Six Ways to Improve Your Site's Search Results in Google
Your website, whether you are selling a product, promoting a message, or attempting to draw traffic to generate AdSense revenue, will only be successful if people can find it. Unless you intend to distribute your URL to a select group of people, the best way to help people find your site is through search engine optimization (SEO).
Optimizing your website for search engines such as Google greatly impacts if and where your site appears in search results. While SEO includes many factors, here are six of the top considerations that remain consistent with each update of Google's search algorithym:
1. Is your site designed with the user in mind?
In the early days of SEO, web designs optimized to appeal to search engines would leave the site confusing for users. Web designers would frequently employ "black hat" tactics such as keyword stuffing, invisible text, and inappropriate redirects. As search engines like Google caught on, though, these tactics became less effective. Today, they can actually harm your placement in search results and could even result in a ban.
Your best strategy now is to design your site for your users. Are visitors to your site able to find what they are looking for quickly and easily? Does your site's structure make sense? Is your content understandable, informative, and logically presented?
Design your site for your users first, then worry about making a few tweaks for SEO. Otherwise, your visitors are not going to stay anyway. If your site is useful and usable, however, Google will recognize that it offers your audience something of value. As a result, you will reap the benefits in your site's search results placement.
2. Is your site is crawlable?
Once they enter your site, web crawlers (also known as spiders, robots, or, in the case of Google, Googlebots) follow the links present to assist in indexing your site. If much of your content is buried by a string of links, though, it may never be found. Additionally, any links that go to nonexistent pages will work against your site's ranking.
With this in mind, verify that all your links are functional and that they are accessible to users and spiders alike. Avoid using frames as they can conceal links. To further assist crawlers in indexing your site, include a Sitemap and a robots.txt file. These will help draw attention to pages that might otherwise be missed. The robots.txt file will also allow you to block crawlers from pages you do not want indexed.
3. Does your site load quickly enough?
In this age of technology, waiting for more than a few seconds for a page to load is too long. Visitors to your site will not tolerate long waits; instead, they will grow impatient and click away. The length of time it takes for your pages to load is an important SEO factor for Google.
Long wait times can be caused by your server. If this is a perpetual problem, it may be time to look for another host. Most times, though, the problem is caused by the page itself. Extraneous or erroneous code in the header, large image files, and multimedia files are common culprits. Simplify your content to increase the speed.
4. Is your site stale and out-of-date?
Google places a high value on current content that is beneficial to those visiting your site. The longer the time-gap between updates, the more likely it is that your position will begin to slip. Before you know it, your site could be buried deep in the search engine results page (SERP).
To acquire and keep a good place in the SERPs or Google and other search engines, then, it is essential that your regularly add new content that is useful and error-free. (Even spelling mistakes can negatively impact your ranking.) Whether you choose to create the content yourself or hire others to do it for you, keep your site active. If you do, you will ensure return visits from your users and be rewarded with a higher position in the search results.
5. Have you named your pages wisely?
Use actual words in your URLs as opposed to numbers, symbols, or an arbitrary set of letters. Keep it simple and intuitive. For example, an article about bathroom mold located at yoursitename.com/how-to-clean-bathroom-mold.html is much more SEO friendly than yoursitename.com/2011/a/ghcoe&220165.html. While you're at it, ensure that all the pages on your site have titles and descriptions included in the HTML meta tags.
6. Have you optimized your keywords?
Keywords have long been a key factor in achieving SERP success, and that remains true today. While Google advises against overdoing and misusing keywords, they are valuable tools when used correctly.
Intersperse your keywords throughout your content while making sure they fit with the context. In particular, use your keywords in the title as well as in the opening and closing sentences. When choosing your keywords, use terms that your intended target might use when performing a search.
Proactively addressing these basic SEO issues can result in a dramatic improvement of your site's ranking in Google searches. Your attention to these matters will go a long way in helping you attain that coveted position at or near the top of page one.