Before you start making SEO changes

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) can be quite time consuming and there are never any guarantees – but it can also make the difference between being found by Google and the other search engines, and being invisible.

SEO sometimes has had a bad press – being seen as a way of ‘tricking’ people or gaming the system. But ethical (white hat) SEO is really an essential tool to help Google understand what your website is about, and it helps to make your site user-friendly for your human visitors too.

Is it worth the effort?These questions might help you decide.

As a minimum you will need to be found on Google for:

  • your, or your organisation or company name (e.g. Barn Owl Trust)
  • highly relevant niche information (e.g. What to do if you find a fallen owlet )
  • specific product descriptions and brand names ( e.g. Owl nestboxes )
  • the specific services you offer (e.g. Barn owl Conservation )

These words might not get very much traffic but it’s essential that you show up on Google for these – if a client is looking for your company name, for example. More about Keywords.

How will you know if your SEO editing work has improved – or damaged – your Google rankings?
Make a record of your website’s current state before making any changes:

Before editing for SEO:

  • Keep a back up copy of the website.
  • Keep a copy of the original content.
  • Make a record of website stats/traffic before making changes.
  • Make a note of whatever keyword searches your pages are being found for before any changes have been made – consider the risk of loss of traffic/Google position, involved in changing these pages.
  • Research your current position on Google. Make a dated record of where (or if) your website ranks for relevant keyword searches before any changes have been made. NB: If searching on Google, be aware that localised/personalised searches can affect the results you see on your screen. Other people might see something different.
  • Keyword (search term) research. What would people type in to Google in order to find your website? There are tools available that show you exactly what people search for and what the competition is.
  • Keywords to consider:
    • Specifics: Your name/ organisation name/ niche products or services
    • High traffic keywords (also look for low supply)
    • Long tail keywords – use a wide variety nouns and adjectives in your content.

After making keyword changes, monitor frequently used keywords – but also keywords/phrases very specific to your website – these unusual keywords will get found easily and show that Google is finding the site, and the changes are working.

This process needs to be on-going as you keep your website updated. Little and often is best – a neglected website, however good, will gradually lose ranking and human visitors. Making even small changes will help your website seem fresh and still alive – however, aim for a balanced approach – endlessly tweaking for it’s own sake is not a good use of your time!


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