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The Importance of SEO for Business

A simple and easy to understand guide intended to help busy businesses understand the basics of Search Engine Optimisation and its importance in business.

 

The article is intended as a simple and easy to understand guide to help busy business owners and managers understand the basics of Search Engine Optimisation and its importance in business.

Since most businesses have a website be it purely for information or trading, the importance of SEO should not be underestimated.

The SEO process requires an investment of time, effort and funds.  So if you are thinking of using SEO as a marketing tool, or would like to understand the basic principles of how it operates, we hope that the information contained in this guide will help you better understand how the SEO process operates.

 

WHAT IS SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation is the process of making your website appear at the top of search engine results. The higher your website ranks in search engines such as Google, Yahoo, MSN, ASK etc., the greater the traffic your site receives resulting in increased business.

 

WHY DO I NEED SEO?

The first question you have to ask yourself is what role and how important is your website for your business?  If your site is not there to generate business then there is little point in wasting resources on SEO.

If your website, whether it provides content, services, products or information is an important part of your business model then SEO has an important role to play.

Since 93% of internet traffic comes from search engines the importance of achieving a high rank in a search engines listing is clear. If your website is not ranked highly then customers will go to your competitors

Thus SEO is important because it will direct targeted traffic to your website and improve sales conversion rates through optimised site architecture.

 

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation doesn’t cost the earth and offers one of the best returns on advertising investment one can find. Before resources are allocated, let us examine what benefits you can hope to achieve.

However, a word of caution. Great search engine listings do not happen overnight. It takes lots of skilled effort and time to ensure your search engine rankings are accurate and stable.

  • High ROI – out performs most other forms of marketing in terms of ROI and generation of qualified leads.
  • Targeted Traffic – delivers traffic actively searching for your product or service.
  • Long Term Positioning – a properly optimised site should stay long term in the rankings compared to PPC where costs and outlay are ongoing and unpredictable.
  • Increased Online Visibility - Getting your site on as many search engines and directories as possible will help you reach more of your target audience bringing you a greater web presence.
  • Fixed Costs - The cost of SEO is relatively fixed, is independent of click volume and the cost per click from SEO declines through time after initial optimisation costs and lower ongoing optimisation costs.
  • Higher Sales – SEO will lead to increased sales
  • Improved Design & Accessibility - a website designed for SEO is an exercise in designing a best practice website.

 

HOW DOES SEO WORK?

A search engine works by crawling the web and examining websites to get an idea what the website is about. It then searches the site for specific content and keywords related to that content. This process works in five stages described herein:  

1.      Crawling the Web

First, search engines crawl the Web to see what is out there using a piece of software called a crawler or spider (Googlebot for Google). These follow the links from one page to another indexing everything they find. Since there are over 20 billion web pages, it may take a month or two before your site is visited so any SEO efforts during this period will go unrewarded.

You can check to see what a spider sees from your website by clicking on the link below. http://tools.summitmedia.co.uk/spider/

   

2.      Indexing Documents

The next step is to index the content. The indexed page is stored in a database, from where it can later be retrieved. The process of indexing is identifying keywords that best describe the page and, assigning the page to particular keywords. Optimising a page makes it easier for it to be classified correctly thereby enabling a higher ranking.

   

3.      Processing Queries

When a search request comes, the search engine processes it by comparing the search words with the indexed pages in the database.

 

4.      Calculating Relevancy

The search engine then start calculating the relevancy of each page in its indexed database with the search word by using complex algorithms. These algorithms are one of the keys for success and are different for each search engine, which explains why different search engines give different search results for the same search words.

   

5.      Retrieving

The final step is retrieving the results or simply displaying them in the browser. All of the above is done in a fraction of a second

 

WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR OPTIMISING A WEBSITE?

The process of optimising a website can be broken down into four key steps.

