The Google Grail: Getting to the Top

With search engines accounting for up to 75% of visitors to a website, and Google being the dominant player in town, having your website listed and ranking in Google is vital to your online success. In fact not being in Google is like having an unlisted phone number. Unfortunately many business owners discover this to late and are unsure how to rectify the problem. The following article will provide you with a series of strategies to help ensure your site is listed, and at the top of Google’s search results.

There are a number of ways to ensure your website is at the top of Google. The three main approaches I recommend you start with are:

  • Building a Search Friendly Website
  • Optimising (SEO) an Existing Website
  • Implementing a Pay Per Click (PPC) Campaign

Building a Search Friendly Website

If you are about to start building your website you are in the perfect position to ensure your website is designed and built in a search engine friendly manner from the ground up. By search engine friendly I mean a website that is easy for the search engines to find, crawl and index. A search friendly website should also rank highly in the search engines for keyword phrases related to your business.

Unfortunately many web designers have no understanding of the search engines and do not take them into account when creating websites. For this reason it’s important that you find a company that understands how important search engines are and can help you develop and implement a strategy to ensure you are capitalising on the targeted visitors Google can send you.

The first step is to find out what knowledge of the search engines your potential web designer has. if they have none I would suggest looking for some alternative companies. Once you have determined your web designer can help you to create a search engine friendly website it’s time to sit down and discuss the strategies you will adopt. You and your web designer should discuss:

  • Website Goals
  • Your Target Audience
  • Keyword Selection
  • Content Creation

Website Goals

Talk to your web designer about what you want to achieve with your website. This could include generating online sales, attracting targeted leads, increasing newsletter sign ups, online subscriptions, advertising sales and so forth. These goals will help you with the steps outlined in the next few sections.

Your Target Audience

It’s important that you define your target audience(s). Who is your website gong to be targeted to? I would recommend breaking your audience down in terms of:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Location
  • Income
  • Internet skills

It’s also important to consider primary and secondary audiences. Perhaps your main audience are people you want to sell products to but an important secondary audience is existing customers to whom you provide online product support.

Defining your target audience will help you to plan your search friendly strategy. For example whether your online audience is local, Australia-wide or International will have a big effect on the approach you will take in relation to Google.

Keyword Selection

Keywords are the words and phrases that prospective customers type into Google to find products and services they are looking for. Too often businesses fall into the trap of using words they, and their industry have for describing their goods and not those their customers are using. A successful keyword strategy will look at the words your customers are using – this is vital, as they are the ones you are appealing to.

I always recommend you start by brainstorming with your web designer to come up with an initial list of keywords. When undertaking this consider looking at the keywords used by your competitors as well as talking to your existing customers to see how they describe your offerings.

This initial keywords list can then be used by your web designer who will do further research to come up with a list of relevant, regularly used keywords phrases to incorporate into your website.

Content Creation

A main component of any campaign to get to the top of Google includes creating interesting content that encourages other websites to link to you. These “links” help boost the popularity of your website (as well as attracting potential customers) and helps you rank higher in Google.

There are numerus content creation ideas you could consider. They include:

  • Publishing a blog;
  • Hosting forums;
  • Publishing a newsletter;
  • Writing articles on your subject area;
  • Running a topical directory.

These content strategies can be implemented over time and will help your website stand out by containing valuable information relevant to your prospective customers as well as helping your rank higher in Google.

All of this information will help you and your web designer plan and build a website that not only appeals to your target audience but helps propel you to the top of Google. Remember building a website is an ongoing process and working on it steadily over time will help increase your chances of top search rankings.

Optimising (SEO) an Existing Website

If you already have website that is not performing in Google you need to discuss your options with your web designer or a search engine optimisation (SEO) expert. It is important to point out that SEO is a medium to long term strategy. It takes time to implement and see results but once the results start to roll in you will reap the rewards for a long time.

Your SEO or web designer will help you to ensure that your website can be crawled and indexed by Google and will be able to rectify any problems your website may have. They will also help you define your target audience and help you research and select the appropriate keywords for your business (see above in Building a Search Friendly Website) and incorporate them into your website.

Finally they will be able to monitor and track your success and make recommendations to increase your targeted traffic based on your own specific needs.

