Getting on top

What are the 5 most important things you can do to get your website at the top of search engine rankings? Good question — and important too! More than ever before Canadians are using the internet to find everything from local restaurants to replacement windows, from employment to vacations, from a new home to a new dentist. World-wide, Google reports there are over 1 BILLION searches done on its pages every day, so coming up at the top of a result is something to which every website should aspire.

While no search engine publishes their algorithm (the method they use to rank one site higher than another), our own research and experience indicates that these are the most important things a website needs to make it to the top — and stay there.

Keyword-rich content

Simply put, if you want people to find your site when they Google ‘Justin Bieber’, your website needs to have a full biography, photos, a list of his favourite foods, a calendar of where he’s going to be for the next year… you get the idea. The more your website has text, images, videos, etc that are about your chosen keywords, the higher you will rank. And in order to stay on top, that content needs to be fresh.

Inbound links

An inbound link is a link on another website that links to your site. It’s one thing for me to say on my website that The Dunham Group builds the best websites; it’s another thing if 10 other websites out there say the same thing about me, and link to my website. Even better if a website Guru writes a blog about great website builders and then links to my site. High quality, relevant inbound links are difficult to get, which is likely one reason why Google thinks they’re important.

Unique page titles and descriptions

The page title and description is part of the coding at the beginning of every page of your website, and is more often controlled by your web developer than you, which makes this one of the areas that separates great web design companies from the rest. Search engines take their cues from the title and description of a page, and then validate that with the page content. If your page content is all about orange shoes, the page title shouldn’t be ‘Alzheimers and other dementias’, or even ‘Accessories-R-Us’.

Site popularity

Remember that Google’s job is to get people to come back and do another search — so they want to make you happy each time you search for something. Google would rather send you to a site that gets lots of visitors than to a site where no one visits, because a busy site is more likely to make you happy. Search engines count the length of visits as well as the sheer number of visitors, so a good website gives visitors a reason to stay.

How the website is built

A good website makes the content easy for search engines to find, and makes the navigation easy for search engines to navigate. Coding techniques have changed dramatically in the last 5 years, so if your website is getting on in years — even if it still looks great — you would want to speak with a web developer to ensure that the website architecture and the code on the page doesn’t get in the way of the content.

Good designers and good planning

What’s the best way for your website to improve in these five areas? First, make an appointment with your web designer to review your site to see if the page titles and descriptions are good and the site structure and coding is improving or hindering search engine rankings. Keep in mind that a good page title last year may not be so appropriate today, and good coding from 3 years ago may need some tweaking to bring it up to current standards.

Second, take some time to plan a website strategy. Use your web designer’s expertise to help you research key words and then make a plan to regularly review all the content of your site to make sure it’s fresh and keyword-rich. Remember, your website is a valuable asset that deserves a regular investment of time and money in order to bring in the best return.

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