When browsing the internet, nearly every potential customer will use a search engine, usually Google, to find the pages they’re looking for. However, new and recently updated sites can sometimes be live for months before their existence is noticed.
The purpose of this guide is to remove some of this mystique in how search engines operate, and show what steps you’ll need to take to drive traffic to your site.
Some basics first
Remember, Google is not the underlying structure of the internet. It’s a program that searches for websites based on keywords. If you know the domain name you’re looking for you can bypass Google or other search engines entirely by typing it directly into the address bar of your browser.
Making sure your site will be found by Google is known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Optimisation can be done on-site using a number of techniques, such as researching effective keywords, adding title and description tags, internal linking and most importantly add lots of unique content), or off-site. This usually consists of more traditional promotion, such as outreach and PR in order to get sites to link to you or mentions on social media. Links count as endorsements – if a major site like the BBC links to you, that tells search engines that you are important, and you’ll most likely be ranked higher as a result.
It can be a disheartening moment. You’ve launched your site but it’s still nowhere to be seen when you type your chosen keywords into Google, or any other search engine. This is normal though, so don’t panic!
While some companies claim that they can build you a website and start ranking right away, this is often incorrect, and there are plenty of things that can influence when and how a site becomes visible. Sometimes it’s just a matter of waiting until slow-moving search engines get round to finding you.
The most common problem is that the site hasn’t been indexed yet. Search engines regularly crawl the web and add all the relevant pages they find to a massive database. When searching the engine it checks against this index rather than checking the web itself, meaning that un-indexed pages won’t show up.
Often, your website will also be one among many websites all competing for the same search term. They have been online longer than you have and maybe actively engaged in marketing, so it will be harder to get raise your ranking as a result.
Check your search terms
It’s also helpful to check that sure your content targets relevant terms that people searching for your site will be using. Are you searching for your brand name, for example, or are you using terms that are too broad? Search terms should be relevant and if possible specific to your business.
To use Neptune as an example, this site appears in Google when typing ‘Web Design Hastings’ or ‘Neptune Media’ but not when typing ‘Web Design’ or just ‘Neptune.’ Competition is the key thing here – the more specific your terms, the less the competition. Using locations and any specific features you offer is helpful, although be sure to keep the terms general enough that the crawler will think to look for them.
Imagine that your site sells books. The current top results for the term “buy books online” look like this:
As you can see, these are pretty big brands. To compete with these, you’ll need a combination of the following:
- Links from high quality, relevant sites
- Strong, well optimised copy – and lots of it
- An aged domain, with lots of activity on social media
If you are a smaller business these principles still apply, but the amount of work required is a lot less. Usually, we use a tool called Moz Explorer to tell us how competitive terms will be. The key below then shows what kind of work is required to meet the goal of a top 5 position.
|0 – 15%||Non-competitive term, top rankings achievable with well optimized on-page keyword use|
|16 – 30%||Low competition, top rankings achievable with well optimized on-page keyword use and light link strength|
|31 – 45%||Slightly competitive, top rankings require well optimized on-page use and moderate link strength|
|46 – 60%||Competitive, top rankings achievable only with highly optimized on-page content and substantial link strength|
|61 – 75%||Highly competitive term, top rankings require on-page optimization, well-established history and robust link strength|
|76 – 90%||Exceptionally competitive term, top rankings only achievable with highly-established site and overwhelming link strength|
|91%+||Among the most competitive terms on the web, only the most powerful & popular sites can achieve rankings|
Ultimately, promotion is about driving visibility – the more people you can get to notice your website, the more likely Google is to pay attention, whether its by links, shares on social media or mentions in the press. If your site is technically sound and content well put together, these signals will get you the rankings you need if you are in a competitive marketplace.
This is where Neptune comes in. We provide digital marketing, web design and development in order to ensure your site is built to best practice and in a prime position to rank highly on Google once it’s been indexed. While (as mentioned above) we can’t guarantee that you’ll hit the top spot, our optimization and digital marketing efforts will ensure your site is at its most competitive from the start.
As mentioned above this is due to a number of factors, including the search terms you are using, the age of the domain name and the amount of existing competition already competing for the same search terms. What makes your site rank higher? By using our monthly digital marketing (or SEO) services you can work on and off site to increase your chances of ranking higher and beating the competition. We offer best practice long term approach and results without using ‘quick win’ techniques, many of which search engines will rapidly spot and penalize.