Implementing a Pay Per Click (PPC) Campaign

The quickest and easiest way to get to the top of Google is to implement a Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign. PPC campaigns are a short to medium term strategy – they can be running within hours and are a great way to drive prospective customers to your website quickly. For this reason a PPC campaign can compliment your SEO efforts. It sends you targeted traffic quickly while you wait for your SEO efforts to kick in.

Pay Per Click (PPC) ads are the sponsored ads you see on search engines such as Google. With Pay Per Click advertising you pay only when a customer clicks on your ad, regardless of how many times it’s shown. You select your search terms and set an amount you are prepared to pay if someone clicks on your ad. When a user searches for, or is using, a search term you have bid for, your ad will appear on the right side of results pages under the heading Sponsored Links. If a user clicks on your ad you pay the amount you bid for that term.

Pay Per Click is a great way to target hundreds of niche keyword terms for a relatively low cost. In addition it is highly targeted and the results are highly quantifiable.

A search marketing professional will be able to help you with ad copywriting, landing page copywriting and design, and set-up and monitor your PPC campaigns. As with building a search friendly website or implementing an SEO campaign you’ll need to sit down and determine your goals, target audience and keyword list. This information will help you develop a successful PPC campaign. PPC campaigns are highly quantifiable which will ensure you can measure the return on your investment (ROI).

By focusing on the 3 strategies above you’ll be in the perfect position to propel your website to the top of Google, ensuring your website receives targeted visitors that you’ll then be able to convert into paying customers.

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Website Health Check: Is Your Site Search Friendly?

Kalena Jordan from Search Engine College has written a great article titled “Secrets Your Web Designer Isn’t Telling You”, in which she asks:

If I was to ask you right now “Are you absolutely certain that your web site is optimized for high visibility in search engines?”, what would you say?

Sadly the vast majority of websites have not been designed with the search engines in mind, and worse, many business owners have no idea that’s the case. And with so much traffic coming from search engines, it’s like being cut off from your air supply.

What to do?

If you already have a website, do some research to see if your site is listed in the search engines — especially Google. A quick way of doing this is to type your business name and/or website address into the search engine to see what results are found. Ideally you should be listed at the top of the results.

As well as making sure your site is in the search engine it’s important to see if your website ranks for keywords related to your business. So if you are a motel located in Bondi, for example, try typing “bondi motels” into the search engine and seeing what is returned. Ideally your website should be prominent. Repeat this for a variety of phrases.

If you are listed and ranking for relevant phrases good for you, however if you are one of the majority who is no where to be found, it’s a good idea to get some outside expertise to help get things sorted.

If you are about to start building a website, it is a good idea to discuss your search engine strategy with your web designers. If they don’t have one, or have no idea what you are talking about I’d suggest firing them and finding someone who does know.

Remember: Having a website that’s not in the search engines is like having an unlisted phone number.

Secrets Your Web Designer Isn’t Telling You by Kalena Jordan.
Website Health Check Report by ThinkProspect

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Are You Hiring a Professional Web Designer?

I came across a person this week who was offering web design services whilst asking how to build a website. Yup, seriously. While most cases aren’t that blatant it does happen far more often than it should.

A professional web designer is your partner in online success. They can help make or break your online venture. So with that in mind it’s vital you hire a professional that, as well as understanding web design, has knowledge about selling online, internet marketing and building brand and business credibility.

One of the hardest parts of selecting a professional web designer is knowing what to look for. So whilst this list is not exhaustive it should help arm you with the knowledge you need to make a wise choice.

As a starting point you want to make sure your potential website designer:

  • Provides examples of previous sites they’ve designed.
  • Offers testimonials from real people.
  • Has an understanding not only of web design but usability, search engine optimisation, search friendly design, marketing, blogs etc, etc. They don’t have to be experts in each of these fields but some knowledge and the ability to partner with people who can offer these services is vital.
  • Understands that a website not only has to look good but achieve your goals – such as lead generation, subscriptions, sign ups or sales.

The internet is a fast paced medium and keeping up to date with technology and trends is also important. You’re web designer should also:

  • Keep up to date with design trends – as long as they fit a site’s goals.
  • Move with technology – are they still designing using tables or CSS/XHTML?
  • Follow online marketing trends.

Taking into account the tips above, spend some time researching potential web designers and either talk to them on the phone or in person. This will help you get a feel for them, their knowledge and how it would be to work with them. It should also help you determine whether you’re dealing with a professional or not.

Good luck!

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