Websites and Search Engine Optimisation
It’s amazing that I get so many emails and phone calls from people who are offering their services in the SEO arena, it is even more amazing when they offer a guarantee that I will appear on the 1st page of Google for my chosen keywords.
As someone who understands SEO more than the average Joe, I know that they will probably get me in page 1 by using a Google Adwords campaign, something that anyone could achieve with the right budget. The thing is; who wants to spend a fortune to get listed on page one of Google for one set of keywords when your business offers so much more?
The other way they might get me on the first page is by using some very Grey Hat techniques or worse still, Black Hat techniques. Whereas the Grey Hat techniques may work for a while, Google is always updating its algorithm and so there is a higher risk of being sandboxed in the future. Black Hat techniques are guaranteed to get you sandboxed or worse still banned completely.
So why do I get these calls and what am I actually doing to improve my position on Google?
White Hat Only
Google has the overwhelming aim of being the number one search engine (which it is) and to provide the customer with the best answer to their searches (or questions):-
If you visit Google and start typing “convert lb to kilograms” before you have finished you will probably see a small conversion table just under your search box. This is Google providing you with the best answer.
For your website to provide the best answer for a search term, the site has to be Trusted by Google, that is your site uses clean White Hat Techniques, the content is of value to someone because you are perceived as an expert on the topic.
So how do you get a good listing on Google?
One of the key Trust Providers is the “Age” of your site. This is the age from the first Google “scan” of your site or more correctly from the date Google first “Spidered” or “Crawled” your site to the present day. You can’t cheat this, the longer your domain name has been in the Google listings without breaking the rules, the more Google trusts you.
There is one way to gain an advantage in this area and that is to buy a domain name that has previously been listed and has ranked and aged well with the search engines. This is not always and option because the cost may be out of your budget range.
So, getting a good listing. First of all, you can get really great results by using only White Hat techniques for your SEO, you just need the right tolls in your SEM toolbox.
Primary in the toolkit for improving your search engine rankings is Google Analytics which provides a totally free solution to analysing your website and the traffic that arrives on your pages.
If you use it in conjunction with Googles Keyword Planner (designed for Google Adwords) then you can start to look at how to generate more traffic to your site.
When you are looking at the results for you keywords you will notice that the popular words cost more if you were to use Google Adwords, this is because they generate more traffic and the competition is highest with these words.
Think about that; you may want to work a bit smarter and optimise your site for less competitive keywords that will be easier to rank well with and therefore drive more traffic to your site because it will be easier to get a great ranking towards the top of the first page on Google.
One of the current trends that Google seems to like, would be to use phrases rather than one or two keywords. As people start to realise that they can be more specific in their searches, then these phrases will become better performing sources of organic traffic to your site.
Another way to help Google to “like” your site is to provide high quality content on a topic relating to your site. This sort of content needs to be produced on a regular basis and as stated needs to be high quality.
Now you may be concerned about giving away information that gives your clients the ability to do something themselves rather than using you for their work, it is true, you could lose some clients, but with more people finding your site the increased traffic will mean there will be more people who are time poor but asset rich who would rather just pay you than have to learn something new.
You could also offer access to the page only after they have signed up to your newsletter or something similar.
Writing articles is time consuming and there is a temptation to pay someone else to write the article, but they will never be as knowledgeable as you, so make time to write for yourself.
Putting the articles onto your own website might seem like the right thing to do, but in fact you should avoid it. If the article is really well written then you should put it on an Authority Site.
What is an Authority Site? In simple terms this is a website that Google trusts so implicitly that almost anything that appears on the site will be accepted as quality content.
The American website Huffington Post is a great example, there are always articles and stories appearing on Facebook that take you to the Huffington Post or Onion or a similar site.
So how do you get on to Huffington Post? I give in! Much simpler to try some of the other Authority Sites like Blogger.com, Tumblr.com, Slideshare.com and WordPress.com to name just a few.
These high Page ranking sites love when you add content, their Trust high Google Trust ranking means that the link in your signature block will be enough for some of the good stuff to rub off on your site thus helping to promote your site up the Google rankings.
There are dozens of Authority Sites and the temptation to post the same article to each is best avoided, instead write quality articles every chance you get. Research your content to make sure of its value and post to different Authority Sites each time. Once you have been through the list go back to the start and keep on going.
Take your time publishing these articles, don’t release 10 at a time on different sites, trickle the work out there over weeks or Google will think you are spamming them and you will get Sandboxed or Banned!
Use your social media to inform the world of the wonderful article you have written and link them to the Authority Site so that they can read it.
Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Reddit etc. are also Authority sites so by linking authority sites to each other and back to your own site will drive a ton of organic traffic and improve your Page Ranking.
All of these things take time, don’t expect to be on page one tomorrow because of all the work you have done following this article, it takes time.
Remember I said you have to build trust with Google; just like in real life, the more you get to know someone and like them, the more you will trust them. You wouldn’t give a total stranger your life savings to look after whilst you went on holiday for a week. But, someone you have known for a few years, someone you have really got to know and like would be more trustworthy. You still not let them look after your life savings, but you might ask them to water your plants and leave them a house key while you are away.
About Stephen Richards
Steve grew up in North Wales with his brother and sisters. He studied Computer Science at school in the days of the mainframe computer. He joined the Royal Air Force in 1976 and worked in electronics on communications and navigational equipment before becoming a member of a specialist team writing programs to test circuit boards. Eventually working on the System Management Team looking after a £3.9 million computer system, Steve got back into IT in a big way. In 2003 Steve created his first website selling e-books and vintage books online and has never looked back.
Stephen Richards owns and runs several websites but you can contact him at http://www.ctsnww.co.uk