Monday, 11 December 2017

SEO – The New, The Old, The Ugly

By T W Coombs esq.

You have seen the adverts promising to have you at the top of the Google search page, you have wondered what link building is and then lost interest as everyone is baiting you to spend money.  And they will because this is big business, some businesses sink millions into SEO, but do you need to?

Easy answer is……NO YOU DO NOT!

But I am not saying SEO is easy but over the years there have been changes in best practice and trust me please when I say there is no fail safe way.  Google the all mighty that everyone wants to conquer has not turned around and said “do all this and we will grant you prestige”.  Of course they are not going to, why would they, because you would just need to follow it and everyone would be top dog.  This is impossible.  And don’t listen to everyone but do listen to people that know.

I am a copywriter based in Faversham, Kent.  If you Google copywriters in Faversham or Faversham Copywriters I am on the first page.  Why? Well, one thing is there may not be many of us, but also because I have some insight and have tried and tested methods, so and here I am going to tell you what I did and the non sense to stay clear of.  But first I am giving you the simple truth of websites.
Firstly, keep everything relevant.  You think this would be simple but due to old practices it never used to be.  Websites would have so many keywords that every search would bring them up somewhere in the list.  This is no longer the case so make sure the tags built into the metadata of your website are relevant to your content.  Easy right? Very and yet so many people don’t follow this as best practice.

So like me I am a copywriter, so my tags are relevant to the information and wording of my website.  The obvious being “Copywriter”, then “Faversham”, “online content”, “writing” the list goes on but is all part of what my site is about.  If I started putting “shop”, “high end” (which I have seen used) Google will see the irrelevance and penalise the site for this.

So how to move that search up the list, pay for it with Google ads, this is an easy option but if you want to just be higher without forking out money then what you need is really good content.  Relevant content so it must make sense to your business and engaging content, as no one wants to read anything to boring or not well written.  It used to be the norm to jam in as many keywords as possible whether it worked in what you were writing or not, but now, even though still relevant, your keywords must look and feel good.  Google’s algorithms are so much more intelligent that three or even four years ago.  To round this bit off, just make sure your content reads well, that it is engaging to your audience and that you use keywords appropriately and no too often.

Myth 1 – You will read that the tags within the HTML of your site must be named a certain way and that Google reads this data and uses it.  In note the headings named H1, H2 and H3 etc must have the heading of each section clearly stated so they are read correctly by search engines H1 being the most important.  Most web designers use these headings for style and format information only so makes no difference in SEO anymore.

Link building, you have all heard of it and want to know what it is.  The easiest way to explain is when one website has a link to your website. That is it, but how do you build on this.  Truthfully it is a contacting relevant websites and asking to be linked back to and you would in turn do the same.  It could industry led sites.  Like myself being on a copywriters job site so that link goes to my site.  LinkedIn is one for instance.  But why pay someone to do this, well what used to happen was people would set up cheap simple sites full of links.  You find them sometimes when you mistype a web address and you end up on a list of just links with simple headers.  That my friend is a link building site.  But did you know that if you are linked to hundred of awful cheap looking badly optimised sites that this will actually go against you? Didn’t think so, so if you are willing to pay someone then go ahead, otherwise don’t bother.  I have done no link building and with the algorithms used by all search engines it is becoming less and less worth it.

Myth 2 – Pictures are not picked up by search engines so won’t affect ratings.  Wrong.  If you have a picture of a typewriter, in my case I might call it copywriting type writer.jpg, because blahblah1.jpg won’t be relevant to my site, so will penalise me in the ranking.

Sitemaps, the little thing that tells search engines where to look.  They are helpful but not 100% necessary and with most hosting companies you can get a free basic one done so just do this.  It is a small bit of html or xml code that you place within the site file on your hosts server.  What they do is give the Google or Yahoo bots a nudge to look at what is on this site.  They will make their own as they scan your site so this just helps them out, but they will still link what they believe is relevant.  Which brings me to the amount of pages and content on your site, because if you have a site map with twenty pages, are all these pages needed?  Or has your homepage content too much or not enough?

The dilemma here is amount, you see your site my need fifty pages as you have different things on each page but if you are duplicating content or you have some pages with thousands of words and others ten to twenty you will be caught out, why?  User experience is what the game is now all about.  Is your site going to give the visitor a good experience?  If you have so much content on your home page which no one will read and no links or real easy way to navigate it is a bad experience.  How does Google do this? If I knew that I would work for them and be an algorithm writer which I am not.

Simply, make sure you have what you need and not too much content that is not needed, and also on the flip side, not enough.  You are not the Google homepage, the visitor wants to know who you are.

Myth 3 – Once I tell Google my site exists, which you can right here, it will be scanned and I’ll be able to see where I rank. You’ll be lucky, this will never happen.  Adding your site to the Google list is a good idea but the bot will eventually trawl round to you and will keep coming back again and again as it does.  But this is a long game and you must be patient this is not a hash tag war or an easy thing, you do it right and they will come.

Easy right? Pretty much, but you need the content to be good, the better it is the more Google will look at you and please, please, please update your site here and there every few months to keep it fresh.  Just small tweaks are enough so the bot keeps coming back to check out what you have done.

Now my time to sell you my service, as you can see from the above which is truly free info and may sound easy enough but many people get it wrong.  Web designers are good, but they are not writers, they are coders.  If you want content written for a website or a basic but effective site built then come to and see what services I offer.  And all for only £15 per hour with initial job cost quote given up front.