If you’re a web site owner and you want to rank higher in the Google search engine results pages, you’ve first got to work with a spider named "Googlebot."
Don’t worry, because you’ll never come face-to-face with this spider. Googlebot is an internet computer, a "web-crawler" that secretly visits — or "spiders" — the world’s web pages gathering information for Google’s massive index. Googlebot spiders your site at least once a month.
With an insatiable appetite for information, Googlebot reads just about every word on your web site. But it pays particular attention to the page titles and recurring phrases that help Google understand what your web pages are all about.
Google’s internet index is a lot like the book indexes that you’re familiar with. The difference is this: A book index is comprised of individual words. Google’s index contains key word phrases.
Googlebot is not the only spider on the web either. Other major search engines — Yahoo and Bing — collect their data in the same manner.
So How Do You Cozy Up To A Spider?
Preparing your web site for Googlebot’s visit is a process called search engine optimization (SEO), a key component of any internet marketing program. And it’s all about key word phrases.
Anyone who’s ever used Google knows that one-word or very general search terms are rarely productive. To illustrate, if you enter the phrase "bed and breakfast" (in quotes) you’ll be presented with a list of 42 million web pages containing that term. However, a more specific search phrase like "Dillsboro North Carolina" + "bed and breakfast" + jacuzzi yields just a handful of web sites.
How To Make The Top Twenty
Since internet users rarely read past the first two pages of search results, it’s obviously desirable to rank in Google’s "top twenty" search results. Yet Google’s top rankings vary from one search phrase to another. A web page may rank high for one key word combination and be completely out of the running for another. In other words, your ranking is dependent on the search query chosen by the Google user.
The trick is to optimize your site for the most productive search terms — the key word phrases that present your web pages to the largest number of potential customers.
Ten Tips For Improved Rankings
Unless you buy your way to the top with "pay-per-click" advertising, there’s no way to guarantee a top search engine ranking. However, the experts all agree: there are proven SEO techniques that, done properly, can earn your page a top ten or top twenty ranking. These are techniques you can do yourself, or with the help of an internet marketing professional —
1. Choose key word phrases that are relevant to your products or services. Nobody — including Google — likes bait-and-switch key words. The idea is to attract your target audience. You want customers not just visitors.
2. Choose phrases that your customers actually use when seeking products or services like yours. Use a statistical service like WordTracker to eliminate the guesswork. You may be surprised by what you learn.
3. Choose phrases with low competition — phrases that, while relatively popular with search engine users, are not found on lots of your competitors’ web pages. Again, WordTracker is a great resource.
4. When writing the text of your web page, make sure each key word phrase is woven into the copy several times. Repetition helps Googlebot focus on the content of your web page. Write about 200 to 250 words and try not to force the use of key words. Your text should be natural and informative for your human readers, as well as for Googlebot.
5. Weave those same key word phrases into your page title, meta description, and keyword tags. Again, repetition helps Googlebot focus on the content of your web page
6. Optimize for no more than three search phrases for each web page. (Too many key words and Googlebot loses focus.)
7. Be aware that Googlebot cannot read any text that’s contained in a graphic. Heavily styled text in a GIF graphic may look great to the human eye, but those words are invisible to the search engine spiders.
8. Repeat this process for all the primary pages of your web site. If you optimize a half-dozen pages — each with three different search terms — you’ll have have a total of 18 search phrases working for you. Just make sure the search terms are relevant to their respective pages.
9. You may even want to add new web pages with content that takes advantage of promising search terms. Just think of each optimized page as a different doorway into your web site.
10. If you’re of the "old school" and you’re still stuffing your keyword meta tags with every key word you can think of, you’re wasting time and energy. One or two search engines still give minor consideration to keyword tags. But most, including Google, completely ignore them because they’re too easily manipulated by crafty webmasters and innocent followers of the "old school" methods.
There’s No Foolin’ Search Engines
And if you’re tempted to "trick" Googlebot with hidden key words, such as tiny type or white type on a white background, be forewarned. When it identifies such deceptive practices, Google has been known to remove the offenders from its database. The way Google sees it, the only bona fide key words are the ones in plain view to the internet user — your text, your title and your meta "description" tag (the paragraph that often shows up on the search engine results page).
Follow these optimization tips and your web site will be ready for Googlebot’s visit. Now you’ll want to turn your attention to "link popularity," another major component of internet marketing, and the subject of our article entitled "Popularity is Everything."
Want To Learn More?
In our opinion, the most comprehensive source for search engine information is SearchEngineLand.com. Much of their information is free. But if you’re really serious about learning, a $99 membership will give you access to even more helpful information.
Another great source of information is Jill Whalen's High Rankings forum, an active online discussion among professional webmasters.
Of course a Google search for "Search Engine Optimization" will open the door to a wealth of information on internet marketing.
If all this is more than you want to take on, give us a call at Deep Creek Arts. We can help you optimize your present web site or build a new one from the ground up. At Deep Creek Arts, we create web sites with salesmanship. And we deliver those sites to target audiences through effective search engine optimization and promotion.