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SEO, or search engine optimisation, is the process of improving and enhancing a website to make it more visible to search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. In being visible to these engines, a business is able to climb to the front or top of listings making it more likely they will be seen by people searching for their products or services. In turn, more visitors to the site translates to more customers.

SEO is a blanket term given to a number of actions, such as content optimisation and the process of adding links to the site. SEO can be added into a site at any time and your site does not have to be new in order for SEO methods to be used. However, if you are just getting started with your website and want to enhance it with SEO, there are a number of tried and tested methods which could help to give you the desired results:

Content is king

Search engines love content and it is often this that will get a site higher in listings. For SEO purposes, content should be well written, unique and fresh. The more an engine such as Google can see a business putting on their site, the more they will review it for their listings.

When considering SEO, most people think of keywords. These are the words they use in their content, which their potential customers will type into a search engine when they’re looking for that business. For example, if you were looking for a hairdresser in Luton, that’s what you’d most likely type into a search box. Therefore, using the keyword “hairdresser in Luton”, or a similar variation, means the search engine is more likely to put you in that category and in time you’ll be more likely to be found when a potential customer tries to find a hairdresser in Luton.

Content should always be written with the human reader in mind. Gone are the days when a page could be stuffed with keywords simply for an engine to see them. Not only are these techniques likely to affect ratings because they are seen as unfair or “black hat” techniques, but they’ll also be extremely off-putting to any reader who should happen upon your site.

Many people, especially in the early days of SEO, also chose a number of keywords and used them all in every page. So they might have had “hairdressers in Luton”, “Luton hairdressers”, “Luton salon” and “Luton hair colourist” all in a very small amount of content. Studies have shown that using one keyword to a density of 2 – 4% (i.e. between 2 and 4 keywords per 100 words of normal text) is much more beneficial to both search engine and human reader.

Title tags

Whether you’re designing your own site or employing a professional to do so on your behalf, you’ll have the opportunity to give each page on your site a title tag or “meta tag”. It’s vital that you do this for SEO purposes as the engines will see each page and its use and place you in an appropriate category.

Links

Getting links from other websites is another useful tool in the SEO armory. If you’re planning to use links from other websites as well as content for SEO purposes, it’s worth remembering that quality counts rather than quantity. A single strong link will work far better and faster than a series of low quality links.

Site layout

All of the fancy content in the world won’t help if the site is confusing. New customers give you a limited time to make a mark on them so it’s essential that you use that small window to impress them with a site that is user friendly and easily navigated.

It’s also worth considering how much you want to offer your customers. Allowing them to interact with you not only builds up your relationship but also shows search engines that your site is active and welcoming.

Social media

Links between your website and social media pages (such as Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Linkedin, Tumblr and Pinterest) will show up quickly on search engines and mean that you’re more likely to be found by your potential customers. However, if you plan to start a social media page or profile, you should be prepared to commit to it as customers are likely to be turned off by a half-hearted attempt.

Consistency

The key to any SEO campaign is the realisation that it is a slow and ongoing process. Good results don’t come overnight and consistency is key to success. Expect that you need to commit to your SEO for the long term and also ensure that you’re aware that stopping could mean a fall in your search engine rankings.