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SEO – An Introductory Guide

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The internet has become the place where many people go first to look for information or find a company. Owning a business without having a visible web presence means that in the vast majority of cases you are missing out on many potential customers.

However, just having a website is not the solution. The website must be ranked highly in search engines in order for people to come across it. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of achieving this, and can be done in-house or left to the specialists. SEO techniques are always evolving so often it is best to pay for an SEO firm to optimise your website for important keywords.

When searching for an SEO company it is worth being careful. Two optimisation techniques are often described – White Hat and Black Hat Methods.

  • White hat methods refer to using those techniques recommended by the search engine guidelines. In other words, what is and isn’t acceptable. These methods include inserting relevant title tags, developing interesting content and encouraging the use of keyword-rich inbound links.
  • Black hat methods are ways of improving the ranking of a website by using methods disproved of by search engines, mainly because they are seen as being deceptive. Websites found using these disproved methods can be banned from the search engines and once banned it is very hard to become listed again. These disallowed techniques include inserting hidden or invisible text into web pages and cloaking, the practice of presenting content to the search engine spider that is different from that which is presented in the user’s browser.

Some SEO companies use black hat methods so it’s worth thoroughly researching which company to use through following up testimonials and checking opinions on online business forums. When it comes to SEO, more than most other marketing services, be extra cautious before taking up a cheap quote.

The effectiveness of SEO can vary depending on the search terms that you optimise your site for. Very competitive search terms, such as ‘marketing’, may be too competitive for a new site to expect to get a good ranking for. Therefore you may have to look at optimising your website for less competitive search terms, such as ‘marketing guide uk.’ Even though these search terms are less popular high levels of web traffic can still be achieved.

Remember to try to focus on achieving good results in Google’s results because they currently have over 90% of the online search market in the UK.

It’s also worth noting that new websites may take a while to see significant search engine ranking results. The so-called ‘Google Sandbox’ effect means that new websites are often ignored by Google for the first couple of months because the length of time in existence is used as evidence of the website’s credibility.

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