I’m asked all the time, “How do I get to the #1 spot on Google?” It’s kind of like asking, “How do I fish?” A simple answer isn’t going to cut it.
There are literally hundreds of factors that influence where your website will land in the search results for any particular keyword. Here is the crazy thing about it: we don’t know exactly what they all are! The search engines’ goal is to give the user the best possible answers to their questions so they keep these factors under wraps to prevent people from taking advantage of the search results. There is a lot of money to be made with the top ranking keyword like ‘insurance’ or ‘attorney’.There is an entire industry that is dedicated to studying and testing these factors.
So with hundreds of ranking factors to worry about, how do we make Google love your site and rank it higher? The answer is search engine optimization or SEO.
On Page SEO – How your site is built
Search engines “crawl” your site and look at each line of code in an attempt to determine what each page is about. It is your job to make that as easy as possible for them. So what do they want to see?
- Don’t block them – On your site, if you have a file named robots.txt and it says Disallow: / you are blocking them from finding you. Here is what mine looks like: OutfitterMarketing.org/robots.txt . In WordPress, browse to Settings > Privacy and you will see the option to block or allow search engines.
- Set up Google Analytics – This will not only tell you vital information about your visitors and how they use your site, it tells Google the same thing.
- Use the keyword you want to rank for in the body of the page – If you are trying to rank for the term ‘bass fishing’ but you never use that phrase on your page, you are not going to rank for it. I try to use the keyword at least 4 times. Don’t over-do it though. I would say use the keyword once or twice for every 100 words of copy. Above all, make it readable for your visitors. They are still your audience, not the search engines.
- Use the keyword in your title and headline tags
- Keep the titles and headlines under 60 characters
- Don’t stuff keywords – This is an old practice that some still use but is dying out. Don’t use the same keyword more than twice in a headline or title. It looks spammy and will not help you
- Use image alt tags – The ‘alt’ tag is a piece of code that describes what the picture is. The search engine can’t look at the picture and see what it is so we have to tell it by using the alt tag. When you put your mouse over an image, that description in the alt tag will appear.
- Be descriptive with image file names – Instead of leaving the photo of an elk as IMG0012.jpg , change the file name to bullelk12.jpg or whatever is most accurate.
- Use the keyword in your URL – The URL is your web address and ideally, the keyword will show up there. For example, I wanted to rank for the term ‘umpqua river fishing’ for one of my clients. So the URL looks like this: http://www.bigkoutfitters.com/umpqua-river-fishing/ .
- Make the site attractive and useful – The longer a visitor stays on your site, the better. If you have analytics set up, Google can see how long people spend looking at your content and how many pages they visit. A low bounce rate helps your rank as well.
- Make your site fast – This is becoming more and more important. The longer a page takes to load, the less useful it is and the less Google will like you. There are a lot of different things to do but the easiest are to optimize your images, use good code, and find quality host for your site. If you have less than 200 visitors a day I would recommend Hostgator. I’ve used them for years without any problems. BlueHost is another one I’ve heard good things about. Once you start seeing more traffic, move to VPS.net. Disclosure: I do earn a commission when you sign up for either Hostgator or Bluehost by following the links on this page.
- Make it easy to share your content – Add the Facebook Like button, Tweet button, and Google +1 button. The more people are talking about you, the more Google notices you.
There are many other small tweaks to your On Page SEO but these are a good start and most other sites are not doing these things.
Next Week – Off Page SEO