Four must-know facts about search engines to help you with SEO

Four must-know facts about search engines to help you with SEO
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise NationEnterprise Nation

Posted: Thu 29th Nov 2012

You don't have to be a web expert to get the hang of basic search engine optimisation and make your site more visible to potential customers, says Lola Bailey, author of The Small Business Guide to Online Marketing. But if you're planning to do it yourself, there are a few things you need to know before you begin...

Lola Bailey: online marketing expert

There are plenty of books you could read on the subject of search engine optimisation, writes Lola (left). However, if you are anything like me, you have neither the time nor the inclination to read a book just on the subject of search engine optimisation. What's more, you probably wouldn't wish to shell out thousands of pounds to an SEO company that promises to get you top billing in Google's search results page. And you wouldn't be alone. You can do your search engine optimisation by yourself - if you know how to.

In my next post, I'll give you a list of simple tweaks you can make to get more traffic to your small business site.  But first you need to have some basic information about search engines:

1. Search engines are not thinking, speaking, reasoning human beings.

They are literal in their operation. Let's suppose the content on one of your website pages is about "accountancy services". This could also be searched for by visitors using the keywords "help with tax". If you make no reference on that page specifically to "help with tax"; search engines will not call up links for searches on "help with tax" for your page's "accountancy services" keywords. This means you would lose out on potential traffic from visitors who have searched under "help with tax".

2. The 'language' of search engines is links.

This means they index pages which are connected to each other by links - using standard html links. So, if your site is loaded with Flash animations, JavaScript or drop-down menus to help the visitor navigate from one page to another, search engines will not follow. Many websites are database-driven and will block search engine indexing because the pages are only generated upon request. They are typically e-commerce sites, forums, sites using content management systems and blogs such as WordPress. The generated page addresses (called "dynamic" URLs) will usually contain symbols such as question marks (?), ampersands (&) or = signs which again are not "liked" by search engines - or searchers for that matter! Consider this:

Dynamic URL:

Static URL:

Which of the two URLs do you find easier to understand? Another important issue is that dynamic URLs generally don't have keywords in them. It's crucial to have keyword-rich URLs - highly relevant keywords should appear in your domain name or in your page's URL.

3. Search engines cannot 'read' images.

By now, you know that search engines are literal, that they work through links and can 'read' text. What's also important to know is that they cannot 'read' images. Your images will have no rhyme or reason to a search engine unless described by you, using text. If you do describe what your image actually is, (called 'tagging') it will be indexed. I'll describe how to do this in my next post - so look out for it!

4. Search engines need content to index.

Online, content is king. When people go online, they are searching for content. Search engines are programmed to locate and then bring up suggested links to searchers in their search results.  This means that if you have keyword-relevant content on your site you will be rewarded with increased traffic, of the right kind - ie, targeted - to your website. Keep your eye open for Lola's next post on Enterprise Nation shortly. Alternatively, you could take a look at the great online marketing content she's already written for us. Photo credit: Duncan Hull

Buy The Small Business Guide to Online Marketing for £5

From content to SEO to pay-per-click advertising, The Small Business Guide to Online Marketing by Lola Bailey offers all you need to know to take control of your online marketing - and it's written in a clear and accessible way. It's available as a downloadable ebook from the Enterprise Nation shop. [product id="56640"]

Enterprise Nation
Enterprise NationEnterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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