SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and it’s a subject that most webmasters obsess about. You might start to obsess over it too, if you want your website to show up on the first page of Google.
Most people need at least a bit of SEO for their websites. And depending on your industry, your ambitions and where you’re based, you may need A LOT of SEO. We know how to do it of course, and you could just leave it up to us and any specialists we might recommend, but if you’re interested in the machinations of search then read on…
It’s mainly about Google’s algorithm, called ‘PageRank’
Google has the lion’s share of the search business (and, yes, search IS very much a business, albeit free from the point of view of the user), therefore Search Engine Optimisation is about understanding how Google works out what to show you when you type in the keywords “florists near Weybridge” or “cottages in Cornwall” or “London underground routes” or “world’s rarest wines” or something.
Google uses a complex algorithm to give you its listings. The set of mathematical formulae isn’t published – indeed, the algorithm is Google’s closely guarded secret – but Google gives clues about the way it ranks sites on its guidelines for webmasters and occasionally it announces that it’s tweaked the algorithm.
Ignore the semantics of the web at your peril
At Thameside Media we follow all of Google’s recommendations about semantic markup in the coding of our websites, and we create and submit sitemaps to Google (and often also Bing, for what it’s worth) soon after a website has been launched. We have found that this alone often helps websites to show up on relevant search terms.
For example, about 10 years ago I was a director of Blue Island Publishing and we had a website created from Freeway – software aimed at designers who don’t want to be involved with coding semantics. When we typed the words “Blue Island Publishing” into any search engine, what happened? Nothing, that’s what. There were plenty of “blue island” this and “publishing” that, but our very own site with that exact phrase match couldn’t be found until about the 30th page! However, I learnt HTML coding in 2004 and built a brand new website nicely structured for SEO. Within two days we were the first listing for our company name.
But it’s not just you, it’s everyone around you too
What Google doesn’t mention on its webmaster guidelines is what happens when lots of sites are using the same kind of content, all well structured and using the very same words, all with the “best cottages in Cornwall”, the “finest wines in the world”. It is the SEO experts who have worked out that the search engines are ranking web pages not only on internal content but also the number of external websites linking to a website. And according to several SEO specialists I’ve spoken to, the internal structure and content of a site count for less than 10% of the great Google algorithm. That’s why the savvy businesses are putting all their efforts into social marketing, linking into Facebook and webzine articles. Not only are these methods good for your business generally, they also get you to the top of Google.
And what about Google AdWords?
Yes! You can pay your way to the top of Google with a sponsored listing. Exactly how much you pay will again depend on how many other people are in the market with you, paying for the same keywords. You can set a daily budget and adjust it as often as you want. The AdWords system is quite complex, and we will give you advice on how to set it up if you’re interested. It’s worth understanding from the start, though, that a significant number of internet users NEVER click on the sponsored listings as a matter of principle – they stick to the organic listings. Also, the cost of AdWords can be extraordinarily high in relation to potential sales. £2–£3 per click is not at all uncommon and rising to an astonishing £40 per click on some keywords!
Thameside Media will help you through the maze of SEO.