You know the scenario. You’ve just had your Graphic Design Company design and build a beautiful site for you and you’re really happy. You instruct your web designer to make the site ‘go live’ and then sit back and wait for things to happen.
…3 to 4 weeks go by and no new customers have phoned. You know it’s not the site – you’ve checked with friends, associates and existing clients and they all agree the new website is 10 x better than the last. Then someone informs you… you’re not showing up on Google!
Frantic searching on Google reveals that – while you appear at the number one slot for your website name – you appear absolutely nowhere when you type in the words that relate to your business.
So then you start the process of learning all about ‘organic search engine optimisation’ and ‘how to get to page 1 on Google’. The problem is, the more you learn the more confused you become. Until, bamboozled by every contradictory thing you read, you throw your hands up in despair and yell ‘I don’t understand this SEO stuff!’. And why should you? It’s not your job to learn the SEO lingo and try to understand Google’s search algorithms – you just want your site on page 1! But in order to start that process you know action needs taking, and in order to take action you have to understand the basics.
So this post is dedicated to helping you understand the basics of making your site Google friendly. To make it easier to understand, I’ve used the analogy of friendship – because that is exactly what you’re looking to achieve – befriend Google, who will in turn reward that friendship by introducing you to a wider audience.
We all know at least one person who seems to know everybody. They walk down the street and almost everyone seems to say hello to them, they walk into a pub and are surrounded by people – all happy to be in their company. You’re in a fix and the first person you call is them. Everyone wants to be part of their ‘inner circle’ – the trusted few that benefit from being in the presence of this one person. Let’s call that person Google.
Now you know that you can get introduced to Google really easily. All you have to do is go and say hello. Google will acknowledge you too, but that’s not enough! You want to open a meaningful dialogue with Google – so how do you do that?
Well, you approach Google like you would befriending anyone…
Show interest in Google.
Google have made it their life’s ambition to be the best search engine in the world and – just like your popular friend – they know that to achieve this, they must be very free with their time and interest in people. So Google have provided a suite of free tools and plenty of advice and all you have to do is show interest! Spend some time with these tools – they’ll help google, but they’ll benefit you more! Like any friendship, the more time you invest in someone and the things you both like doing, the stronger the bond.
So here is a list of ‘pursuits’ you must engage with, in order to open a meaningful conversation with Google.
Sign up with Google
Google offer many services, some which will be familiar such as google maps and Google +, but they also have other services designed to help those who need to get noticed. If you haven’t already, sign up and get yourself a Google account.
Sign up to Google here:
Google Maps is a must with any business wanting to be noticed on Google. Not only does it literally ‘put you on the map’, it can propel you on to the front page without having to wait months! Take a look at the image below:
When someone does a local search for a business in their area, Google helpfully posts up those businesses that have registered their business address on Google maps. This gives the searcher the ability to get contact details and even directions straight to your business. You might be on page 6 or 7 of Google, but if you’re on Google Maps you could be one of the first companies your customer sees.
Submit your website address to Google
It’s amazing how many people forget this small step. Don’t assume that your web designer has done this for you. If they haven’t told you they’ll do this as part of the fee, ask them. It’s a free service and takes a few minutes, so if they haven’t, you can easily do it yourself.
Sign up to Google Webmaster tools
Googles Webmaster Tools gives you access to more tools to help you understand how Google views your website.
Google Webmaster Tools are:
Search Queries: A list of all the queries people typed in to find and access your website. This is particularly useful if you want to learn which are the most used search phrases and then use those search phrases to boost the relevancy of those search phrases to bring you more targeted traffic.
Links to your site: This shows other websites that are linked to you and which of these sites send you the most traffic. You can use this to plan joint campaigns with these sites so that you both receive more traffic. Another benefit of being friends with Google!
Internal Links: This shows how all of your websites pages are linked to each other. The more links to a particular page – the more importance is placed on that page by Google. This is useful, especially if you’re running an Ecommerce store – you may well discover your shopping cart page (which may be empty more times than not) may have more links to it than your store front page.
Content Keywords: This shows the number of keywords on your site and the particular significance that is placed on those keywords by Google. For instance, an online ladies shoe store might have ‘heels’ and ‘shoes’ as keywords, but more relevance might be attached to ‘heels’ because more women searching online may use heels as a search term. The store owner could then raise a conversation around the keyword ‘heels’, giving them more relevancy and piquing the interest of Google.
Go here to sign up for Google Webmaster Tools
Submit a Sitemap
A site map is a list of the pages on your website and how they are all interconnected. Google reads this file and uses it to easily construct an overview of how your website is laid out. By submitting a site map to Google, you’re helping Google get a clearer picture of the structure of your website. Making life easy for Google is always a good thing, it shows them you are willing to make life easier for their other ‘friends’ too.
You’ll need to upload a site map file to the main directory of your web server first.
Visit this link for a list of google approved online site map generators. Scroll down to the heading “Online Generators/Services” and click any of the links provided – all but one of them is a free service. Out of the list I’ve found this one to be very easy to use: http://xmlsitemapgenerator.org
Once you’ve uploaded the generated file, go into your new Google Webmaster Tools account visit Crawl > Sitemaps to submit and test your site map.
