Starters guide to SEO

One part of my role at Pristine is building up the site traffic, be it via Paid Advertising, Referral traffic or via Search Engines.

Anyone who has indulged in Paid Advertising would know how expensive it can turn out to be if you do not know what you are doing. It can be very effective in the short term, however for long term and more sustainable results, relying on non-paid search results is far better. Hence SEO or Search Engine Optimization.

The problem with SEO is that almost everyone who has a website think that they should do SEO, and SEO is playing around with meta tags. Seems simplistic no? In the past month or so, the amount of people whom I have talked to regarding to SEO has shown how less people know about the workings. Add to it the complexity of the ever-changing algorithm of search engines such as Google, Bing, etc.

The idea behind SEO is to target specific keywords for specific pages on your site, so that when your target audience searches for those keywords, your site shows up in the search results.

Here are some tips which I would have appreciated when I started off. Please do keep in mind, that I am no self-professed expert in SEO, just that like all of us around here, even I am learning, and this post is one such humble attempt to share whatever that I have learned, and what I know works to get results. Having said that, I know it would help all of us if you could point out any errors that i have made, or make suggestions and provide additional tips!

  • Read up on your meta tags, some of them are useful. Make a note of the description and author tags, you would be working with description the most.
  • Do not target more than 2-3 keywords per page, since you have to use that keyword in all the different important sections of the page viz., description tag, title tag, h1 tag, main content, etc. you cannot really target 1-2 keywords without damaging the copy of your page.
  • If you are working with a tight budget, then use a free tool such as Traffic Travis, the demo version is free. If you have a decent sized budget, then I would highly recommend Pro SEO MOz, it not only has a very comprehensive SEO tool, but also it has an extensive knowledge base on SEO
  • Search Engine’s maintain the authority of websites, this is generally a factor of how well you write, and how many sites are linking to your content. Google especially is one search engine which rewards regular content creation, in fact the current search algo (don’t know why its called the panda update) also favors freshness of content. So the same page would rank higher if it were regularly updated.
  • Always look at the different search terms via which people are coming to your site. Those are essentially content creation triggers!
  • Many people swear by backlinking, citing different open directories to publish your site links. However, I am skeptical about this approach. The one thing I use this approach for is to check where are my competitors linking, and get my presence their as well. I think if you can create good quality content, then it will automatically fetch the backlinks that you require.
  • Search engines are also influenced by social behavior, so typically the search results shown in Google would be influenced with what your friends are sharing on your social networks. E.g- If I share this post on say Twitter and if you are following me on Twitter, then you would definitely see this as a search result!
  • SEO is a long drawn game, and it requires patience, practice and discipline. Do not expect magic to happen, it’s a slow and gradual process and does not happen over night. To hope for such miracles, either you need to be Larry Page or Steve Ballmer.
  • Arjun Bakshi

    Prasad, i do not have any knowledge of this topic. My questions may sound stupid but would appreciate your response. How should one implement this strategy if you are a small business owner or a very early stage company who has no knowledge of the same? (ex:- Doctor who has recently started practicing and also has a website / Independent Financial Advisor like MF distributor?)

  • Arjun Bakshi

    i asked you since their are a couple of friends who are grappling with this issue. One friend has a website but is not able to get the most out of it. Another friend is trying to set up the website and has had some issues on that front.

    • Bakshi, they should focus on generating good quality and original content. Use a good content management system such as WordPress (which is very SEO friendly). Once the content is published, share it on their FB network, even that helps.

      btw, if your friends have any issues, ask them to get in touch with me. Happy to help any way I can!

  • The Big K

    Nice writeup. I think I’ve few insights to share. 

    1. Meta tags died years ago. The meta description is only meant for the readers. Spiders don’t value meta description as much we’d like them to. 

    2. Keyword targeting is slightly overrated. It worked fine until few months ago. What really matters is that your content should naturally include the keywords at positions they should be. I sometimes wonder how Google determines this; but they’re really good at it.

    3. Titles matter. But keyword stuffing is a strict no; both in titles and in pages. 

    4. 1000% agreement on frequency & quality of content. The higher, the better. 

    5. Domain age does not matter. This is surprising discovery. 

    6. ‘Clean’ URLs don’t matter. That is, domain.com/my-awesome-url/ just just as fine as domain.com/12345/. 

    7. Static content matters. Pages are valued more than posts in wordpress.

    8. Site speed matters. Faster the better. Structuring of text in content matters. 

    9. Social sharing matters and author’s credibility in social networks (read Google+) matters.