Thursday, 14 May 2009

How to please Google

by Cristiane Morandin

When it comes to online marketing this is the 1 million question: ‘How to please Google and get top ranking?”

The answer for that can be very complicated and involve all sorts of theories and techniques, and even Google themselves claim to not know it exactly, so how are we, lame users and website owners, supposed to?!

Google has their famous algorithm which is supposed to calculate how relevant a website is to their users, but no matter how many times this algorithm changes, their webmaster guidelines always mention the same somehow, so the lesson is: stick to the basics!

A user goes online in search of either: information, services or products. Your website must clearly fit one of these purposes or it will never be noticed. The way to make this happen is to carefully plan it. In order to capture a new user is to think of the message you want to pass, your image and branding. First impressions are important and that will be what your users will identify you for. The same way goes for search engines, including Google.

Normally, when a new website is launched, search engines are informed of it and they will come to visit you to find out what you have to offer. Here is when you must impress them as this first visit could be a ‘make it’ or ‘break it’. It hardly is a ‘break it’, unless something is very wrong, anything can be remedied, however the higher this first impression is, the more likely is that they will come again and start considering you.

So now we can come back to the basics:

Content

When writing your content consider how a user would find you, or easier, how would you find your competitor, and use the same terms in your content, it must be clear and well-written. A user reaches your website looking for something, if your content does not say that in the first few lines they read, they will go back.

To make this content noticeable to search engines, there are specific “instructions” on your page to tell them what means what. For the experts, this is about the correct tags in the html code, so for example, every page has one Title, Description and Keywords. Then on the main content, you should always have one main heading and maybe some other less prominent headings and so on. If some words are important in the middle of a paragraph, emphasize them with some bolding, or link them to another page that gives further explanation.

Code

Your content scores 10 out of 10 now and all paragraphs and headings have the correct tags, however you wanted your website to look wonderful and your web designer is not very experienced, so he created your website without any good knowledge on the matter. You might be thinking “what you see is what you get”, right? This might be the case for the user, but not necessarily for the search engine. A wonderfully looking website with a flash or image effect, if not coded properly might hide completely all that perfect content from the search engines.

Around 10 years ago this same website would have reached top rankings, but things are changing. Good clean code and well-written content are becoming vital to any successful website; this is not only due to search engines being more specific and demanding, but also to help with accessibility. And this is only the tip of the iceberg.

If you are still a bit lost, but want your website to do well, I would suggest you to talk to the professionals. You should have now enough to question and test them with as not all of them take everything into consideration because they are either too young or too old in the industry, and changes are hard to come about.

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