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Do It Yourself (DIY) Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Please find below our step by step guide to Search Engine Optimisation. If you would rather get on with monitoring process parameters in your autoclave facility or tracking down foreign producers of cocoa to put in your organic ice cream, then drop us a line and we'll do all of the below for you. All of it (except perhaps writing content) is boring work. And all of it (including content writing) is very time consuming. But come the end when we see you business grow, All of it is VERY rewarding.

YOU CAN DO THIS. You just need a little Grit . . . . not Rooster J Cogburn Grit  . . . more like Carl F Gauss Grit. Which is less cool but more useful in this context.

0 - Get Comfortable

This is a long haul. So you ought to start out on the right foot:

First thing we would recommend if you want to get in to SEO seriously is to obtain a 2nd monitor for you computer. It will dramatically increase you productivity. If you have a laptop they will normally support a second monitor. If you have PC or Mac then you may need to upgrade you graphic card to do this. If you are stuck then buy a USB to VGA interface and get a monitor linked up. A 2nd hand TFT monitor on Ebay cost cost as little at £25, but it will save you hours and hours of flicking between windows.  Read our guide on the The Why and How of 2 Monitors.

Second make sure you maintain good posture, Bent over a laptop at you kitchen table is OK for 10 minutes shopping for Suntan Cream on Amazon, but you will develop neck and back problems if you work at a laptop for long periods. Take regular breaks, and if you can go for a walk, or dance to some music to loosen up every hour or so. Just for a few minutes.

Thirdly make sure you pace yourself. This will take months, you can of course work all hours and hospitalise yourself. But I suspect the quality of work would suffer. So stick to a 12 hour day as a maximum.

1 - Key Words

A "gardener" could advertise as a "weed burglar". This would be humorous and perhaps novel, but people will not search for weed burglar when using Google.

From the out set it is very important to think about what people will be typing in to Googlein order to find you.  You first point of call would be Google's Key Word Planner.

Type in some key words you think might work for you for gardener you might choose:

Pick the most popular option that meets your service. Be sure to add "London" or "Bristol" or service area to the key word, to see how the results change. Spend a few minutes flicking through some different ideas you have . . lawn aeration or garden gnome removal . . . se which ones are more popular. Write down some of the more popular relevant key words as these will make for good page titles.

2 - Domains & Webhosting

If we search for "web hosting" we will see many different companies pop up. These companies offer you a small piece of one of their computers for you to put you website on. They keep it switched on all the time, and so your website will always be accessible. We normally choose UK2 for ourselves and UK customers, but for overseas customers we would choose a hosting company with servers in our clients home country. This helps with locational SEO.

2.1 - Domains

So UK2 are good. Choose them. They will offer you a domain when you first sign up. You can either put you Home Page Key Words in your domain name, for example "Garden Services London" or you could use you Company Name "Super Swish Gardens" (you can have that for free).

The first choice above, is probably more sensible in terms of SEO. . . . but we would recommend the latter. It is good to have a unique domain name, and subjectively is a bit less clinical. But the we repeat the first choice is more sensible!

2.2 - Webhosting

This is where it can get a bit complicated. We would not recommend going for "website builder free" or another free offering from the hosting company. These are typically built on niche code, and are tricky to repair and maintain long term.

Wordpress Hosting is a Good Option. Joomla or other CMS is also Good. These are ready built "websites" which allow you to log in through your web browser and edit pages. They also have loads of built in features such as file dumps, calendars, events lists, polls, e-commerce add-ins.

The main disadvantage with this form of website is that they contain 1000's of lines of often useless chaff code, which dilute you content. If you are using Google Chrome press Ctrl+U now. You will see this pages code. 87 Lines of It.

If we look at Harvard University's Joomla Based Home Page we see it contains 657 lines of code . . . and some of those lines are very long. This added complexity could lead to more errors, which Google will not like. But saying that we do recommend Joomla because it allows for such ease of hand over when our time is done.

We use Microsoft Expression Web for this Site. This is an ancient piece of software that would not be suitable for 80% of sites, but when you do not need e-commerce or interactive content, it works just fine keeping code very simple. Unlike Joomla, you cannot log in to edit this website, you need to edit the pages using expression web, and then transfer the files using Filezilla FTP Client.

Just remember if you get stuck with the webhosting side of things, then just visits the support section on your webhosting company website. They will email you with practical helps, and you will learn as you go.

3 - Content

So you know what you want to do, and how people search for it on Google. Start Writing. But at this point you have to develop a split personaility! Code vs Visible.

Beware I Say! In adding content to your site you may be upsetting Google's Ever Changing Code Requirements. For example inserting an image in to a page, might seam fairly low risk, but in the age of very variable screen sizes, the image should vary its size according to the devise it is being viewed on. If you do not implement this in the code then you site might not be deemed "mobile ready".

3.1 - Visible

CSS. Wots that then? Its code. Code for wot? Code that makes text look nice innit. Oh.

When authoring text for you website, Be sure to use CSS to tag each paragraph accordingly. On this page we have (by example) h1, h2 and h3 tags. h1 is for the main heading (big red text top of page), h2 for sub heading (bold black) and  h3 for minor heading (light) grey.

CSS is important because it not only changes what the test looks like, it also tells search engines all about the pages layout. You can have a "style sheet" or you can have "in line" CSS.

3.2 - Code Content

There is some stuff that is behind the scenes only, and does not show up on you webpage at all. The most important of these is "meta data" which has been round for as long as the web itself. Page Title is the One to Worry About, but anything else that is missing will be flagged up by Google, and they even tell you how to fix it!

4 - Google Webmasters

So you have you key words, domain, web hosting and have put some content on your server. Now you need to:

4.1 - Let Google Know it is There

If you do not already have one then sign up for a Google Account. Then navigate to Google Webmasters. This is you main go to place to find out about how Google is finding you website. First step is to "add a property". Type in you domain name and click add. You will then need to verify that you own the site. To do this you will need to either move a file (that Google provide) on to you server, or past a line of code in to you home page. Again if you get stuck then ask you web hosting support how. . . or Google It: How to Upload Verification File to Server.

Once you have done this Google Knows you own the site. That is the main thing to do. Other stuff like Submitting Sitemaps can wait if you are feeling sleepy.

4.2 - Clean Up Errors

Navigate to the "Search Console" on Google Webmasters. Down the right hand side of the screen you will see numerous heading, and expandable menus. Clkeick on these to explore. After a few weeks errors will show up here (probably) and you can then find out how to fix them.

4.3 - Measure How Things are Going

Again in Google Webmasters under "Search Traffic" you can view how many times your site has been viewed. In the early days this can be a bit depressing, but not to worry! Keep trying and you will prevail.

When your traffic increases you may want to sign up to Google Analytics. Which gives soooo much detail on who, where, what, why is looking at you website, but in the early days just keep typing that content.

5 - Keeping Learning

It takes time for you site to move up the search rankings. So do not fret if nothing much happens in the first month or so. Just keep checking, keep writing, updating sitemaps etc. and soon you will start to see signs of success. Many of our clients are very happy when they receive their first email or phone call!

SEO as a topic is very well covered on the Web. There is now question you could ask regarding SEO, that someone has not answered for you. Google any questions you may have. Read the answers. Learn. Make the changes. Succeed.

I wish you Luck . . . 

Not Feeling Lucky? . . . or a bit meah? We''ll do all of this for you. Let us help please.