Search Engine Optimisation – Explained

1 Oct, 2009 Phil Marketing, SEO

The internet is a big place.  It’s an extremely competitive market as everyone wants to be at the top of search results.  Companies vie for the highest attention from billions of internet users in the search engine results for basically, better revenue. A lynch pin to Internet Marketing is Google, the biggest and most popular search engine.

Search Engines (including Google amongst others) are internet portals where quite literally BILLIONS of people congregate to search for information.  Cheapest places to buy shoes, directions on how to get to their mother-in-laws, all the way to reading about how to remove that big clump of hair growing on their back.  Literally ANYTHING.  The most prominent search engine in the field are search giants Google and Yahoo. The level of traffic these .com organisations receive per hour is well, phenomenal.

So naturally, companies obviously move towards placing their links and sites on search engines as high as possible in an attempt to garner more visits to their web sites from these search engines in question.

In order to maximize their ranking on the search engine results and more importantly the placement on the results page,  companies have used tools such as SEO – or Search Engine Optimisation.  Search engine optimization is the method and process of vastly improving a web site’s ranking in a search engine listing page.   As it suggests, the higher the result in the search, the more traffic you are likely to make, which means the more revenue or return on investment youare likely to enjoy.  Highly competitive markets try even harder as their gains are likely to be far greater than a smaller niche avenue.

Legitimate search engine optimization, practices the focus and goal on the improvement of a page’s ranking in the search engine list by improving the actual site’s content, it’s usability and by using legitimate methods of promotion through various web phenomena such as Viral Marketing.  This is covered seperately in my blog, but in essence, it’s a form of advertising that spreads across the internet from person to person and can be extemely effective in the effect is has as well as the cost-efficiency side of it too.

Search engines nowadays, all use the most complex ‘algorithms’ in keeping their relevancy in the web and to keep illegal and abusive search engine optimization methods from prospering and manipulating their system.  However, what’s known as “black hat” SEO users will always be around so it is expected that search engine giant such as Google and Yahoo continue to make more complex algorithms to filter the cheating garbage out.  A cheating example includes hiding keywords within the website page by having the keywords the same colour as the background, so users can’t see it, but the search engines still read the code.  This is naughty, but the site if targeted by Google, can then be banned.  Large reputable brands (believe it or not) have been caught using this method as well, such as BMW and Disney, but they get banned too.   Google obviously takes this very seriously.   

Search engines now actually display different kinds of ‘listings’ on a result page, not just normal ‘results’.  The more common ones are pay-per-click (PPC) adverts, paid inclusion in the listings, and organic listings.  Of all these listings, SEO concerns itself mainly with organic listings for a variety of keywords.  This can increase the quality and quantity of visitors to a desired web site.  This is something I have always been aware of and offer to all my web design clients at OwenDevelopment. 

So which are the most effective?  Well from my research into this for my own project ‘Project X’, organic searches  are the way to go.   A study from Jupiter Mediarevealed that approximately 5 out of 6 commercial online purchases by users,  came from organic searches compared to paid online ads.  Are people becoming ‘blind’ to PPC adverts on sites?  I must admit that I have.  I for some reason, tend to not click on these ads and have even typed into the address bar the link to the PPC ad, rather than actually just clicking on it.  Why?  I don’t know, but it’s a habit I have just developed from somewhere unknown.  I have a few sites with these ads on, but still I just do it.  Yes, I’m a freak.

Anyway, this overall result from Jupiter Media has made traditional SEO far more in demand in creating revenue for companies as SEO is not a paid ad method, but a method of intrinsically improving the sites content.

From everywhere I have scanned on the internet, here are a few tips I think are useful on improving content on your site for an  improved result in traditional organic searches:

  • Expertise - Develop your strengths.  Sites you get involved with or own, must be on subject that you consider yourself an expert on. People can smell an amateur a mile away (they smell like a crusty sock left in the back of a cupboard).  But if you are knowledgable, people will stay and view the other content and are also more likely to come back to your site regularly.


  • Plan -  A good layout that is easy to navigate and view (in web-friendly colours!) can improve usability. This in turn will not unnecessarily aggravate the browser and make it easier to accomodate any user on any browser.


  • Research - Check out your competition and see what they have set up. My advice is find the biggets player in the market and see any improvements that you can make that let their site down.  See what works and implement the same, and likewise, what doesn’t and improve it.  If possible try to communicate with users in forums and get useful feedback on what should or can be improved further.  I also found it useful to find complaints in review sites on your market.  Find out what people hate about the main players and shout out on your site how you guarantee to make that aspect easier and more effective. 


