How To Get Yourself On Page 1 Of Google
We’ve all received them. Those cold emails from so-called 'SEO Experts' in Mumbai who confidently assure you that with their help they can guarantee you a prime 'Page 1' positioning on Google.
Most of us see these emails for what they are – crude ‘fishing expeditions’ that put you in contact with ‘experts’ who will make a proposal, ask for ‘up front’ payment and subsequently disappear into the ether. The truth is, there is no way that anybody can guarantee Page 1 positioning on Google or any other Search Engine. This is why SEO is seen by some as a ‘black art’. However there are some simple things that you can do to improve your chances of being found in organic online search results:
- Make sure your pages have unique descriptive titles (that's the bit that appears in your browser title bar above the window that your page is displayed in). A simple formula is to have the page title first, followed by your business name and location. Google typically displays the first 50-60 characters of your title tag so keep important keywords first. Try to relate the title to the first heading on your page. And never simply title your home page ‘Home’.
- While we‘re on the subject of page headings, use the heading tags (H1 to H6) intelligently. Search Engines pay attention to these tags and give this content priority over other content on the page. Try to include relevant keywords in this content.
- The remainder of the text content on the page should contain enough information for search engines to understand what the page is about. Studies have shown that ‘long form’ content (at least 500 words and preferably more than 1000) rates significantly better than shorter pages. Some say you can't have page content that is ‘too long’ However it pays to remember the rule of ‘Quality over Quantity‘. It's better to have a shorter page than pad your content out with ‘fluff’. Again, try to include relevant keywords in your content, without being ‘spammy’. ‘Keyword Stuffing’ will adversely affect your Search Engine results.
- Speaking of keywords, the ‘Meta Keywords’ tag is not the magic bullet it once was. Search engines ignore this information due to the way this tag was abused by spammers, in fact Google, Yahoo and Bing declared some years ago that ‘the Keyword tag is dead’. Therefore it‘s more productive to spend the time you would have spent worrying about the 'Meta Keywords' tag worrying about the other content on your page.
- Do include a description of your page content of up to 160 words in the ‘Meta Description’ tag. Not only does information this give searchers an indication of what your page is about, the more people that understand what your page is about and click your link the better your search engine rating. Your ‘Meta Description’ should be relevant to the page content – if it is misleading you will be penalised in Search Engine results. If you don‘t include a ‘Meta Description’ on your page Google will simply display the first 160 words on the page.
- Do include ‘alt’ tags on all your images. In the old days of dial-up connections this tag told users what the image was about if they had ‘images’ turned off in their browser to save bandwidth, or if an image could not load. This tag is now used by search engines to gain additional information about the page. A bonus is that this tag, combined with the heading tags, make your page more accessible to the 'screen readers' used by people with a visual impairment.
- Do consider including a ‘Blog’ feature on your website. If you have this feature add new, original content regularly. It's hard to keep adding new content throughout your website, but Search Engines love new information. If your website hasn't changed for years it may be seen by Search Engines as no longer relevant. Posting new content with appropriate keywords in blog format keeps Search Engines coming back and indexing your site. Having said that, be wary of changing things on your website too much. Using the wrong keyword or deleting a keyword completely may result in a slide down the Search Engine results pages.
- Make sure that your website has a ‘sitemap.xml’ file. While completely invisible to humans visiting your site, this file lists each unique URL (address) for each of your site's pages. It also details when the page was last updated, how often it changes and how it relates to other URLs in your site. This allows Search Engines to 'crawl' your website more effectively. To check if your website has a sitemap.xml file, type your site address in the address bar, followed by ‘/sitemap.xml’, i.e. www.mywebsite.nz/sitemap.xml
Think about these points when reviewing your Search Engine positioning. While we can't guarantee you a Page 1 placing, taking these simple steps will improve your positioning on Google and other Search Engines. Good luck!