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Introduction to SEO


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Slides for my 3 hour lecture on the basics of SEO for the DMI Digital Marketing Bootcamp in February 2011 in Belfast.

Slides for my 3 hour lecture on the basics of SEO for the DMI Digital Marketing Bootcamp in February 2011 in Belfast.

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  • 1. Search Engine Optimisation
    A quick & dirty intro guide to playing tag with search engines
    Barry Adams
    Senior Digital Marketer for Search
    Pierce Communications
  • 2. Slide 2
    Barry Adams credentials
    Who is this guy and why is he teaching SEO?
    • Senior Digital Marketer for Search at Pierce Communications
    • 3. Previous:
    • 4. SEO & PPC consultant for the Independent News & Media (Belfast Telegraph, nijobfinder, nicarfinder, Property News)
    • 5. Web Consultant to SMEs in the Netherlands
    • 6. In-house webmaster and digital marketer for Honeywell & Philips
    • 7. Search blogger on State of Search ( and Search News Central (
    • 8. Prolific twitterer (@badams)
  • Slide 3
    What is SEO?
    Why is SEO important?
    How do you do SEO?
  • 9. Slide 4
    What is SEO?
  • 10. Slide 5
    Search Engine Optimisation
    • Wikipedia: Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the "natural" or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results.
    • 11. Getting more relevant traffic to websites via search engines' organic results.
    Definition of SEO
  • 12. Slide 6
    Why is SEO important?
  • 13. Slide 7
    Search Engines
  • 14. Slide 8
    UK Search Engine Market Shares
    SE Market Share 2010
  • Slide 9
    Some Relevant Statistics
    Worldwide Internet Usage
    • 2 billion users online
    • 20. Dec 2009: 131 billion searches (that’s more than 49,000 searches/second)
    UK Internet Usage
    • 51.4 milion users (82.5% of the population)
    • 21. In April 2010, Google received 4.1 billion search page views in the UK
    • 22. The UK internet economy is worth £100 billion = 7.2% of UK gross domestic product
    Search Engine Usage
    • 89% of all online purchases in the UK begin with a search
    • 23. 92% of all UK Internet users choose Google as their preferred search engine
    • 24. Organic search results receive over 75% of all clicks
    • 25. 91% of users do not look past the first page of search results
  • Slide 10
  • 26. Slide 11
    Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
  • 27. Slide 12
    Organic (natural) Results
  • 28. Slide 13
    Paid Advertising (PPC: Google Adwords)
  • 29. Slide 14
    Google Instant & Google Suggest
  • 30. Slide 15
    Verticals & Search Refinements
  • 31. Slide 16
    Universal Search
  • 32. Slide 17
    News Results
  • 33. Slide 18
    Image Results
  • 34. Slide 19
    Video Results
  • 35. Slide 20
    Local Results (Google Maps)
  • 36. Slide 21
    How do you do SEO?
  • 37. Generic SEO Tools
    Slide 22
    Google Analytics
    Free world-class web analytics
    Know what is happening on your website
    SEO purposes: discover which keywords drive the most traffic & sales
    Will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses
    Rankchecker (Firefox plugin)
    Free tool to check where your website ranks in Google for a given set of keywords
    Not 100% accurate: rankings are fluid (personalised results, local results, etc.)
  • 38. Slide 23
    SEO is about two things:
    • Keywords match a search query to a webpage.
    • 39. Links determine which webpage ranks highest.
  • The SEO process
    Slide 24
    • Find the right keywords to optimise for
    On-Page Optimisation
    • Implement those keywords on the website
    • 40. Make the website search-engine friendly
    • Build links to the website to increase its authority
  • Slide 25
    • Find the right keywords to optimise for.
  • Slide 26
    Keyword Research
    • Start with a basic set of keywords related to the website and the industry it operates in
    • 41. engagement ring, diamond engagement ring, gold engagement ring
    • 42. Use a keyword tool to expand the list and research competitive info
    • 43. wedding ring, wedding band, platinum bands, white gold engagement rings, cheap engagement rings, custom engagement rings, hand-made wedding rings, design your own wedding ring, celtic wedding rings, ...
