So what is SEO and why is it important?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It is the practice of making your website position well in search results.
Current statistics suggest that over 70% of people use a search engine to find what they are looking, so it is important your site is well positioned for your chosen search terms.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the practice of "optimising" your website for maximum search engine "visibility". The more visible your site is to a search engine the better it can understand the subject of the site and find all the other pages on your site.
Search is fast becoming one of the most important factors in terms of people finding your website. If you do not perform even basic search engine optimisation you are missing out on potential business. ANY decent web company that builds a site for you should incorporate this into your new site.
So how does it all work then?
Search engines like Google use a "spider" program which is a small program that visits your site and scans the page for all the text and links on that page. It then uses this information to form a picture of what this page is about and then follows links to other pages on your site.
By having well written code and well structured pages it makes it easy for the spider to understand the page. Have a badly coded page and no structure the spider will struggle to understand what the page is about and how all the content relates to itself.
The practice of search engine optimisation looks at what "keywords" or "phrases" you want the site to position well in a search engine for. These words and phrases are then carefully integrated into your site code and content ensuring that when the "spider" comes to your page it finds lots of relevant content and information relating to these words and phrases. That way when someone types in a search term it should match your site content very well.
There is also a lot of work that needs to be done outside of your website to ensure you it positions well in terms of links from other websites pointing to yours.
There are a few simple things you can check to help your search position:
Your page title (the words that appear at the top of the browser window) probably has the biggest impact. Your key search term should be included near the front of your title. Keep it short and relevant.
Ensure your pages use a logical heading structure. Try to include a heading 1 (H1) tag at the top of the page and ensure this is descriptive and contains relevant keywords.
As they say content is king. Your page content must be relevant to the search term and contain the search term in the right "density" in relation to the rest of the text.
Links from other websites are very important. Try to obtain one way links from other websites with relevant content. Try to ensure the link text includes your key search terms.
These are simple things you can check to perform some basic SEO. To position well for very generic or competitive phrases you will need to enlist the help of a professional. Be wary of anyone offering guaranteed first place positions, choose with care and ask to see specific examples of other work before handing over your hard earned cash.