I want to be on page one of Google…
Yes, and so does everybody else. If a company or a person promises that they can get your website on the first page of Google or any other search engine in a ridiculously short period of time, they are yankin’ your chain. Why? Because the things that must be done to get your website there take time. Here is a list of the basic things you must do and think about to get high search rankings over time with your site–ones that will last.
- Make sure your website or blog has a solid SEO foundation
- Decide what search “phrases” from which you want people to find your website, then use them in context
- Start campaigning your site, the one who ends up with the most in-bound links wins!
- Pay Per Click Advertising — when to make the leap
- Lather, Rinse and Repeat…you’re not done…
Make sure your website or blog has a solid SEO foundation.
What’s a “solid SEO foundation”? SEO = Search Engine Optimization (the process of making your site findable). A “solid foundation” means that your site can have it’s meta tags vary on each page of the site. Your site is made up of more than 1 page probably.
A site whose code is “solid” or “optimized” makes it possible for you or your website designer/developer to edit the “meta tags” of each of those individual pages, to customize them to match and correspond to what that page is communicating to the visitor.
There are 3 main tags (title, description and keywords). However, there are others that can be added as well when you are integrating your site with other sites to improve SEO, such as Google meta tag, Alexa meta tag, Bing meta tag, etc., the list goes on. In a nutshell, your site’s code should be set up such that these things can be easily added/edited over time as you need them to be for ongoing/future SEO.
Why is this important to consider first? Some quicky website building tools (like the free ones offered by many national hosting companies and advertisers) do not let you change these meta tags on a page by page basis. Some don’t even let you adjust them at all for the entire site. Without this information in these tags, you are limiting what the various search engines like Google and Bing can infer and document about your site and its contents–which limits your ability to be found.
Additionally, make sure your site has some sort of analytics tracking site visit statistics. Google analytics is free, so is Google Webmaster Tools. Make sure your site has both of these tools (or equivalents) installed and configured.
Decide what search “phrases” from which you want people to find your website, and then use them in context…
For example, with my own site, I chose to focus on phrases such as “Loveland web design”, “Fort Collins web design”, etc. I also picked out a few others that identify the kinds of websites I build like, “content management”, “CMS”, “blogs”, “WordPress”, “Joomla”. Pick a minimum of 5 and maximum of 10 keyword phrases. Make sure your site’s keywords are used / referenced in the content of your site in the correct and sensible context. Relevancy is inferred by search engines and you either get docked or applauded for it. Be sure to consider which geographies you want to be found in as well. This is part of your keyword work as well.
Read more about keywords at: The Role of Keywords in SEO
Start campaigning your site, the one who ends up with the most in-bound links wins!
Search engines will rank you high if they can see that others “know” about your site, i.e., that there are links to your site from other websites, blogs, posts, etc. The better the site that links to you, i.e., the more popular it is, the better for you as well. A link from Joe’s Donut Shop in Podunk won’t mean as much as a link from The Denver Post website. You can achieve in-bound links (or citations or link-exchanges) in many ways and this is an area where you may want to employ the assistance of someone like my friend Jared Finkenbinder of Design328.com . You may find free ways to get links and ways that cost money. Knowing when to pay and when not to pay is an art and someone like Jared can really help you navigate those waters best.
Pay Per Click Advertising — when to make the leap
If you’ve done all of the above and you are still not getting the results you want, perhaps it is time to consider a pay per click campaign. There are many kinds, Google and Facebook probably being the most popular. You may even choose to embark on a pay per click campaign if you are trying to hit a certain target market at a certain time of year, like Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Be aware, however, your site needs some setup to accommodate a pay per click campaign effectively.
(a) It needs to have pages that match the ad you have created. For example, if you are advertising “Widget A”, there had better be a page on your site dedicated to “Widget A” that seems to make sense for where the ad lands people after they click.
(b) It needs to be attractive and compelling to convert the visit to a sale when the folks come.
Another friend who is awesome at Google pay per click advertising is Tony Bielat of Front Range SEO and PPC. With Tony’s many years of marketing experience, he is able to get folks setup with PPC campaigns that bring results.
Lather, Rinse and Repeat…you’re not done…
You need to monitor how all of this is working or not working. Review the reports from Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. Make adjustments to site content and keywords as needed. Look for trends. More than a 40% bounce rate on your site is not so good. Lower is better. Bounce rate is the measure of someone coming to your home page and then leaving, i.e., they “bounce” off your site to another site. You want them to stay, spend some time, look around, be compelled to call or purchase, whichever applies to your business.
Change the content of your site periodically. Search engines monitor your site every few weeks and if they detect your site’s content is not changing, that is interpreted to mean that your site is stale, not useful, not being used and therefore, NOT VERY IMPORTANT. So, have portions of it set up to change periodically. This can be done in a number of ways– blogging, RSS Feeds, Twitter Feeds, Facebook Feeds, etc.
These are basic steps and certainly the list does not contain all that can be done. The important thing to take away from this article is this:
SEO is hardwork, takes time, takes effort and thought and there is no silver bullet.
As the business owner, you will not be able to just assign the tasks of SEO to just one person, it takes a team of people who know how to do each part well and YOU–only you know your business and what customers and markets you want to target. YOU WILL HAVE TO BE INVOLVED if you want it to be successful. And finally, you will never be done with SEO. There is no state of “DONE”. Search engines like Google are constantly changing their algorithms to keep the playing field “level” for advertisers and stale websites drop off the radar.
Beware of those guaranteeing “page one”, they are asking you to go “snipe hunting” for a pretty penny.