 

 Step 1       Keyword Analysis  

  • Choosing the right keyword - Keywords are the most important aspect of SEO as these are what the search engines match against. Choosing the right keywords that potential customers are likely to enter is critical for success. These keywords form the basis of the whole optimisation process.  As a guide it is best to avoid generic or commonly used words such as ‘marketing’, and focus on less popular and more specific phrases such as ‘small business marketing’.
  • Keyword density – After having chosen the keywords the next step is to have good keyword density by making the site ‘keyword rich’. The higher the keyword density the more relevant to the search words a page is. A recommended density is between 6-12% for the major 2 or 3 keywords and 1-2% for minor keywords.
  • Keywords in special places – It is important to ensure that the keywords are featured in key places such as in:
    • URL’s and File names
    • Page Titles
      • Headings

Step 2       Technical Optimisation

  • Title Tag – is the title of the site and all important keywords should be included here. The ideal title tag should be around 60-80 characters in length.
  • Internal Links – link to each page in your site as you would an external link by using keyword-rich links instead of ‘click here’ text. 
  • Meta Tag – this is a piece of text that lists the main keywords and key phrases for your site in order to provide information to a search engine about the contents of a page. However as algorithms have developed the importance of Meta tags has reduced with some search engines ignoring them.
  • Site Map – always include a site map as it helps search engines to navigate and index each page
  • Mirror Sites - avoid creating a website that is identical across two domain names, such as the .co.uk and .com versions. Instead, redirect users from one to the other.
  • Website Design - search engines cannot read flash so 100% flash web sites are seen as having no content. Use flash sparingly, and do not include the bulk of your navigational links in flash or search engines simply won\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'t be able to navigate the site.

 

Step 3       Content Optimisation

The ideal number of words on a web page from a search engine ranking point of view is considered to be between 300 and 500 words, with the first 100 words being the most important. Consequently these should include all keywords and keyword phrases, with keyword density being 6 -12%. 

“Content is King” and providing search engines with regularly updated, relevant content is a recipe for success. Frequently updating a site increases the probability that the spider will revisit the site sooner. Failing to do so will certainly drop you to from the top of search results.

 For manufacturing companies constantly providing new content can be a challenge. Nevertheless it is important that new content and new sections are constantly added to the site.  

 

Step 4       Link Strategy

Links are an extremely important part of the SEO strategy. This is because the basis of the internet is built on links. Thus search engines see links as a valuable indicator of the importance of a web site since the spiders follow the web when indexing the links.

If not many sites link to you, then it may take some time for search engines to find your site and even if they find you, it is unlikely that you will have high rankings because the quality and quantity of links is part of the algorithms of search engines for calculating relevancy.  

 

  • Inbound & Outbound Links - Outbound links are links that start from your site and lead to another one, while inbound links, or backlinks, come from an external site to yours.

Inbound or Backlinks are very important because they measure of the popularity of your site. However it is important to remember that not all of them are equal.

Good backlinks are from reputable places - preferably from sites with a similar theme and these links enhance search engine ranking.

Bad backlinks come from suspicious places or unrelated sites – like link farms

 

  • Anchor Text - Anchor text is the most important item in a backlink. It is the word(s) that you click on to open the hyperlink – e.g. if your offering is marketing & business development then “marketing & business development” is the anchor text for the hyperlink 

 

 

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO SEE THE RESULTS FOR A SEO CAMPAIGN?

Search engine optimisation is a long-term process that should be integrated into a company’s ongoing marketing strategy. Unlike pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, which may yield results after only a few days, SEO take significantly longer. However, the effects of SEO last longer than for PPC.  

.....and the final all important question......

 

SHOULD I DO SEO MYSELF OR SHOULD I HIRE AN SEO COMPANY?

The answer to this depends on three simple factors: TIME – INTEREST – BUDGET.

If you decide to undertake this task yourself be prepared to devote the relevant time needed to make it a success but ensure that it does not detract your attention from other important tasks.

If however I suspect you are busy running your business and have limited interest in the subject then the answer clearly is to hire someone to do the job. However this will of course cost you and it is worth getting a quote from a number of reputable companies. Beware of the unscrupulous companies.

 

Related Articles

  1. 1.     How to Hire a SEO Company
  2. 2.     The Importance of a SEO Contract
  3. 3.     Words of Warning on SEO

 

This article was first published on July 2009 and may not necessarily match current events or current opinions and views of Acumen Consulting Ltd. The information contained in this article is intended as a guide.

 


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