Figuring out how to break the top ten search results on a major engine such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo can be tough. Sometimes it seems like the “little guy” just can’t catch a break. Fortunately, there are ways to make even the smallest or newest business competitive with older and more established sites that seem to dominate the search results. In this article, we’ll explore some of the tools you can use to set your business apart, getting you better exposure on the search engines and directing more customers to your site and the products and services you have to offer!
1) Give it time.
The “big guys” didn’t magically get to the top ten or twenty results on a search engine, and you shouldn’t expect to either. Search engines trust sites with longevity and traffic, because these are more profitable for the search engines. The sites on the top ten, twenty, or fifty results got there by being around, using popular key words, and optimizing their pages in such a way that prospective customers can’t help but find them. If you’re not as big as, say, AT&T, there’s still hope, but you’re going to have to invest some time and effort to get your site to the forefront of the search results.
2) Search Engine Optimization
SEO is easily one of the most overlooked methods of attracting business to a site. The first thing you need to know is, what keywords are your competitors using? Is there a variant usage they haven’t thought of, or something you do differently that you can capitalize on? If you’re selling widgets along with WidgetCo (#2 on Google)* and WidgetWorld (#6 on Google)*, finding out what keywords they’re using can help you direct traffic to your site, particularly if you use a special or unique way of delivering or creating your widgets.
One easy way to do this is to input deliberate misspellings of common keywords. Most people aren’t experienced typists, and even a pro can fumble a word. If that happens, make it work for you! So a search string such as “custom widgets texas” can become “cstom wigdets texas”. By using variations of common keywords, you can help boost your ratings quickly. Adding in your specific location, such as “custom widgets texas houston” is another quick and simple SEO usage.
3) Be different!
Using the same four keywords and variations over and over may make your site search-friendly, but it’s not going to help your ratings. Finding different ways to say the same thing, such as “custom widgets houston tx” or “custm widgits huston tx,” is great, but what about “best widgets texas” or ” best custom widgets houston?” These keywords will not only help set you apart from everyone else, but will also give you front-line advertising for your business that will stick in the customer’s mind. They see “best,” so they click, and you see more business and profits!
3) Getting Backlinks
Pages and sites with a lot of backlinks attract more attention, so they rate higher in the search engines. Having a blog or an article page with dynamic, useful, SEO-optimized content for prospective customers such as “Why Do I Need A Widget For (whatever)?” will attract backlinks as more people get interested in what your site has to say. Any time you get a backlink from a blogger, a more established site, or even an industry site like WidgetTimes.com*, your site will edge up just a little more in the search engine rankings.
4) Make Your Site User-Friendly
Search engine “bots” look at your site. What they see will directly influence what kind of traffic you get and how far down in the search engines you can expect to be. If your front page is nothing but banners, ads, and visual clutter, you can’t expect to get a high ranking on the search engines. The reason for this is because search engine designers calculate, based on reported user experiences, how much “value” your site will have to customers using algorithms that take into account how similar sites have performed in the past. Having a well-crafted site that isn’t dominated by advertising invites the customer (and search bot) in, rather than scaring them away.
5) Link Popularity Analysis
Knowing and understanding what links and keywords are drawing people to your competition can be a useful tool for a start-up Internet business. Conducting an in-depth site analysis of both your own and your competitors’ sites can give you a “big-picture” look at what they’re doing, what you’re doing, what’s working and not, and why. Such things as SEO, linking, keywords, and overall page structure should be taken into account when conducting an analysis.
6) Give Users What They Want
This comes back to #4 in some respects, but in a lot of ways is a whole different animal. Dynamic content means content that’s easily accessible, informative, and entertaining to the public. If you have someone on staff with a gift for acerbic quips, maybe consider using “John’s Rant Of The Day” as a quick and humorous lead-in to other content. A blogger who has a knack for writing witty and useful articles can also be a great way to keep your customers informed and interested. Would you rather read a tedious site with nothing but ads and product descriptions, or a site that gives you the information you need in a way that doesn’t encourage you to take a nap after you read it?
The big fish on the search engines didn’t get there overnight. A lot of trial and error, as well as research on how search engines and users think and function, goes into getting Top 10 rankings. By using these steps and tips for your campaign, you can give yourself and your site a big boost both in customers and in reputation without worrying about unethical “black hat” practices that can actually harm your business.
*Note: These companies are wholly fictitious and for illustration purposes only.