Internet businesses large and small quite literally live and die at the whim of search engine results and page rankings. Why? Because when surfing the Internet, most people never go beyond the first or second page of results after typing that juicy tidbit into the search bar. If your business doesn’t show up on the first few pages to appear, most people won’t even see you. Your potential customers will never see your site or the products and services you have to offer them.
There are actually dozens of search engines to choose from, Yahoo, for instance and Bing. But, let’s face it, Google is the go-to search engine king. And, whenever the king stretches its muscles in the form of a new search algorithm, everyone — from freelance content writers to business owners — scrambles to analyze the potential implications. The web literally buzzes with the news. From speculation about how to survive Panda, to debates over SEO’s place in Penguin, authors and pundits by the ream offer advice and counsel on how best to jump through Google’s newest hoop. But, does anyone ever consider going straight to the horse’s mouth? Let’s look at what Google has to say about Google’s search engine.
In their own words, the people behind Google know you want their search engine to “find, index and rank your site.” To that end, they offer very concrete — often even intuitive — advice on making your website search engine friendly. To increase your page ranking and your searchability, consider incorporating these Google-approved tips from its Webmaster guidelines into your website.
- Make sure you have a site map. This is a single page that will point your visitors to all the important parts of your website.
- Limit the number of links on any given page and make sure those links actually work.
- Incorporate relevant search terms into your text. While search-term stuffed articles can mark a site as spammy, web content that doesn’t contain the words most people would naturally use in a web search will be hard to find.
- Use text instead of images when displaying information about your site. Names, links and content displayed in images won’t be recognized by Google’s crawler.
- Most importantly, fashion your website so that it is both useful and informative. A website that naturally attracts and holds the attention of visitors is much more valuable than one simply designed to outsmart the latest algorithm. Hire a professional writer to create high-quality content that offers your visitors truly useful and entertaining information and accurately describes what your website has to offer.
What not to do
Whether you choose to take Google’s advice or not, it is paramount to remember that certain activities can get your site removed from Google’s index entirely. These are what Google refers to in its quality guidelines as “deceptive or manipulative practices.” These include automatically generated content, directing human viewers to one page while sending search engines to another, and “scraped content,” content simply cut and pasted from another, more reputable site.
Kate C is a teacher, freelance writer and organic gardening enthusiast. She lives in the desert but loves the mountains. She shares her home with her husband of 27 years and a fat, sassy Boston terrier named Tess.