03 / 08 / 2010

Search Engine Optimisation. The good, the bad, and the genius!


Byju John





So you’ve got a website but its right at the bottom of Google, or worse still totally off the radar in some foreign unrelated field! Unfortunately, it’s not the best place to be if you want to increase your schools awareness. Thankfully, there’s a solution to this problem that’s much easier than having to draw a map and post in anywhere and everywhere of how to find you! Say hello to Search Engine Optimisation – aka SEO, it is a mouthful!


What’s genius about SEO? Well, SEO is a very effective online marketing tool. It’s used within education marketing to help schools looking to increase their online visibility and revenue. Take a look at some advantages of using SEO for your school:

  • School Brand Awareness – You can’t be the best or beat competition if nobody knows your school. Not everyone is familiar with SEO, they’ll assume if you come up top on Google, it's because your school provides a great education and offers fantastic facilities. A fab extra that comes from using SEO is your website will be linked to other related sites e.g. ISC helping boost your name around the World Wide Web!
  • Improve your rank – to boost your schools awareness and position on Google. Without the help of those tech professionals, it would take you years to climb the Google ladder. Why not let the magic of SEO carry your school ahead of your competitors.
  • Increase Traffic – Basically the higher your school is ranked the more visits to your site. Think of traffic as being the piggy in the middle, with sales and school brand awareness on either side - more awareness = more clicks = action! As your traffic increases, so does your rank and revenue up a rank in the search engine command!
  • Low Cost/High Value – depending on your budget, search engine marketing is one of the most effective online marketing tools in terms of cost and awareness. It can be low cost with a high ROI. A big plus being costs usually lower with time! Perfect if you’re running your school on a tight ship!

The issue with SEO

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is an important consideration for any website. Everyone wants to be number one. Have you ever considered the fundamental principles behind Google's search system?

If you were to ask many website owners what they want to achieve with their website they would say,  "I want my website to appear in the top of the listings on Google!". If this is you then may want to consider this:

  • Google's Mission: "To organise the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful". Google is all about fast and easy access to relevant information.
  • The average website owner's mission: "To be at the top of Google Search Engine Rankings".
  • Often relevant and easy to access information from the website owner's perspective is secondary to a top search ranking. Logically this poses problems.
  • The issues with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  • Many people don't understand what Google is trying to achieve
  • Many people don't have their priorities in order
  • Many Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) companies won't disclose what methodologies they use for their clients
  • Google will NEVER tell you everything you need to do to reach the top of the search rankings and they are always changing and improving their search algorithms

What Google says about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

  • No one can guarantee a  number 1 ranking on Google
  • Be careful if a company is secretive or won't clearly explain what they intend to do
  • You should never have to link to a search engine optimiser
  • If you are spending money on SEO be sure to understand where it goes
  • Avoid "shadow" domains using deceptive redirects and "doorway" pages loaded with keywords
  • Make your site accessible and give people the information they are looking for
  • Make sure other sites link to you
  • Don't be dodgy, everything you do should be above-board
  • Google doesn't dislike good SEO companies (www.absolute.agency). In fact, Google finds that they can offer people a lot of help, but you need to choose your SEO consultant wisely

So logically, what is the number one tip anyone can give you?

“Keep your content highly relevant and useful”

Google is always changing its search engine algorithms to improve search results and keep up with technology. One thing it hasn't changed is the overarching requirement for the content to be relevant and useful. If you keep this as your website's ultimate goal then, logically, it should be a great basis for your website SEO.

What can be done to help you website SEO?

Search engine Optimisation is broken down into 2 key areas –

  • Onsite SEO
  • Offsite SEO

There are many aspects of off-site search engine optimisation that almost every SEO is familiar and aware of, including link building, blogging and social media/bookmarking and tagging for external meta data. Let’s not forget however, that there is an entire practice of site structure, keyword density and on-page factors as well. Both are very important for excellent search results.

