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SEO Do's and Don'ts

We get to grips with Google at theEword's free SEO workshop for Manchester businesses

Published on May 20th 2011.

SEO Do's and Don'ts

Whatever business you're in, there's one place where everyone wants to be seen nowadays. Getting to the first page of Google is the holy grail of SMEs and big corporations alike. It's the modern day equivalent of bagging the first listing in the Yellow Pages but it's not as simple as calling your business AA Aardvark and Sons (unless you're a breeder of aardvarks, perhaps).

As a specialist search agency based in Manchester, theEword has built its reputation on improving Google rankings for businesses large and small. And every month or so they run a free search engine optimisation (SEO) workshop for companies that want to learn how to get noticed on the web - theEworkshop.

We went along to one to see what tips we could pick up. It was attended by organisations ranging from arts companies to accountancy firms, all keen to know the secrets of the world's most used search engine. Google now has a 90 per cent market share, pushing Yahoo, Bing and the like into relative obscurity.

First of all, we're warned that Google doesn't just publish a how-to guide for getting to the top of its rankings. While it offers plenty of hints if you know where to look, the best way to start climbing is to learn from experience and also keep up to date with the latest research (or go through an experienced SEO specialist like theEword that does this sort of thing day in, day out).

This makes sense when you think about it. If Google published a rulebook, the internet would be awash with spam-heavy websites designed to please the computers at Google HQ rather than the human beings who actually use the web. After all, it's only a few years since websites were packed with repeated keywords that made them about as enjoyable to read as a barcode. theEworkshop-logo.jpg

Google saw what was happening and made its formulas more and more sophisticated. Nowadays, endless repetition of keyword babble will get you marked down rather than up. Bulk-buying links from fake directory websites doesn't work anymore either.

Instead, search engine specialists like theEword take Google's unofficial corporate motto – 'Don't Be Evil' – and apply it to the websites they work on. In the digital media world, it’s known as 'White Hat' rather than 'Black Hat' SEO (think goodies and baddies to get that metaphor).

White Hat SEO means things like filling your website with valuable, reader-friendly content focused on your area of expertise, rather than content solely designed to trick and manipulate search engines.

So if you were in the business of breeding aardvarks, a White Hat technique would be to write about your interest in anteaters and have regular updates of breaking news from the afrotheria world. It's about putting your passion for a subject into words so that people with similar interests will visit your website and stay on it for longer. And so that other websites with the same passions will link to it.

Being linked to from other websites – particularly respected ones such as the BBC or the Guardian – is another way to hoist you up the listings ladder. An inbound link like this is counted as a big thumbs-up for your website and Google will reassess your importance accordingly.

The third key White Hat technique is to make sure your website's structure and coding is clean and easy for Google to read. Talk to your tech people about that. Or theEword themselves.

Of course, we talked a lot more about SEO during the course of theEworkshop. Refreshingly, though, they didn't end the half-day session with the hard sell on why we should all use their services.

Those who are really serious about getting noticed on the internet will see the value of hiring specialists like them to take care of the time-consuming, often technical business of SEO. For others, theEworkshop is a jargon-free, engaging introduction to the world of SEO that provides plenty of tips you can put into practice yourself.

theEword holds free SEO training sessions monthly at their offices in Trafford Park. They can also visit your business to deliver a tailored version of theEworkshop to your team. Click here to find out more.

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