Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a process by which webmasters and web site owners can improve the ranking of their websites in search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing and many others.
SmartSpace is designed to help make it easy for web site owners to get good rankings, although SmartSpace alone will not get good rankings for you. You will need to enter quality content into your website and use the tools available in SmartSpace to optimise your pages.
There are hundreds of books on this subject and thousands of web sites which offer information about SEO, so we won't pretend to present all the information available here. Instead, this document will take you through some SEO basics and provide some recommendations on simple ways to help improve your visibility on search engines.
Some SEO Basics
- Each search engine ranks pages differently, using different formulae, and placing different weight on its ranking criteria to other search engines.
- Special automated systems called "robots" or "web-bots" inspect or "spider" your site to see what is on the site;
- This may happen a few times per week.
- As long as there is a link to your site from an existing site, your site is likely to be spidered, even without submitting your site to the search engine;
- You may need to submit your site, especially if you wish to get picked up by specialist search engines or directories,
- You should not need to pay anything to have your site listed in the major search engines.
- Whilst the overall impression of your site has some weight in SEO, you need to optimise specific pages for specific keywords;
- It is difficult to get high ranking for many keywords using just one page,
- Use a single page for a specific keyword/phrase or a variation of it,
- The longer and more specific your keyphrase (so called long tail keywords) is, the easier it is to get high rankings,
- e.g. to get a Page One ranking for "shoes" would be extremely difficult, whereas getting a similar ranking for "red high heeled leather shoes" would be easier.
- Knowing what your keywords should be is a skill in itself - see below for tools to help you.
- Trying to manipulate search engines results with so called "black hat" strategies may well end in tears. Use the guide below as a starting point.
- Great search engine rankings are not usually achieved overnight - you need to work at it to get results, especially for competitive or popular keywords.
- Use available analytics programs to monitor your success;
- SmartSpace provides a Google Analytics account for every website,
- By default, you will access it using the same email address as the contact for your website,
- If you already have a Google account, please advise SmartSpace and we will ensure you can access your analytics account through your current Google account.
- Use a Google Webmaster account to see how Google sees your site;
- Upload a site map (with the help of SmartSpace),
- Provide some other vital information to Google to help them index your site better,
- View the search terms that your site is listed for,
- View the keywords that Google is rating your site for,
- See if there are problems with your site..
Important SEO Elements
Meta Tags are hidden elements of a web page which are sent in the Header of the web page, but not seen.
- Your Domain Name and Web Address
- It is desirable to have a domain name which matches your most important keyword, although this is not always possible.
- SmartSpace also now supports named web addresses for content, meaning that you can have your content display a key term in the address, not just a number.
- Read More here.
- Page Title (Meta Tag)
- When search engine results are displayed, the page title is the most prominent item for the listing.
- Care must be taken to ensure this component of your web page reflects the content in the page.
- The page title is the first of the "Meta Tags" that are contained in the non visible header of a web page.
- Your Home Page takes this tag from the website name and the first of the website tags as recorded in your General Trader Setup.
- Your content pages take this tag from the content Title and Additional Title (found in advanced content settings) fields.
- Product pages use the Product Category name or Product Name depending on the page you are on.
- Page Description (Meta Tag)
- The page description is usually shown as a teaser below the page title in search engine results.
- Ensure that it reflects what is on the page so that potential visitors will be attracted to your listing.
- This tag is generated by the content Description field - taken from the relevant content, product or home page.
- Even though the description tag is not a visible element on a web page, it is very important that you provide it to help improve search engine results, as it is seen and used by the search engines.
- Page Keywords (Meta Tag)
- Although Google ignores page keywords, some other search engines place a high value on this component.
- Content Headings
- When a heading appears on a web page it's importance is identified by the search engine because of its Heading tag and relativity (Heading 1 being most important, Heading 4 being least important).
- Although SmartSpace attempts to use Heading tags to maximum effect when automatically generating content (e.g. product pages) you will need to create your own heading structure when creating your own custom content through the Content Manager.
- Page Content
- Your website content is the key to your SEO success.
- Your content needs to be about your keywords.
- You may need to create special pages for specific keywords and phrases.
- Use the Advanced Content Settings fields to help maximise your success with search engines.
- In Bound Links
- Links from other websites to yours helps increase your web pages' ranking.
- If the links come from highly ranked sites related to your keyword, this helps get higher rankings again.
- Inbound links are a very important part of your site's search engine ranking.
- Social Networking
- Your activity in the social networking sphere has a big impact on your rankings
- Social mentions, likes, shares and other forms of networking can make an impact on SEO
- Be wary of paying for an immediate social presence as these things need to grow organically for there to be lasting impact
- Web Authority
- For some websites having web authority can improve your web standing and lead to an improvement in your search ranking
- Activity on specialist fora or guest articles on highly ranked specialist websites related to your field will help
- Not only does it help drive traffic to your site (many of the links that occur in these fora are noFollow (not recognised as banklinks)) but it improves your status
- Standards Compliant Code
- Code which adheres to current standards will help your website get better rankings.
- Where special tags and descriptions have not been entered, SmartSpace goes to default settings you have created in your General Preferences.
- Visitors - Popularity
- On the internet, nothing succeeds like success.
- The higher the visitation, the higher the ranking.
- Get your visitors coming back time and time again with freshly updated content.
Recommended Course of Action
Here is a simple course of action you can take to help improve your search engine rankings. This could be a starting point for SEO of your website.
- Download the Firefox browser if you do not use it already;
- Not only is it faster, it also can use many of the available add-ons, some of which can be used to help you optimise your web pages,
- Get Firefox here.
- After installing Firefox, download the following add-ons, which are simple tools to undertake the SEO process right in your browser window;
- To go the extra kilometre, download one of the free SEO programs below which help you get more links and see what your rankings are. I prefer Web CEO but they are both good and both have free versions;
- Ensure all your content pages have keywords and descriptions inserted into them (click on Show Advanced Content Settings in the edit page).
- Make sure your products have accurate descriptions and titles (use serial numbers in the title where commonly used by customers).
- Tweak the content after using the tools above to evaluate your web pages.
- Start using your Google analytics account to monitor your website data and trends;
- Start using a Google Webmaster account to add sitemaps (ask SmartSpace), to monitor the performance of your website and to provide some vital information to Google;
- Use the Google Keywords Tool to refine the best keywords to optimise for, on your site;
This checklist looks at SEO targeted at local searching.
This article provides a great overview of what SEO is about.
Check out this article which is a great example of how to improve the ranking of a web page.
A concise infographic on important ranking factors.
Beginners guide to SEO