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Search Engine Optimisation - The Basics

seo - the basics


Getting a first page result on Google for your website is one of the most important ways to get targeted traffic to your site. It isn’t always easy to do this but with some perseverance and a reasonable amount of investment, you can achieve first page
rankings. What’s more, with a little effort and know-how, it’s possible to do this yourself!


1. Decide which keywords to target

Use to see how many clicks occur for keywords in Adwords

Use to get keyword suggestions based on generic phrases and natural search volumes for those phrases.

The column marked “Local Search Volumes” are UK and for the month shown. Good phrases to target are ones with reasonable volume that have less ‘advertiser competition’ ie the number of sites ranking for that keyphrase. We suggest you use
both Adwords results and natural search results to form your decisions.

2. Title (meta title)

The title of the webpage should have the keyword or keywords for which you are targeting. The page should be relevant to the keyphrase (very important). Keywords should be first – there’s no need to add your website name. The title will be seen by users so ideally it should make sense and not just keyword gobbledegook!

Title tags should ideally not be longer than 70 characters.

3. URL

The url of the webpage must have the keyword for which you are optimizing your website. This may not be convenient from design point of view, but is very important from SEO point of view.

Urls must be split by underscores or hypens.

4. Meta description

Another important part of the SEO process – this is shown by Google underneath the link on the results page so make it keyword rich, salesy and it has to make sense.

Meta descriptions should not be longer than 155 characters.

5. Meta keywords

Meta keywords aren’t used by the big SEs any more however it’s worth adding them in for the smaller engines that do still use them and Google may come back to them one day!

Keywords should be comma separated. “Wine” and “Red Wine” count as two different keyphrases.

6. Headings and sub headings

Google checks headings and sub headings for keywords and uses them as part of its algorithm. So add keyphrases to headings and subheadings where possible.

Headings are H1 tags and subheadings are H2 tags.

7. Content

The content on the webpage needs and should reflect the keyphrases you are optimising for. If the targeted keyphrase is “buy wine online” but the content is all about delivery, it’s not going to happen.

Keywords should appear more frequently in the start of the content ie the first paragraph or two and then less so as the page goes further downwards.

Write naturally and mix up the words in the keyphrase – photographic equipment insurance for instance can and should also be written as ‘get insurance for your photographic equipment’ – the keyphrases are still in good proximity to each other and it becomes a more natural way of writing (and reading).

Remember, people will be reading your optimised text so make sure it actually makes sense. It doesn’t have to be award winning prose…just logical and relevant.

TIP: Don’t over optimise - it’s best to under optimise than risk keyword stuffing!

8. Inbound / anchor links

Google places some of its algorithm on the number of sites that link to yours and what words they use to link to it. The words that are used to link to your site are called ‘anchor links’ and ideally should contain your top keyphrase(s).

It’s a good idea to have a firm idea on which are your top 5 keyphrases and what order so sort them into at least primary, secondary and tertiary keyphrases.

The more important a site, the more ‘power’ it will impart to the link. So for instance an anchor link on the BBC site would be more powerful than a link on a friends ‘my family’ website.

Other good ways of getting inbound links:

  • Write press releases and distribute them online. There is generally a cost for this (if you’re allowed to include anchor links)…typically around £50-100 per release.
  • Sign up to forums (places where people discuss topics of interest). Generally they will allow you to include anchor links in your signature.
  • Write articles and distribute online.
  • Start a blog and update that – link to pages in your site from your blog articles.
  • Social networking sites – Google now uses ‘social signals’ from Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus as part of its algorithm so it’sa good idea to have accounts with these social sites and update them frequently.

9. Software

Use tracking software to monitor your SERPS (search engine results position). SERPS is the name given to where your site appears in a search engine for a particular keyphrase.




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