Search Engine Optimisation – is it worth paying for?

If you have a website, and quite often if you don’t, you are sure to receive emails offering you search engine optimisation (SEO). These services vary in price, but they all cost money you can ill afford. But there is plenty you can do to boost your position in searches which don’t cost you anything.

To understand how to get good rankings on search engines, put yourself in Google’s shoes. Their reputation is based on providing good search results – useful sites that provide the information searchers want. So what Google is looking for is good, relevant content and that is what pushes you up the rankings. As a result, the best way to improve your chances of showing up in searches is to provide good content and make it easy for search engines to find you.

So how can you achieve good rankings without spending money on SEO or getting into the search engines bad books by using tricks they don’t like? Here are a few tips that can help.

  • Provide a clear, easy to navigate site that loads and runs quickly.
  • Give each page a title and a description in the metatags. (If you’re using WordPress, there are plugins to help you do this.) Don’t worry too much about keywords. They used to be important, but they don’t matter anywhere near as much now.
  • Make sure your content is readable by search engine robots. Don’t be tempted to put text in as a picture to help you control the layout. Robots can’t see pictures so all those words will be completely invisible.
  • Encourage links to your site from other sites on similar subjects, but avoid the we-link-to-anyone-who-pays-us sites as those links may do more harm than good.
  • Put well-written articles on your site that will appeal to the people who might enjoy your book. So, if you write historical novels or non-fiction about the English Civil War, you could include background information about the period as well as information on how you researched the books.
  • If you allow comments anywhere on your site, moderate new contributors carefully to avoid spammers putting up content that may damage your site’s ranking or get you banned by net nanny software.

Hopefully this approach will get you showing up on the first page of searches for your own name and your book’s title (provided they are both fairly unique). But be patient – sometimes it takes a new site several weeks to show up.

Diana Kimpton

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