Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is often seen by companies as a task for web developers, or specialised companies. You don’t have to spend long looking on the web to find techie individuals and techie companies offering such services, some making claims that they will get your site on the first page of Google, Bing and Yahoo….The point is, SEO is NOT something you should be asking your IT guys to provide, and it’s for certain not something you should be going to a “specialised” company for…
There is a common belief, which simply is wrong, that SEO is a highly specialised technical field. In the past there maybe some truth behind this as web development companies looked for ways to “trick” search engines in ranking websites. However, Google, Bing, Yahoo etc aren’t silly, they soon caught on to these tricks and in some cases (BMW) ban websites from being ranked.
The truth is, SEO has almost nothing to do with web development, and is not a technical field, rather it is a highly important part of your organisations communications and PR. In this post I will try to explain why…
The techie part of SEO
There are some aspects of SEO that are technical, and it is these aspects that instantly make business believe the SEO is for the techie guys. The technical part of SEO though is very small, and is simply as follows:
- Websites need to have “Tags” set up correctly within them
- Websites should be structured in a “search engine friendly” fashion
So what do these two things actually mean? Well let’s have a quick look:
- Websites need to have tags: Your web page should have at least 3 “meta tags” set up. These tags are just like normal html tags, however one holds the title of the page (this is shown in the bar across the top of your web browser), one the description (this is a description of the content on this page) and finally, one the key words associated with your web page (these help search engines associate search words with your web page). Please note this really isn’t technical, anyone with access to a web page can set these up with two mins of training…
- Websites should be structured in a search engine friendly way: Well your web page should not have un-necessary content cluttering it up. This could be actual functions and code that is present to help create the “style” of the website. Such code and style information should be linked to in separate files. The webpage should also be structured so that the web page links can easily be found and content navigated to. If your web site conforms to W3C standards (and it should for accessibility and compliance) then your website structure is already there for SEO.
For sure, you need a technical person to be structuring and implementing your website. However, they don’t write your content, so why expect them to realise your SEO needs. Techies should be used only to implement SEO for you.
If SEO is not technical, what is it really?
Well to put it simply, those two technical points just make the site accessible and understandable to search engines, nothing more. SEO is about optimising communications and relationships, by that I mean optimising your website content and your online relationship with your customers / market place.
If you think about it, the way in which we use search engines is very simple, we simply type in what we think will bring back our desired results. So if I want to find a tennis shoe, I will no doubt type in Tennis Shoe or Shoes for example. The search engine is, to put it in very simple terms, using our search words or phrase and matching it to sites that mention tennis shoes. This means that to optimise your website for a search engine, you are really optimising your website for what a customer may search for, the way in which your customer is trying to find and communicate with your website.
This means that SEO has very little to do with technical aspects, but a lot to do with communications and PR.
Factors for good SEO
There are of course factors for good SEO, all of which sit with your communications and PR teams. So what are these factors? Well here is a list of some of the main contributors to good SEO, but by no means the complete story:
- Content is king. Your website content has to be well written, clear, concise and relate to peoples searching behaviour. So don’t fall for some SEO consultancy or web techie guy saying they can help. The only help you can get is from Communications / PR!
- Your keywords have to marry up with words customers may use to find your business. So you need to understand your customers and how they communicate with you
- Keywords aren’t just words you place in a tag at the top of the web page, they are words that should be found in the content of your web page
- Don’t dilute your keywords and content by adding everything under the sun. Ensure your website and content stays as focused as possible
- Your Social Media contribution / campaigns (Social Media has a very large part to play in building relationships and getting your website out there. This means it has a big part to play in your SEO ambitions)
- In-bound web links (this is still very important, the more websites that have relevant content to your own, that link to you, the more chances you have of improving your SEO success)
- Length of time you have been online (this is actually quite important. We still find websites that increase to rank higher the longer they have been around. So don’t expect your brand new website to displace anyone within days!)
Well it’s simple, understand what you actually want to achieve with your website and how it will be found in a search engine. By doing this you realise that the technical aspects are all relating to the implementation of the website, nothing to do with its content and very little to do with how customers find you on the web.
A website is essentially an extension of your organisations communications, public relations and sales. This means that SEO starts and stops with your communications / PR teams. Once businesses realise this, they will stop wasting money on SEO with so called specialist companies and get the right people for the job.
If you are looking for SEO services, talk to companies that specialise in Communications and or PR, alternatively web companies that use specialised people from these fields. Of course, little plug here, you can always use OD Media Alternatively, speak to a specialised Communications and PR company such as GBC or GBC Chocolate