Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tech Talk for Non Techies - Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Welcome back to to our Tech Talk for Non Techies mini-series.  Some of the most frequent questions that I receive from friends (both real and virtual in the handmade community) are about websites, blogs, photo editing, HTML and all things "nerd".  To help you on your way to better blogs, flashier Facebook, wicked websites and all that jazz, Tech Talk for Non Techies is a little mini-series here at Creativity Unmasked with "tech talk" for regular people, just like me.  Requests for post topics are (as with everything here at Creativity Unmasked) always welcome.  Today, we tackle SEO.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is may seem complicated, but the general principles are exactly what the name suggests: optimising the chances that a search engine (like Google) will point people to your website. SEO refers to the process of improving the visibility of a website in search engines through natural search results (i.e. not through questionable paid methods or other dodgy tricks). If that seems a little techie to you, just think about what you do when you use a search engine: you type in a few words or a phrase and then look at the results in the order they appear, right? In general, the higher up in the search results a page is, the more visitors that page will get from the search engine users.

SEO considers how search engines work, what people search for in the target audience of your website, and targeting the audience by relevance. Optimising a website for better SEO usually involves editing content to increase its relevance to specific keywords. Search engines crawl through the internet and index information. The crawlers look at the words on the website (both visible and in code), so the more relevant content there is on your page to your target audience, the more likely your page is to appear in search results. Caution: SEO success may be lower if your website uses flash, portable document format (PDF) files and/or dynamic content. If you are in a highly competitive area, other SEO tactics may be used in the actual design of your website to make it more search engine friendly.  This is entering into techie territory, so it is outside of the tech talk envelope. :)

So, you have a great niche website and yet you still show up on page seven of the Google results. What gives? You need to increase prominence, and there are some tools that you can use in combination with relevance to accomplish this. Frequency of key relevant words and terms in your page is the simplest approach – just don’t go overboard, lest you lose readability and your audience. Update your website or add new posts regularly so that the crawlers are always finding and indexing new content. The natural way of getting attention with new and good content is always best.

Internal links within different pages or posts on your website will help to provide more links to most important content. Backlinks (links from other sites) help with your page rank and prominence, but don’t be dodgy and pay for “black hat” links. If you are a reputable business or blogger, use reputable methods. This is where social media comes very handy behind the scenes.  Cross posting on your blog, twitter, Facebook, or other wider social media is a great way to create a wider presence without anything black hat.  It is also a fabulous way to make connections.  Just remember not to be an all-about-me spammer.

Do you have other tips to share?  Our readers and I would love to hear from you!

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