04 Aug Building a Highly Ranked Website in Google
Google. Millions of keywords. Billions of web pages. Competition like never before. So, how does Google (and all of the other search engines) select which page gets ranked #1 for a particular keyword, while another webpage gets ranked #10,567? Although, the exact formula for calculating Google’s search engine ranking remains a mystery, there are a number of known factors that contribute to a page’s ranking and several more that are debatable. To reach more of your audience, you’ll need to build a highly ranked website in Google.
Highly Ranked Website in Google
Before diving into these search engine factors, let me say a few words to those who are in a hurry to hire a company to improve their search engine rankings: you can do it. You can do exactly what they do but save yourself hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month. If you’re interested, then keep reading.
The following is how to build a highly ranked website in 12 months time in Google. If you’re diligent you can do it faster but it’s important to know that it won’t happen over night. And if you can get ranked in Google, you’ll likely appear in the other search engines too.
1. Content is King.
Start building content. Whether you haven’t started your website yet or if you’ve already got one. The more quality content you have, the more search engines will link to you. Build at least 100 pages of content. I’m not talking about bogus content or link pages, I’m referring to real content.
2. Inbound Links to Your Pages
Another key factor for top search engine placement, is inbound links to your website. The more websites that link to your website, the more reputable and popular your website must be (and the higher your site will be ranked). Work on exchanging links with other websites by sending an email to other webmasters asking if they would put a link to your website in exchange for one on your website. You can also look for directory websites that allow you to submit a link. To see how many inbound links you have, try using Open Site Explorer’s free report.
Take advantage of cross linking your own pages by linking to them within your site. You do not want to have an all-star home page that out performs the rest of your website. If you find this happening then cross link to other pages to share the wealth.
Keep your design simple. Avoid overusing flash, and other technologies that are not widely supported. Make sure your website is compatible across different browsers and older versions. Look at Google itself to see how simplicity works rather well. Although design is important, it is not the most important aspect for building a highly ranked website. Look at craigslist.org for example.
4. Page Size
Keep your page size (the total of your html, css, js, and images) under 1 MB if at all possible. Compress your images for the web and focus on optimizing every byte of information. If your pages take a long time to load for even a minority of people it could have detrimental results.
Keep building new pages with fresh content and information. If you built a new page of information with 300-500 words each day, in a years time you would have 350+ pages of content. Personal blogging is not as effective as topical articles that a general audience will appreciate. Most people don’t read, they scan.
Use bold headings – lots of line breaks – short sentences – subheadings.
If viewers don’t find what they’re looking for in a few seconds, then they’ll push the back button and be on their way.
6. Outbound Links
Don’t be afraid to link to other websites. On every page, link to a high-ranking quality website. This is especially effective if you can use keywords in the link text that you want your website to be ranked for.
7. Advanced Website Statistics
Install a free website statistics tool on your website that will allow you to capture keywords that people type in search engines to find you. You also want to be able to track your unique visitors and page views over time. We recommend Google Analytics for this.
8. Keywords and Descriptions
It amazes me how many people have abandoned entering keywords and descriptions in the meta tags of their website. Although these are less valued than they once were, they still are important and should not be overlooked. Keep your keyword list to the top 30-40 keywords for your web page. Common keywords like the name of your organization should be one every page. You can also use this strategy for the start of your page titles to help build a highly ranked website.
Once you have built up your content, use a free search engine submission tool to submit your website to the popular search engines. You can also consider spending $100 with a company like Submit Express to submit your website to 75,000 search engines once a month for six months.
The longer your website has been around the more trusted your website becomes. Think about people in a company. Would you rather ask the guy who’s been there forever or the new kid on the block? Older websites are viewed as tried and true. They are not a fad. If they are still around and people still visit them, then they must have good content.
11. Content (yes, for a third time!)
Almost every time someone pays a lot of money to improve their search engine rankings, the company ends up writing content for their website. That is how important it is for you to have a lot of quality content. Make sure you’re using an effective Content Management System (CMS) that allows everyone access to the website areas they need to maintain. Funneling all of the website updates through one person will quickly become a bottle-neck and limiting factor in your growth (and popularity). My favorite CMS to recommend for small to medium businesses or churches is WordPress.
12. Track Your Progress
In addition to installing some kind of advanced web statistics, you can check how many of your webpages are indexed in Google. Do this by going to Google and typing site:yourdomain.com You can use Open Site Explorer to see how many pages are linking to you. These are helpful to make note of now and run again in 6 months or a year. You can also run these queries on other websites that rank higher than you to see how your site compares in these two areas.
Debatable Factors for a Highly Ranked Website
These are other factors that may or may not have a slight influence in your ranking. They certainly won’t hurt your ranking if you do them and chances are if you’ve read this far, then you’ll want to try these as well.
Keep your pages in the root or only 3-4 layers deep in your website. Pages that take many clicks to get to will be harder to find.
Websites that validate are easier for search engine robots to read. Use W3’s Validation Service to validate each page of your website.
Create a sitemap for your website that indexes the pages and tells the search engine robots what priority you would rank each page. For more information go to Google’s Webmaster Tools
As with anything, there are a few words of caution when trying to build a highly ranked website in Google…
Automated Link Exchange
Do not fall for automated link exchanges where links are automatically added to your website with the promise yours will be added to other websites. They do not work and could actually bring down your rankings.
Don’t think that having an online brochure website with little or no dynamic content will get you more business or visitors. Your website should offer something fresh and new.
Finally, realize that web design and search engine optimization (SEO) are two different specialties. Most of the time when you have your website professionally designed, they do exactly that, give you a professional look. However, that is not to be confused with search engine optimization and improving your website’s search engine rankings so you can have a highly ranked website. Just because you have your website professionally designed does not mean you will get more people to your website (it may just help keep the visitors once they do come to your website).