Posted: 8th March 2016
Back in 1998, Google was invented and with it Google ranking. Google arrived much like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Compared to the busy interface of Yahoo! or Ask Jeeves with their ‘And’s and ‘Or’ choices, its simplicity was breathtaking. Now it has become a verb. And for any business with a website, the first page of Google is hallowed ground. But why does your competitor still beat you in the rankings?
Here’s a quick and dirty tour through some key points about Search Engine Optimisation. It will give you some idea as to why you’re languishing and what to do about it.
They’ve shelled out for a Google ad
If you pay for an Ad, you’ll be featured in the top spot. If you want to do the same, you just need the money. But why not try some of the following changes first?
“It’s my allure”
To quote Stevie from ‘Miranda’, your competitor’s website probably has more ‘allure’ to the Google spider (ro)bots than yours. So you have to learn how to wow these clever bits of software that scurry around the internet, indexing pages. The more times they see a search word in a relevant place, the higher they rank you for that search word. But it has to be relevant – more in ‘Stop cramming’ below.
What’s in a name?
Has your rival named each web page intelligently? For example, on my website I didn’t call this page ‘blog-2016’ but ‘google-ranking-tips’. To quote a well-known superstore, every little helps. If you have an e-commerce website, try to make sure each product page is individually labelled.
The vital title
Is the key search term in the title? Initially I called this post ‘Why your rival is higher in Google – and what you can do about it’. But I changed it to include my key search term ‘google ranking’.
One of my favourite films is Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. In it Marilyn Monroe plays an unapologetically materialistic showgirl who loves fashion labels. Similarly you may as well stick a pink dress and blonde wig on any Google search bot. They too are obsessed.
For example if your rival has an image called ‘using_bbq_tongs.jpg’ and you have ‘123.jpg’, guess which is more attractive to the bots? Yes, it’s a pain if you’re used to just uploading an image from your phone. But it’s worth that extra minute renaming it to give you the edge.
‘Alt-tuning’ for Google ranking
In the early days of the internet, images took an age to download. So designers added an ALTernative tag. These words filled the space where the image would eventually unveil itself. That way you could decide if it was worth waiting for an image called ‘cute kittens licking a snowdrift’ to load or scroll past. Any canny competitor will make sure alt tags include the keyword.
Tip: Remember to keep alt tags under 20 characters and relevant. Read-out-loud software for the blind still uses the tags to help their users.
It’s all about keyword density and the Goldilocks balance of ‘just right’. This means mentioning the search term maybe three or four times in the text of a web page.
If you have written ‘BBQ tongs’ 40 times in white font in a white background to cram in keywords, stop! Google has wised up to such dark arts and now penalises you if you try this.
Age before beauty
If their website has existed longer than yours, then it will have more weight with Google. So if you don’t have a website yet, make 2016 the year you go online.
Shaping up on mobile
If your rival’s website is responsive and yours isn’t, they’re going to beat you hands-down. Responsive means that it resizes when you look at it on a mobile phone or a tablet. Google now check to see if a website is mobile-friendly. I’ve heard of one site that used to get 1000 views a month dropping to 30 in the last few months because it wasn’t responsive.