I Wanna Be #1 on Google!

We hear this a lot. And it’s a worthy goal. But do you know what it really takes to get there? Here are some of the considerations for getting high rankings on Google.

h3. Preliminary Note: You don’t have to go through Google to get places on the internet.

We’ve observed a lot of people go to Google, then type in their own web site and wait for Google to bring it up. Then they click through to go the web site. Some newbie web users think you have to go through Google to get anywhere on the Internet. Others have not grown comfortable with the address bar in the web browser window. Sometimes we audaciously suggest typing in the web site address directly and saving it as favorite for a one-click visit in the future. More than once we’ve heard, “No, I like going to Google.” I must say we don’t understand this, but we’ve observed it too many times to pretend it is not a real behavior.

Having valid, quality links to your site is the most important thing you can do to get good rankings on Google.

h3. Search Engine Primer: How do I get in a search engine?

Each search engine has robots and spiders that are software programs crawling the web. They follow links from web page to web page and then index or file what they find into massive databases. You want to build your site so that it is accessible to these automated programs. And you want to build your private web areas so they are not accessible to these programs.

There are over 8 billion pages on the internet.

A July 2000 Cyveillance’ study estimates that the Internet is growing at a rate of more than 7 million pages per day.

It takes time after your site has launched before the bots and spiders will find you and store you in their databases. Be patient! Or go directly to Google to submit your site.

h3. First: How do you want to be found on Google?

Google is a search engine. You type one or more words into the search bar and Google returns any number of guesses for what it thinks you want. Those words you type in are called “search terms” and/or “keywords.” Some search terms are incredibly competitive, as there are many businesses who want to be number one for that phrase.

Think about “home mortgage.” Then think about how many web sites are in the business of selling home mortgages. Then think about the budget some of them have to pay to get top rankings on Google. Depending on your search term and the size of your business, it may not be realistic to expect top rankings for very generic, very competitive search terms.

h3. Second: What search terms are within your reach for top rankings?

All is not lost! You can aim to be found by your company name, especially when combined with a local search. Let’s say “ABC Home Mortgage” and “Albuquerque.” Those are more specific, and would be a much better search query if say, someone heard you speak at Rotary and wanted to check you out, but did not have a business card or did not know your web site address.

You’ll want to have your company name mentioned in real text on your home page and you’ll want to have your City and State and/or geographic service area also listed in the home page text.

h3. Third: What if that still isn’t working?

Google is an incredibly competitive space. Even when you do things “right,” you may not make it on the first few pages. It may be you have a common name in a crowded space. It may mean your site is too small to get noticed. It may mean the structure of your site prevents Google from easily finding you. It may mean your site is too new for Google to have found you yet and placed you in its database.

h3. Fourth: What are the most important things for you to do to get on Google?

* Make sure your site structure is inviting to the search engines. You can listen to our podcast on the topic here (link has expired).
* Aim for at least 50 pages on your site. Content is king and the more you have, the more the search engines will pay attention to you. The more current the content, the better. The more specific the content, the better.
* Be sure to list your company name, your keywords, and your geographic location on the home page.
* Look at your site statistics and see what search terms people are using at Google to get to your site. Then be sure to add those phrases to your web site content. Obviously, you have to get some history on your site before this tip will be useful.
* Generate high quality links to your site from other sites. This is easy of you start commenting on related blogs and web sites, write articles about your specialty for other web sites, and ask others in your industry to mention you on their web sites. Having valid, quality links to your site is the most important thing you can do to get good rankings on Google. If enough people link to you, you can have very few pages and break a lot of the other rules because Google looks at what other people value when deciding how to rank you.
* Update your site so it is using the newest Web 2.0 software, enabling your site to “ping” other sites when you post new content. You can learn more in this podcast (link has expired).
* Register your site with Technorati and consider adding Technorati tags to your pages, as I have done at the end of this post.

h3. When You’re Ready For Professional Help

We’ve helped many companies get top 3 listings on Google and Yahoo for very competitive search terms. You can read more here about our services (link has expired).

roxanne's signature


DATE: 01/10/2006 06:23:31 AM
Rox, great post (as I always expect from the Geek Queen.)

I’d add that it’s also not enough to just “open” a web site and expect revenues from it.

Marketing tactics (including the web site, PR, etc.) must be integrated to have a real impact (and ROI). We can’t just throw out a site, ad, or one-time promotion and expect results. Marketing is much more than looking purty and soundin’ nice. It’s inherent to everything a company does.

Further, specifically re web sites. Even if you are popular and pretty, is there anything on the site that will interest the visitor (and get them coming back for more?) One of my Web 1.0 friends tells me she gets lots of click throughs from her Google ads – but nobody stays, darn it (or calls her). I’ve now given up repeating (yet again) my list for web success (integration of tactics, quality, relevance of content, ease of navigation, freshness).

(Hmmm…gotta go check my Google rankings! And, get crackin’ on finishing my new site content.)