Imagine building a great store, offering great in-demand products, at a great price, with great customer service and great overall shopping experience. That store would do extremely well, right? Not necessarily!
What if you located your storefront in the back alley of a small town? Your store probably wouldn’t last a month! Even if you advertise your new store in newspapers, on the radio and on TV, that wouldn’t guarantee it would be found.
If your potential customers have a need for what you are advertising at the exact moment they see your ad, then perhaps they would seek out your store no matter where it’s located. But if they don’t have that current need, your store will likely be forgotten.
I Built A Website, Why Am I Not Getting Any Visitors?
Now imagine setting up this same store on the internet. You create an amazing online shopping experience but your website shows up on page 10 of Google search results. No one finds your site. And that means no traffic to your online store. You guessed it -- your online store will soon face the same fate as the imaginary brick-and-mortar store above.
The solution to your dilemma in the offline world is to locate your store where your target audience shops! Assuming you provide a great experience in every other way, your store would probably be a hit in a busy mall, at a popular shopping center or on a street with a lot of foot traffic.
The online equivalent of this ‘location targeting’ solution is to ‘locate’ your online store/website in the search engines (especially Google since this is the most popular destination). According to surveys, 90% or more of people begin their purchasing process in search engines!
How Do I Make Sure My Website is Listed on Search Engines?
This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes in. Given the heavy reliance on search engines by the majority of online users, optimizing your website for search engines is critical.
As mentioned, search engines are one of the most widely used tools that people use to find products and services to fulfill their needs. Having your site show up in the search engine results pages (SERPs) when someone types in a query positions you in front of the user at the exact time they are searching for a product or service that you offer.
👉 Just as important as ‘showing up’ in search results is showing up on page one, as over 95% of site visits are clicked from page one.
How Can I Get My Website On Page One Of Search Engines?
How exactly do you get your website listed on page one of the search engines? Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet to make this happen, but it mostly comes down to one thing – content.
A good website will have plenty of content that educates and helps users find what they are searching for.
Search engines incorporate automated algorithms and other methods to help them determine if your website matches what the user is searching for using their engine. In order to match the best websites from the millions of available sites to the millions of queries they receive every day, search engines utilize programs called “robots” (because they are automated) or “spiders” (because they “crawl” the web gathering information about nearly all of the available sites and pages active on the world wide web).
Whether you call them robots or spiders, if you want your website to be noticed by the search engines and ranked higher than other websites, you need to optimize your content for these processes.
How Does A Search Engine Spider “Read” My Website?
A spider crawls individual pages on your website looking for keywords that give clues to what that page is all about. It analyzes this textual content (along with other factors like overall site content, how recently the site has been updated and the density of the content) to determine if your content is relevant, useful and answers the query being searched.
Naturally working (but not stuffing) your targeted keywords (the words your buyers are searching) into the content is one of the most important steps you can take in helping search engines rate your website as being relevant to the user.
- For example, if your main keyword for a page is “red car”, you would want to work that into your copy several times but not to the point of what would be considered keyword stuffing. Placing the term “red car” other places on the same page will help boost your rankings as well, such as: within hyperlinks (i.e. ‘More Info on Red Car’ instead of ‘Click Here’) and in the site navigation, breadcrumb links, user reviews and testimonials, image names, alt tags, page titles and meta descriptions.
Tip: Don’t forget your images! Images and graphics are important elements of a website that help enhance the user experience and overall “feel” of the site. However, spiders can’t see images. So even if your image contains text in graphical form, search engines can’t “read” it. You can help the spiders understand what your images are about by including “alt text” describing what the image displays, and by naming the image using keywords that describe what is visually displayed in the image.
My Content Is Optimized, Now What?
After you go through the initial steps of optimizing your content, the next step is to…continue optimizing!
The information available on the internet is constantly changing, with new sites being added every day and existing content being changed daily. Search engines also have to constantly change to make sure they are presenting the most relevant information sources to their users.
👉👉So with all of this change, it is important to make sure your website remains relevant in the ‘eyes’ of the search engines! Add ‘fresh’ content to your site and keep the existing content up to date and relevant.
Other methods, also known as off-page SEO, to help your website get ‘noticed’ by search engines include:
- Social Networks: Engage users on popular social networks (like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter) to help establish your brand as an expert in your field and provide links back to your website, which helps maintain your site as current and relevant in the ‘eyes’ of the search engines.
- Directory Listings: Include your website URL in online directories to further establish your brand and what you offer, as well as provide quality backlinks from sources with high domain authority. There are both free and fee-based directories. Also, claim the listings for your website on ‘local search’ directories such as Google My Business to assure the information listed for your business is accurate. (There is likely a listing already created for your business but it may be pieced together from various sources and can be inaccurate).
- Reference Sites and Guest Blogging: Reference sites, especially popular ones like Wikipedia, consistently rank high on search engines. A user could be directed to your site if you have a reference article linked vie one of these sites. Guest blogging works in a similar way. It can be very beneficial to get a blog article published on higher authority sites to help establish yourself as an expert, as well as position your article higher in search results.
Much like the internet in general, the world of search engine marketing is constantly changing. All of the factors discussed above work together to help establish your website as a relevant and trusted resource that search engines will confidently send their users to by ranking your site higher than other sites.
You’ll want to monitor your site rankings, traffic and site goals, and other metrics important to your business (using tools such as Google Search Console, Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Social Network Insights, SEMrush, HubSpot, etc.) to make sure your website is at the very least keeping pace and not losing ground.
As you continue to understand how search engines ‘see’ and rank your website and begin to incorporate the above strategies, you will be able to enjoy SEO success!