A beginner’s guide to SEO

One of the key things to remember when building a dating business is that even if it looks fantastic and has lots of great features, it still isn’t guaranteed to get new members.

To be able to attract potential members, you first need to impress popular search engines. Achieve a good search engine ranking and you have a higher chance of driving traffic to your site; the higher a site appears in search listings, the more visitors it will receive.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) as defined by Wikipedia ‘is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or webpage in a search engine’s natural or un-paid search results’. SEO considers many things; what people search for, the search term/keywords typed into the search engine and which search tool they are using.

But how do you get noticed or picked up by search engines? To begin with, your main focus should be Google. The traffic that Google receives is equivalent to all other searches engines (Bing, Yahoo, MSN) combined. It is, however, important not to forget about the other search engines altogether as they will still drive traffic to your site.

Search engines do two things:

  • They search the Internet for web pages, before storing these pages in an index (think of it like a massive catalogue).

  • From this index, they use an algorithm to match searches made by users to the most appropriate web pages.

To ensure that your website ranks well with a search engine, you need to make sure that when a user searches a particular keyword (‘mature dating’ for example), your page or pages are considered better than any other in the search engine’s index.

This is actually a lot easier than it used to be. In the beginning, you had to manually submit any new web page to each search engine so they would know your page existed. However, this is now rarely the case. There are three things to keep in mind when you are developing your SEO strategy.

1. Make content relevant: Often, you’ll read the copy on a site and realise that it doesn’t read well. It’s easy to tell that keywords have been included for the sole reason of being indexed. By all means, include keywords in your text but don’t ‘stuff’ it, as this could result in a search penalty.

2. Use social media: Twitter and Facebook give you great opportunities to build relationships with consumers within your own network or niche. The key to succeeding in social media is to engage your follows with content that’s relevant to them. If you join these networks with the clear intention of pushing your sites, people will notice, get bored and your brand will get trampled. Think about social media like “making friends”. If someone asks you to “retweet”, ‘Like their page’ or comment on their blog, do so and hopefully you’ll get the same in return.

3. Use Title and Meta Tags correctly:

Title Tag: This is the first thing a search engine will scan to determine where your page should rank; include a keyword or two and your site name. Do not stuff titles with keywords; doing so will make your site look like spam.

Meta Tag (Description and Keyword Tag): Descriptions should read like a sentence, again don’t stuff it, but do include essential and relevant keywords. Keyword tags are generally disregarded by search engines due to so much keyword stuffing, however, it doesn’t hurt to include vital keywords here.

As we mentioned previously, focus on Google. If you decide that you want to submit your pages to Google manually, it’s free and easy. Just use the Google add URL tool

Getting pages indexed by Google is fairly simple either way, so now you need to get them to rank well and this is where the challenge lies.

Ranking is based on a combination of two things, relevance and authority. Relevance, in a nutshell, relates to how relevant a web page is to the term being searched. This is based on factors like the ‘title tag’ and the page content. The authority of a web page is calculated based on the number of inbound links from other web pages and the authority of those pages.

Good SEO is not about tricking Google into ranking your web page. It’s about creating quality content that users want to see, and helping Google deliver great search results.

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