Part 1 of 2
Is it your ‘dream’ that when potential customers search for a product or service that you offer, that on page 1 of the search engine listings, your business ranks up there with other great companies?
It is not a pipe dream; it can be a reality BUT, you need to be focused and committed – and you also need to be doing the right things, from setting your pages up correctly, to telling the search engines you exist to then staying committed, constantly pushing your website so that it looks and ‘feels’ authoritative and trustworthy.
In this first part of a two part mini-series, here at Locally we take a look at how online, local businesses can figure in those top spots on page 1, starting with understanding the ranking equation used by one of the major search engines, Google.
It is huge. Gargantuan. It has the lion’s share of the search engine market (up to 90% according to some estimates). With 2 billion Internet users worldwide, it is probably not unrealistic to estimate that half of these will use Google as either their preferred or default search engine. It would be silly, almost the kiss of death to ignore Google, there are other search engines out there. However, for the purpose of this Locally Mini-Series, we will focus on Google.
In a nutshell
To understand how to win the coveted crown for a ‘Page 1 Top Spot’, you need to understand two things:
- How Google’s algorithm works – what it uses to rank pages
- Understand why your competitors are ranking higher than you, at that particular time.
Ah yes, just like algebra at school, we can see your eyelids getting heavy as you prepare for a mid-afternoon nap but now is not the time.
First thing’s first; apart from the very top executives at Google, no one really knows all the secrets, twists and turns that this search engine uses to create its magic page 1 list but, there are some highly intelligent technically minded people who have a fairly decent idea of how the algorithm crunches number and data.
But, don’t forget that this algorithm also changes over time, so what was working this time last year, might not be delivering the results now. This way, the web is kept vibrant and fresh.
Walking in Google’s shoes – try and see what it sees
Basically what we are saying is this: when a customer searches for something on the Internet using its browser, they want to see results that are accurate. We all know the frustration of surfing for information on something specific, only to find that what we get is some tripe from a far off place that makes no sense.
And so, you need to see what Google will see when it takes a look at your website – think relevance, popularity and quality. If people are buying from or using a website, it must be offering something worth having. It must offer a worthwhile buying experience, and customers must be happy with it. Hence, to Google, that website looks a fairly good one, so they move it up the rankings…
In that case, your website needs to show good it is relevant, popular and offers high quality experience, such as an authoritative blog or news section, along with FAQs and the like. In this way, customers may also be reviewing your products or services, liking your page, enjoying your tweets and just generally in conversation with you.
Google says that it has 200 variable factors that it uses to rank websites but, there are some things that can be done that will help you website climb the slippery pole on to page 1 – and stay there.
So sharpen your elbows, because here are 6 factors that can influence your ranking with Google (yes, only 6… but they are important).
The Locally Whistle Stop Tour of 6 Things You Can Do To Get a Higher Ranking with Google (might work with other search engines too!)
Tickets please! Now fasten your seat belts and let’s look at the first 3 of these factors (the remaining 3 will be addressed in Part 2 of this blog post… due for publication on the Locally blog on Wednesday 5th November)
Number 1: Page Titles
This matters because it is a description of what the page is about. It must be accurate and at least 3 words long. So, in your page if you are targeting a particular keyword or phrase, then this should be included in your page title and in the right order.
E.g. if your home page keywords were ‘local (and) online personalised gifts (for) sailors’ then you would use this in the page title html description.
The (and) and (for) are in brackets to highlight that they are STOP words. These are words that Google does not count in its searches, simply because you would have all sorts of weird and wonderful results. There are literally hundreds more stop words…
Number 2: Page text
Search engines read words quickly and easily, but like the stop words from above, they don’t bother with the connective words, instead they look for the important ones, if you like; the more times the word or phrase pops up in the page, Google assumes that is what the page is about.
Hence, if you want people to find you product or service because your business offers flexible website design for local online businesses, then this phrase would be used maybe two or three times, and other keywords or phrases that relate to this.
In other words, the page is relevant.
Over-stuffing – we think over-stuffing should be a word entered in the dictionary, a bit like oversharing. In any given 500 words, do not over-use your keyword or phrase – use it, at most, 5 times, but 3 or 4 will do just fine, or actually once may be enough. Over-using a phrase will make your text look artificial; it won’t look like to a eyes of a real person, and neither will it look right to Google (or any search engine).
Number 3: keywords in the URL
You also have control over whether these keywords appear in the page URL or not (not sure about URLs – check this out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxu7eZrPUyQ)
It can really help if your keywords are in the order that a person searching for something like your product or service would type them in; this is a little SEO tip which is why this blog post is called ‘getting ranked higher by Google’ because you never know, someone out there may be frustrated that their competitors are on page one and want to how they can be too…
We have covered three factors that we can directly influence how Google sees a website in terms of being relevant, authoritative and trustworthy and they are:
- Page titles
- Page text
- Keywords in the URL of a page