Building a website can be likened to printing a catalogue – there is no point unless you get eyeballs on it. So how do we get listed on Google?
Generally speaking, a website will start to show in searches for its own name within a few weeks of its launch if it has been submitted to Google or it has been linked to from another site that Google visits regularly. Your new website, joeblogswidgets.com.au should eventually show in search results for ‘joe blogs widgets’.
That’s a start but how many people are using that particular search term on Google? Probably none! What you really want is to get your site listed as high as possible on the first page for the search terms (keywords) that people might use when looking for the product or service you offer. So if you offer widgets for sale you really want your site listed when potential customers are searching using keywords like “buy widgets”, “designer widgets”, “discount widgets” etc.
So how do we do that? There are two main methods which we might consider as the easy way and the hard way. There is a third method for those targeting just their own local area but we’ll look at the bigger picture for now.
The first and easier method is to use Google’s Adwords program. You’ve probably noticed those listings that appear on the right hand side of Google and sometimes in a coloured box at the top? They are known as Sponsored Links, they are placed there by Google for advertisers who are willing to pay for website visitors on a ‘pay per click’ basis.
Advertisers arrange for their sites to appear on the results page for the keywords that are relevant to their business. Our friend Joe can arrange for his listing to appear when folks search Google for “discount widgets”, “widget sales” etc. The amount he pays per click is largely dependent on the level of competition for those keywords and how high up on the page he wants his listing to appear.
This form of search engine marketing has been highly successful for advertisers targeting the right keywords. This is hardly surprising as those advertisers are connecting with the potential customer at the very moment that person is searching for the product!
The second way to get listed on Google is usually a longer term and tougher way but offers the reward of free traffic to your website. This is the process known as search engine optimisation. SEO is an ongoing effort to get listed in Google’s organic listings (those that appear on the left side of a search results page). The more websites competing for the same keywords, the harder it is to get on the first page.
Optimising for good natural listings for any particular keyword is the process of getting the sites content into a search engine friendly form and convincing Google the site deserves to be listed. This involves several on-site elements such as page titles, headings and internal link structure. It also means some offsite work in the form of getting links from other websites.
Those incoming links are especially important when competing for listings on competitive keywords. Google sees incoming links as a ‘vote’ for a site. The more votes it gets the more Google will take notice of it. Not all links are equal but that is a discussion for another time.