When you’re researching ways to increase traffic to your site, you will be told to work on your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). When people ask me about this, I give them the following answer.
Do I need to think about SEO?
Yes, but in a more sideways manner than you might think.
In the early days of the internet, there were only two real ways for your site to be found online. Through an old timey search engine (Altavista, anyone?) or from someone else’s site (remember when every site used to have a page called “links?” Some blogs still hold onto this tradition with a list of their faves in the sidebar).
To be listed in the search engines, you had to do a lot of the work – submitting your site by hand, and packing your site full of the words you wanted to be found by. Webmasters (boy, this post is feeling old-timey) used to cram these words at the bottom of every page on their site, sometimes hiding them (by using white text on a white background, for example). This was a low point in the history of the internet! The need for a way to categorize your site became obvious. Search engines began relying on “meta tags” hidden in the code of websites, to determine which keywords a site should be listed for.
The internet got crowded and became commercial instead of academic, and people started marketing themselves as search engine experts, who could do something special to get you to the top of the list for your target keywords. They started “keyword stuffing,” where they would enter all kinds of crazy keywords to the code of sites, causing search engine results to suffer. This bad behavior forced search engines to change and improve their methods, bringing us up to the current (ever-changing) state of searching the internet.
The web has evolved quite a bit, certain things seem vastly more reasonable, and there are some pretty simple things you can do that will increase your traffic naturally and have the side effect of improving your ranking in Google. Google now completely ignores the meta keyword tag, and instead looks for real content that people are reading.
What an improvement! Much like natural selection, Google’s selection pressure to reward good content has lead to websites that create a lot of good content. With all the competitors out there, though, how can you get ranked higher on Google?
How to improve your Google ranking organically
By “organically,” I mean by producing great content and getting it out in the world, rather than feverishly listing keywords.
1) Get mentioned on high profile sites.
Google wants to show relevant results to people searching, and they want the authorities to show up on top. If you can get a bunch of blogging bigwigs to mention and link to your site, that will be huge in and of itself, and also lead to Google having more “respect” for you. So my top advice is to spend more time pitching than fiddling around with keywords.
2) Have interesting, relevant content that people read on your site.
This is why people recommend you have a blog, though there are certainly other ways to do this. Google loves to see a constant stream of new info on your site. If there is a keyword you want to be a top Google result for, make sure that keyword is part of your product descriptions. Don’t go overboard with this and make your descriptions a list of keywords – Google can tell when you’re sucking up to it and may penalize you. The information that is the most interesting and helpful to customers will now help you with Google, so keep it natural. Also, remember to write on your site from your customers’ point of view. You want the wording on your site to match their searches.
3) Paid advertising.
You can always pay Google to show your site at the top (or side) of the search results, with the “ad” designation. You can also use their “retargeting” ad service to show your ad to people who have visited your site before. Remind them of what they were looking at on Facebook, and they may just wander back to buy it.
Learn other ways to promote your website
If you’d like to take the focus off of Google and get some real exposure for your business (to all the right people), check out our Pitch Kit PDF. If you’re at all confused about how to get blogs to write about what you do, this will be the best $44 you’ve spent on your business!
Also, let’s talk blogs! I’ve been putting together a detailed series of posts about blogging for your business. If you sign up for my newsletter now, you won’t miss any of this information about how to create all this great content that Google will love!