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Technology / SEO techniques

How Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) works

Being easily found using Google and other search engines can impact the success of your business. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a way of increasing traffic to your website and ensuring your business ranks high in internet search results.

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There are one billion internet users worldwide and 14 million users in Australia alone – this is a huge marketplace and as a business, it’s a market you’d be crazy to ignore.

Even if you don’t sell online, many of your potential customers do research on Google before making their buying decisions. With hundreds of millions of searches a day, odds are you’ve used Google to research products and services. If customers are not finding your business online, you can be fairly sure they’ll be finding your competition.

If you want to improve where you rank in Google’s search results, you can engage the expertise of a Search Engine Optimisation consultant, or there are some easy changes you can make to your website yourself.

How does Google rank websites?

Search engines use software, often referred to as a ‘spider’, which constantly crawls the internet by following links from one site to another, reading the text of the websites it finds and then recording or indexing the results in its database. When someone does a search using keywords such as ‘Sydney graphic designer’, the search engine uses its secret formula or algorithm to determine the most relevant search results for that request.

"If customers are not finding your business online, you can be fairly sure they’ll be finding your competition."

The Google search results page is made up of two sections – sponsored links and organic results. The sponsored links, which is paid advertising including Google AdWords, are the entries on the right-hand column. The organic results are in the left-hand column. Getting your website to rank as high as possible in the organic results is referred to as search engine optimisation or SEO.

Want more articles like this? Check out the SEO techniques section.

How can you improve your rankings in Google?

There are three basic steps to improve your rankings in Google:

  • Decide which ‘keywords’ people would use in a search engine to find your services;
  • Improve the content of your website so your chosen keywords are prominent in the text of your website; and
  • Obtain links to your website from other websites that are relevant to your business.

About 90 percent of visitors do not click beyond the second page of the search results, so your goal should be to get at least within the top 20 search results, i.e. the first two search results pages, for any keyword phrase.

Let’s focus on improving the rankings of your home page. Follow this step-by-step approach to optimise your home page for two keyword phrases. This process can be repeated for each of your web pages.

Keyword research

Which keywords do you think your customers would type in to search for your products or services? A keyword can be one word, e.g. ‘restaurant’, but multiple keywords or keyword phrases are usually preferred because they are more specific and more likely to be what your customers are looking for, e.g. ‘graphic designer Perth’.

Write down as many as you can think of. Brainstorm with your team and think of alternative words. Consider geographical phrases, e.g. ‘house cleaning Hornsby’. Get some ideas from your competitors’ websites. Try to make a list of 20 to 30 keyword phrases.

Choose the two keyword phrases you think would be most searched for. But also remember the more competition there is for a keyword, the harder it is to achieve top rankings. If you want to rank high in Google for the keyword ‘insurance’, you have a very long journey ahead. So try your best to select two keyword phrases that are the most relevant to your business but that are not vague or competitive. It’s a good idea to have two or three words in each phrase, e.g. ‘wedding catering services’.

Next time I will discuss some more Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) tips including how to use these keyword phrases to make improvements to your website and how to start getting some links to your website from other websites.

Philip Shaw

a director and founder of CleverClicks, an online marketing company passionate about helping small businesses use the phenomenal power of the internet to boost their sales.

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