This article is an introduction to basic SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). SEO is the practice of making your website as attractive as possible to the major search engines in the hopes of getting a top result for keywords and phrases that are relevent to your site.
How are you listed now?
Checking to see if you are listed by the search engines is simple – just enter your full domain name into their search box and you should come up top of the results. If you’re not listed, you need to add your site. Here are links for the main 3 search engines: You should also try and get listed in relevant directories for your sector or subject. Links from these sites can make a big difference as they are seen as authoritative by the general search engines.
It’s no great feat to get your own site to come up in the results if you search on the domain name. What you want is for relevant keywords and key phrases to bring your up site at the top of the results. For example, if you were the McCain food company you’d want your site coming up for “chips” not just mccain.co.uk
For this your site needs to contain these words and phrases in a way that appeals to search engines. This is called Keyword Optimisation. Links to your site from web pages on other sites that are ranked for those words and phrases is also very important – Link Relevance.
Check your entire site is visible
You may have created some excellent SEO pages, but are Google, Yahoo and Bing seeing them? Check to see what pages of your website are being indexed (that is, read) by the search engines. To get a list of the pages of your site as seen by the search engines Google and Bing, type “site”, the colon (:) character and then your domain into the search engine:
- Google site:yourdomain
- Bing site:yourdomain
- Yahoo – go to http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/ and enter your domain name in the Explore URL box.
If you discover pages are not being indexed then you should create a sitemap on your site. This can be used by the search engine spider to find and index every page of your site. A good hierarchical system is best. You may also find pages you didn’t want to appear listed!
How is your site being seen?
In the results from the section above you can see how the search engines are sumerising your site in the little description snippets shown.
The clickable title text and description are extremely important to whether people will click the result in the search engine listing.
Most of the time, you can control these by entering relevant page titles and meta descriptions in your site. But it should be noted the search engines do not have to use these – they can create their own if they think your meta-tags don’t accurately describe the content of the page.
Top Tip: If you are using a content management system they will often prepopulate meta-tags but you should carefully check these. It is counterproductive to have the same description or page title on every single page and you will likely be penalised in SEO terms.
We’ve looked at the basics in this article. Checking to see your website is listed, making sure it’s fully indexed and you have entered unique page titles and description meta-tags are all essential first steps for optimising your site for search engines.
Don’t forget to check out Search Engine Optimisation – Part 2