Your website has just been made live but you can't see it on the first page of Google for the terms you are searching for?
Google needs some time to rank your website. When your website is launched your website is submitted to Google (this tells Google all the pages your website has) and then usually within 24-48 hours, Google will index your site (this means Google reads each page of your website and adds them into its search engine). Once Google has indexed your website, it determines where your website should rank for particular keywords in relation to other websites.
The exact way Google decides where your website should rank is unknown to all but a set of very key people within Google itself. However, this doesn't mean we are totally in the dark. We know that Google's first goal is to:
Deliver the most useful and relevant search results
You can read Google's mission here. This means, your goal needs to be to give people the most useful and relevant information.
Google has also published an article giving some insight into how Google's search algorithms work and provided a handy video which walks through the basics of what happens when you perform a search on Google, which you can check out below:
How Search Works
The above Google article and video don't go into too much detail on how to improve your website search ranking, however, we can infer how Google might be deciding rank by doing things like:
- A/B testing: trying different search engine optimisation techniques and measuring the results
- Looking at competitors' websites who are ranking well and analysing what they are doing which may be helping them achieve a high ranking.
By having an overview of Google search algorithm and doing the above testing and analysis, there are a number of factors and techniques that have been identified that may help to increase a websites' search engine ranking within Google Search.
Let's step through some of the most common ones.
Factors influencing your websites' search engine ranking
Duration the site has been live
Once your website goes live, you are up against already established websites that have potentially been live for years. Google factors in a websites' longevity into its site ranking algorithms. This means a website that has been around for longer than yours may rank higher until you can establish a proven track record.
To give you a good example of this, say you are a dodgy operator, and you've set up an eCommerce store selling mobile phones, with no intention of actually shipping any phones to the people who have placed orders through your website. If Google pushed you up to the top of the search results straight away, you may get lots of orders and then run off with everyone’s money leaving customers empty handed and out of pocket. This would not be a very good look for Google and would erode the publics' trust in Google's search results. If you searched for "Buy mobile phones online", found the dodgy website that had just been launched and paid $1000 for an iPhone and didn't receive the iPhone, you'd be pretty annoyed and probably question the legitimacy of any future search results Google provides.
So, from Google's standpoint, it's in their best interest to tread carefully with newly launched websites, until such time that they have "proven" themselves. I know that this sounds like a catch 22: how can I prove myself if no one can find my website? Well, there are other ways for people to find your website and the great thing is that these other ways are also monitored by Google and will count towards your search engine ranking in time.
So let's have a look at some of these other ways you can get people to your website, which will in turn help boost you up in the search engine rankings.
A great way to supercharge your search engine rankings is to create videos and upload them to YouTube or Vimeo and then embed these videos on your website. The videos need to obviously be relevant to your website (i.e. be about your particular product or service; no funny cat videos please!). Create a video introducing your products or services and place it on your home page. Or you could get real serious and create videos for each page on your website or for each of your products. For example, if you are a Law Firm, you might create an introductory video about the firm, talking about the areas of law you specialize in, showing the outside of the office and where it is located, etc. Then on the "Family Law" page, you could create a video that discusses all the areas of family law your firm can assist in, perhaps discussing alternatives to going to court over certain matters, etc. As you create the videos, upload them to YouTube or Vimeo and then use the embed feature within YouTube or Vimeo to add the video to your website. When you add the video to you page, it's a good idea to also include a transcript underneath the video (i.e. write out the words spoken in the video) so that if people want to read instead of watch, they can (remember some people might be at work and not want to watch a video due to the noise/college-disturbance factor).
By adding great content in the way of online video, you'll have an advantage over your competitors that don't utilise video on their website. Google will most likely look favourably on your website and boost its search engine ranking. Remember Google's goal is to provide the most relevant and useful search results to people using its search engine. If you have great content, such as relevant, useful and informative videos, Google will want to show you website higher up in its' search results.
When uploading video to YouTube or Vimeo, make sure you have created a YouTube/Vimeo especially for your business; don't use your personal YouTube or Vimeo account. By creating an account for your business, you can separate your business videos and personal videos and set up a "Channel" for your business, which displays all the videos you have uploaded for your business.
By having you're videos hosted on YouTube or Vimeo, your videos have the potential of being found when someone searches within YouTube/Vimeo. When someone watches your video on YouTube or Vimeo, they may then be prompted to go to your website and learn more about what you do.
Also, make sure your website links to your YouTube/Vimeo channel and that your YouTube/Vimeo channels links to your website. We can link your website to your YouTube/Vimeo channel for you. Simply let us know what you're YouTube/Vimeo channel URL is and we'll do the rest.
Ensuring keywords are in the right places
When trying to gain more traffics to your website from search engines, have a think about the search terms would type into Google to find your website.
