Google has become one of the richest sources of information and an essential tool to everyday life. Yet, while this vast expanse of knowledge seems somewhat esoteric and unexplained to the untrained eye, there are countless algorithms and calculations behind a simple Google search. When the first page of search results pops up, it doesn’t contain just any websites, it contains the most relevant search results based on keywords and how optimised the websites in question are. This means that if you have a website of your own and you want more relevant traffic, you’ll need a website that is search engine optimised.
Your website could sport a very professional design but unless that site is not ranking well in search engines, it may be tough for new and potential customers to discover your business on the Internet.
If you are wondering why the title says “Google friendly” where there are exist so many other search engines on the Internet (including popular ones like Yahoo!, Ask and MSN), that’s because Google has the reach like no other.
Lets focus on techniques and guidelines that will help improve the rank of our web pages in organic search results.
1. How exactly does Google index websites?
While it is easy to get overly excited and throw keywords into your website like a tourist throwing coins into the Trevi Fountain, this isn’t the only thing required and keywords need to be implemented correctly because you can have too many or conflicting keywords.
Because Google uses approximately 200 ranking factors in their algorithm which range from domain factors like domain age to page-level factors such as content length and keyword density, it is crucial to learn how to build a website that search engines will pick up. In layman’s terms, how Google indexes your website is essentially determined by the information you provide, the types of sites that link to yours, content, accessibility and ease of use. If you’re still not quite clear on this, refer to the webmaster’s guide.
2. What’s the purpose of an optimised site?
When most companies learn how to build a website, they do so with the “if you build it, they will come” mindset, but this isn’t quite accurate. With so many competitors and vast amounts of content existing on the internet, an optimised site is essential if you want to see any ROI. Website optimisation refers to SEO, how quickly a website loads as well as how smoothly it operates (how user-friendly it is.)
An optimised site ensures that you target the people specifically suited to your brand. And, while traffic is good, nothing beats the right kind of traffic – and optimised websites get the right traffic which eventually results in more qualified leads, meaning an optimised site directly affects your bottom line.
3. Always write clean and descriptive titles
When people scan (nobody reads word by word) the different results on a search page, that first thing that will catch their attention is the title of your web page. Similarly, if X is looking for “yellow bananas” on Google, web pages that contain this term in the title are likely to rank higher. A good title could look something like “Yellow Bananas | Green Grocery Store”
4. Construct keyword rich URLs
Like Titles, search engines always favor web pages that contain relevant keywords in the URLs of the web page. Continuing with our previous “yellow bananas” example, a URL like abc.com/products/fresh-yellow-bananas.htm or abc.cm/products/yellow-bananas.htm will always perform better than something like abc.com/products?id=232 or abc.com/products/232.html
5. Use Meta Tags
Meta tags (keywords & descriptions) were important in the good old AltaVista days but not anymore since they were so easy to abuse and search engines devised better algorithms to rank web pages. However, good descriptions in Meta tags can really help bring search traffic because they appear as short snippets in search pages beneath your page title. If a meta tag is missing, Google could display some other text page from the web page that may not always be very relevant.
6. Give visitors the information they’re looking for
Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do. If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site. In creating a helpful, information-rich site, write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site.
7. Make sure that other sites link to yours
Links help our crawlers find your site and can give your site greater visibility in our search results. When returning results for a search, Google uses sophisticated text-matching techniques to display pages that are both important and relevant to each search. Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote by page A for page B. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important.”
Keep in mind that our algorithms can distinguish natural links from unnatural links. Natural links to your site develop as part of the dynamic nature of the web when other sites find your content valuable and think it would be helpful for their visitors. Unnatural links to your site are placed there specifically to make your site look more popular to search engines.
Things to avoid
Don’t fill your page with lists of keywords, attempt to “cloak” pages, or put up “crawler only” pages. If your site contains pages, links, or text that you don’t intend visitors to see, Google considers those links and pages deceptive and may ignore your site.
Duplicate Content – Always make sure that all pages on your website have unique content. When you serve two or more pages with similar content to search engines, they will have trouble deciding which page should rank higher than the other and it could therefore dilute your search rankings.
Don’t feel obligated to purchase a search engine optimization service. Some companies claim to “guarantee” high ranking for your site in Google’s search results. While legitimate consulting firms can improve your site’s flow and content, others employ deceptive tactics in an attempt to fool search engines. Be careful; if your domain is affiliated with one of these deceptive services, it could be banned from the index.