I’m surprised how many people ask me about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for their small business. And who could blame small business owners for the desire to show up on the first page of a Google search? I know many small businesses that still exist only because they show up as one of the first results for a particular Google search.
So how can I get my website to show up on Google?
Most people think they need to submit their website to Google, but the chances are that the website is already in the Google database, it’s just too far down to show up in many search results. An easy way to check and see if you website is in the Google database is to type the following into a Google search: “site:example.com” where you replace example.com with your website address. This will list every page that Google has indexed at example.com.
Now that you know that your site is (probably) in the Google index, how do you get it up higher in the rankings? It’s important to know that Google is desperately trying to rank websites in the same way a human would. Imagine if a human were to search the entire internet and provide you with a list of the best websites about, for example, vacations in Africa. Because it would take years for a human to do this, Google must rely on continually improving computer programs to act like a human.
So a great principle to keep in mind is that if you create a website people want to visit you will create a website that Google wants to rank high. While the details of how exactly the Google ranking process works are a closely held secret, Google has provided a surprising amount of information about how they rank websites.
How are the search rankings decided?
Google basically uses page relevancy and page reputation to decide on search results. Page relevancy is how many of the words in a particular search show up on a particular page. If someone searches for “Denver financial planners,” a page with three instances of the search keywords on the webpage will generally show up above a webpage that only mentions the keywords once. You can get more advanced by placing the keywords in good locations, like in the website title or url.
The second half of page ranking is the webpage’s reputation. Webpage reputation is largely decided by the number of links pointing to that page. A webpage with 10 inbound links will likely show up higher in rankings than a webpage with one inbound link. But note that all links are not considered equal. If a site with a good Google reputation like CNN.com links to your site, that will count a lot more than a link from a friend’s blog.
Hopefully this lays some of the groundwork for how search rankings are decided. I plan on diving into more details on how to make your website “Google friendly” and how to get links to your site in future blog postings.
If you can’t wait till my next post here are some good resources to help you out: