There’s an awful lot written about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), white hats, black hats and all sorts of detailed technical mumbo jumbo (much of which is very useful, by the way). This is not a technical article but rather a helicopter view for businesses. It’s a common sense approach to search engines and how to help your site compete effectively online for search results from a business perspective.

Before you delve into the bowels of the technical detail of Search Engine Optimisation it’s important to understand the commercial rationale of the search engines and develop a strategy to compliment the search engines rather than attempt to out smart them. Google is the de facto search engine of choice and although there are many other powerful players in the market such as Yahoo! and Microsoft, I am going to focus on Google for simplicity.

The Background
Google’s mission statement is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. What does this mean? Well in broad strokes it means that Google aims to catalog all the information in the world and make it available to users (through search) in a relevant and useful way. So when you search for something in Google they are working hard in the background to ensure that the websites that they list in the search results are relevant and useful to the user.

How does Google make money?
Google makes money through advertising. When you search for something on Google they display sponsored links around the search results and they charge the advertisers if you happen to click on the advert. This generates revenues in excess of £10Bn for Google.

What has this to do with my business and Search Engine Optimisation?
Well, it’s very simple…

If you make money for Google – Google will make money for you

Just stop and think about it for a moment. If you want your site to be found and ranked in Google, instead of trying to outwit Google (just think how ludicrous this is – they have some of the brightest people on the planet working for them!!!) you should work with them. It’s a simple principle of commerce – “one hand washes the other”. What do I mean? Well, Google has a huge audience, an inspired mechanism for delivering relevant advertising, an amazing (ever changing algorithm) to rank search results – so what do they need from me? CONTENT. They need useful relevant content to help them make money from advertising.

If person A searching for Product X uses Google today and finds useful results on the topic he’s much more likely to come back tomorrow and search for Product Z (rather than going to Yahoo! or MSN) thereby creating an ongoing opportunity for Google to advertise to him.

So if your website will work with Google to create genuinely useful and relevant content to help them make money, they will in turn rank you website and send you traffic (which if you have any clue should make you money!)

What is the catch?
Well you have to compete with other businesses online and convince Google that you are an authority on your chosen subject. How do you do that? Well that is the kernel of Search Engine Optimisation. A good starting point is the Google Webmaster Guidelines This is Google’s own guide on the what to do and what not to do – you’d be amazed at the number of websites that never bother to read or follow these simple rules! Google doesn’t want you to try to manipulate the search engine results. THEY want to decide which sites should be ranked. Break their rules at your peril!

The basics?

1. Have a webstandards compliant website that the spider can index

2. Design your sites architecture to reflect the content

3. Get other websites to link to you

4. Publish relevant content regularly

5. Have a site that is designed to help the user navigate easily to the content

6. Have clear goals to ensure you maximise the effort you’ve put in to steps 1-5 and convert a portion of the traffic you receive into something useful like sales or leads.

If you need help improving your search engine ranking we can help! We help companies drive sales from their websites. If you want more from your website contact us today.