Marketing May 23, 2012 Last updated September 18th, 2018 1,915 Reads share

Why SEO Is Not Optional – A Back To Basics Guide

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Some businesses seem to think SEO is an optional part of operating online – which it completely is – assuming you also think being found by potential clients online is also an optional part of your business.

Earlier today I was helping a new client create some new content for their website. It was the first time I had logged into their CMS (

How are clients ever supposed to realise how important SEO is, if everyone from the website designer to the CMS they use daily, tells them it is an expendable part of marketing?

So please, read on, and share with your colleagues, your clients … everyone!

SEO – Back To Basics

# 1. What Does SEO Mean?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and refers to a variety of techniques implemented to assist your website in ranking higher in the organic search results, therefore making it more likely that your potential clients will find you online.

Having potential clients find you online is not an optional part of your business. It is a necessity. The days of the yellow pages are over. Anyone searching for you is doing so online.

Related: SEO vs. SEM: Is There a Difference?

# 2. What Is Onsite SEO?

There are two main types of SEO – onsite and offsite. Onsite SEO refers to SEO done on your own website and includes the following :


Content created with SEO in mind. So, for example, a blog post that includes relevant keywords in the title, as well as in the main body of the post. This post for instance is about SEO and includes SEO in the blog title, and in numerous places throughout the text body. Keyword density on a webpage is one of the factors a search engine considers when ranking sites.

Related: 10 Kick Ass Content Marketing Ideas

URL Addresses

Search engines also look at your url address, and if it’s just then the search engine has no idea what that page is about from looking at the url. It is better to properly structure your urls to include relevant keywords e.g. which helps indicate to the search engines what that webpage is about.


All uploaded images should have an image file name and an alt tag.

Before you upload an image to a blog post, make sure to name that image the same name as your blog post, or another relevant name. This means that if someone is searching in Google Images, or similar, using your businesses’ keywords, the image you have uploaded will show up.

The alt tag is the text that appears when an image hasn’t loaded i.e. when someone is viewing via a browser that blocks image downloads. Search engines read this text as well.

Title Tags & Meta Tags

These are what show up in the search engine results and therefore are the only weapon you have to persuade searchers to click on your link and visit your site, over your competitors’. In some CMSs the title tag is referred to as ‘SEO Title’, and the meta tag can be referred to as ‘Meta Description’ or ‘SEO Description’.

Title & Meta Tags

Headline Tags

These can be seen in the source code of your webpage as <H1> </H1> and is something the search engines also look for on a page. Blog post titles, for example, should all have H1 tags and any page title e.g. About Us, should have the headline tags inserted into the HTML as well; most CMSs have it built in so you don’t have to be able to write HTML, you can just highlight the words and select ‘Heading 1’.

Internal Links

These are links on your website to other pages on your website. This can frequently be done with blog posts, linking to previously posted articles that might explain a section of the new post, for example, or provide the reader with further valuable information.

When creating these kinds of links, ensure to use appropriate keywords or phrases as your anchor text (the linked text), as again, this is something the search engines will read, and will assume that the anchor text is related to the link. So instead of having ‘click here’ as your anchor text (which tells a search engine nothing), instead use ‘SEO tips’ or whichever keywords indicate what that page you are linking to is about.

# 3. What Is Offsite SEO?

Offsite SEO is SEO done away from your website. This includes:


These are links from other websites to yours. So just as above we used anchor text to link internally and give the search engines signals regarding keywords, links from external sites also tell the search engines what keywords your site is relevant for, and serve as a recommendation from that external site, that your site is worth visiting.

There is a practice among some to trade links – “I’ll link to you, if you link to me” – and while not banned they are not regarded as highly as one-off links by the search engines. Paying for links is strictly prohibited and if caught your website could be suspended or permanently blacklisted from the search engines.

The key to getting good links is to create great content that people want to link to, yes it involves hard work, but it will all be worth it when your traffic starts climbing, because your search engine ranking is improving.

Social Media

The amount of social activity that a webpage has on social networks (shares, likes, links, +1s etc.) is an important factor in how that page is ranked by the search engines. Meaning that search engines look to see if other people think your webpage is valuable, or interesting, enough to share. All new content published should be shared across all of your social platforms. You should also make it as easy as possible for visitors to share your content, by having all of the relevant share buttons for each of the networks embedded on every page.

Related: How To Build A Social Media Business Strategy That Delivers Traditional Business Returns


Even with social media, email marketing remains an important part of getting your message out there. Every blog post you publish should be sent to your mailing list and it should be easy for people to sign up to your mailing list from your blog.

By sending notifications of new blog posts, or landing pages announcing an upcoming webinar, for example, you are increasing the potential traffic to your site, and as site traffic is something the search engines take into consideration, it is another vital part of SEO.

Your email should include social media share buttons as well … make it as easy as possible for people to share your content!

Is SEO Worth It?

If all this sounds like a lot of work – that’s because it is. However, without proper SEO, search engines cannot properly crawl your site, understand what it is about, or see if others have shared it. If a search engine doesn’t understand what your site is about, or find good social signals for it, the search engine will not rank your site highly on the results page, meaning your potential clients have no chance of finding you online. If they can’t find you, then they can’t engage in business with you.

Related: The 7 Day SEO Diet

New clients are not an optional part of business, and in today’s online world that means neither is SEO.

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Image: “3d image, Conceptual of Internet web search engine/Shutterstock

Sarah Ryan

Sarah Ryan

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