SEO – The What and How of the ‘Holy Cow’

SEO Graphic showing various online strategies
Courtesy of Alexis Wilke – Commons Wikimedia
If you publish a book you need to promote it and that means getting a website together, sometimes it can all seem a little overwhelming. But it needn’t be. There’s a lot written about Search Engine Optimisation, (SEO), but it’s not that hard to learn the basics.

SEO Makes Sense. We do it all the time

Don’t get overwhelmed with SEO, Google Analytics, Adwords and everything to do with marketing your website. What if your site is small, attracts less people than you would like and you simply do NOT have the cash to splash? Or what if you don’t have a website yet? Well, the good news is – it is ALL within your grasp.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) does exactly what it says: it tunes the words and content to make them search-engine ‘friendly’. You can do it for each page or the whole website. Really, if your aims are modest, then you can do it all by yourself. No. Believe me. You can. Many of us are put off by the esoteric language and unsure how to tell the difference between the white-hat geeks and black-hat sharks that inhabit this on-line arena.

Just stay with me, I’ll explain the vocab: Keywords, URL’s, Link building and Meta bumph and then you’ll know all you need. For the tech savvy, if I miss something out that really should have been included, let me know . . .

KeyWords can be a Deal Breaker

If you write the copy for your own blog page or full blown website, here are some facts that can help.

Generate so called ‘organic’ keywords so that search engines can pick them up and use them. For the truly ambitious, the bigger picture revolves around selecting keywords which are important to your market sector, an analysis of your on-line competitors & a careful look at your site’s ranking within the different search engines. You can strengthen your SEO by increasing the recurrence of keywords on your page and adding more text that adds value to your website’s content.

What are ‘organic’ key words?

Organic words that are not bought as Adwords. Simple as that. Ordinary words that you use and choose for their accuracy. They describe the real focus of your article or page. They are obviously free and selected by you thinking objectively about others. What words would people searching for something put in a search bar?

Your choice of URL.

Choose the right URL (the thing that appears in the address bar).

Search engines and visitors can benefit from this ‘win-win’ approach. Use URLs that describe the pages content. (For example: http://sotograndewriters.com/copy-editing).

To reiterate: URLs are extremely vital to your SEO campaign; be sure to use URLs that make it easy for Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines to index your site.

Link building

This is another important technique. It improves web traffic and search engine visibility, but if you do not want to invoke the wrath of search engine Rule Makers, choose links which make sense and give value to the person clicking on them. This is done organically, if you write good copy, influential sites will link to you. If you write something based on research, linking to those external sources gives credence to your words and helps your readers investigate ideas further. You’ll be surprised how crucial this can be. You can fake it and rush things off with links that lead to people who have copied or plagiarised and not only could you be marked down for that, but you’re letting yourself down.

Meta Bumph. What it does and if and why you need it.

Meta Keywords

Meta keywords are words or phrases that highlight your site’s content. In the past, this tag was exploited by campaigners looking for a quick fix to rise higher in the search engine results without putting in the real quality that merited their ascent. As a result it doesn’t affect your search rankings much now and many professionals don’t even bother using them.

Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are useful because they can be used as snippets in search results. Snippets are the words you read when a search engine returns results. They’re what you read to help you decide if you’ll click on a given link or not. They should be 70-160 characters long, concise and contain your best keywords. Make sure each page of your website has its own meta description.

Page Titles

The most effective page titles are about 10-70 characters long, including spaces. They should be concise and contain your best keywords. Each page should have its own exclusive title.

Here’s a snippet-optimiser that allows you to see how your titles look on Google and other search results.

Headings

Implement HTML headings (<H1> through <H3>). Use only one <H1> heading for the title and include your best keywords. Then <H2> for section headings and <H3> for subheadings within sections.

Images

Add ALT text (ALT attribute) to your images so that it’s easier for search engines to index them. Search engines don’t see stuff the way people do. ALT text helps them because you expressly describe the image and it benefits you because the images show up in Google and other search engines’ image results. There is an even more socially aware reason for this: Screen readers, for example, read aloud the ALT text for the visually-impaired citizen.

Make sure your website images have their own specific ALT text.

But don’t get too carried away with the amount of images and accompanying ALT text you upload, your pages’ load-time is affected by the number and size of your images. And these days if it takes time to load, you might lose a visitor.

Ratio of Text to HTML code.

This is a bit teccy sounding, but makes perfect sense. As you know, coding lies behind the text that we humans read. The hypertext mark up language must not be more abundant than the text. The solution is very easy. Write 300 words or more on each page.

Robots Text File

This file restricts the activity of search engine crawlers and stops them from accessing certain pages and directories that perhaps are private or that indexing serves for nought. Importantly, however, a robots.txt file also locates the XML sitemap.

XML Sitemaps

An XML sitemap lists URLs that can be crawled and may offer other information such as how often you update, when your last update occurred and importance.

With an XML sitemap, search engines can index your website more accurately. This is a page designed for robots, it has nothing to do with the site map you put on a website for humans to navigate by.

Nothing Else To It. SEO Made Simple. Now Try for Yourself.

There it is. You’re good to go. Go back to your website and start implementing the best practice. Or if you haven’t got a web site or single blog page yet, think about signing up to wordpress – of course – or Tumblr, Google’s blogger and a whole raft more.

If you’re not interested in all that technical, giddy-making nonsense, we can help by setting it all up for you from as little as 50€. Contact us and see how we can help, or just give it a go yourself and see what happens. Chances are you’ll be glad you did.

(c) Tracy Thomson

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