Getting up on Google

We all Google when we’re online. The fact that Google has become a commonly used verb shows just how powerful its market position now is. Google is the most trusted and widely used search engine out there, making it the phonebook of the twenty-first century.

On the back of Google’s success has come a wave of small Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) companies that promise to ‘optimise’ your website so that it ranks higher in Google’s secrch results.

SEO is a legitimate concept, and a typical SEO campaign is made up of several different techniques. If your website has been professionally coded and is rich in useful content then you have already taken a big step towards getting into Google’s ear.

Some SEO cowboys claim they can get your site all the way to the top of Google’s search results. Of course this would be a wonderful advantage for any business. But just how genuine are these guarentees? Well, put it this way: if SEO companies really did have the magic key to get you to the top of Google, then why don’t they all share that number one spot themselves?

Of course not every relevant site can be number one on a Google search, even if they are all SEO enabled. In fact Google openly states this.

Where you appear on Google will depend on what keywords are used in the actual search itself, and how specifically it relates to your content.

And don’t be surprised if larger, more established sites that are considered to be authorities in your field are ranked ahead of yours. After all, Google is looking for ‘relevance’, i.e. whether your site is the best answer to the search enquiry. A popular website that has other quality sites referencing links back to it will appear more credible than a site with fewer incoming links and active users.

The truth is that the exact algorithms used by Google to determine the order of its search lists are a trade secret known only to Google. And this technology is subject to ongoing revision. So no one outside of Google really knows for sure how Google works or exactly how its rankings are weighted.

But Google does share guidelines to help make your site more Google friendly.

We think though that the big question for your business isn’t, “How do I jump to the top of Google searches?” Instead the more critical question should be, “Am I relying too much on Google for website traffic?”

Some see Google as a magic bullet that will do all their promotional heavy lifting, allowing them to cut back on their marketing grunt work.

Designing your website to work well with Google is important, but Google won’t make your website successful. That’s up to you.

Promote your site the same way you would any other arm of your business. Bringing users to your website requires the same planning and initiative that gets customers through your front door.

Advertise your website. Highlight it in your print ads. Print your URL address on your packaging or signage. Participate in online forums where your business gives you relevant expertise. Exchange links with other credible websites in your field. Develop an online mailing list to promote special offers or news updates that might bring users back to your site (but be careful not to drive away business through indiscriminate spamming. Remember, successful promotion is about more than making your brand recognisable. It’s about making people feel good about your business and developing trust in your professionalism).

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