Here are some answers to some of our most frequently asked questions about SEO.

How to search engine optimize your site:

1. Most important factor – an interesting website with good content. There’s no secret formula to Google ranking. Search for ‘newspaper‘ on Google, and the highest results go to The New York Times, The (London) Sun, and The (London) Guardian. Why? They have huge amounts of interesting content that pulls readers back day after day. With all the SEO in the world, you won’t beat the competition if you don’t offer something attractive.

2. Second most important factor – incoming links from other (quality) sites. New websites don’t have incoming links, so the default starting position is a low Google Rank, at least if you’re in a business that has any significant competition. A starting point would be – make sure Yellow Pages, Gold Book, and any friendly websites and online directories that should have links to you do have links. Keywords relevant to your website should be prominent in those source sites. The more prominent and trusted a site is, the more ‘credit’ you will get from Google for being linked to from them. Get links from professional organizations of which you are a member (Chamber of Commerce, professional associations, etc). Try and get mentioned in the online press, or by any site that can be considered ‘authoritative’ in your field.

3. Use semantic HTML, not ‘tag soup’. The website itself needs to use the right words and have the right underlying code structure to be ‘Google friendly’. For instance, hiding content with certain types of code or clever Web 2.0 widgets may look great, but it is a mistake if it means Google can’t read and index your content. For the same reason, a fancy Flash ‘splash’ welcome page is often a huge barrier to the Google spiders – and also annoys your visitors by slowing them down. TRWA websites will always be web optimized, using meta tags, semantic HTML5, keywords, sitemaps, search engine friendly URLs and much more.

3. Don’t throw away ranking when you upgrade a site. If you move domain, or just change many of your website page addresses, make sure you use proper header redirects, especially 301 ‘Moved Permanently’ redirects, which tell Google to pass the old page ranking to the new location. If you have no idea what a 301 redirect is, don’t worry – that’s what we’re here for.

4. Use social media to provide incoming links to the site and generate buzz. Depending on the time you dedicate to it, and the nature of your business, social media activity can provide anything between a little bit of help to the main traffic source for your site. All it needs is time…

What SEO Experts Don’t Tell You About SEO

Many would argue that the importance of search engine optimization as a separate web ‘profession’, often charged at very high rates, is overrated. Much SEO is just common sense, and success at promoting your website will depend in large part on the resources you have available to dedicate to quality content, and publicizing that content. Moreover, Google’s search algorithms change all the time, and there is no guarantee that you can stay atop the pile. After all there are lots of other good companies trying to do the same as you …

Do a search for ‘Search Engine Optimization‘ right now. What do you see? First you’ll probably see a range of paid ads for SEO companies, with promises of dramatic boosts in your search engine ranking. But ignore the ads, what comes top in the Google generated search results? As of today the top results link to Wikipedia, Google, and beginners’ guides on how to do SEO yourself. In other words – the SEO companies can’t even manage to get top ranking in their own profession. How do they succeed? By paid advertising.

The quick shortcut – Paid Ads

If you really want to quickly attract business from the web, and you are small to medium-sized business with nor previous web presence, then it’s likely the quickest way to get business leads is by advertising on Google, Bing and/or Yahoo. Ads bring you traffic quickly and reliably. If you’re willing to pay, you can advertise to the people you need to reach. You still need a good, attractive website that keeps users’ attention after they’ve clicked the ad, and you still need a product people actually want to buy, but ads mean your site will get visits. Ads are also likely to be far cheaper than SEO consultants for many small business owners.

In conclusion, yes SEO is important. A bad, uninteresting site, with bad web design will harm your attempts to get good ranking. But interesting content is the most important element, and at the end of the day there is no magic wand to wave that will guarantee the ranking you want – except by paying for it.