Mar 2011

Rachit Dayal is our Principal Consultant who has been working on SEO projects since 2004 and is one of the leading voices for Search Marketing Training education in Singapore, ensuring that small and medium sized businesses understand the importance of SEO. This article is part of his SEO in 2011 series.

What is SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a term that is synonymous with online marketing and refers to the process of improving a websites visibility in various search engines through unpaid (organic) search results. SEO is done as a means of increasing the flow of traffic to a particular site thus increasing turnover in terms of sales or subscriptions for particular services. SEO in Singapore aims at ensuring that clients’ pages are ranked high in major Singapore search engines.

SEO takes into account the methods used by search engines to rank pages and what people search for (keywords). In order to optimize a site, the content and coding (HTML) may need to be edited so as to remove any hurdle to the listing activities of search engines. SEO also uses link building as another method of increasing a sites ranking in search engines.

Search Engine Optimizers are the practitioners who offer optimization services. Most of them offer a myriad of SEO tools in combination with other services which are synonymous with SEO. Most search engine optimizers have a good working knowledge of web design, since SEO at one point will require manipulation of web pages. It is this reason why most SEO’s in Singapore provide web design services alongside the SEO services. Some providers like us, also provide related services like Search Engine Advertising, Google Analytics Consulting and Social Media Marketing.

SEO is a crucial part of any online business or marketing undertaking and anyone who wishes to flourish in their venture is advised to enlist the services of a reputable SEO firm to provide expertise in that area. A good SEO campaign could be the difference between failure and success in your business.

Which are the major search engines in Singapore?

Just like in any other area in the world, Singapore has a large number of search engines designed to meet local needs. There are the conventional search engines that are popular and are being used worldwide such as Google Singapore, Yahoo Singapore and Bing Singapore, each modified in some way to meet the needs of the local people. These are popular with locals but they may not be very useful for a more locally targeted search since they return search results from a global perspective. This is where the local search engines and web directories come in.

An example is (full disclosure – they’re one of our past clients) which is a local search engine and web directory for Singapore and can be used to find out almost anything ranging from news and media, government, education, shopping, recreation and sports, religion and philosophy, entertainment and more, all in Singapore. This is a good platform for any business that would like to be easily found in the Singapore area since it is a local web directory and would more likely be used for search purposes compared to the other international search engines.

Despite a number of options being available, over 80% of the market share in Singapore belongs to Google (with a smaller percentage going to Yahoo and Bing/MSN). Considering that percentage, it’s very important to focus local SEO efforts on Google – using the rankings and traffic from Google as an overall indicator of SEO health.

What is the difference between SEM and SEO?

Search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) are two terms that many people confuse and sometimes wrongly use interchangeably. The key difference between the two is while SEO only covers SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages on Google, Yahoo etc), SEM covers these pages and many content pages (news, blogs, directories, forums etc) that are included in Google or Yahoo’s “Content Network”.

Another difference is the ability to add paid advertising on pages, a tool that is not available in regular SEO. Paid advertising is where the search engine puts up adverts of your business on other web pages and if someone happens to click on the advert and lands on your page, then you pay the search engine some commission.

SEM as a marketing tool can never be complete without one form or another of SEO and is considered as a subset of SEO. This is because SEO aims at making a site better for visitors by improving the quality of information, the surfer experience and also aims at improving the page ranking with the search engines. So even if SEM techniques may bring results in the short-run, SEO is more cost effective in the long run. Therefore, SEM might suit you in the short-run but without SEO your business cannot survive in the long run.

Therefore to generate more traffic to your site, both SEM and SEO are necessary tools since they make your site more user and search engine friendly thus increasing the exposure and consequently the amount of traffic your site receives.

Useful tools to kick start your Singapore SEO campaign

Starting a Singapore SEO campaign can be quite a daunting task especially for those who are new to the whole online business scene. However, there are some basic tools and guidelines you can use to make the process a little easier.

Firs you need to analyze your current site or web pages. There is numerous software that allow for quick and easy analysis of web pages by producing site maps of your pages. This software will give you an overview of the page showing you the links to and from the page, the titles of the pages and many other things. This will help you fix basic problems in your site such as broken links and help you customize some redundant features for a better client experience.

The next step is keyword research which you can easily do using the free Google Keyword Research Tool. Keywords can be viewed as the passwords to your site since they are what people enter into search engines to get a list of results. Good keyword research is the difference between a successful SEO campaign and one that will end in total failure. Keyword research tools are useful and will even help you narrow down to keywords that will be easy to get ranked under quickly.

The third step is optimizing your site using the keywords you researched. Using each of the keywords, you should build new pages and ensure you use the same keyword as the title, as the description Meta tag and even image tags where appropriate. Of course the page should contain an article written around the same keyword.

Lastly, you should get links to your site. Link building is a very important activity in SEO that should not be overlooked since the number of links to your site greatly determines your site ranking. You can join link exchange sites or buy links but always ensure that you are getting quality links to your sites.

With these simple tools you can kick start your SEO Singapore campaign and greatly improve your site rankings in the process.

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