Listen To Google

by Rory Donahoe March 9, 2012
Market

Google has become the prominent search engine, defeating other search engines because deep down, it has always been better at what it did - connecting users to the sites they were looking for. Many people now look at Google like a game, and if they cheat, or even just spin the rules in their favor just a little bit, they can get ahead. Here’s my SEO tip, and it’s the greatest SEO tip you’ll ever receive - don’t try to cheat Google.

SEO (or search engine optimization for the laymans) in recent years has been relegated to a strategy to appeal to Google’s algorithm, and cheat the system to push sites up the ladder so they can reap the rewards of increased traffic. To many SEO experts Google’s close kept secret of how their system ranks each page is something to be studied and exploited, but as the old adage goes - cheaters never prosper.

Here’s a great sources: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35769

Yeah, that’s one of Google’s support pages. You may hear concerns over whitehat (good) and blackhat (bad) SEO, and how one skims the parameters of what Google allows and one that downright breaks them, but no matter what any SEO expert tells you, no one knows Google’s criteria for ranking sites better than Google. Here’s a condensed version on some things you can do to improve your SEO now.

• Write good copy, and write a lot of it. The text on your pages isn’t for Google, it’s for the people who have to read it. Do research to find terms people look for when they search for your service, and appeal to them. If you sell lumber, for example, but a lot of people you’re trying to connect with are doing home improvement, add a line about home improvement, and how good your lumber is for that. The more copy you write the better.

• The title element of your pages is incredibly important, and it’s often underutilized. Do your best to appeal to search terms, while still making it as descriptive as possible while still resembling a proper title. For example, ThoughtLab is “Custom Web Design Firm, Branding Salt Lake City, Utah.”

• Images are great for user experience, but flashy text doesn’t translate to Google if it’s an image. There are many ways to incorporate dynamic text into a website that won’t hurt your Google rank. If you do decide that an image is the best way to convey your headers, then make proper use of the ALT attribute. It’s that little popup that appears to tell users what the image is of, Google will see that.

• Create a comprehensive site map to all of your pages. Google loves this, and it makes it much easier for your users to find what they’re looking for. Google asks that if you have a lot of pages that it might be better to break it up, or only direct to the more important pages so the page doesn’t look like link spam.

There’s a strategy to Google page rank, but it’s not an unknown voodoo possessed only by the savviest SEO experts; it’s listening to Google and doing exactly what they ask for to the best of your ability. Never lose sight of the fact that your site isn’t built for Google’s algorithm, it’s build for your users, and ultimately those are the people your site should be geared towards.

Next: Could Google+ be better for business than Facebook?