Here are five essential search engine optimisation (SEO) concepts you need to understand when optimising your website or speaking to your digital agency.
You don’t need to know every piece of SEO terminology out there, but a familiarity with some of the basic concepts can be useful and save costs when dealing with digital service providers. Alain de Sales, strategy director at Total e-Strategy, explains some key terms every website owner should be comfortable using.
1. Keywords are the words or phrases that people are actually searching for online. For instance, you might type in “ice cream shop” or “gelato shop” and the search engine might offer “John’s Ice Cream Shop”. While short, common keywords will attract a lot of searches, many websites use them and so competition is often high. Long-tail keywords might be a better option for your business. Long-tail keywords are longer phrases that are less common searches, so there is less competition. An example might be “best ice cream in Carlton”. This is good for smaller businesses that want to attract customers in a certain geographical location. Long-tail keywords don’t give you the volume of searches that short keywords might, but they can give you better-quality visitors to your website.
2. Meta-data is used to give search engines more information regarding page content. You see meta-data on Search Engine
Results Pages (SERPS for short). The meta-title tag or page title
is like a title of a book, while the meta-description is similar to the blurb that you would see on the back of a book. For each page on
your website, you need unique meta-data, which should contain the keywords you would like to be found for.
When you walk into a bookshop, do you pick up the first book you
see or the one with a title that interests you? It is not just important to rank well, you need to encourage people to click on your link. Make sure your meta-data is well written, so each element acts as an effective call to action for your business.
3. Anchor text is the actual text of a link to a webpage, which is usually underlined and dark blue or purple, depending on whether you have clicked on it before. Anchor text for your site should be used within your own site directing readers to different pages, as well as on external websites, directories, blogs and social media sites. Anchor text helps search engines understand what your target page is about. Include keywords that you want to be known for in your anchor text rather than using “click here”, eg use “Visit John’s Ice Cream Shop” rather than “Click here to visit John’s Ice Cream Shop”. Used consistently, this will ensure Google knows what your site or page is about.
4. A back link is a link from another website, directing readers to your website. Ideally, back links should also include the keywords you want to be known for. If you have lots of back links and the websites that link to you have high authority themselves, this will improve your own site’s ranking with search engines. If an agency offers to source back links for you, this is known as link building. However, you can’t just buy back links on the sites that have the most authority (such as
the more established news sites, .gov.au and .edu.au sites). You may need thousands of back links to get to page one on search engines.
5. The URL is the web address you type into a browser to get to a website (eg businesslounge.net.au). Search engines attribute link juice to a URL, and this link juice increases as your page gains more authority over time by providing useful content. The more authority your page has, the better it will rank on search engines, because it will become clear that your site is one of the most relevant results when people search for certain keywords.
If you change your URL, you lose the link juice associated with it plus Google may think your site is unstable, which can affect your ranking.
If you need to change a URL (for example: you have a spelling mistake, you’re updating a brand, or you created a site for a campaign but the campaign has finished) use a 301 redirect. A 301 redirect not only sends enquirers to the new URL, it tells the search engine that this is a permanent change, so you don’t lose the link juice you have built up.
Useful tools and resources
- Melbourne-based Total e-Strategy specialises in search engine optimisation, website optimisation and online marketing strategy.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and the interviewees, and not of Australia Post.
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