    • 44. Refine the list to a set of target keywords
    • 45. diamond engagement rings, celtic wedding rings, gold wedding rings, platinum wedding bands, white gold engagement rings
  • Slide 27
    The Long Tail
  • 46. Slide 28
    Keyword Research Tools
    Google Adwords Keyword Tool –
  • 47. Slide 29
    Google Adwords Keyword Tool
    Advanced options: country & language settings
  • 48. Slide 30
    Google Adwords Keyword Tool
    Match Types: Broad / [Exact] / “Phrase”
  • 49. Slide 31
    Keyword Research Tools
    Wordtracker -
  • 50. Slide 32
    Keyword Research Tools
    Google Trends –
  • 51. Slide 33
    Keyword Research Tools
    Google Suggest
  • 52. Keyword Research
    Slide 34
    Tips and advice:
    • Make sure your target keywords are relevant to the website’s business
    • 53. Go for keywords that you can actually rank for (hint: ‘car insurance’ is probably out of your league)
    • 54. Try to mix generic keywords (‘wedding ring’) with long-tail keywords (‘white gold engagement ring’)
    • 55. Don‘t rely too much on keyword tools, their data isn‘t 100% accurate – use common sense
    • 56. Monitor your SEO results to find out which keywords perform the best, and focus your efforts there
    • 57. Re-do your keyword research for ongoing clients regularly
  • The SEO process
    Slide 35
    On-Page Optimisation
    • Implement those keywords on the website
    • 58. Make the website search-engine friendly
  • On-Page Optimisation
    Slide 36
    • Search Engines rank webpages – not websites
    • 59. Build a page around a theme and stick with it:
    • 60. One page about wedding rings
    • 61. One page about engagement rings
    • 62. One sub-page about white gold engagement rings
    • 63. Don’t stuff a webpage full of keywords – moderation is key
    • 64. Always keep the end user in mind – don’t write for search engines, write for users!
  • Slide 37
    On-Page Optimisation
    Elements to be optimised:
    Title tag
    Meta Description tag
    Headlines and paragraph structure
    Body text
    Image alt attribute
    Internal links
    Sitemap (HTML and XML)
  • 65. On-Page Optimisation
    <title>Digital Marketing Training Courses from the Digital Marketing Institute</title>
    Start with your focus keyword, end with your brand name (you can use separators like – and | )
    Keep it short – 65-70 characters
    Unique title for every page on your website
    Usually shown on SERPs (but not always)
    Slide 38
    Title tag
  • 66. On-Page Optimisation
    <meta name=‘description’ content=‘The Digital Marketing Institute (DMI) provides online marketing training courses on a range of digital marketing throughout Ireland: Dublin, Cork and’>
    Not a ranking factor – but a very important click-through factor
    SERPs only show 150 characters – but no guarantee they’ll actually show your description.
    Try to include the focus keyword once
    Slide 39
    Meta Description tag
  • 67. On-Page Optimisation
    Slide 40
    Headlines and paragraph structure
    <H1> headline
    <H2> subheader
    <H3> subheaders
    <p> paragraphs
    Allows SEs to understand the content and its context
  • 68. On-Page Optimisation
    Slide 41
    Body text
    Write for users, not for search engines
    More content = better for search engines
    Less content = better for users
    Minimum 200 words (rough guideline)
    Include your focus keyword(s) and synonyms
    Write naturally and make it readable
    Don’t stuff it full of keywords
    Find the right balance
  • 69. On-Page Optimisation
    Make images relevant to the content
    Include a relevant alt attribute – preferably containing (part of) the focus keyword
    Can you think of a better alt attribute than the one above?
    Slide 42
    Image alt attribute
    <imgsrc="" alt="Ireland Map with pins">
  • 70. On-Page Optimisation
    Bad URL:…
    Good URL:http://
    Don’t overdo it – no keyword stuffing
    Use a logical structure that makes sense to humans
    Slide 43
  • 71. On-Page Optimisation
    Link from top to bottom
    Link sideways & diagonally
    Use keywords in the linkWrong:To read more about wedding rings, click here.Right: Read more about wedding rings.
    Use breadcrumb links
    Slide 44
    Internal links
  • 72. On-Page Optimisation
    Slide 45
    Sitemap (HTML and XML)
    HTML Sitemap:
    Webpage listing all (relevant) pages on the website
    Allows users to quickly find the page they’re looking for
    Allows search engines to index all pages on your website
    XML Sitemap:
    XML file containing all webpages on a website that you want to get indexed
    Can also include images and videos
    Gives more information to search engines: update frequency, importance, preferred URL, date of last change.
    Never a replacement for a good indexable website!
  • 73. On-Page Optimisation
    Slide 46
    Lies, Myths, and Disinformation:
    Hidden text (white text on a white background)
    don’t use it, it doesn’t work and may get you penalised.
    Meta Keywords tag
    mostly useless but for completion’s sake you can fill it in.
    Keyword Stuffing
    doesn’t work and may get you penalised.
    Shockwave Flash
    invisible to search engines so don’t use it if you don’t have to
    mostly invisible so be careful when using it
  • 74. On-Page Optimisation Tools
    Slide 47
    XENU Link Sleuth
    Indexes all pages of a website - data is exportable to Excel
    Use to create XML sitemap & diagnose title tags, meta descriptions, internal linking, and indexation issues
    Firebug (Firefox plugin)
    Use to diagnose header tags, image alt attributes
    Google Webmaster Tools
    Representation of how Google sees your website
    Great data!
