Demystifying SEO- A beginners guide

in Technology by Kathleen Aoki
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SEO, SEO Guide

If you have a website, you’ve very likely heard about search engine optimisation (SEO). But how do you actually go about optimising your website to rank higher in the popular search engines?

If the thought of doing your own SEO seems impossible, don’t despair. The fundamentals can be grasped in just a few minutes and you don’t have to be an SEO guru to do it.

Generating the right kind of traffic for your website

The purpose of SEO is to help people find your website. In order to make this happen, you need to match the content on your site to what people are searching for. But it’s not enough to simply get traffic – you need to get the right kind of traffic. To do that, you need keywords.

It’s all about the keywords

You want to find keywords that have both high search volume and low competition and then integrate them into your content – provided they are appropriate to your business, of course. For example, if you’re an online bead store, in addition to using the word “beads” on your website (a very popular search term), you could also include lower traffic search terms such as “beaded turquoise bracelet” or “beaded amethyst necklace” if you sell such items.

While these lower traffic search terms may not generate as many hits as high traffic ones, overall they will have the effect of sending more traffic to your site than just a few high traffic words.

To help you identify the right search terms, you can use the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, which is based on actual Google searches, to help you narrow down the field. When selecting keywords, be aware of international language differences (such as Australian and US spelling), as this can affect search results.

Creating good content

Once you’ve identified the right keywords to attract visitors to your site, you need to create useful, informative content around your keywords.

•    Create keyword-rich content, but write primarily for people, not search engines.

•    Aim to keep your content fresh, relevant and unique. Sites that have regularly updated, quality content will be crawled more often and rank higher.

•    Create relevant, eye-catching titles for your pages and posts.

•    Don’t copy content from other sites – this can result in being penalised by the search engines.

Have a good linking strategy

Linking is perhaps the most important thing you can do to increase traffic to your site. The more other sites link to yours, the more trustworthy your site becomes in the eyes of the search engines.

•    Get linked from relevant, related sites (preferably top-ranking ones).

•    Write articles for other sites and include a bio with a link to your site.

•    Get linked by popular bloggers who like your products or services.

•    Use social media to increase traffic and the likelihood of being linked.

•    List your site in online directories.

•    Be persistent with your linking strategy.

Optimise your code

In addition to keywords, good content and linking, you’ll also want to optimise your code for the search engine crawlers. These sections of code include:


Title tags:

Make sure your keywords are in the title.


Meta description tag:

A concise and informative description of what your site is about.


Headings (H1, H2, etc.):

Headings should include your keywords and have a clear hierarchy.


Site maps:

Create a site map for your website. There are a number of free site map generators online.



Use keywords to create user-friendly URLs.


Alt tags:

Add alt tags to your images and videos.

SEO is not as difficult or mysterious as many believe. It’s simply a matter of locating the right keywords, optimising your site’s content and developing a good linking strategy.

Once all the hard work is done, it will take some time for the search engines to catch up. But if you have created a good website and promoted it well, it’s just a matter of time before you see positive results.

This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.

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Kathleen Aoki

Kathleen has a degree in marketing with over 10 years experience in the IT field as a database developer and web designer. As a freelance writer, Kathleen has written for several publications across Australia as well as for various business and hi-tech blogs online.

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