I recently had a client ask me what it takes to get your site to show up in Google searches. Well, this can be a complicated process and these days there are many factors that affect how Google indexes pages, but the the very most important factor, which will never change, is to by clearly telling Google what your site is about.
I like to use the book on the floor in the library analogy. Here’s how it goes…
If a librarian finds a random book on the floor with no call number, she will need to look closely at the book to figure out where he should put it back on the shelf.
The first thing she will look for is the title of the book. Then she’ll look for a table of contents. Then she’ll possibly look at the content on the pages of the book. Undoubtedly, she will also look at the photos and the captions. If the book is written about a specific region, she’ll also make note of that.
Given there is enough information, the librarian can then make a decision about the best place in the library to shelve the book so that people who are searching for that kind of information can easily find it.
But if the book doesn’t have a good title, or an index, or enough copy or images on the pages, it’s going to be very difficult for the librarian to know where to put it. Left to guess, there is a high likelihood that the book will get indexed in the wrong place and very few visitors to the library will ever find it.
In this analogy Google is like the librarian; your website is like the book.
The process of indexing the book is very similar to how Google indexes web pages.
Believe it or not, Google wants to index your website in the most appropriate place so that people can quickly and easily find the best and most relevant information every time the do a Google search.
OK, so what does this mean? There are some very specific and basic things Google looks for first, every time it indexes a website or a webpage.
Crucial things to include for optimized search
As far as search ranking factors go, content is probably the most important. Like I said at the beginning of this post, Google wants to match Google searches with content that best matches what people are looking for. It is extremely important that your web pages have relevant, quality content.
The better your content, the more likely you will to be included in search results. Likewise, businesses who post content more frequently will get better results. It’s a proven fact that businesses that blog get 70% more hits to their website. Better content=more customers.
Next to your content, the title of your web page is probably the most important factor for search. The title is what:
- shows up at the top of your browser when you are on a webpage
- shows up as the name of your page in search engine results
- appears if someone links to your page on another website
- appears if you post your page on a social media site such as Facebook
The title of your page needs to be specified inside the code of your website and it looks like this:
<title>EZ Plumbers, Inc.-Commercial Plumbing-Syracuse, NY 13203</title>
But don’t worry, if you are working in WordPress, you will not need to know how to code in order to designate the title of your page. You can simply use an SEO plugin, such as WordPress SEO by Yoast. This will allow you to just type your title into a simple form each time you publish a new page.
When creating your title:
- Keep it short. Google prefers that titles are less than 55 characters in length
- Make it descriptive, using keywords that your customers would use when searching for you.
- Place your keywords close to the beginning of the tag
- Include your city, state and zip if you have a local business
Since we are on the subject, the other meta tag you need to include is a Description meta tag. Like the title, this is also specified in your code, but can easily be added to a WordPress site using an SEO plugin.
The description tag is not so much used for improving your search engine results, but it is equally important because it is what tells people what they will find on your page if your page shows up in the search engine results. A good description will greatly improve the number of people who actually click on your page, so don’t ignore this important step.
- Description should be no longer than 160 characters.
- Avoid duplicate meta tags, by creating a unique one for every page on your site.
- Be descriptive to the page content
- Be creative and use the text to be inviting so people will want to click on your page when it pops up in search.
The subject of your page, or title of your page, should be included in your page Url.
An example of a good url:
An example of a bad Url:
Just like the title and description tag, it is very easy to take control of your webpage if you are using WordPress, so make sure you choose a Url that describes the subject of your page.
When writing your content, it’s very important to keep your keywords in mind and be sure to use them in your writing.
The caveat: Gone are the days that you can simply stuff your content full of keywords in order to get found in Google. Quite the contrary, the Google algorithms are now advanced enough that they will see through this tactic and may even penalize your page.
Instead, what you need to do is very simple. Identify what exactly which keywords you want to get found for, then simply write about it. Don’t get too caught up in making sure you use your keywords a specific number of times. Instead, focus your energy on writing good, helpful content, be descriptive, and naturally include some of your keywords. You will get found!
I hope that this post gives you a good idea of some of the factors, that you can easily control, which will help your webpages get found by Google and other search engines.
Some of you may be saying, “OK, but I’ve already done all of that and I’m still having problems getting found.”
Well, that is true, there are many other factors that come into play when Google determines search engine results. Very competitive niches will definitely be harder to rank than less competitive niches. Likewise, businesses in small towns will have an easier time ranking higher than businesses located in big cities where there is more direct competition.
Stay tuned for additional article that will address some of the other factors that Google considers, such as online directory citations, links from social media, quality back links from other related sites, and online testimonials and reviews from customers.