For example, if I owned a Law Firm in Cairns, and I want to get more traffic for searches such as "Lawyers in Cairns", we need to ensure that those important keywords "Lawyers" and "Cairns" are in the right places on our website.
The first place is in the browser window title, as shown in the screenshot below:
The page heading as shown in the screenshot below is an important place for your keywords. You page heading tells everyone what your page is all about, including Google. Therefore, having your keywords in your page headings is an essential part of search engine optimisation.
Page Body Content
The next area is in the body of the page content. You want your keywords to appear within the page content but make sure you don't get too overzealous and add them in repeatedly. This bad practice is called "keyword stuffing" and will actually hurt your search engine rankings rather than boost them. The page content needs to read naturally and refer to the keywords you're target.
The next area is in the Meta Description of the page. The meta description is sometimes used as the descriptive text about the website shown under the address of your website in the search engine results.
Include your targeted keywords in the meta description and write it in a natural way. Again, no keywords stuffing! The meta-description is describing the specific content on your new page, so make sure it relevant to the page you are creating.
Aim for one or two sentences, up to maximum of 160 characters (search engines usually truncate the meta-description after the 160th character).
URL of the page
Another important area is the URL or address of the page. Make sure your keywords are included in the URL.
Setup your social media sites and be active on them
Having a social media presence for your business is a necessity in today's world. At the very least you should have a Facebook page setup and be actively and regularly engaging with your customers or prospects by posting articles relevant to your business, announcing sales or new products and services, and answering any questions customers have posted on your Facebook page.
Make sure you Facebook page is branded with your logo and photos and ensure there is a link from your Facebook site to your business' website.
Aim for 1-2 posts per week. Try not to post irrelevant content onto your business Facebook page, that is what your personal Facebook page is for.
Having a Google+ page is also a good idea as it may be beneficial to your search engine rankings. Make sure your Google+ profile has as much information about your business as possible (i.e. make sure you've set up your profile in its entirety), and then remain active on it by setting up some circles (or segments) and posting regularly.
If you really want to go hard with your SEO, consider setting up other social media sites as well. Of course, it will depend on the type of business you have, but if you can also have a Twitter account and perhaps an Instagram account or Snapchat account. You don't have to stop there; LinkedIn might be suitable, as might Flickr.
In the end, you'll need to maintain and keep active on these sites to bolster your search engine rankings. My suggestion would be to start with one or two social media sites (for example, Facebook and Twitter) and go from there.
Gain inbound links
Google places high importance on good quality inbound links to your website. Try to get reputable, industry leading websites to link back to your website. When Google sees an authoritative website (a leading website in its field) link to your website, it tells Google that your content must be good, because a leading website is linking to you. The more of these high quality inbound links to you attain, the better.
Never purchase inbound links, chances are you will be penalised by Google (it's pretty smart). Google wants to see that you are a trusted source of information.
When another website links to you, make sure that the keywords you are targeting are included in the text of the link. Using our law firm example again, if I was to ask the Queensland Law Society to link to my website, I would ask them to use the words "Lawyers Cairns" as the words in the link. i would then make the link go to:
Notice the keywords "lawyers" and "cairns" in the address, separated by a hyphen. This will help in boosting your rankings for those keywords.
How do you gain quality inbound links? There are many ways to do this. They include: writing blog posts (articles) on other sites, asking for reviews about your product, press releases on any of your new products (might get picked up by the local newspaper and added into their online edition with a link to your website), provide some free tools or resources (people will let other know about the free resources by linking to you), write a positive review of someone else’s product (to which they will most likely want to link to), or even simply writing or calling the webmaster and politely asking for a link. There are many more ways you can get inbound links.
Read more great ideas on how to get inbound links on HubSpot.
Getting a good chunk of positive reviews on Google can really help your search engine rankings. Google reviews are part of your Google Business Listing which we set up for you shortly after your website goes live. After you have a positive customer experience, ask that customer for a Google review. This will build your reputation with Google and give you a boost up the search results.
Ensure your office address is the same throughout your website and all online directories
Google often displays search results relevant to your area (especially on mobile). So, it's important that Google knows exactly where your business is located. If there are a number of online directories such as Yellow Pages, White Pages, Local Directories, HiPages, all with slightly differing office addresses for your business, this will affect your rankings in Googles' local search algorithm.
You need to check and make sure that all the addresses in these online directories are as similar as possible to each other. Contacting each online directory and following up with them may be a time-consuming task, but it is certainly worth doing.
Want help with your ongoing Search Engine Optimisation?
All the above techniques are simple and easy to do. However, you may be too busy running your business to have time to attend to boosting your search engine rankings. In this case, you may want to hire a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and/or a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) company to do your SEO/SEM for you.
Our focus and core business is building and hosting Content Management System (CMS) based websites, and as such we pass on any search engine optimisation work to other companies here in Cairns. Let us know if you would like us to give you the details of a SEO/SEM company and we'll forward you their details.