Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Robert Clarkson Southern Institute of Technology
What is SEO?Back in the olden days of the internet (1994 ish) websites werebuilt purely with the human viewer in mind.Since the rise of search engines as a means of findingwebsites we now need to build a website tailored, not only forthe human viewer but the search robot (spider / indexer) aswell.SEO concerns improving how a website looks to a searchengine. It also concerns how well a website ranks for particularkeywords or search strings.
SEO - the holy grailThe websites that have thehighest ranking have interestingoriginal and compelling content,that people are going to want tosearch for, read, and to share.
How is a website ranked?PageRank is a link analysis algorithm, named after Larry Pageand used by the Google Internet search engine, that assigns anumerical weighting to each element of a hyperlinked set ofdocuments, such as the World Wide Web, with the purpose of"measuring" its relative importance within the set.The algorithm may be applied to any collection of entities withreciprocal quotations and references.(eg hyperlinks)PR is commonly referred to by internet marketers as "GoogleLove".
Google describes Page Rank"PageRank reflects our view of the importance of web pages byconsidering more than 500 million variables and 2 billionterms. Pages that we believe are important pages receive ahigher PageRank and are more likely to appear at the top ofthe search results.PageRank also considers the importance of each page thatcasts a vote, as votes from some pages are considered to havegreater value, thus giving the linked page greater value. Wehave always taken a pragmatic approach to help improvesearch quality and create useful products, and our technologyuses the collective intelligence of the web to determine apages importance."More info:http://www.google.com/about/corporate/company/tech.html
How can we measure ranking?Search for a keyword(s) using a search engine.
SEO - the problemThe problem is that not all websites can be top of the list. Youmight have the best website possible, but still appear belowyour competitors.SEO is the method with which we can ensure that our websiteis represented as best as possible to the search engines.Therefore placing us as high up in the rankings as possible.Ideally were aiming for the number 1 spot, but to be ranked onthe first page for high competition keywords is also good.
SEO the good and the dark sideThere are two paths the web developer can take with SEO. Itcan be done well, or it can be done badly.Good SEO ensures that• The keywords are used appropriately• Images are alt tagged appropriately• Interesting and fresh content is available• The website is built well, and loads fast• Appropriate videos are embeded.• Good quality links point to the website
BAD SEOBad SEO is using:• Keyword stuffing• Hidden or invisible text - use the same color font and background to hide our dastardly keyowrd stuffing plans.• Meta-tag stuffing• Doorway pages• Scraper sites - Stealing and copying content from other sites• Article spinning - Altering stolen content so it appears orig.• Link emails spamming,• and other dirty tricks....
THIS IS BAD SEOMonster Trucks monster monsterMonster trucks, is monster in monster on wednesdays trucksmonster of great times. trucking great happy hire monstertrucks trucks ...Great big Monster TrucksMonster trucks monster amazing stupendus, dastardly monstertrucks monster trucks monster trucks monster trucks monstertrucks monster trucks monster trucks monster trucks monstertrucks monster trucks monster trucks monster trucks monstertrucks monster trucks monster trucks monster trucks monstertrucks monster trucks monster trucks monster trucks monstertrucks monster trucks monster trucks....
False or spoofed PageRank (PR)While the PageRank shown in the Toolbar is considered to bederived from an accurate PageRank value (at some time priorto the time of publication by Google) for most sites, this valuewas at one time easily manipulated. A previous flaw was thatany low PageRank page that was redirected, via a HTTP 302response or a "Refresh" meta tag, to a high PageRank pagecaused the lower PageRank page to acquire the PageRank ofthe destination page.In theory a new, PR 0 page with no incoming links could havebeen redirected to the Google home page—which is a PR 10—and then the PR of the new page would be upgraded to aPR10. This spoofing technique, also known as 302 GoogleJacking, was a known failing or bug in the system.
How can we monitor our site stats?You can see a websites PageRank using google toolbar orsimilar, however it doesnt really help us to know this as then weonly know whether our site is good or bad.To do SEO we need to monitor our websites statistics, tounderstand how people are landing on our site and what theyare clicking on.2 tools available by Google allow us to do this: • Google Webmaster Tools • Google Analytics
Google Webmaster ToolsGoogle Webmaster Tools is a no-charge web service byGoogle for webmasters. It allows webmasters to checkindexing status and optimize visibility of their websites. • Submit and check a sitemap • Check and set the crawl rate, and view statistics about how Googlebot accesses a particular site • List internal and external pages that link to the site • See what keyword searches on Google led to the site being listed in the SERPs, and the click through rates of such listings • View statistics about how Google indexes the site, and if it found any errors while doing it
Google AnalyticsGoogle Analytics (GA) is a free service offered by Google thatgenerates detailed statistics about the visitors to a website.The product is aimed at marketers as opposed to webmastersand technologists from which the industry of web analyticsoriginally grew.
Improving relevance for keywordsMost important page of the website to google (and to thehuman viewer) is the index page.The words on this page should give meaning to the rest of thesite. Therefore essential we use the keyword properly on thispage.H1 tags, there should generally only be one H1 tag on a page,and this ideally should contain the keyword. The keywordshould also be in the text following the H1 and we should talkabout the keyword.Other keywords that are important should also be present onthe homepage.
