This is a question a lot of website owners ask themselves, in fact this was a question a website owner asked us just the other day, which inspired the writing of this article.
Firstly, something which is not common knowledge and often needs to be explained, is that – it is not easy to be a dominant website in Google.
Just because you:
A. want to appear at the top of Google, for a specific keyword, and
B. have a website
…does not mean Google will reward you with a position near the top of it’s rankings.
Additionally, just because you have developed a new website and are very happy with it, it doesn’t mean Google will look at your new website and change it’s rankings immediately or at all. You may not see a difference in your ranking for weeks or months.
Google is smart, cautious and a spurned lover.
Ever since search engines first emerged on the internet, there those who were trying to take advantage of them and their rankings. In the early days search engines were cluttered with irrelevant spammy results which took users to websites which would not help them in their search. These websites would be cluttered with porn, advertisements or simply more links to other pages on the internet. This form of search engine trickery was dubbed “Black Hat”.
To read more about what Google does and doesn’t like, and is therefore considered “Black Hat”, click here.
Google’s algorithm (the fancy word for how it sorts out who should be listed where in it’s search results) has been an ever changing piece of logic which is constantly monitoring millions of websites and their billions of links in order to decide who should reign supreme at the top of their searches.
There are many things the algorithm looks at (far too many to mention here, in fact I just read a 600 page book on the topic) but one thing is for sure; Google doesn’t make changes to it’s results based on a whim. A website which pops up over night will almost never receive much attention from Google, and if it did receive attention it would more likely come in the form of a closer look to see if there were “Black Hat” tactics at play.
If you want your website to be a solid performer in Google search results it takes a lot of time and effort, not to mention a quality website with interesting and worthwhile content. Most websites which are successful in Google have been around for a long time, years not months, and have thousands of links from other websites pointing at them, assuring Google that the site has a lot to offer.
Some clients have complained that they aren’t performing well in Google despite having the ‘magic keywords’ on their page(s). What they are referring to is called Meta Keywords and/or Meta Description. These are blocks of code which tell search engines more about your website pages.
Meta Tags used to be quite important to a website’s performance in search engines, however, now they are only a small ingredient (one of dozens) that goes towards a website’s ranking.
So all this information is great, but what do you do next?
If you have loads of cash and the willingness to spend it then you can employ an SEO company who will optimise your website. Now assuming your website already has all of the bits and pieces it should have for search engines, these SEO companies will direct the bulk of their attention to ‘off-site optimisation”. Which in layman’s terms means; “getting heaps of other websites and blogs to link to you”.
‘Off-site optimisation’ is probably the biggest factor that will have an impact on your performance in Google. Most SEO companies will do a really good job too, however, their services often come with a price tag that amounts to thousands of dollars per year and if after a number of years you decide to no longer employ their services, then you will lose the benefit of the work they had done for you.
This is their business model, and there is nothing wrong with that.
However, if you don’t want to be beholden to an SEO company what I recommend is to spend a lot of time building your content, and adding to it frequently. Get yourself a good content management system which allows you to update your website whenever you choose and start building content that other people want to read.
Many websites which perform well in Google aren’t there because they have employed SEO companies, rather they are there because they have extremely valuable content which inspires their readers to link to them.
So go out and make your website worth visiting. Don’t just make a brochure with your name and address on it. If you want to sit at the top of Google searches then make sure people aren’t disappointed when they click on the link and visit your website.