Now you’ve made Google’s acquaintance, it’s time to get super friendly
You’ve now shown Google you’re serious about befriending them, but at present, you still have some way to go to enter that ‘inner circle’ – the first page of Google search. In order to get there you need to find out what Google’s other friends really like.
Those other friends are your potential customers and clients – and, like you, they ask Google every day to find and connect them to the people, places and businesses they like. So, if you want to befriend them, you have to move in the same space as them AND you need the ever popular Google to introduce you to one another, otherwise you’re just another face in the crowd.
Getting introduced to Google’s other friends
This takes a little research on your part. You need to find out what circles these people move in. Luckily Google comes to your rescue once again.
The Google Keyword Tool helps you find the most popular words your potential customers are using to find services that you provide. Simply put, you enter a word or a phrase that pertains to your business and the Keyword Tool will tell you how many people are using that word or phrase as a search term per month. Now, in Googles own words:
A keyword is any word or short phrase that describes a website topic or page. – The more a keyword is used by searchers and websites the more attraction power it has.
Keywords are the circles in which Googles friends move. To get into the right circle of friends you have to use the right words. But how do you use these words?
Incidently – if you’d like a more in-depth tutorial on how to use Google’s Keyword Tool, go here to RobCubbon’s fantastic site and follow his tips and video
How to make the right noises
Again, this is a direct quote from Googles help on its Keyword Tool:
If you want your website to attract searchers, you need to use strong keywords in your website titles and website text . These brief words should realistically identify and describe your site.
So Google has made it clear. If you want to attract the right crowd, you have use strong keywords in your website titles and website text. The last sentence is very interesting too – the words should realistically identify and describe your site! In other words don’t be the great pretender!
Google is like any of your closest friends – you don’t pretend around them, you don’t tell them things you THINK they want to hear, you don’t make things up to impress them, they like you because of what/who you are – warts and all. It’s the same with Google, don’t try to impress Google with a string of words just because you want to be introduced into a particular circle! Google will see right through you and won’t appreciate the falseness. If you want to get introduced, be yourself – use your website to talk about the things that pertain to your business. Use the right words yes, but keep them in context, make sure they are always relevant. Do it naturally and the keywords will find their own space and fit right in.
Great Ways to ‘Be yourself’ around Google
Blogging – Blogging is one of the best ways to start a conversation that is real and meaningful. Google is a deep thinker, a lover of new and fresh content, and anything that is helpful to those that move in the circles you want to enter.
Set up a blog on your website using WordPress or another blogging platform. Talk about the issues that affect your customers, provide solutions and answers to problems you have seen them encounter. You’ll soon find that these people gravitate toward you. They’ll ask for your help and engage in conversation with you. Be open and honest and engage frequently.
Google’s a helper and likes those that like to help also. The great thing about this is, your potential customers also want to be helped. When you’re with your friends, you don’t just talk about yourself all the time – yet its a common mistake made by many companies – Customers don’t want to hear about you and what you’ve done, they want to hear about what you can do to help them. Help them, help yourself. It’s been Googles philosophy from the beginning and it works.
Connect to the other big networks out there – If you made a beeline for your popular friend, but refused to engage others unless you wanted something, it would soon become clear that you were using them to get what you wanted. The same applies to Google, you can’t just attach yourself to Google and ignore Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the countless other big players out there. Google needs to see you engaging with others too – otherwise you’re just a leech. If Google sees you have strong links with other strong players, this adds to your attraction and attraction is key. So get involved, Twitter is the best platform for instant engagement on any subject. Facebook is great for starting conversations and getting noticed. All the popular social media platforms have their advantages, some will work better for you than others, but give them all a try – you don’t know which will work best until you do.
Create video – Google’s BFF is YouTube, a platform which is expanding rapidly all the time. A great place to get noticed and be seen. People don’t just read content, they love to watch it, listen to it, look at it. In fact reading content is probably the least favourite for a lot of people. Switch on your webcam and read your latest blog post straight into the camera, then put it up on YouTube. Create powerpoint presentation, bullet pointing the salient points and film your screen using Camtasia, or ScreenFlow Screen Recording software with a voiceover.
Create audio – take the audio from your video and save it as an mp3 file – post it to your blog and put it up on Soundcloud.
Managing your conversations
One of the best ways to control your conversations is through the use of a CMS, a Content Management System on your website. This allows you to log in at any time, add new pages, new content, blog, edit pages, tag content reply to comments that others have left you – all without muddying your hands with HTML. If your website is a static site, then now is the time to get it changed. Updating your website not only should be easy and free, it’s a must if you wish to stay on top of the rapidly shifting landscape.
WordPress is by far the best openly available and easy to use CMS system to date, because of it’s humble beginnings as a pioneering blogging platform, many people still raise their noses at the prospect of using it. But it’s come a very long way in a very short space of time and is now used by well known brands, news outlets and personalities across the world. Contrary to popular belief, your website doesn’t have to resemble a template created by others – although there are some excellent ones available which work well for those on a tight budget. You can have your site built to spec and then attached to wordpress, giving you all the beauty of a bespoke site and all the ease of use of a great CMS platform. But one of the best things about WordPress is, you can add plugins that will help you organise your keywords and phrases, so that your website titles and descriptive text meet the approval of your new Best Friend – Google.
So, if your site needs updating, do it now and make your life easier in the process.
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