Carving out your niche on the vast web is no easy task when there may be literally thousands of businesses that do what you do. Every time someone searches, Google checks its catalog of websites for content, capability and logistics, ranks its results, and displays the list, ALL IN A SPLIT SECOND! New search? New rank. Every single time. So how do you use your website’s search results to stand out?
Google uses a “secret sauce” method of ranking websites for search, and although they’re not telling ALL their details there are some simple methods every website should take advantage of. Will it make you #1 in search results? Probably not (and if anyone tells you otherwise run!), but it’s a great start and should give you a nice boost.
So, how DO you rank better in the search results contest? Here are five simple things you can do to improve your website’s search results
- Add an XML site map – Site map? Why wouldn’t visitors just use the menubar to find what they want? Actually they would, but a site map is used by cataloging ‘robots’ not people. Just as a person would use your organized menu to access your site’s content, cataloging robots do the same but they use an XML site map. An XML site map is a file placed on your website whose job is to tell cataloging computers how you have everything organized. Yes, other computers visit your website to analyze and record everything you have. The most well known computer is the Google Bot. Generating a site map tells the cataloging computer where all your stuff is.
- Check your page title – View your website in a web browser and review the words that display up top in the browser’s tab. Now go to a different page and check that tab’s words too. Do it a third time. Are you seeing the same or a very similar title on every page? You shouldn’t. Each page is unique so each page title should be unique. It should display the company name, the page name and something that has keywords in it. Not too long though, Google only reads page titles of 8 or 12 words and shorter than 60 characters.
- Check for mobile – As of April 2015, Google mandated all websites must have a mobile component in order to be listed in the search results that originated from mobile devices. So if someone uses their phone or tablet to search using keywords that should list you, you won’t be. And 60% of all searches are from mobile devices. Without a mobile website you will not be found. Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly test to find out if your website is in compliance.
- Categorize your page content properly – Each web page is made up of a title, subtitle, body text, quotes, list items and so on. Although Google can ‘read’ your text it can’t prioritize it. Google can’t tell the difference between the sentence that is the page title and the sentence that describes a picture. YOU have to describe what text elements on the page are the most important (the title) all the way to the least important (perhaps an image caption). This is done using element tags. Place your most important element tag indicator around your <h1>Title</h1> and lesser important tags around lesser important items like your <h2>sub header</h2>. Not only will this make your content easier to read by visitors, it’ll be easier to read by indexing computers as well.
- Add analytics – This won’t help you IN search but it will help you WITH search. Tracking your visitors’ behavior is key in understanding what works and what doesn’t. Without feedback you’d be guessing based on what you’d do on your website. First, your visitors are disparate and don’t all share your vision, and second, with modern technology there’s absolutely no need to guess. Sign up for an analytics account, add the tracking code to your website and then review your traffic reports periodically (weekly or monthly) to make business decisions based on facts.
- BONUS! Create page descriptions – Your page title (see #2) and page description go hand in hand, but the page description isn’t directly used as search criteria anymore. They AREN’T used as search criteria anymore?!? Huh?!?They aren’t used as search criteria but they are DISPLAYED in the search results just beneath the title. People quickly scan their search results’ title and description to determine if you’re what they’re looking for. No description, probably no click to your site. This is critical. Create a 2-3 sentence, keyword-rich description fewer than 160 characters for each of your web pages.
Search is important but is often overlooked. Most businesses would like to be found more often but don’t know exactly what to do to be found. Here are a few simple items you can ask our web designer to do to help your ranking.
Whether you’re looking to improve your website’s search results or if you have something else in mind let the premier web developers in Maryland help. Let’s talk about how we can put that website of yours to better use!
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