In a recent 48-hour period, three people asked us how to get Google to rank their site higher in its search listings. It seemed like one of those occasions where it would be easier to spread our answer around, so here it goes…
There is no magic search engine optimization bullet. If anybody claims otherwise, they’re likely selling proverbial snake oil.
However, there are certain key tenets that experts throughout the industry can agree on.
Tenet #1 - Content is King
Google and other search algorithms respond to content. We’re not advocating slathering gobs of useless text all over your web site. Rather, when creating content, be intentional about using phrases that people are likely to search for in order to find your site. Strive to use those phrases in page titles and headings. Don’t let your keywords drown in a sea of excess copy. Break large pages into multiple smaller pages with specific, focused content.
This technique has worked very well for The Spice House. By creating content-specific pages, we were able to rank high for the generic phrases such as “spices,” but also snagged top listings for specific search terms such as “Grains of Paradise.”
Tenet #2 - Inbound Links Matter
Google’s algorithm considers the quantity and quality of inbound links to your site. The idea is simple enough: If a bunch of websites about Transformers link to your site, there’s a good chance your site has some relevance to Transformers.
Of course, not all links are weighted equally. A link from a site that Google considers important carries more value than a less notable site. To improve the quantity and quality of inbound links to your site, contact other sites in your industry and get them to link to yours. The more prominent the linking site, the better.
Do not, however, go around spamming your URL on message boards and blog posts. That’s an old, dirty, and outdated trick. Most community sites prevent you from getting any “Google Juice” from the link, so don’t even bother.
Distilling the Results
Believe it or not, these two factors are likely the most important elements of the Google search algorithm. However, like the formula of Coca-Cola, only a small number of people know exactly what goes into the ranking formula. It’s a well-guarded secret, and unlike Coca-Cola, changes constantly.
The Finished Product
The value of a page in Google’s index is called the Page Rank. Ranging from 1 to 10, the Page Rank quantifies how important Google thinks your site is in the grand scheme of the web. Ten is the equivalent of Internet omnipotence (i.e. Google.com). CNN.com has a Page Rank of 9 and WikiPedia.org has a Page Rank of 8. To see yours, install the Google Toolbar into your browser.
Search engine optimization is a slow and sometimes painful process. It can take months for search engines to react to changes to your site. Even more frustrating, with the constantly changing algorithms, sometimes your site will seem to slip in the rankings arbitrarily. That all said, this approach does work, and with constant effort coupled with appropriate guidance, your site can climb the Google rankings.