It seems as though no sooner have I completed a website redesign for a client that their thoughts turn to search rankings. They may ask the question is a variety of ways and with varying degrees of sophistication but the one thing they all want to know is “How do I get listed on the first page of Google results?”. The flippant answer is you need a staff of 10 and a million dollar budget.
To get a useful answer to the question, we turned to Greg Bassett of NorthPoint SEO. “There’s not a lot with SEO that requires advanced technical expertise,” Bassett told us. “There are five basic things you should do.”
- Keep it real.
Make sure you use real words that reflect what you do and what makes your company unique. Those words can appear in a variety of places – your metadata, your keyword tags, and – perhaps most importantly – search-friendly URLs. What are those? “A web address that tells what the link is in human-readable form. Like ‘/my_great_service.html’.”
- Don’t click here.
“Using the phrase ‘click here’ is an easily avoidable mistake,” warned Greg. “This isn’t the 90’s. Everyone looking at their browser knows that an underlined phrase in a different color is a link – so use the real words as your link.”
- Less is more.
Keep the list of keywords and the number of words in your phrases short. He advises us to “focus on the words and phrases that uniquely describe who you are and what you do. People search in iterative rounds starting with a broad phrase that they gradually refine until they get a set of results that reflect what they’re looking for. When you’re on that list, you’re in front of someone who is looking for you.”
- Be true to your words.
“That is to say, the words and phrases behind the scenes [in the metadata and in the links], should be echoed in the copy people can read on your pages.”
- It’s a process not a project.
“Success will be experienced over time as the client gets familiar with how people are being lead to their site through search. Experimentation and analysis will reveal what’s working and what isn’t. Treating the SEO exercise as a process rather than a project almost always yields excellent results.”
So, how do you get listed on the first page of Google results without a staff of 10 and a million dollar budget? “Success with SEO requires an attention to detail, a willingness to experiment, and monitoring results over time so you learn what’s working and what’s not.”