One of the most popular topics we are asked about is search engine optimization (SEO), or “how do I get my site to the top of Google?” The first step is to understand that like anything there are no short cuts, but with a careful plan and hard work any site can be driven to the top of search engine results. ALL SEO starts with the website design: the page layouts, the tags, titles, and the content all factor into an effective SEO campaign. The reason the design matters is the methodology behind page rankings. First know that no one knows the exact Google Algorithm for ranking pages. Many people have guessed at the ranking system, but it is not published. The consensus for the ranking system is that Google looks at two statistics, relevance and authority.
Relevance is based upon whether or not your site content is relevant to the search term entered by a person using Google. So how does Google know whether or not your site is relevant? First Google looks at the meta data written into your site to see what keywords you tell Google are relevant to your site. For example if your website discusses landscaping you might write the keyword landscaping into your code. This lets Google know that you want to be found when someone searches “landscaping.” Google then looks at the content of your site and determines whether the content matches the keywords. If your keyword is “landscaping” and your site discusses landscaping then you will be ranked up while if your site discusses something other than landscaping you will be ranked down. Google then monitors the site to track changes. If your site’s content remains static for a long period of time you will be ranked down. Therefore, every business must create a plan for easily updating site content and keywords or having a third party manage the updates.
The second part of the equation is authority. Authority is a ranking based upon the number and types of people who believe your site is relevant. Google measures the authority of a site based upon the incoming links to the site. When other sites link to your site your rank is increased based upon their rank. For example a .gov or.edu site linking to your site is worth more in terms of authority than a basic .com link. Your authority rank is also based partly upon the links to your site within social media posts. The concept of social media links will be discussed further in a future post about the Next Generation Search Engine. The best way to increase the number and quality of incoming links to your site is to update and improve your site’s content on a regular basis.
If organic results are not enough there is always the ability to generate inorganic results or as we tell people, “you can always buy your way to the front of the line.” SEO campaigns can include Google Ad Word campaigns which are tailored to achieve better search engine results by paying a pay per click fee. The exact fee is based upon the competitiveness for, and the price you are willing to pay Google for the result. Google says,
Ad position is determined by your Ad Rank in the auction. Your Ad Rank is a score that's based on your bid and your Quality Score. If you're using the cost-per-click bidding option, your bid is how much you're willing to pay for a single click on your ad. Your Quality Score is a measure of how relevant your keyword is to your ad text and to what a user is searching for.
To maximize results your ad words should match your keywords and be relevant to your site’s content. Ad campaigns should be created and carefully monitored to improve results and avoid unnecessary expenditure.
There is not a simple solution to achieving great search engine results, and as the ranking formula continues to change your site and marketing campaign will have to adapt to meet the new models. Every search engine optimization campaign begins with a website design that is easily edited and updated. A business owner needs to have a plan for maintaining the site after the designer is done building and the owner takes over the maintenance. In addition to site maintenance a site owner needs to have a plan for creating, implementing, and maintaining a social media presence as well as a blog. Search engine optimization is a popularity contest in which business owners will be forced to participate if they want to implement an effective online marketing and branding campaign.