Top 10 Things You Need to Know to Be Found on Google

1. Age. Search engines care how old your site is. The age of the site is an indication of how established your business is. If you have been around awhile, the search engines see you as a more viable business than one that just started up a couple of weeks ago. It's a trust issue. Unfortunately, there's not much you can do about how old your site is. However, if you're thinking of scrapping your old domain and building a new site on a new domain, you might reconsider. There are valid reasons for scrapping an old domain in favor of a new one, but if you have a decent domain name and history, be sure you re-direct the pages of the old site to the new URL to keep some of the age history.

2. URL structure. If your URLs make sense to a person reading them, they'll make sense to a search engine's spider and will help your rankings. Use readable keywords of value in your URL and skip all the random characters that don't make sense to anybody. For example, makes more sense and will help your search rankings more than

3. Content is King. Search engine spiders index web pages for the text that's contained within them. The more relevant content on your site, the more opportunity it has to be indexed.

To be returned as a result to a particular search, the content on your pages must contain the text that was used in the search. DON'T, however write content trying to please the search engines without consideration for the humans that will read it. It would do you no good to have the first position on the Search Engine Results Page if everyone who comes to your site immediately leaves because the content doesn't make sense. And you wouldn't stay #1 long anyway.

Search engine spiders can also tell if you have been "stuffing" your content with your keywords to try to influence them to index you higher. Double-stuffed Oreos might be a nice treat, but not on a web page. You can optimize any given page for one or two keyword phrases. Don't try to get every keyword on every page. It won't make sense to your visitors and it won't help you with the search engines.

Make sure your keyword phrases are included in the most important parts of your site like headings and internal links. Have logical meta data that makes sense to users who will read your titles and descriptions. Also be sure to have Alternate Text with your keywords for your images. Search Engine spiders can't "read" images, but they can read captions and "alt text" and these will add strength to your keywords.

Don't include a lot of content that the search engines can't index. The worst offender of this is Flash. Flash can create beautiful, engaging content that moves and is just, well cool. However, the search engines can't read and index it so it doesn't help you from a search engine optimization standpoint. Use Flash sparingly as long as it's delivering a relevant, engaging experience for your visitors. Entire sites built in Flash may look cool, but they won't be indexed by the search engines so you won't get organic traffic.

4. Content Age. While Google likes to see a site that's been around a while (see #1 above) it doesn't want to see the exact same content on those pages for all that time. From a search engine's perspective, a site that hasn't been updated in a while likely has outdated information or may even be out of business. These are not good things for a search engine to return in a search engine result to visitors. Updating content on a regular basis is critical to keeping your site on the radar with the search engines.

5. Site performance. Google is indexing what people do when they're on your site. If they leave immediately, known as a "Bounce", Google will understand that your site is not relevant for that keyword phrase and will not return the page as a result. Your site performance is telling Google that you're not relevant for those keywords. Remember, Google has to return the most relevant results or they'll become the MySpace of search (no offense MySpace). This is why (#3) above is so important. Your content has to engage your visitor. Write for the visitor and include items that will get, and keep, them engaged with your site. When a visitor finds your site, you need to engage them with your content and move them along a path that answers their questions to get them to the goal of your website, which can be to purchase a product, visit your store or contact you in some way.

6. Internal Links. Pages on your site need to be linked to each other in a relevant way. The goal is to lead your visitors on a journey to a specific goal you have defined. Your link structure should reflect that. Links from your keyword phrases of value to more information on that subject are indications to the search engines that those keywords are important. You don't want a whole lot of "click here" links or you'll be indexed for "click here" instead of "great shoes". Besides, you don't want to compete with Adobe (just for fun, type "click here" in Google and see who's site is optimized for that term).

7. External Links. The search engines see links to your site from other sites as an indication of your popularity or relevance. In general, the more links to your site, the better. But there are a couple of important considerations. The site linking to you should have a reason to link to you. If you sell women's shoes and your brother-in-law is a contractor, there's no real reason for his site to link to yours. More importantly, consider the value that the search engine places on the site that links to you. If Google doesn't think very highly of the site that links to you, it's not going to give you many "points" for that link. Alternatively, if Google ranks the site that links to you very highly, it will pass on some of that authority, or "link juice" to your site. You want to have as many links to your site from sites that the search engines value as you can possibly get. Think of it as a popularity contest. Just like in high school, the more of the popular people that say they like you, the more popular you become.

8. Trust. It all comes down to trust. Do visitors trust you and do the search engines trust you. Unfortunately, over the years there have been many attempts to "game" the search engines. Now they're wary. The search engines are looking for reasons to trust you. And your human visitors are the same way. They've been fooled before and they want to know they can trust you. Anything that you can put on your site to inspire confidence and trust is likely a good thing. Simple things like your address and phone number inspire trust. Testimonials from satisfied clients inspire trust. Third party emblems from trusted brands inspire trust. Consider who your target audience trusts and how you can incorporate that into your site.

9. Speed. Google loves speed. They love it so much that they include the speed with which they return their results to you right at the top of the page next to the number of results they have delivered. If your site loads slowly, not only are you going to disappoint visitors to your site, you're going to rank lower than another site with a faster page load time (all other things being equal of course). Simplify your site and get those speed hogging elements off it or downsized to load faster.

10. Local Search. In the past year, Google has tried to increase the relevancy of its search results by giving the local guy a shot. Of course, big brands with millions of dollars in their marketing war chest have had an advantage in the search game. Think of it like television advertising. The brands with the big bucks can advertise on national network television during the Superbowl while the mom-and-pops have trouble even affording basic cable advertising. In the interest of searchers, Google has tried to level the playing field by placing a much bigger emphasis on local search. This gives the local business a chance to compete with his larger national competitor.

Geo-Targeting. So what does this mean to you? Optimize your site and all your web properties with geo-targeted search terms. If the service area for your business is Long Island and people would search for your business with the term Long Island (for example, "Best Long Island NY Shoe Store") make sure that search term is in the content on your page.

Places and Local. Also, make sure you "claim" all your local pages and directory listings. You've likely seen the first listings on a local search engine results page that that shows the business name, their Google Places page, their website and a map listing. Make sure you "claim" this page and optimize it for your keywords of value. Add photos and videos to it. Google's version is called Google Places, but Bing and Yahoo have their own local pages.

Local Web Properties. And then there are the directories. Search for your business name in any search engine. You'll hopefully find there are a number of results that are not your website. Go to these sites, verify the information is correct and claim these listings. If the information is not correct, correct it.

Accuracy is Critical. Ensure that all of your "web properties" have your name, address and phone number EXACTLY the same, down to the format of your address. "St." in one listing and "Street" in another is going to confuse the search engines and not give you the credibility you deserve.

Well, I promised I was only going to give you 10 so I'll stop here. There are a number of other things you can do to help your search engine rankings, but these are the top 10 most common to all businesses, as I see it. Now you're likely asking so what does that mean to me? What can I do about it?

By James F Ruppel

Like This Post? Share It.
No comments yet. Be the first to leave a comment !
Leave a Comment

Next Post Previous Post