Because I have a background in Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization, the most common work related question I encounter is, “How do I get my site ranked at the top of the search engines?” Since it seems to be such a popular question, I thought I’d go ahead and put my answer in writing.
My first response is to point out that there is no “top of the search engines.” Each word or phrase (keyword) you search for will have its own set of top results, so the first thing you need to do is figure out which keywords are most important for your website to appear among the top listings. The three factors that you need to consider when making this decision are:
- The likelihood that the person that typed the keyword into the search engine is someone who would purchase the goods or services that you offer on your site. How “qualified” are these people?
- The number of people searching for the keyword: Even if you think a keyword is very relevant to your business, if no one is searching for it, top search engine rankings for that keyword isn’t going to help you much.
- The “competitiveness” of the keyword versus the expected financial benefit of being one of the first 5 listings for the keyword: Reaching the first page of results for some keywords is very difficult, some are very easy, and most are somewhere in-between. For example, if you have just built a site for your mortgage brokerage, the keyword mortgage may not be a good target for you. Although the relevance of the word mortgage is high and there are millions of searches per month for the keyword, the competitiveness of that term is so high that you would not likely be able to reach the first page of results of that keyword for several years, if ever.
If you are going to actively try to get your site ranked higher on the search engines, selecting the right keywords to target is the most important step. Once you’ve chosen your keywords, you need to take steps to “convince” the search engines that your site is the most relevant to these keywords of any of the websites online. This is done in two primary ways:
- Using the keywords strategically on your site: The most important place to have the keywords is in the title bar (this is the blue bar on the top of your Browser- on ESPN, the title bar says “ESPN: The Worldwide Leader in Sports”).
- Getting other websites to link to your website: Any link to your site is helpful, but the most valuable ones are the ones that come from sites with a high page rank (Google assigns every website with a page rank 1 through 10. The higher the page rank, the more powerful the site), have content relevant to the keywords that you are targeting, and link to you using your targeted keywords in the anchor text (anchor text are the blue words with the line underneath them that you click on to go from one web page to another).
There have been roughly a bazillion articles, blog entries, and web sites written on the above two steps. I’ll continue to provide information about this is we go along, but this entry is simply to provide you with a basic foundation from which to start.