|Do You Know How to Make Google Love Your Website? Simple Ways to Optimize Your Site and Get Traffic|
By Dave Wedge
There are many mysteries in life. Questions such as 'Does the Loch Ness Monster exist?', 'Is the Universe infinite?', 'Why do socks just disappear in the washing machine?' all remain unanswered.
Another such question is 'How do Google decide on search engine rankings?'. What are the factors that determine whether your site pages make it to the first page of the search results and get you visitors, or whether your site is destined to languish unvisited and gathering cobwebs?
The truth is that only Google know the exact factors, rather like the recipe for Coke this is a closely guarded secret. Google have very complex algorithms which are regularly tweaked and updated to determine the search rankings.
However from experimentation and results achieved it is possible to derive many of the factors that work or have negative impact, if you want your site to be successful you need to pay attention to these. This is otherwise known as website optimization.
Google and the other search engines live or die by the quality of the results they return to people doing searches. If you were searching for Mexican food recipes and Google gave you a string of results related to French food, you might try a different search but unless results improved you would probably start using Bing or another search engine.
The search engines want to give users the best possible experience, so your site has to offer pages that they regard as high quality and relevant.
You need to be regularly thinking about why Google should want to give your pages good rankings. Remember it is all relative, you are trying to be better than the competition in just your niche - you don't have to produce a masterpiece here.
An important point to bear in mind is that Google indexes and ranks individual pages not whole websites, so some of your pages will do better than others. You need to focus on every site page being related to a particular topic.
As an example if your site is about playing better golf have one page about putting, another about bunker play, etc. This enables Google to rank your pages for clusters of keywords related to each of your topics. So your putting page might rank for "putting tips", "putt better", "improve log putting" etc.
Research your competition and have a look at the sites on page 1 of the results for the searches you want to compete for. These are the sites you need to try to beat in the rankings.
Some websites will automatically get favored irrespective of what you might think about the quality of their content. Government sites get high placements, Wikipedia is usually up there, and if relevant the likes of Amazon will often appear on page 1.
If page 1 of the results is stuffed with competition like this you need to be realistic and not waste a lot of time and effort trying to beat them for the top keyword searches. Instead focus on getting ranked for less common searches (known as longtail keywords), these will be longer search strings that the competition is unlikely to be optimized for.
So that's the background, what do you actually need to do to get your pages to rank well?
As a starting point there are some things Google actively penalizes, so make sure you are not making these mistakes. This is back to the point that the search engines want to provide their users with a good experience.
Check that your site does not have broken links, either internal to other pages or out to other sites. If you have pages that are out of date or have little content, remove or update them. If you have pages that cover multiple topics and no real focus don't expect them to rank well.
What you do need to have are pages that provide high quality content for your visitors. Blog posts should be at least 500 to 600 words in length, they should also focus tightly on a topic.
You need to update your site regularly. Try to add content at least once a week, this could be a blog or article, maybe a video, or just something that adds value to your site.
Links to your site from elsewhere on the Internet (known as backlinks) are important. Google sees these as a kind of endorsement of you by other people. At one point this was a huge factor in the ranking algorithms, this has lessened as a huge industry developed around getting backlinks that were of little value, but they are still important.
Submitting quality articles to other sites, commenting on other people's blogs, posting Infographics and promoting them, joining in forum discussions - these are all good ways of getting backlinks. They key is that Google should see them as natural, not as a way of trying to force rankings, so do little and often and vary the text you put in the links.
There are also simple steps you can take such as putting a site map on your website, this is easy to do and is useful for visitors as well as Google.
As a basic step, each page on your site also contains a series of tags known as Meta tags, you should make a point of carefully populating both the Title and Description tags.
There may be a little work here but if you don't optimize your website it is highly unlikely it will ever do well in the rankings, and unless it does you are not going to get much traffic, if any, from organic searches.
Get started today and help Google to help you.
Don't let your website sit unvisited and unloved.
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