How Google Views Your Site
Everyone has their own opinion on how Google does things, and the amount of misinformation there is unbelievable. I have several opinions myself.
Regardless of the size of my client – from a one person shop to a multi-billion dollar Fortune 5, 10 or 100 company – the first five things I look at – and I believe Google looks at – to rank your site are:
Age of URL
Google gives more credibility to sites that have been around longer. This should not a surprise considering the millions of sites created each month.
Keyword in URL
This helps Google determine what the website is about. If you have a keyword in your URL, there is a much better chance that you will rank higher for that search term.
When you perform a search, what comes up first on the results listing is a title. That is, a 64-character headline that tells the potential visitor about your site.
You can control this headline.
The headline/title that Google uses to describe you in the search results should come directly from your source code. And it should be descriptive because you want people to click on it.
If you do not include a title in your source code, then Google has to work harder. Google will crawl your site and pick their own title, which you really don’t want. Just look at all the terrible titles out there!
I highly recommend that you choose your own headline rather than let Google choose it for you. Additionally, you can have different titles linked to different pages, (that is a little advanced and I would recommend that you have your online marketing person show you how to do that).
This ends up right below your headline in the Google search. This feature offers 155 characters you can use to describe your company. Again, you can control what’s said about you. If you do not, Google will assign a description for you.
My recommendation: create a description of your site and put it in your source code. That way it will get picked up by the search engines.
This is a wonderful marketing opportunity. Think of the Internet as the world’s biggest yellow pages and you are getting free advertising in it.
10 to 13 key search terms (200 characters max) placed in your source code will help Google determine where it is most appropriate that your website be listed.
Many people including some at Google will tell you that keywords in the source code don’t matter. In my experience, they do. Google needs all the help they can get from you to determine what searches to rank your website. If the search engine sees these key search terms in your source code and in context on your site, it certainly won’t hurt you.
Whether you believe this step is necessary, as I do, it costs you absolutely nothing. In my opinion it would be a huge mistake not to take advantage. And even if it isn’t necessary now, who is to say that it won’t be in the future? Again, technology changes every second.
Do aesthetics matter? You bet they do! Why? Look at it this way. If you go into a presentation to ask for a million dollars, you’ll have much more credibility and success wearing Armani than the next presenter, who comes in dressed in blue jeans. As in all business, online especially, you have to look the part.
The look of your site is vitally important in terms of credibility, ease of usage, navigability and user engagement. Even Google now uses over 100,000 human checkers that examine the look and feel of a site. (This number may have changed since we published this page)
Content is king. You will hear this a lot. Not just from us, several times, but from the rest of the online world as well.
Here is what else you will hear:
- The more content you generate, the better your site will rank.
- The better your site ranks, the more traffic you will receive
- The more traffic you receive, the more sales you will make.
All of these are almost true.
I said this a few pages earlier, but it bears repeating: the content on your site needs to be unique, original, relevant and engaging. Regurgitated content or content that puts visitors to sleep will never enhance your search rankings or gain you new customers.
Here are a few things to know about content:
It doesn’t have to be War and Peace or the Great American Novel, but rather just a few simple paragraphs about your business and how it helps people, or perhaps offering your opinion on a relevant topic.
Make it informative, entertaining and personal – genuine and from the heart.
There are a million ways to develop quality content. Here are a few to get you started:
- Hit the record button or take great notes in meetings. Many great ideas come out of heated and passionate discussions and brainstorming. I usually use a voice recorder or the recorder on my laptop, then edit down what I think is important.
- Phone conversations that you have every day to talk about and sell your product are gold. The arguments you use to persuade are the best sources of content that you could ever ask for.
- Put yourself front and center. Give a presentation and use that content on your site.
- Interview others.
- Ask your clients what they would like to know.
- Not everything has to be positive. Talk about some of your struggles and how you have overcome them. This makes for very compelling content and your audience will relate to you.
- Google your subject and read the first 10 to 20 articles. Look for ideas that make you think, “Hey, good idea!” There’s your subject.