Getting your website seen
A question I’m constantly asked is how do I get my site to appear high on Google search results? The answer to this, like many questions in life is essentially through hard work and employing a well crafted campaign and strategy. Or paying a specialist to optimise your website. Multi-million dollar industries have popped up, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) specialists, social media marketers to name a few have emerged to cater to quench this thirst for the sacred Google top ten position.
Take for example the number of websites that are estimated to exist on the web. Netcraft, a company that provides web hosting and market share information, based in Bath, England sent a signal to as many unique websites as possible. They found that there are around 366,848,493 unique websites in the world as of 2011. Whilst no one can be sure to the exact number, we can be sure there are hundreds of millions of websites, probably here in 2012 approaching half a billion websites.
The sheer volume means that any new website has to fight to merely be heard within the cacophony of noise on the internet. The web is like an orchestra with no conductor and getting heard is hard, as the competing drums, strings and cellos clash over each other. No longer can the old maxim of ‘build it and they shall come’ be said to be true. Today, in 2012 the maxim would be much more accurate to be something more akin to ‘build it and then the hard work starts’. Not as catchy but it’s a much more truthful depiction of websites and the internet in 2012.
Another myth that perhaps should be debunked, other than the ‘build it and they shall come’ is the notion that a website is finished. For any website that’s serious about getting good rankings in major search engines the website is never probably never exactly ‘finished’. Granted some companies want a website that acts like a brochure, an information point, but these are limited and less likely to be seen than live, constantly updated websites with dynamic content. The reason for this is that websites need to provide an incentive to be seen and heard. If a website does not update regularly, has static content, there is little incentive to revisit a website, after all, with website that doesn’t really update – there’s no reason to go back. Even if you are an organisation that only wants a brochure type website, having a blog, news or updates provides an area where visitors can get useful information and updates about that product / service. Providing an incentive for web users to revisit the site, if the content is good, the visitor can read something and recommend that blog / news source. Being an expert in an area or at least providing opinion can be a source of debate, the more readers you engage with your content the better. If you pick your topics to have some sort of cross over with your business, eg a translator may blog about language and its differences, the target audience are likely to be a potential source of new business. This may sound like hard work, but let’s compare this to hard manual work it’s hopefully not an exhausting line of work by comparison.
The other way to think about your website is think of it, for a moment as if you were one of Google’s hard working spider robots that crawls and indexes the worldwide web tirelessly to come up with the search results. Every day you’re catalouging humanities’ swelling electronic repository of information that is the internet. Everything from ‘LOL’ cute cats, celebratory news, companies and so on. When a robot views your website it ideally needs a sitemap which tells the robot – ‘hey, here’s where all the information and links are in my website’. It should also comply with the W3C’s web standards, if you’re having a website done or your website redesigned, keeping the code clean and in conformance with the W3C standards makes it easier for robots to read and rank your website. The other key thing that you need to do is getting inbound links to your website. If we think like a Google robot for a second, when we come across a website that has 5 links to it on the subject of home made pizza and another website on the same topic that only has 1 link to it. The robot is likely to think well, the one that has 5 links to it is more popular as measured by the number of websites that link to it, therefore I’ll display that website before the website that has just one inbound link to it.
We’ll add more information here as time goes on but, remember just having a website is the first part, getting is seen is the hard part. Remember, dynamic websites provide a ready incentive for readers to go back to a particular site for the latest information or indeed to share it with others. Pick a crossover topic with your business or chosen topic and you’re likely to start to reach potential customers or at least start to be seen as an expert or opinion on a subject. Finally, if you create content you can, over time, create inbound links that tell google your site is popular with other sites therefore it must be worth ranking well. We’ll discuss SEO more, watch this space and feel free to leave a comment.