still makes sense and adds value.
6. Analyse your website structure. Do you have a lot of deep pages, hidden within subfolder after subfolder? Aim to keep the architecture of your site nice and flat - you don't want to make it difficult for search engines or visitors to find content. Try and keep everything within two clicks of the homepage.
7. Going back to content - how fresh is the content on your site? Google and the other search engines love new and unique content. So try and update your website on a regular basis. This could be through a blog, press releases, or new product pages. Just keep it fresh - no one likes anything stale!
8. Linking.... oh linking, everyone is always going on about the number links to your site...why? Because it's important! Each link is like a vote of confidence in your site, so the more you have (from reputable, high quality sites), the better. Building the number of quality links to your site takes time. Register with industry directories, local directories, become active in social media, make the most of social bookmarking, create amazing relevant content that people will want to link to, create articles and post them out to article sites, comment in forums... there's so many activities you can do to increase the number of links to your site. It's an investment - in time and sometimes money, but it's worth it.
9. Register with Google Webmaster and submit your xml sitemap. This is an xml file includes all the pages of your website in a way that makes it easy for Google to reference and index. Google Webmaster will also tell you if there are any errors with your site, what some popular keywords are surrounding your site, some of the links pointing to your site and more.
10. Register with Google Analytics and start using it on a regular basis to monitor your site. Google Analytics is a free peice of software that enables you to track all the activity on your site. It's actually a bit scary the amount of information it can give you. But for a small business owner, or marketing professional, it's an invaluable tool that can help you improve your website performance and growth.
This is just the tip of the SEO iceberg - there's so much to SEO and it's constantly changing and evolving. At the end of the day though, it's all about creating a quality website, adding regular quality content and being active in the world wide web. It's not rocket science, but it does take time.