Title tags for each pageInside the <head> tag each page also has a <title> tag. This isimportant for SEO, as this information is what shows up as themain headings on each site.<title>PB Tech - Computer Parts, PC Components, LaptopComputers, LCD Monitors, Tablets and more!</title>
Meta tagsAlso inside the <head> tag are the <meta> tags:<meta name=description content=pbtech.co.nzoffers the bestprices on computer products, laptop computers,LCD monitors, tablets, electronics,smartphones,office supplies, and more with fast shippingandtop-rated customer service. />
Meta Keywords<meta name=keywords content=ComputerComponents, PC Parts,Tablets, LCD Monitors, Video Cards, Processorsand CPUs,Computer Memory, RAM, Printers, NotebookComputers,Laptops, Motherboards, Flash Memory, Speakers,LED TV, SmartPhones />
Robots tagAlso inside the head tag is the "robots" tag.<meta name=robots content=index,follow />This is a directive to search engine crawlers to say whetherthey are allowed to "index" or store the data on the page, andwhether they should follow the links on this page to index otherpages.This can also be set to:NOINDEX and or NOFOLLOWHowever this is just used to set a preference to the crawlers, asthey can really do what they like.
ImagesImage alt tags should be utilised for keywords as well.<img src="/imglib/MS_PARTNER.jpg"alt="Registered Microsoft partner" />These keywords must be relevant to the image though.ie. NOT a picture of an apple and then alt text is: "monstertruck hire!!"
rel="nofollow"In early 2005, Google implemented a new value, "nofollow", forthe rel attribute of HTML link and anchor elements, so thatwebsite developers and bloggers can make links that Googlewill not consider for the purposes of PageRank—they are linksthat no longer constitute a "vote" in the PageRank system. Thenofollow relationship was added in an attempt to help combatspamdexing.<img src="/imglib/MS_PARTNER.jpg"alt="Registered Microsoft partner"rel="nofollow" />
Adding keywords in internal links<a href="monster_truck_hire.html">Hire monster trucks</a>Good use of naming with files, and the link text is important, asit sums up the page it is referencing.
Offpage/offsite optimisationEven better is off site links with the same format coming fromwell ranked websites.If high ranked website www.bbc.co.uk links to your website:<a href="www.monstertrucks.co.nz">Hire monster trucks</a>This is great for you, as Google already knows thatwww.bbc.co.uk provides interesting fresh compelling reliableinformation, and by linking to you, bbc has essentially givenyour site some "kudos", and Google recognises this.However the same works in reverse ifwww.dodgyspammers.com links to your site, then Googlemore than likely busts your ranking because of it.
Google Local and other DirectoriesAnother good SEO strategy for businesses is to be listed in themain directories. • Yellow pages • Finda • Google Local • ...The idea here being the more incoming links from decent sitesthe better
Case Study: The PC MechanicSo my business is the PC Mechanic.I want to appear high in the list for "computer repairqueenstown"To improve my ranking I was adding fresh interesting contentinvolving "common computer problems and mistakes to myblog"However when I checked my webmaster tools, i found that themost prevelent keyword on my website was "mechanic" withover 81 occurrances!!!
Case Study: The PC MechanicSo when i typed in "mechanic queenstown" i was top of the list!This is not good, as i dont want to be top of the list formechanic" as that is not the customer I am looking for.I wondered why "mechanic" was so prevalent on my site?When i checked my blog i could see my username was "ThePC Mechanic" and everytime i had created a blog post, thiswas copied numerous times into various sections.
Case Study: The solutionFor this particular problem the solution was simple, change myusername to something other than "The PC Mechanic" like"admin" or "pcm".This then changed all the occurances, and put my new mostprevailent keyword to "computer" closely followed by "repair"then "queenstown"
SEO in practiceFor a site like "The PC Mechanic", I am only interested in clicksfrom people in and around queenstown.Im not interested in being top of the list for "computer repair" inNew Zealand as i will not be able to be called out to Aucklandor Christchurch.This is not to say that this is the case for all businesses, and itis something we have to take into consideration when doingSEO.
Car RentalsHigh competition keywords "car rental". Many companies in NZdoing SEO for these keywords.These websites will be pushing their SEO as much as they can,testing out different options, and attempting to get high rankinginbound links.About car rental....
SEO in practiceGoogle are constantly changing (improving) the pagerankalgorthm. Recent additions include: Speed at which the websiteloads, and addition of videos, downloadable PDFs, all improveranking.Google do not release finer details about how they measurewebsites, otherwise it would be easier for people to cheat thesystem.This means that if you are doing SEO for a client against othercompanies (probably also doing SEO). If both companies wantto be top of the list for highly sought after keywords, then I liketo think of the analagy as competing sports teams.
Dont forget to submit your domain!If your domain name is new, then for gooooooooogle to knowabout your site, you must submit your domain.This tells the google crawler to index your website.www.google.com/addurl/