Onsite SEO

  • The Meta Keywords, Description and Robots tag — Google used description copy to market your site in its results, treat this as optimised sales copy. Make sure your sitemap.xml page is CONSTANTLY called up to the search engines. The issue with this is that your competitors can piggyback your keyword.  
  • The Title Tag – The MOST important aspect of on-page SEO, just take our word for it.
  • The Body Text (focus on the body text in bold, for this denotes strong emphasis to the search engines)
  • The first sentence in the body text and the first words used per sentence are the most important ones for advanced on-page SEO necessities (Make it humanly readable and SE readable — The words used in the first sentence are most important due to the implementation of Google’s LSI algorithm)
  • The URL — The subdirectory folder and page of content should be SEO’d (i.e. http://www.wallpapercentral.co.uk/products/arthouse/opera/mia/mia-black-motif/599705.htm would fetch a high ranking for a page dedicated to Mia Black wall coverings from Arthouse– especially with many highly authoritative, relevant, deep in-bound links)
  • The H1 and H2 Texts are highly important – Why? They show the search engine the main subjects and Table of Contents for the content to be indexed. Make these keyword friendly and reflective of your page’s title tag.
  • Same-Site Link URLs — Not only should you be using your keywords to describe pages within your site, those URLs you link to must have SEO URLs ( eg: http://www.passyourtestonline.co.uk/theorytest.html
  • Alt Tags — Your images should be described via ALT Tags with the keywords you are optimizing for – If your image is hosted on your web-host, the file name of the images should also be SEO’d — If you have an image about Ferrari 430 sports cars have the ALT as Ferrari-430.jpg in your images folder.
  • Keyword Density — 2-3% is excellent and doesn’t seem spammy, if you have a 500 word article, then 10 -15 of those words should have variances of the search term you are targeting.

Offsite SEO

Offsite SEO ensures that your website collects votes/links for the search phrases you want to be ranked for in the search engines. Off-Site SEO is not done on the actual website; the work is done on other websites. This external SEO work will affect the ranking of your own website in the search engines.  Offsite SEO makes up a good proportion of the whole search engine optimisation process.

Link Building – Building links to your website will build up your authority with the search engines. The links need to be quality links but more importantly relevant to your website.

Blogging - Blog writing has emerged as one of the best marketing tool on the web. From the ease of creating to the convenience of interacting with possible customers and clients, blogging has given a new way for the marketers to do what they do – promote!

Directory Submissions
- Submitting your website to both free and paid directory sites is a great way to increase the backlinks to your webpage. Directories are compilation sites that list links to all sorts of sites. To get a better feel for how these sites are structured, check out the Open Directory Project at dmoz.org – it’s one of the best known directory sites on the internet today.

Social bookmarking - Social bookmarking is a relatively new phenomenon in the world of SEO, but it’s an extremely powerful tool for building backlinks and for driving traffic to your site. Basically, social bookmarking sites enable users to share links to sites they find interesting. For example, a decorator might share the links he’s collected of cool wallpaper retailer sites like www.wallpapercentral.co.uk with a friend, or a web surfer could visit the homepage of one of these sites to see what’s new and interesting on the internet. However, these two examples demonstrate the power of social bookmarking in a more organic sense. As site owners, you will use the opportunities bookmarking sites provide to bookmark our own sites to boost our link building campaigns. There are hundreds of different social bookmarking sites operating today, but the biggest are – Digg, Del.icio.us, and StumbleUpon.

Online PR - If you’ve worked in the professional media and communications industry, you’re probably already familiar with press releases. These single page documents have traditionally been used to inform media personnel about upcoming news-worthy events for inclusion in newspapers and magazines. However, press releases are finding new lives in the field of search engine optimization, where site owners have found that these tools can be used for generating backlinks as well as increasing traffic back to their pages.
One of the biggest reasons for this trend is the increase in web-based press release distribution sites. In the past, press releases were submitted directly to contacts at media institutions. Today, however, sites like PRWeb.com allow site owners to distribute their press releases to news organizations around the world in a manner of seconds.