    Pay attention to the warnings
  • 75. Google Webmaster Tools
    Slide 48
  • 76. The SEO process
    Slide 49
    • Build links to the website to increase its authority
  • Linkbuilding
    Slide 50
    Links determine a page’s authority
    Higher authority = higher ranking on SERPs
    More links = higher authority
    Not all links are equal
    1 valuable link from a high authority website > 100 links from low-quality sites
    Link text is very important
    Branded link: Pierce Communications
    Keyword-rich link: Web Design Belfast
    a website needs both
  • 77. Linkbuilding
    Slide 51
    How to see if a link is valuable or not?
    A measure of how important Google believes the page is
    Not an accurate measure but gives a general idea
    0 = bad, 10 = awesome
    Developed by SEOmoz and a little bit more accurate than PageRank
    Not ‘nofollowed’
    rel=nofollow attribute means a link will not pass any value
    Common Sense
    Spammy websites = low quality link
    Popular site = high quality link
    Relevant site = valuable link
  • 78. Linkbuilding
    Slide 52
    Different types of links:
    Reciprocal links
    Site A links to site B, and site B links back to site A
    Not very valuable – avoid if you can
    Link wheel
    Site A links to site B, site B links to site C, site C links to site A
    Not very valuable and a spam signal – avoid if you can
    One-way link
    Site A links to site B. The end.
    Most valuable type of link – get lots of these!
  • 79. Linkbuilding
    Slide 53
    How to build links?
    Directory Submissions
    Press Releases
    Article Marketing & Guest Blogging
  • 80. How to build links?
    Slide 54
    Directory Submissions
    Online (business) directories such as:
    Best of the Web (
    The best directories are usually paid
    Always check if a directory link is valuable
    What is the PageRank of where your link will end up?
    Is that page/category even indexed by Google?
    Is the link nofollowed?
    Usually good for building a base of branded links
    Try to find vertical directories relevant to your industry
  • 81. How to build links?
    Slide 55
    Press Releases
    Great way to build valuable links
    Make sure your press release…:
    Is newsworthy, relevant, and interesting enough to be worth reading
    Contains a link back to your site (preferably with a keyword-rich link text)
    Use professional PR distributors
    PR Web: £40 to £200 per press release
    PR Newswire UK: pricing per article
    BusinessWire: pricing per article
    MyNewsDesk: £0 to £590 per month
    No guarantee it will be picked up by news outlets
    But generally more money spent translates to more & better links
  • 82. How to build links?
    Slide 56
    Article Marketing & Guest Blogging
    Write relevant articles / blog posts (or hire a copywriter)
    Links in article & in author bio
    Article sites:
    Guest blogging:
    Approach blogs & websites directly and offer content
  • 83. How to build links?
    Slide 57
    Linkbait is:
    Content (published on your website) that is so interesting / funny / newsworthy / controversial that people will link to it without having to be asked
    Types of linkbait:
    Great articles with valuable insights
    Breaking news stories
    Top 10 lists
    Spread via social media
    Share on Twitter & Facebook
    Submit to social news sites such as Reddit
  • 84. Linkbuilding Tools
    Slide 58
    SearchStatus Firefox plugin
    Shows a webpage’s PageRank & mozRank and highlights nofollowed links
    SEOmoz Open Site Explorer
    Free version shows you a good overview of links pointing to a site
    Analyse your competitor’s links and see if you can get some of them as well
    Don’t just copy, but let yourself be inspired
    Google Webmaster Tools
    See some of the links that Google actually counts
  • 85. Slide 59
    Barry Adams
  • 86. What’s next?
    Slide 60
    Reading Material & Advanced SEO
  • 87. Reading Material
    Slide 61
    SEO is not static, so keeping up to date is crucial
    Search Engine Land
    State of Search
    Search News Central
    Search Engine Journal
  • 88. Advanced SEO
    Slide 62
    Search Intent
    Informational / Navigational / Transactional queries
    Matching user intent to your SEO goals
    Search Patents & Research Papers
    Insight in to how search engines operate
    Technically challenging so leave the interpretations to the experts!
  • 89. Advanced SEO
    Slide 63
    Information Retrieval (IR)
    A discipline of Computer Science
    IR is what search engines do: retrieve information from the web with the highest possible levels of precision and recall
    Information Architecture (IA)
    Making information accessible to humans
    Websites built using good IA are nearly always SEO-friendly
  • 90. Advanced SEO
    Slide 64
    Microformats / Microdata / RDFa
    Also known as ‘structured data’
    Meta information – information about information
    Next-generation HTML code containing new markup
    Very SEO-proof, makes life for search engines much easier