  • Keywords - Decide which are the most important keywords to use for your sight.  Include these keywords in the metatags in the header of your site, use in the content of the page, within the page title, and also in file names if you use them.


  • Remember that the Search Engine is your best friend - Get best mates with your search engine, send him a birthday card and don’t give it a hard time.  Definately don’t cheat on them. Being nice and friendly to it will make its job easier to serve your site up to your target audience.  It will make you more money period.


  • Keep Focussed – Concentrate on the topic in question and nothing else. The rule is one topic per page.  Confusing content by swapping from one thing to another won’t help your site.  It’s hard to follow a physical conversation when this happens, let alone on a website.


  • Get added on directories - Directories are pools of knowledge made by a human, while search engine are huge databases collected by mostly machine methods.  The relevancy of your page when joining the right directory may cause huge increases in rankings if they are the right directory for your market.   Avoid joining loads of less-known directories, as a only few directory listings on the big main ones will help more.  


  • Links - An effective Optimisation method used as SEO 101.  Ask your networks, strategic partners, friends and acquaintances business parnerships to place your site’s website link on their sites.  With a short description this can draw huge amounts of traffic from other sites and increase your sites’ exposure on the web.  For example, Google ranks the importance of its sites by the sheer number of sites that are linked to it, and the better tand more reputable the site that links to you, the higher you will rise in the listings automatically.


  • Repeat all the above - Keep repeating all the above tips over and over again, maintaining the optimisation and marketing of your site will keep you at the top of listings and the ££ coming in.  Doing a simple one-off campaign may see you hit the top, but not for long.  You will notice that by not treating this as a constant routine, you will gradually slip down the ranks because I GUARANTEE your competitors will be consistently applying the above. 


Meta Tags are the most basic of information every single website needs: without it, your site will never be read or found by search engines.  Meta tags have two possible attributes:

  • <META HTTP-EQUIV=”name” CONTENT=”content“>
  • <META NAME=”name” CONTENT=”content“>

META tags should be placed in the header section of the HTML document, between the <HEAD> and </HEAD> tags.



Controls Search Engine Web robots on a per-page basis. E.g.


Robots may traverse this page but not index it.

  • INDEX allows the page to be indexed by the spider
  • NOINDEX prevents anything on the page from being indexed.
  • FOLLOW allows all links on the page to be spidered as well
  • NOFOLLOW prevents the crawler from following the links on the page and indexing the linked pages.
  • ALL is the same as INDEX,FOLLOW
  • NONE is the same as NOINDEX,NOFOLLOW
  • NOIMAGEINDEX prevents the images on the page from being indexed but the text on the page can still be indexed.
  • NOIMAGECLICK prevents the use of links directly to the images, instead there will only be a link to the page.



Keywords used by search engines to index your document in addition to words from the title and document body. E.g.

<META NAME=”keywords” CONTENT=”fresh oranges, cool autumn scent, living room furniture, IT solutions”>

  • Think Key Phrases instead of keywords. Key Phrases will provide you with a much greater volume of internet response.
  • The primary words that appear in your title and description should also appear in your keywords, plus the primary words and phrases used on the page. Also, the primary words in your title and description should also appear somewhere else on your page.
  • Insert your pages keywords into at least 1 of your images ALT tags. This helps for those search engines that read these tags, but don’t overdo it.
  • It is best if you keep the number of keywords, commas and spaces below 800 characters.
  • Many search engines only index the first 10 to 20 keywords, so be sure to have the most relevant keywords and phrases listed first.
  • Using the same word more than three times, even if used differently within a phrase, might be considered Spamdexing by the search engine and your page might not be included.



A short, plain language description of the document. Used by search engines to describe your document. Particularly important if your document has very little text, is a frameset, or has extensive scripts at the top. E.g.

<META NAME=”description” CONTENT=”Citrus fruit wholesaler in North Wales. 40 varieties of mixed fruit drinks and wines available 24/7, from as little as £2.50″>

Keep your description below 250 characters.  This is SEO 101 and should always be included on every page of the site as a minimum.  Why spend on building a nice looking and informative website, when no-one will ever find it?



Remember, in the multi-coloured world of SEO, content is king.   Applying appropriate content on your site with effective keywords will do more than anything.  Keep it clear and concise, and you will have all the high rankings you will ever need. 

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About Phil

Phil is creative director at PSM Digital but also freelances with web design and SEO in Manchester, UK. He researches and studies online business, along with the latest technological advances and development in design, SEO and social media.

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About The One Man Mission...

Hi I’m Phil. Welcome to my blog, where you’ll find useful information on web design, development and online business advice.  I’m a creative director for a digital agency in Manchester, UK and I also freelance web design also.  Currently setting up and developing a new online business, I am here...

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