We all want our website to appear near the top of a search page—but how can we make this happen?
Start by understanding the basics of Search Engine Optimization, or SEO—the process of improving website visibility. Search engines aim to produce valuable results for users—and want to avoid sending users to sites that disappoint in content. We all know how frustrating it is to be referred to a site that doesn't have what it promises.
Websites show up higher on the search results page based on their popularity, and while it does take time to build awareness, there are ways to improve your position.
Google uses proprietary algorithms to determine which sites are the most popular, and some industry experts devote their lives to trying to figure out how these can best be used to their advantage. This has resulted in an on-going competition between Web developers, who want the best possible rankings (and will sometimes push the envelope to achieve this), and Google, who is trying to revise its algorithms to prevent developers from gaming the system. As Web developers find ways to "get around" Google's algorithms, Google responds by changing it—and the cycle repeats.
While experts who devote their entire livelihoods to this can help with this, here are a few ways you can improve your site's rankings in a search result:
- Have fresh, relevant and desirable content that is easy to search.
- Cross-link both within your site and to other sites.
- Buy sponsored links (these appear at the top or along the side of the search results).
- Think like the consumer. If you have a pain management practice, for example, bear in mind that consumers will search for things like pain relief, back pain, neck pain, and pain doctors--but may not search under pain management clinic. Make sure common key words words appear in your site.
- Add a site map.
- Make your site friendly for search engines to crawl (gather information used to index sites). For example, don't put key information or links in graphics or Flash animations, as search engines cannot detect these.
- Avoid doing things that will be detected as spamming—like keyword stuffing.
- Create a blog.
Experts agree that the most important way to increase traffic is by having compelling content. It takes work, so be prepared to make the investment required to make your website a success.