It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
The websites that found their way to the first page of Google were rarely worthy of their top spots. Instead, they provided solutions that were written to appeal to ranking algorithms instead of helping real humans. Search engines favoured quantity over quality, and early websurfers probably remember how difficult it was to discover a really good website. This was the early internet, when the use of bookmarks weren’t just about convenience. They were the only way you could be sure to find your way back to that epic goldmine of cat GIFs your friend sent you on ICQ.
Competition Changes Everything
Back in my day, I used to be able to Ask Jeeves to help me download AOL. Then I could use it to find Yahoo where I would perform a search for Bing. Each search engine was fighting to build better systems that could provide the best results to its users. And when they couldn’t beat them, they bought them. Now, after decades of back and forth, the people have spoken, deemed Google the champion of search, and here we are. So, what does that mean for the modern website? How can you move toward the coveted first page of Google search results? The goal of a search engine is to connect people with answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. This should be the goal of your website too.
To rank well in a search engine system, websites must focus on two separate, yet equally important parts: the technical side that makes you easy to find and content that makes you worth finding by your audience. These are their stories.
Be Easy to Find:
Help Search Engines Help You
How Search Works
When I type a search into Google, the system scours its index of hundreds of billions of webpages within milliseconds. It evaluates what it knows about me, like my location, device type and previous search history. Then it evaluates what it knows about the internet, like how easy a site is to navigate, how often other people have found answers on a site and how much authority a site has. Finally, it takes all of this information and matches me with a result that fits my query.
Is The Most Amazing Website On The Internet exactly what I was looking for? It is. You might not believe me, but it absolutely is.
Let’s break down how you too, can be the most amazing website on the internet for your audience. Here are three practices that you can follow to make your site easier for both people and search engines to understand and navigate.
You’re going to want to make sure that your site is covering:
The Topical — Keep your website up to date and refresh your content to increase its relevance to people whenever possible. Your site should be well organized, with pages that are separated by topic and intuitive to navigate.
The Technical — Create short, meaningful and unique page URLs, titles and headings that convey the subject of the page concisely. You should also create unique description meta tags that can be used when a search engine is unable to find more relevant content to display as a search result. Make your page fast to load and mobile-friendly.
The Accessible — Keep accessibility top of mind! Remember that text should be used to convey important messages rather than relying on images alone. Avoid embedding text in image files. Doing so hides this information from those using screen-readers and search engines. Ensure that any alt text, captions, titles, file names and URLs are relevant and logically structured. This will help ensure your site can be used by as many of the people you are hoping to reach as possible.
Get What You Pay For
Promoting your site through paid services like Google Ads will help generate traffic and referrals to your website. When launching a new site, product or service, a small, well targeted advertising budget can go a long way in helping people find you.
Be Worth Finding:
Create Content that Counts
Let’s Get Topical. Topical.
Creating strong content on a consistent basis, requires both time and commitment. It’s normal to feel like those resources are in short supply, but there’s little that can compete with the value it can provide to your website visitors and the effect it can have on your search rankings. People know good content when they see it, and they will be more likely to share it if they find it useful.
Make sure your content is well written and easy to follow.
Pay close attention to spelling and grammar. Unlike me, most people on the internet will quickly become suspicious of a website that has obvious errors in its content. Even if Google thinks it’s the best website on the internet.
Get to the Point
Be sure to address the main topic of a page as soon as possible. Ideally, you should do this in the first paragraph. It’s always useful to organize your content so that visitors have a good sense of where one content topic begins and another ends. Remember, most people will only skim even the best content while on the hunt for the information they need. Breaking your content up into logical chunks or sections helps people find the content they want faster. It also prevents people from abandoning your site before they find the information they need.
Creating new content on a weekly or monthly basis works to keep your existing visitor base coming back, gives you content you can promote as you build up a promotional email list and also brings in new visitors.
Answer the Questions People are Asking
While you may be tempted to only create content that talks about the solutions you have to offer, keep in mind that new visitors are probably searching for topics related to the problem your product solves, not the words you use to describe your solution. While keywords aren’t as powerful as they once were, the language you use is still important in conveying the right message to your visitors. People who know a lot about the topic might use different keywords in their search queries than someone who is new to the topic.
If you offer a solution that’s right for me, I look forward to seeing you in my next Google search.