Gone are the days when you could stuff keywords on the footer of your page and trick Google into ranking you higher in their search engine results. While Search Engine Optimization has come a long way and has become fairly technical, its roots still lie in plain logic and most importantly in honesty. As Google has progressed and become the flat out leader in search engines, they have developed their search engine ranking algorithm to ensure that it cannot be tricked, and in the event that it is tricked, it won’t stay tricked for too long and will come at a huge cost to the trickster.
Startup entrepreneurs like to have their website’s results as close to the top of Google’s search pages as possible, and are often prone to trying and tricking the system by using techniques frowned upon by Google, also called Black Hat SEO. While these techniques might get you to the top of results for a few days, Google will catch on to it and will punish your website severely. There will be no other eventual outcome. What should you do, therefore, to get your website ranked higher? Let’s take a look at some quick tips.
1. Content is King
This is probably the last thing that startups want to hear and invest in, but it’s true. Google values content, and so should you. Google’s goal is to match an entered search query with the content that is the best and is the most unique. While your website at the moment might have content that puts the New York Times to shame, but over a course of time your website will rank higher if it has superior content. Invest in good content, ensure that the content on your website is of a high standard and addresses key issues and you won’t have any trouble going high up in the rankings.
Remember, SEO doesn’t work in a few hours or in a few days. It’s a gradual process that can take months at times, but once established, it’s very hard to be pushed down. When you’re creating unique content for your website, try to put yourself in the mind of a searcher and think what they would search for and try and naturally include those queries in your content.
2. Google Should be Able to Find You
We’re all prone to creating wacky, interesting content, but you should realize that not everyone on the internet is looking for wacky content, it’s only a small group of people. Most people search in need of information, and if you can provide information in a clear, simple and concise manner then more people visit your website and recommend it to people. The best practice for having Google being able to find you is for you to ensure that higher ranking websites that are in Google’s good books are linking to you. This might be difficult to achieve, but this is where content being King comes into play!
If you have interesting or unique content, try and get it linked to from higher traffic websites. Get bloggers with high reputation websites to link to your page saying that it’s got an interesting story, good content, or a relevant take on a matter. It’s important for you to have a mix of popular, new as well as relevant content that will be of use to a large section of people.
3. Create an Organized URL Structure
This is something that often eludes webmasters and developers. The importance of creating an organized URL structure with relevant names for folders and categories is paramount. A website with a URL like www.website.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=202012 will not rank as high as a website with a URL like www.website.com/world-news/argentina/political-rallies-on-street.html.
Apart from simply looking clean to the user, it also lets search engines know what the page is all about which helps a lot in rankings. Google and other search engines tend to believe that if the keyword a user has searched for is matched with the URL of a result page, it should be ranked higher as it would mean that the entire page is dedicated to the content being searched for by the user. Simple logic really.
4. Page Titles and Headers
A bit of HTML never hurt anyone, and if you’re thinking about putting your website online, there’s nothing more important than a clear knowledge of HTML and how you can use it to further your SEO cause. Your goal is to match search queries with content and ensure that you’ve got the right keywords covered in your website. The best way of doing this is ensuring that your URL has the right keywords in it, your <title> tags have the right keywords in it and lastly, the <h1> tags in your website are also connected to the keywords.
Keep your page titles and <h1> descriptions as short and clear as possible. Stuffing them with too many keywords or extra words is counter-productive and could be an indication to Google that you’re basically trying to trick your way up in rankings.
5. Indexing Your Images
Given that Google has an Image-specific part to their search engine and that core images and filenames are integrated into Google search, it’s a good idea to optimize for them as well. Using alt tags to optimize images for surrounding target keywords is a great way to let Google know that you have content supplemented by media on your page, something that all searchers and visitors like to see. It gives Google an indication that you’ve spent some time on this content and have relevant media attached as well.
6. Optimize Your Company Blog (Or Get One)
Blogs are a great way for you to go out there and get long-tailed keywords. Often users will go and plug in long search terms or phrases, something that you might have trouble integrating into your core content on the website, but will be very easy to incorporate into your blog in a random post. Blogs show that the company puts up regular content on their website and that you’re interested in interaction with your users through comments.
It’s a great idea to get widely supported blog software such as WordPress and install an All in One SEO plug-in to ensure that your WordPress blog is optimized for search engines. These plug-ins ensure that your blog has the right URL structure and the correct META information among a host of other things. Blogs give you the ability to put up regular updates that often might not have something to do with what your core website is about. You can voice your opinion on a recent news matter or you could take a look at Google Hot Trends and put your take on an event on your blog and get interesting content as well.
7. Don’t Shy Away from What’s New
More often than not, we try and stick to tried and tested technologies and don’t branch off into something that’s new on the internet. While content is definitely king, it’s important for your company to also have a social media presence. Consumers today use the internet to connect, and as a business you should also be open to connecting to your users. Get a Facebook Page, start a Twitter account, get a Google+ profile and create boards on Pinterest. It’s a great way for you to get out there and interact with your users while also generating social media buzz for your company and your website that gets you ranked higher!
These basic tips will take you a long way to ensuring that your website is ranked highly. A small point to also consider is that if you’ve bought a domain that was previously owned by someone else and has expired, you should check the domain’s reputation. Often, websites use Black Hat SEO techniques to game the system and get ranked higher and the expired domain could have used those techniques to generate higher search engine results. It’s a wise idea to stay away from that domain and register a different one, rather than overcoming the SEO trouble the previous domain caused and digging yourself out of the ground.
I’ll stress on another point that I used earlier. Be honest! Ensure that the content you’ve put up on your website is unique and have patience. Google will rank you higher for good and clear content that’s unique, but it might take a while for your search engine reputation to build up. Good luck!
Article contributed by
Startup Jobs Asia‘s Guest Blogger, Avtar Ram Singh (Content Developer working