This is the second part of the “Introduction to SEO for Small Business”. If you haven’t read the first part, please do so by clicking here. This post will make more sense if you do.

Welcome back to the series. As promised in this part we will be exploring the following:

  • Overview of keywords
  • Link Building

Overview of keywords

Before you can optimise your website, you need to know what you’re optimising for. You’ll need to find the right keywords to focus your SEO efforts, but this can be a challenge. Fortunately, there is a lot of data on the web and a structured approach that you can use for your research.

A search engine works by attempting to find the most relevant websites for the searcher’s enquiry term. It uses everything it knows about the content of relevant sites (including yours) to provide the best results.

Searches can be general, for example “hotels in London” or can be more descriptive, “hotels in Mayfair London” or even “hotels in Kensington with family rooms” these various search terms are basically your keywords.

It is important for us to understand what people are searching for, so that we can optimise our web pages with the appropriate keywords, images and media. A well-optimised website will not only be found in the search results but will also be found higher up in the result list, potentially driving more traffic to your site.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is a foundational piece in the SEO puzzle that will actually help you understand what people are typing into the search engines, how often they do it, what relevance the keywords have to your business and how competitive these terms are.

SEO

Creating an effective keyword research plan can involve having a sound and structured approach that will lead you to explore keywords that you can use in the content that you create for your website. A keyword research plan will offer you the data you need to make decisions about which keywords will increase traffic to your site and have the highest likelihood of being relevant and profitable for your business.

Billions of search queries take place each month, so it’s important to understand the goals of keyword research, what users are looking for and how you can collect and analyse the data to make the right decisions for your website.

Link Building

Another aspect of SEO, which is very important, is link building and at one point was the backbone of how search engines worked. As the search engine crawls the websites around the world, they find links that point to other websites. Each link you see on a webpage can be considered a vote, but remember not every vote is the same. As explained in part one, some votes can have more authority and be considered more trustworthy.

Generally speaking, you’ll improve your search engine visibility by increasing your link popularity. The better quality links you have pointing or voting for your website, the more authoritative your website will appear to the search engines.

Search engines would rather show results from websites that have earned links and authority but keep in mind that you can have all the backlinks in the world but it wouldn’t matter unless those links are of high quality.

Backlinks – are they the be-all and end-all of SEO?

Search engines determine the link quality by looking at the relevance the link is coming from. For example, if you run a wedding cake business and you have links from wedding photographers, that is relevant to the same industry, whereas if you had a link from a train manufacturer, the search engines would deem this to be a low relevance type of link.

A train manufacturer has no business in linking to a wedding cake website, and since thematic connections aren’t there the search engine will not place as much value on that link. Search engines will also look at the link text too. The text that you can click on is what’s known as anchor text.

Anchor text serves as a clue for the search engine, as to what the content they are linking to might be. Let’s revisit our wedding photography example. On the website, they have a blog called ‘Local Wedding Resources’ and in this post, they have a link called “Wedding Cakes Warwickshire” and this links to a wedding cake business which is based in Warwickshire.

This is a pretty strong signal to the search engines that the page on the other side of that link is about wedding cakes. The search engine doesn’t even need to visit that page and already knows what to expect.

If you compare that to anchor text which reads “Click Here” or uses the URL for the anchor text. That would be meaningless to the search engine and doesn’t say much about what is going to be on that page.

To surmise, when placing links on to your webpage, make sure they say what they are linking to as opposed to using generic “click here” phrases.

Say No To Spam

Another way that search engines figure out links is how many you get and over what time period. Freshness and trends is a good quality indicator. Search engines naturally expect your website to gain a steady flow of links over time and if you don’t then the search engines might interpret this as a bad thing.

No Spam

For example, if you had a bunch of links show up on your website 4 years ago and nothing since, your content might be deemed as stale and your website would become less authoritative and trustworthy. On the other hand, if you have a website and no one links to you and then a pattern of a 100 new links show up on random websites or blogs on the same day every month, the search engines would quickly work out that these are spam links.
Search engines are very aware of all the spam link methods so please do not try it!

So how can I get good quality backlinks, naturally?

First, by remembering that search engine optimisation is not something you do for short-term gains. It’s something that you build upon day after day to create long-term value. Creating great content that connects with your audience is key. Your readers will naturally share content that they deem worthy of sharing and this sharing will not go unnoticed by the search engines.

Be More Social

We now live in an era where social media is part of our everyday life and using it to promote our newly polished content is the way to go. When people post and share links to your content, search engines are taking note. In the past, search engines used to rely upon other websites to show a vote of confidence but now social media can show them a signal of what people actually like.

Earning links back to your website around the web is what really shows search engines just how trustworthy and authoritative you really are.

So that is keywords and backlinks wrapped up. In the next post we will be exploring:

  • How search engines and people view a website
  • SEO Local Search

Thanks for reading, see you in the next part, which will be published next week!