Articles - Getting-found-on-google

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articlesFrom time to time we write articles about various website marketing and search engine optimisation issues.  The most recent are shown below under current articles.  For older articles click on the archive link below right.

Getting Found on Google

Using SEO Tecniques on Google, getting your site higher in Google, having your website rank highly in Google is one of the major necessities for attaining your goal’s on the internet, particularly if increasing visitor rates or sales are important for you.

I know for most of our clients this is definitely the case!  So what’s involved? How do you it?

1. Self Help SEO

First of all, Google likes content.  In fact I’d go further—the way Google behaves they love content.  Why?  Because they like discriminating against businesses!  First and foremost, Google wants you to use Google Adwords, its Pay Per Click (PPC) service.  Adwords is where Google makes its money, and why they’re worth $50Billion and we’re not.  So, what Google does is use every subtle little trick it can think of to force businesses to use Adwords.  As a balancing act with people using its search engine, Google then presents itself as the search engine that can find you the best, most relevant content.  It therefore favours sites with a lot of content, which is exactly what most business sites, and particularly ecommerce sites, are not.

Marketing has shown the business community for years that ‘less is more’, and customers generally prove this is the case.  Ecommerce sites, in order to sell well, generally have less content and more and better pictures, so customers can see what they are buying without their attention being distracted by text.  Google uses this against businesses, and the ecommerce sites that do the best are generally those that have worked hard to find ways around Google, as well as padding their sites with content in highly strategic ways.

SEO Your Site!

So what can you do with your site? 

Here are some ideas:

  • Have pages devoted to content for the main search terms your potential customers would use to find you.
  • Add relevant Headings and Sub-Headings to these pages.
  • Ensure that the first line of text on the page (and on your homepage) has the search term in it.  Then within each paragraph, include the search terms here and there, ideally give them slightly more emphasis.
  • Add links within theses page to other pages on your site that have content on them relevant to these search terms.
  • Use the same principles throughout your site, wherever it makes sense to do so, and so long as it doesn’t look too silly to your prospective customers.  (What we do here is take the view that your ‘public pages’ of your site still need to be customer friendly, so there is a natural limit to how far you would want to go to appeal to Google on these pages.
  • Freetimers’ strategy is to also produce highly relevant landing pages specifically for Google, skewing these much further towards the search engine side of the scale than the human reader side).
  • For product search pages, add a short but highly relevant intro paragraph for every category and sub-category.  Do the same for individual products.  This is time consuming and sometime mind-bogglingly tedious, but it does make a difference.
  • Make sure you add new content to your site regularly.  Make sure this new content is relevant.  News is good.
  • Ensure every page has relevant and adequate levels of content.  Otherwise Google will probably decide the page is not important and move the site to its supplemental index (which Google has started to use heavily in the last 12 months).

2.Search Engine Relevancy

This really follows on from number 1, which is that Google likes content, and favours it in the search results over pictures and other non-textual content.  Google will like content itself whether it is relevant or not!

But for you to achieve your goals and get the site higher in Google’s rankings, YOU must ensure that the content Google sees is relevant to what you want it to be.  That means constantly reminding yourself about who you are appealing to on the site, who are your customers, what are their needs, how are you fulfilling these needs, and what search phrases they are using to find the products or services that meet their requirements.  So for success on Google, you not only need to provide content, but RELEVANT content.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and work out what you would type into Google.  If you want our assistance for SEO, we would also do a significant amount of research on search phrases, how often the words are searched, what terms your competitors use, etc.  In any event, work out a list of search phrases, consider what you believe would be the most important ones, and then make sure your site has content throughout the site that incorporates these search phrases in all the permutations you can think of.  Don’t overdo it, because Google could see that and penalise you for ‘spamming’ the terms.  As a general rule, use them in the right places (as mentioned above), in page names too, and in the content, just a little more than you as a customer would want to see.  Remember, some customers will actually read your content, so don’t make it silly!

So you’ve started adding content to your site, and now you’ve made that content as highly relevant as possible to the market that is the focus of your business (ie you have ‘optimised’ the relevancy of your site, which is what search engine optimisation (SEO) is mostly about).  Google will, after a time (1-4 months), see this content, and then return your site within its search results for your chosen search terms.  Cracked it, right?

3. Link Popularity

Content is good for Google, Relevancy is good for you, but it’s not enough to rank highly for search phrases that have any significant competition for them.

So what does Google do?  How does it determine that one site should rank No 3 for a search whilst another site should rank at 333, or 333,000?

Basically Google looks at how popular a website is.  You do a search, Google sees the relevant content, and then it looks at its popularity index of websites, and if your site has relevancy as good as the next guy’s site, but yours is more popular, your site will rank above theirs.

