March 30, 2010
Google's website ranking algorithm is a closely guarded secret. No one knows the exact formula Google uses to determine which sites should appear above others on a search results page however the underlying principles of their ranking system are understood!
How good is a million dollar website if no one visits it? How good is a website that took a million hours to build but isn't getting any traffic? The only way you can put your website to work for you is by getting it onto peoples computer screens. The more people who see your website and interact with it, the more likely you will be to achieve your online goals.
Being at the top of Google's search results page will put your website link in front of an extremely large audience. Think about the last time you went to page 2 or even to page 3 of Google's search results and found what you were looking for? Most people quickly glance at the first half of the first page of search results and visit one of the links they first come across.
Google ranks your website based on a number of criteria one of which is the relevancy of your content. What does that mean? Let's say your website is selling used Mazda minivans. If I'm looking for a used Mazda minivan, I'm going to go to Google and search for "used Mazda minivans". Google will look at your website and see if the keyphrase I searched for, "used Mazda minivans", is relevant to any of your website's pages. It determines this by looking at your page's title tag, headings (h1, h2, h3, h4, etc), paragraphs, links, alternate image text and so on. If the keyphrase I searched for is used throughout your website (not just in one or two places), then it is more likely that your website will appear in Google's search results.
Make a list of keywords and keyphrases that someone would search for if they are looking for your products or services. If I'm looking for Nike's website, I'm not going to search for "running shoes" in Google. Nike is a household brand and so I'll simply search for "Nike" if I'm looking for their website. I'm guessing your brand is not as widely known as Nike's, so you need to think carefully about how people will search for your products or services. Make a list and then go through each page of your site and make sure that those keywords and keyphrases are used in the right places: your page's title, headings, paragraphs and alternate image text. If I'm starting a new running shoe company, my list of keyphrases will include running shoes, marathon shoes, track shoes, jogging shoes, workout shoes, treadmill shoes, comfortable running shoes, etc.
Blogs are a great way to add content to your site. Every time you create a new blog post a new page will appear on your site that is dedicated to the subject matter you wrote about. Google sees that and likes it! Without a blog search engines will send traffic to relevant pages of your website. With a blog search engines will continue to send traffic to relevant pages of your website but you will also start getting new visitors who are taken directly to your blog. The end result is that your website will have more traffic than it did before!
The second (and just as important) criteria that Google looks for is your website's popularity. What is a "popular" website? A popular website is one that other websites link to. From Google's perspective, the only reason that another website would link to your own would be if it is valuable in some way. If your website was worthless, other sites would not want to link to it.
Google monitors the websites in its database constantly checking to see if they have changed. When one website suddenly adds a link to another website, Google takes notes of that and if enough websites start linking to the same website, Google considers that website "popular". A popular website is more likely to be ranked higher in Google's search results page than an unpopular website.
Get other websites to link to your site! Talk to your friends who have websites. Create Facebook and Twitter profiles for yourself or business that have links to your website. Contact business associations you are part of and make sure that their website links to yours. Comment on relevant blogs and forum postings and include a link to your website. The more links that point to your website, the better!
There are hundreds if not thousands of other factors that influence Google's search result ranking but content and popularity are two of the biggest factors. Some other things you can do to improve your rankings are:
Include keywords in your filenames. For example, products.html is less valuable than used-mazda-minivans.html. Use dashes in place of spaces or underscores when naming files.
We get these emails all the time: "Guaranteed Google page 1 ranking!" It's not possible. I can't guarantee that if I send a friend of mine to your house for dinner that you will welcome them because I have no control over what you do. The same is true with Google. I can't control what they do and I certainly can't guarantee that if you pay me X dollars that I'll get your website to appear on the first page of Google's search results. It's simply not possible! You should be extremely wary of any such offer.
We get a lot of emails from companies who offer services that will automatically submit our website to over 400 search engines every single day. This service is completely worthless. Can you name more than 5 search engines? Most people can't and for that reason, the majority of the search engines that your website will be submitted to are so obscure that they don't matter. The other problem with services like these is that repeatedly submitting your website to a search engine does not improve your ranking or speed up the initial listing process. In fact, several search engines say that repeatedly submitting your site to them may harm your listing more than anything else.