SEO, or search engine optimisation, is possibly the most important thing to think about when you are building or maintaining a website. It controls how search engines view your website, and is therefore important to help you achieve good search engine page rankings.

SEO can be split into two main parts; on-page SEO and off-page SEO. The most important aspect of on-page SEO is keyword use. Keywords are what search engines like Google and Bing look for when they are reading your page. They are the terms which people can search for in order to find your page. Clever use of relevant keywords can dramatically boost your sites visibility, and you will therefore find yourself with a lot more visitors!

Keyword research:

The first step when it comes to using keywords is finding the right ones. You can do this by using a keyword research tool – such as Google AdWords – to choose your focus words and phrases and relevant variations.

Start by thinking about what you want the content you are writing to be about. Think of a general phrase/few words which captures your aims, and enter this into the keyword research tool. The tool will then (assuming that it is a good one) give you variations of your selected phrase, along with the monthly or yearly search volumes for each one.

You might decide to stick with your initial phrase, or you might decide to go with something slightly different. First, it is important not to choose keywords with huge search volumes. These will already have been focused on by many other competitor pages, and your chance of reaching the first page of search engine rankings with them is slim.

In the same way, don’t choose keywords which don’t have a large enough search volume – or you simply won’t get any traffic! Try and pick words and phrases with a moderate search volume. This means that they probably wouldn’t have been focused on by too many people, and that you will have a good chance of ranking using them.

Keyword incorporation:

Once you have chosen your keywords and keyword phrases, you need to include them in your on-page content – this is possibly the most important component of SEO. Start with including them in your standard content. A good rule of thumb is to use 60% of your keywords in the first half of a page. Search engines generally give more weight to the first few hundred words of content on a page, and these should be focused on.

Try and include your main keyword phrase in your search engine title. Include at least one of your main keywords in your meta description – the content which appears on search engine ranking pages. Be sure to include relevant alt-titles on any images you use, and try and use keywords where possible. Last, but not least, you can include meta-tags to tell search engine bots just what your main keywords are.