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How to make the most of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) print Print

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This guide explains what Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is and gives 7 tips for how you can use SEO to help drive more traffic to your business’ website.

Making the most of SEO for your business

How do you ensure that your website is found by prospective customers, especially those who are in the market but may not know about your business? Through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

SEO is a process to help optimise your website to make it attractive to search engines, so that when people type in particular keywords for their search on Google or any other search engine, your business will pop up high up in the results.

Google iPad

Who looks at the second page of Google search results?

Few people click on a result that is fourth or fifth in the list of Google search results, and people hardly ever look at the second page of results.

So if you can ensure that your website is one of the top results when someone does a relevant search on Google, you’re much more likely for that person to visit your website. For example, if you’re a Dunedin-based plumber and you’re using SEO tactics well, when someone types ‘good plumber Dunedin’ into Google, your website could be the first or second that appears in the results, which will most likely mean you have more people visiting your website.

A few SEO definitions

As well as knowing what SEO means there are a few definitions you should be familiar with. Here’s a brief definition of some of the words we use in this article.

Traffic = the number of visitors to your website.

Ranking = where in the list of results a search engine will place your website. For relevant searches, it’s best when your website ranks in the top 1 to 3 spots – this will help drive traffic to your site.

Keywords = words or phrases that people use when using a search engine like Google to find results, such as ‘good plumber Dunedin.’

Themes = single ideas you can write about on each page of your website, so search engines have a clear idea of what the different pages on your site are offering.

Content management system (CMS) = a system used to manage the content of a website.

7 SEO tips for business owners

1. Think themes

Google works out what the theme of each page on your site is, and ranks the search results according to how accurately that theme meets the search keywords. Having one very clear theme on each page, that is relevant to the search, means your pages have the best chance of ranking well.

        • Make a list of themes that people look for in products or services like yours. For the plumber in Dunedin, one theme could be ‘Plumbing Repairs’, and searches for this theme could include keywords like ‘burst pipe’ or ‘fix leaky tap’. Another could be ‘good plumbing service’, and searches for this theme could include keywords such as ‘prompt plumber.’
        • Incorporate the themes you have listed into your website. Write naturally rather than forcing in a list of keywords; known as ‘keyword stuffing’ this practise doesn’t work well, either for Google search results or your website visitors. You can include the most popular search terms in your page titles and headings, as long as it still reads naturally to your visitors.
        • Try to keep the themes separate and just focus on one theme per page, rather than trying to cover lots of different areas. Better to have short, relevant pages than one long page that tries to cover everything.
        • Use phrases and terms which are in common use for your business, rather than your specific products that people may not know about yet. Writing about ‘Acme Widgets’ is fine once people know what to search for, but writing about ‘Acme Widgets, the best Drone locator devices in Dunedin’, will work far better when people are searching for ‘Dunedin drone locator’.
        • Label all your content types well – photos, maps, blogs, articles, videos – so that search engines can understand what they are about. Google considers all content, from text to videos, when someone does an internet search. If this non-text content contains useful keywords, this should help Google figure out what is being shown. This can be as simple as renaming an image from ‘Finished job’ to ‘Burst pipe fixed by our plumber in Dunedin’.

2. Be mobile friendly

Google likes sites that look good and are fully functional when you view them on a smartphone – websites where there’s no need to ‘pinch and zoom’ and the buttons are easy to tap.

A mobile-friendly site will be rewarded by Google with better rankings than sites that are hard to view and use when on a smartphone. So see if you can do this for your website – talk to your web designer or review the options in your website’s CMS.

3. Update your site regularly

Google loves fresh content and tends to rank it higher than content that hasn’t been updated in months. So think about whether you can write new articles or blogs on your website to help keep the content fresh. Of course, when content is regularly updated and added to, it encourages your customers and prospects to re-visit your site too.

4. Use Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a tool that can help you measure and improve your SEO. As well as showing you key metrics such as how many visitors your website gets and how long your visitors stay on your site, you can also track how people find your website and the path they follow when navigating through your site. Use this information to help decide which pages and themes are working for you.

5. Don’t include links to other websites

If you have too many links going from your website to others, you will start to lose ranking. If you do need to link to other websites, use a No-Follow tag on the link to let the search engines know you are linking to, but not endorsing, the other sites. If you’re not sure how to do this, Google has some helpful articles and videos to show how to do this.

6. Obtain (and keep) good backlinks

The inverse is also true. A backlink is a link on another website that links to your own, and you get a bit of extra authority (i.e. Google recognises your site as more relevant and useful) for each inbound link. For example, if you’ve written a business blog and someone else links to it from their site because they find it interesting and worth sharing, that’s a backlink, and search engines note that other websites find your content worth linking to.

        • Google uses both the number and quality of backlinks to determine your ranking, so it’s important not to use anything that could be viewed as low quality or ‘spammy’ links.
        • Paying a directory or a search company to create large numbers of backlinks for you no longer works and can even get you penalised by Google. Instead create high quality content that real people want to link to naturally.
        • If people are already mentioning your business online, contacting them to ask them to add a link to your site is valid. Make sure they link to the right page, and remember the words in the link itself are relevant and should describe your page, such as Dunedin Plumber rather than just saying click here.
        • Check for existing links to your site that are no longer correct and are linking to removed or out-of-date pages. Often updating your existing links is the easiest way to increase your highest quality backlinks. Using a tool like gives you a list of all the current backlinks to your site, and helps find the broken or out of date links.
        • A quick and often overlooked way to gain backlinks is to add links from your business’ YouTube account and other social media channels to your website.

7. Consider AdWords

If you're serious about appearing on Google you should consider Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising through Google AdWords. This is not strictly SEO, rather it is called Search Engine Marketing (SEM), because there’s a cost involved and it is not about making changes to your website. But it’s worth noting, since it’s an effective way to drive traffic to your website.

This is especially effective if you are not ranking well for the common searches within your industry. If your site is not appearing in search results, using AdWords ensures you receive visitors (and customers) while you figure out how to improve your ranking in the unpaid search results using SEO.

With AdWords you design an ‘advert’ that appears at the top or the right-hand column of search engine results when a relevant search is entered into Google. You then pay Google an agreed amount each time someone clicks the ad and visits your site. The amount you choose to spend can vary, but the more you're prepared to pay, the more prominent your entry will be.


When you’re considering your website strategies, it’s important to keep in mind that everything should be geared to optimising your SEO as much as possible. The more your content is honed to what Google is looking for, the better your ranking will be and the more traffic you’ll be driving to your website. And that can only be good for business.

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