Search Engine Ranking… Oh, the Mystery!

by | Jan 2, 2019 | Tech Support | 0 comments

Historically, adopting SSL (getting a HTTPS URL, and a green padlock icon in the browser URL bar) was an optional tactic. Many sites, arguably, didn’t need the extra level of security which SSL provides.

Now, however, having a valid SSL certificate installed is essentially mandatory – search engines may ‘penalize’ sites without valid SSL certificates and setups (and/or show warnings next to their search results). It’s also generally good practice for all websites to use SSL, to prevent hackers and third parties from intercepting requests and data.

Additionally, many modern site speed and performance techniques require a valid SSL/HTTPS setup. To take advantage of new, faster web technologies (like HTTP/2), browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox require the website to have a valid SSL certificate.

We provide SSL with all our Search Engine Managed Hosting Websites!

Rankings, Rankings, Rankings!

How do you get your website ranked well by the search engines? Well, it isn’t as hard as you think, but it may not be as simple either. It takes patience and an ongoing commitment to making search-engine ranking a long-term investment in your website. You will need to give it time and energy ? It isn’t a quick fix.

One caveat before I dive into this: If you are a company that is working on attracting local customers, there are many other incredibly effective offline marketing tools to DRIVE people to your website. So, what if you really want to work on search-engine ranking for your site?

Keep these points in mind:

1. Search engines often change their ranking formula.

2. Each search engine has its own algorithm (formula) to determine site ranking.

3. META tag keywords are not a magic bullet to improve your ranking but are a vital integral part.

4. Search engines can take many months to index new information, so be patient – more patience.

5. Be cautious with graphics-rich or Flash websites if search-engine ranking is important !!!

How Do Search Engines Work?

Let’s start at the beginning. When you type a query into a search engine, what happens? Some people think that each time a search is entered into a search engine like Google, that the program hunts through the entire Internet to produce the answer. This is NOT what occurs.

Let’s say I type in the words “dog obedience” into Yahoo. Yahoo then takes these keywords and searches through its own unique database of indexed websites to find matches. To add to and update their databases, search engines have programs called “spiders” that crawl through pages on the Internet looking for pages and sites to index. However, they do NOT locate sites on their own. They find sites if someone has purposely entered a website into a search engine’s “Add URL” form. They are also able to find a website if another site in its database has links to it.

When a search engine finds a site, it considers the text on each page of the website to be the number one thing to extract. It places data its database categorized by information it perceives as being important. So, if you have a company that has free articles teaching people how to train their dogs, but you don’t have the word “obedience” listed in a number of key places on each page, your site may not be listed in the above sample search.

This example is admittedly grossly over-simplified but gives you a general idea of how they work.

So then, after all of this how do you get a high-ranking search engine?

Your Keys to Search Engine Ranking

You must think of search engine optimization as a long-term investment in your website. It is an ongoing marketing effort that takes persistence. As you begin to implement optimization techniques, remember it can take several months before you see the results, so be patient. Here are some tips to help you improve your website rankings in the future.

1. Plan Your Content: Before you develop your site, make a list of all the possible search words and phrases you think a potential customer would use to locate your website. A research tool such as WordTracker can help you in this process. Write compelling, professional marketing content for your site that is rich with these search words and phrases, especially on your home page. Make pages about 250 words. Include keyphrases at 3% – 10% density. For a 250 word page repeat the page primary keyphrase 7 -25 times. Tip: Hire a SEO professional web copywriter to write your site content !!!

2. Meta Keyword Tags Are Overrated: Contrary to what many people believe, your META keyword tags in your HTML code have very little bearing on the words a search engine uses to reference your site. What does this mean for your site? Make sure your web pages have easy-to-understand paragraphs that describe your site and contain many of your important search words. These search words should match your META keyword tags, otherwise, the spiders tend to disregard the keyword tags.

3. Title Tags Are Vital: Most search engines give a lot of weight to your title tags. These are also the phrases that appear at the top of each web page headline. So, take the time to create juicy and precise title tags. Use words and phrases that people would be likely to use in their search for your business. Reflect what is actually on the specific web page.

4. Meta Description Tags: This is the area where you write HTML content to describe each of your web pages. Although it is not a major factor in search engine ranking, it IS what is displayed in the search results. People searching will use this description to make a decision to visit your site or not. Use this area for marketing purposes to entice people to click on your link.

5. Page Headline: The first text on every page should include the page primary key phrase.

6. Key Phrase Text Links: Secondary site key phrases should be included in page copy, preferably in text menus, and linked to pages that contain the secondary phrase in the page title. The linked-to page must contain the secondary key phrase in each vital SEO page element.

7. Image Alt and Title Tags: Every image on every page of your site should include appropriately worded text that includes the page’s key phrase.

8. Design a Site That Search Engines Like: Websites that have graphic Splash pages or are designed in Flash are not as friendly to SE indexing. For the most part, search engines do not index graphics. They read text (but not graphic text). Use small amounts of Flash animation and graphics in appropriate places, along with great HTML content. Along with these graphics, use text for your image ALT and TITLE tags. If you have a graphic-based or javascript navigation system, make sure you have a site map that the spider can use to find all of your site page links. Every page in the site should include a prominent link to your site map!

9. Create a Compelling Site: If you haven’t created a website with gripping content that speaks to your visitors in plain, easy-to-understand language, you won’t get good long-term search-engine visibility. Nor, will visitors ever want to come back. Make your site is so good that people will want to link to it. They will want to provide their viewers with your copious amounts of useful information. You can also go to sites that offer complimentary services or products and e-mail their webmaster to ask them to add a link to your site. This will enhance your link popularity, something search engines tend to consider important.

10. Regularly Add Fresh Content: Search engines assign a very high value to websites that regularly provide fresh content. Fresh content is new pages of content regularly added to a site on a daily or weekly basis. CMS, content management systems, and Blogs, especially those with built-in search engine optimization, are very cost effective ways of adding fresh content to your site. Properly implemented, CMS and Blogs provide a “double barreled” impact on search engine ranking because they add fresh content and content mass with each post!!! The more search engine optimized pages your site has, the higher it will rank!

11. Submit your URL Monthly to the Directories: Read each search engine’s FAQs and follow it exactly! Mistakes in the submission process can make things extremely difficult to change down the road!!! Keep your website description short and sweet. Be sure to include keywords, but don’t use a lot of sales jargon. Submitting too frequently can get your site banned by some search engines!!! Hire a professional to manage your submissions.

12. Balance Your Online Marketing Approach: You will get the best results if you create a website that is content rich, popular with viewers, has a credible reputation, and is programmed using a smart approach to Meta tags.

Search engine spiders can be extremely slow to index new information, so be patient! It may take months to see your changes affect your search engine ranking. Remember, a website is a dynamic marketing tool that you are building over time. Treat it well, give it a little love and attention, and your long-term rewards will be well worth your efforts!