Watch Kris from Fusion Design’s talk on Top Tips to Optimize your Website for Google:
SEO Tips: Rank higher in Google search results
You may have a great looking website, but is it showing up for certain keyword terms in Google’s search results?
Taken straight from Google’s support pages: “Sites’ positions in our search results are determined based on hundreds of factors….” Oh, crap. It’s not as easy as stuffing a bunch of keywords into your site’s metadata and getting on your knees and praying to the Google gods anymore. There are a few (hundred) more steps involved. We’ll go through a few of the major contributing factors to getting your website ranked on the oh-so-desired first page of Google’s search results pages.
First, make sure your site shows up in Google. This is easily done by going to Google and entering “site:mysite.com” For example, if your URL is jojocoffee.com, you’d enter “site:jojocoffee.com” into the search bar. If your site shows up, splendid! You’re in the Google directory. If not, then you need to add the site by going here: http://www.google.com/submityourcontent/. If your site has been registered and is still not showing up, your site may have been removed from the directory (blacklisted) for going against Google’s Webmaster guidelines. Search engine optimization (SEO) methods of using shady tactics to get your site listed and ranked are also referred to as “blackhat SEO.” Your site also may be removed from the Google index if it has been hacked or spammed. In this case it is important to clean your site and resubmit it to Google for reconsideration.
Here are the crucial steps to take to get your site listed high in Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS):
1. Have engaging and useful content
CONTENT IS QUEEN. Google encourages you to create unique and valuable content. Providing high quality, informative content for your visitors will attract more visits to your website. Engage your audience with images and useful stories. Do not copy and paste from other websites, or distribute the same information throughout many websites.
Make sure your content is organized in an easy-to-index fashion. For example, if you sell cookies and coffee, you’d want to have content about coffee on one page, and content about cookies on another. Google likes this, and its Googlebots (automated robots that scan content of websites) are more able to differentiate what your website is all about.
Show credibility of your product or service by using testimonials and reviews from your clients. Prove you are an authority on your subject matter. Make sure the content is engaging to viewers over whether it’s going to rank in search results. Use keywords in a sensible manner within context, and synonyms of those keywords.
2. Make sure your site is error free
Beware of issues that can distract your viewers, such as broken links, empty pages, and spelling or grammar mistakes. Distractions such as these will make you look unprofessional and your viewer will quickly leave your site. Also don’t clutter your site with too many ads.
3. Register your site with business directories and review sites
Some major directories to make sure you are registered with are Google My Business, Yelp, Yahoo, and Bing. Also, register with search directories related to your business. If you own a restaurant, you may want to sign up with a restaurant directory such as grubhub.com.
Relevant links to your site (backlinks) are part of the huge mathematical equation (algorithm) Google uses when ranking your website in its search results. Irrelevant links will penalize you. Beware of “link farms” or anyone telling you they can get you hundreds of links back to your site. Purchased links will bite you in the buttocks.
4. Create informative URLs
Using informative URLs (subdirectories of your website) helps users find the content they are looking for. For example mycoffeebrand.com/article10 is not going to do you any good when trying to get that particular article, post, or page found in Google. A better name for the subdirectory would be mycoffeebrand.com/dark-roast-blends.
5. Provide unique and keyword-rich metadata
Whoa, this is a big topic shoved into one step. We’ll try to break this down easily. Metadata is information stored in a website’s code, and does not show in the actual content of a web page. If you’re using a content management system to manage your website such as WordPress, a non-coder can easily populate the metadata for their website.
Page titles are considered when Google is indexing web pages. Make sure your titles are populated with the specific terms your audience or potential audience would search you by. For example, If you have a page about your company, you may not want “About ABC Company” as the page title, rather “Fair trade coffee company” along with the name of your business. Page titles should be unique for each page in your website, and also short and concise.
Page description metadata is scanned by Google to get a synopsis of what your page is all about. In many cases, when a website is listed in Google search results the page title is listed in the blue underlined link, and the page description is listed below in the text in black. Are you having an ah-ha moment? Good. Page descriptions should be a few sentences long and read in a sensible manner.
Alt tags for images
It’s important to describe your images using the “alt tag.” Otherwise, Google and visually impaired people will not know what the image is about. It’s also wise to have text that describes your image close to it, such as in a caption.
Since 2009 Google decided to stop looking at keyword metadata. Why? Well, website owners abused it and entered many words that did not pertain or were not contained in their content, including competitor sites’ keywords. Some other search engines may regard this data, but since 1.17 billion people use Google for their searches, (taken from statista.com) I wouldn’t bank on keyword metadata to get your site to show up in search results.
6. Allow for social media sharing
Don’t have any way for folks to share your cleverly written articles on your website? Well, what are you waiting for, get those social share buttons in there. This also allows you, the author, the ability to share your articles quickly.
7. Sign up for Google Webmaster Tools
Sign up for a Google Webmaster Tools account to start collecting and reviewing data on your site such as keywords users are entering to find you, and how many hits you are getting to each page of your site.
8. Submit a sitemap of your site to Google
A sitemap is a text file that explains the hierarchy of your pages. This is very helpful for Google to understand your page structure.
9. Protect your site from being hacked
Keep your website software updated to prevent being hacked. If your web host or management system sends you a message alerting you of security updates, it is imperative to take action.
10. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly
Many if not most of your visitors are now viewing your site from their mobile devices (phones and tablets). As of April 21, 2015, Google has started penalizing sites that are not mobile-friendly by ranking them lower in search results than a site that is mobile-friendly. This means that your site changes, or responds to mobile devices so users can navigate your site easily with large click-to-call buttons and mobile drop down menus. The text and images also enlarge and stack to fit your screen as to avoid scrolling from left to right and doing the pinchy squeezy thing to read the content. Take the test to see if your site is mobile-friendly here: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/.
Lastly, Be patient. If all these crucial steps are taken it won’t be long before the Googlebots rank you favorably in their almighty directory.
Need help with any of this stuff? Contact us for a free analysis of your website.