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Search Engine Optimisation – The basics

Search engine optimisation is an area of expertise that encompasses a vast array of inputs, from backlinks, the content, to web structure. There is a vast body of work out there on the subject but here we just try and cover the basics to get you off on the right foot.

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Search engine optimisation is an area of expertise that encompasses a vast array of inputs, from backlinks, the content, to web structure. There is a vast body of work out there on the subject but here we just try and cover the basics to get you off on the right foot.


SEO Rule number 1

You cannot be something you are not. If you are a giraffe do not pretend to be a hippo.

Sounds sensible doesn’t it? It is still surprising the amount of people who think they may be able to trick the internet into engaging with a page selling cauliflower when in fact the user wanted beetroots.

SEO Rule number 2

What do people want?

Now that you are a giraffe and have accepted that fact have a think about how people find giraffes online. Why do people want giraffes? Is it the actual giraffe they want? Do they just type in “giraffes” and see what comes back?

Here lies the problem, you are not the only giraffe with a website. Sure giraffes are popular and you can’t just waltz in and become king of the herd so maybe you should concentrate on your best feature about being a giraffe, do people search for long neck? I bet they do.

If you are a new player or even an old one trying to own the most generic keyword for your capability will generally be difficult and/or expensive. Rather than shoot for the moon try and create keywords that target a more specific search area that you could possibly get better page rank on faster.

Rather than just targeting the keyword “giraffes” use a phrase like “giraffes with long necks”

Do your homework and find out what type of giraffe people are actually looking for. The easiest tool for this is Google Adwords. Reverse engineer a campaign and these are the results you will get.

As you can see some 1300 people search for “giraffe facts” every month in Australia but only around 10 search for “facts about giraffes necks”.One is a very sought after term the other not so much.

This key phrase may be the base to start your awesome website on giraffes

SEO Rule number 3

Give them plenty of what they want

Now we have established that there is a market for giraffe necks and people actually search it we have to provide them with what they are looking for. You need to provide text for search engines to search with the correct key phrases in a way that would be expected in everyday conversation.

Search engine do not see images, you can have the prettiest page in the world but it may be blind to a search engine see Rule 5.

Do not overload the text on the page with keywords or key phrases

SEO Rule number 4

Hierarchy, headlines and common sense – on page optimisation

Content on pages need structure, they tell the user where to go and what to do, and they tell search engine what is most important. The important things to remember are the page header/name, should relate to the content on the page, the headlines should relate to the content and the page header, and the content should relate to all of the aforementioned.

Page title-

First headline ( H1) – should be “Facts About Giraffe Necks”

Content should contain key phrases “ there are some fascinating facts about giraffe necks”

Give users content that they have searched for and you will engage them and they will spend more time on your page

“The success of a page should be measured by one criteria: Does the visitor do what you want them to do?”

– Aaron Wall –

SEO Rule number 5

Search engines don’t recognise images

Your gorgeous giraffe looks awesome here, but a search engine doesn’t see those long lashes and fabulously long neck.

Always add alt-tags to images, give them a tag name so search engine know what they are looking at and users can find them. An alt tag for this image would be something like “young giraffe with long neck” – note we have included our key search term in the alt tag as well. Always ensure your images are optimised for web see Rule 8

SEO Rule number 6

Navigation and user experience

Ensure that the structure of your site is built correctly, create silos, nest pages under correct headings. If the navigation heading is “Giraffe Necks” then ensure the subpages have relevance to the main navigation item.

Navigation and page structure should be common sense. It should be easy to find what you want and navigation and sub navigation should relate.

Build the page design for the user in mind. The coolest web design in the world is useless if it doesn’t convert. Ensure that users know where to find stuff and that progression is logical. Listen to your web designer when they tell you the way some things should be and understand what you are trying to achieve.

SEO Rules 7 and 8

Always optimise your images (make them for web) don’t try and supply huge images, it will slow down your site, affect user experience, and your overall page rank

Always add analytics to your page. Then learn how to read it. Be very aware of ghost referrals outlined in this article

Always add Google Webmasters to your page, submit a dynamic sitemap via webmasters

SEO Rule number 9

Common sense.

Simple SEO is common sense. If a user can find your site via keywords that bring them to your content rich page where they linger a while and delve deep into your informative website. Google sees this and gives you the thumbs up 🙂

SEO can be a dark art but as a set of simple rules this is a good start.

“Even the best SEOs are not magicians. They can’t simply place a site at the top of the engines when there are hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of others that offer basically the same thing, and provide basically the same information. If they could, you’d see a whole lot more millionaire SEOs.”

– Jill Whalen –


There are a lot of free tools out there to test the validation of your SEO techniques, but like SEO not all the results you are shown will make sense, or be relevant.

There are some good tools on SEO Moz, and we always love the guys at Internet Marketing Ninjas and they have some awesome free tools. Well worth a look.

Google has a really good but very in depth guide here.

Test all the time, and realise that page rank will not be achieved overnight. This is only a very small snap shot of the basics but it is a great place to start.