Now let’s think about this.  If your site is very popular, but you have no relevant content for a search phrase, your site will not rank well.  Alternatively, if your site has loads of relevant content to a search phrase,  but is not popular, again you will not rank well, unless of course the search term is targeted at such a specific or niche search phrase that there is only minimal competition (in which case the value of the high ranking isn’t much!).  (By the way, some poor SEO companies try to make themselves appear good by showing top results for very niche search terms—so watch out!).

What this means is that you have to have both relevancy and popularity to be successful now.  One without the other is not enough.  But how does Google determine popularity?  And how much popularity do you need to have?
Google SEO Algorithms

Imagine you are Google.  You want to be the best search engine on the planet.  How do you become and stay the best?  You try to ensure you show the best websites for any subject.  How do you judge whether one is better than another?  You look at the sites people actually use, ie the sites that are the most popular.  How do you determine if a site is popular?  By the amount of traffic the site gets.  Can you find out how much traffic a site gets?  No, because that information is usually private to the site owner.  So, if you’re Google, what do you do?

You try to find other ways to determine if a site is popular.  There are a number of methods now being used by Google, but the main one is incoming links.  A few years ago, Google spotted an association between the number of websites linking to a website, and how popular that website is.  Let’s be clear here, we are not talking about you adding links to your website to other people’s sites, we are talking about other people linking to your website.  Google effectively sees each of these links as a vote for your website.  Add up the number of links, and that gives you the votes for your site, which equates (almost) to the level of popularity Google thinks your site has.  When you do a search then, Google first finds all the sites relevant to the search, and then it sees how many votes (or incoming links) each site has, and the site with the most links comes out on top.

This is basically how it works, however it is considerably more sophisticated than this in actuality.  Not only does Google add up the votes for the links, but it also weights each of these votes by how popular the voting website is.  An incoming link from an unpopular site for example, may be only worth one vote.  A link from a popular site may be worth 10,000 votes.  You get the idea.

Google Page Rank

Until very recently Google used a measurement system it created to express how popular a website is, called ‘Page Rank’.  The measure was as a figure on a scale of 1-10, with higher being most popular.  Google.com is a 10!  This Page Rank or ‘PR’ has been a good measurement to use to value links for the last few years, but recently Google has started to de-value it, because SEO people have started to work out how it is used, and Google doesn’t like that.  So right now, no one is sure how useful, if at all, the PR of a site is.  Nevertheless, all indications are, that whilst Google is trying to mystify page rank, it is still using the link popularity principles to determine the popularity of a site.  For our SEO clients for example, the page ranks are currently all over the place, however their rankings have stayed where they were and even improved in many cases.

Google is also increasingly using other factors to determine a popularity level, but these are being used to augment the link popularity, not replace it.  One of these is certainly with respect to a website’s longevity.  The longer it has been around, Google gives it more value as a ‘trusted site’.  That means that the continuity of a domain name is important, it is an asset of the business and should be retained, even if the website using it has not been performing well.  A new website can always replace an old one, and if it uses the same domain name, you will get this ‘trusted site’ status, which incrementally adds to your popularity value.

Getting back to link popularity, how much popularity do you need?  The answer is simple—more than the site you want to out-rank.  If the search phrase you are competing for is not hugely competitive you will need less links and less valuable links (in terms of the number of votes they convey), than if the phrase is hugely competitive.  For example, the search phrase ‘current news’ will be more competitive than ‘current UK news’, and that will be much more competitive than ‘current Northampton news’.  Most likely you will need substantially more votes/links to compete for ‘current news’ than for ‘current Northampton news’.  Ultimately though it depends on who the sites are that are competing for a specific phrase.  If sites that are successful for ‘current news’ have specific relevant pages for Northampton current news, then you will still have to compete against them even though there are far fewer sites competing.  The devil is in the detail.

4.SEO Conclusions

So to sum up, and keeping it simple, to be successful on Google you need 3 major things for your site, content, relevancy and link popularity.  If the site has all of these you are headed in the right direction, and eventually you have the potential to achieve the rankings you need.

But take note, no matter what you do, it will not be straightforward; there will be ups and downs, because the competitive environment of the Internet is constantly changing, and we are the fleas hanging on to the Google dog’s tail, clinging for dear life!  What you can be certain of is that changes there will be, and that one must react effectively to the changes or risk falling behind and/or failing.  Vigilance and constant review is essential.  Relevancy needs to be improved and updated regularly to ensure your sites stay more relevant than the next guy’s.  The same goes for links.  Today you may need more links to compete than you did a year ago, because the competition may be catching up or surpassing you.  Also, because Google is making things as difficult as possible to force people to use Adwords, expect the requirement for more work in these respects, and their costs, to rise, just to keep pace.  Fortunately, the cost of successful SEO is still substantially less than Adwords—for now!

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