Getting your site on Google’s First Page
I have had people ask me in the past how do they get their web site to the first page on Google. Many companies promise they can do this, and if you have an unlimited budget then Google Adwords would certainly put you on the front page if you optimise for specific search terms. It is pretty easy and very straightforward. Write an ad that tells people what you offer. Next, choose the key words that will make your ad show in the Google results. Finally, set a daily budget and there you go, your web site will appear at the top or the side of ‘normal search results.
However most of us do not have an unlimited budget and would aim to get their site to the front page on the page’s own merits, or ‘organically’. Having been involved in web site design for the last fifteen years, I’ve kind of picked up a thing or two and have a good idea of what is probably good practice and what is bad.
The Domain Name
The first element is your actual domain name. I have used TritonTS.com as my business domain, but it doesn’t actually tell people what I do. Really something like webdesigntaunton.co.uk or ITSolutionsTaunton.co.uk may have been a better choice. However my choice of domain name was deliberate. My aim was to build Triton as a brand in Taunton…Search for web design Taunton and the first six areas on the page are adWords followed by numerous design companies. Search for Triton Taunton and you get to me straight away.
This leads me to digress into another point. Do you rely on Google alone to promote your business? If you are in a market where there is a lot of competition, then that’s not so easy. If you have a fairly unique business name, and can get it out there through other means, then finding you on the Internet becomes a lot easier.
The next element is the actual url (or page address). Short phrases or Keywords which accurately describe the page content is very useful. I will use a Bridal shop as an example. The main web site address is bridalrooms.co.uk. The shop itself actually stocks a wide range of dresses from various designers. Therefore if you want to highlight the different designers then a page name that accurately describe the pages content is the way forward… bridalrooms.co.uk/Veni-Infantino tells both the search engine and the visitor exactly what the page is about.
The next thing to think about are keywords realting to the site and more specifically that page. There does appear to be a misunderstanding regarding use of Keywords. Stuffing the first page with lots of keywords related to brides, bridal, weddings, wedding outfits, seems like a good idea, but if the keywords out of context and do not flow naturally filling the background tags and page with random associated words can harm the site ranking. The focus must be on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.
A web page is made up of several elements. From a design perspective, things I would think of are:
This is a reference to your page title. The title tag tells Google in a few words what your page is about. If you don’t tell Google, it will guess. The most effective page titles are about 30-65 characters long, including spaces. Keep your titles concise and make sure they contain your best keywords. Each page should have its own exclusive title.
Your Meta Description
The Meta Description does not appear on your page. It appears in the source code and Google reads it to decide what your site or article is about.
Meta Keywords appear in the background code of a web page and help tell search engines what the topic of the page is. Meta Keywords are no longer an important part of the Google ranking algorithm and more attention should go to Title Tags and Meta Descriptions than to Meta Keywords. However they can still play a useful part in describing the page content and attracting searchers to your site. A few page specific Meta Keywords is still useful as there are other search engines out there that still use the Tag.
Basically the way forward is logical descriptive page content. Standards for web design have evolved and recently have been spending my time upgrading sites to meet these.
Elements to be aware of include the H1 tag which tells Google what is important about your page. It backs up the Title tag. The H1 tag should only be used once on your site. Search engine spiders check the relevancy of the header tag with the content associated with it and they also check the relevance between the header tags and other parts of the page.
Other tags to be aware of are: H2 for major sub headings and H3 for general category sub headings and you also need to be aware of Alt tags. These are similar to title tags and description tags they help Google to understand the site pictures. They should be used on every image and ideally should be unique.
So why do you need to know about Tags? Well many of the sites I build can be content managed which means clients can edit their own pages. During the editing process if you are aware of what the search engines are looking for, you can manage your content to be Search Engine friendly and therefore help boost your own pages of your site up the rankings. I have actually made use of the H1, H2, H3, and P (paragraph) dropdown within the WordPress editor to format this article.
Having a sitemap helps search engine robots spider your site. A Sitemap, as the name implies, is just a map of your site – i.e. on one single page you show the site structure. Sitemaps are an important way of telling search engines where you’d like them to go.
So….how do you get your site to the top of Google…
There is no set method or secret recipe for success. If it was easy for me to optimise your website with keywords and then see your site rise to the top of the search results for those keywords, I’d be sitting pretty. What can be done however, is create content based around keywords and key phrases and ideally build links to your site from other sites to boost it’s rating. What shouldn’t be done is stuff the site with blocks of text listing towns cities and counties and repeating the same words or phrases too often in the same area.