One of the most common misconceptions in web site development, is that once a site is built and submitted to the search engines, heavy traffic is on its way.That's just not how it works… not even close!
So can't you just hire an expensive "expert" to get your SEO right? I'm afraid to say that SEO companies make money because we all desperately WANT to believe that we can cheat the system and get to page one of Google.
Google hires some of the smartest IT people in the world, and they spend every minute of every day pitting their wits against the best web development people in the world. Look at your SEO guy - is it likely that for R250 an hour, he knows more than they do? Since few SEO experts will tell you EXACTLY what they are going to do, and most know you will never be able to measure if they have done anything at all, they keep making money. And quickly move on to the next company in a few months. Everyone suspects they have been conned, but who knows - perhaps things would have been even worse!
IT is famous for its confusing terminology, the Search engine optimization is not rocket-science. A high rank on Google is an evolving, high maintenance process that begins with site structuring, design and content.
Critical steps to take before submitting
Before you write one line of programming do keyword research to determine what keywords you want to target. Think about what terms potential customers would use to search in order to find you.
While constructing your website:
- Use markup to indicate the content of your site
- Optimize your <title> tags on each page to contain 1 - 3 keywords
- Create unique Meta Tags for each page (description)
- Use header tags appropriately (H2 > H3) - use your keywords in headings
- Use <b> and <i> tags if appropriate
- Optimize your URLs
- Use keywords in your domain name
- Use keywords in your URL (www.myservice.com/keyword/keyword-2.html)
- Optimize your content
- Use keywords liberally yet appropriately throughout each page. You should assume that Google is not stupid and will blacklist you if you lie or cheat.
- Have unique content - critical!!!! Useful articles about your industry (like this one) help a search engine ranking
- Have quality content - critical!!!!
- Use search engine friendly design
- Keep your pages under 200K in size
- Keep the number of links on any page to less then 20
- Design the navigational structure of the site to channel people to main pages (especially the homepage)
- Make sure your website is complete before launching it or you will get indexed for the wrong words!
Immediately after launching your site
- Create A Google Webmaster Tools Account (Google Webmaster Tools)
- Submit your site to all three major international search engines
- Submit your site to the major South African search engines including ww
- Create an XML sitemap
- Begin a link building campaign (attempting to get keywords in the link anchor text). The quality of the website you place your links on is critical. Links to your website from a low ranking page, will reduce your page rank also.
- Join Google+ and list your website. Suitable for young, male and technologically advanced audiences
- Join Twitter and tweet new content and products on your site. Suitable for products and consumer goods, or celebrities.
- Join Linked In and list your website. Suitable for business audiences including consultants.
- Share new content from your website on all social media accounts.
- Add share buttons to your website articles and ask people to promote your articles.
- Reply to relevant blog posts (Don't spam please)
If you will pay to promote your website, try Google Ads (it works!)
- Continually update your website with quality, unique content
- Continually seek free links preferably from sites in your genre
Do NOT do the following:
- Make an all Flash website (without an HTML alternative)
- Spam other websites for incoming links
- Launch your site before it is done
- Use duplicate content
- Do not point several domains to one site without using a 301 redirect
- Do not make a site of duplicated content from other websites
- Use markup inappropriately
- Style <H>eader tags to look like regular text so that you create fake keywords inside text.
- Hide content using 'display: hidden' (for the sake of hiding text)
- Use other "black hat" techniques (unless you accept the risk of being blacklisted by Google)
- Doorway/Landing pages
- Hidden text
- Usable and accessible sites tend to be search engine friendly by their very nature
- Be patient! High rankings don't happen overnight
- Don't hire an so-called expert. SEO is built into your website structure and design - it is not something you can easily fix afterwards
- Don't obsess. Don't make your website SEO-orientated that your customers can no longer understand you. Hits and search rankings don't make you money, customers do!