So you just put the final touches on your new company website — but it isn’t showing up in Google. Why not? What’s going on?
The first step, according to Samuel Pura, an Intuit web advisor, is to simply make sure you have submitted your URL to Google. Once you’ve done this, it can take three to six weeks for your website to appear.
Then the fun begins.
Getting listed is one thing. Getting a good rank is another altogether. The vast majority of people don’t click past the first page of search results, says Pura, so it’s not enough for your site to simply be indexed by Google. You want it to rank on the first page (which typically has 10 website listings). To do this, you need to employ search engine optimization (SEO) strategies.
Here are seven SEO tips from Pura to help your website rank more highly on Google.
1. Add keywords to your website content. Keywords can be a single word or a short phrase of up to four or five words. These should be terms that are relevant to your site and which people are likely to use when they search Google. Obviously they need to be relevant to what your site is about. “You want to choose three to five keywords that you really want to focus on,” says Pura.
However, he warns, don’t focus on more than five keywords — more than this, and you could be suspected of keyword-stuffing and be blacklisted by Google.
2. Use meta-tags to add more keywords. Meta-tags are hidden code — visitors to your website don’t see them, but the Google search engine “bots” that scan your site will pick them up. You can add these meta-tags to your site yourself if you have a web design program or if you know how to do HTML coding. If not, you can hire or assign a web designer to add them for you. Pura says you should add no fewer than 10 meta-tags and have no more than 20.
3. Find keywords that aren’t overly competitive. Pura suggests you use Google’s free Keyword Tool to figure this out. This web tool lets you gauge the popularity of particular search terms, as well as the level of competition you face by using them. Highly competitive keywords can have tens of thousands of websites fighting over them, so you are less likely to wind up on page one of Google if you pick these.
4. Seek out backlinks, web pages that contain links back to your site. “The biggest factor for search engines today is backlinking,” says Pura. “It’s what they are looking for. If you have multiple websites linking back to the page, Google thinks this is one of the best pages.”
You can get backlinks through blog posts in which you link to your own site, reciprocal links (having others link to your page in exchange for you linking to theirs), press releases you issue with your web address listed, Facebook pages listing your site, and articles you write and post on other websites with links back to your site. Be creative.
5. Create a listing for your site in Google Places. This tip is for retail businesses with physical locations. It lets Google link your site to a map listing, so when people look for your business or search using keywords linked to your business, they will find a Google map listing — and can click through to your website for more information.
6. Have content that is relevant to your site. Use articles or other material that is specific to the services you are providing. Don’t use filler that is only tangentially related. Google’s latest algorithm ranks sites with original, relevant content more highly than those with content repeated elsewhere.
7. Consider buying a sponsored Google listing. Google Adwords is a program that lets you get your site listed on the right-hand side of the Google search results page. However, this piece of Google real estate comes with a price tag, which varies anywhere from 5 cents to $5 (and up) each time someone clicks on your sponsored listing, says Pura. The fees are negotiated with Google and depend on how many other people want to use the keyword you have chosen.
Once you’ve optimized your site and watched it climb to that crucial first page of Google, you can’t rest on your laurels, cautions Pura. SEO, like dirty dishes, always needs to be managed. As soon as you’ve climbed Mt. Google with a page one ranking, your competitors may well be after you with their own SEO strategies, seeking to knock you off your perch. Or people may start searching using different keywords. The bottom line: Your site will need continual review to maintain your rank.