The art of positioning your page at Google

As I wrote in my post about my first client, converting internet users into website visitors is the first action of any online marketing plan. Different strategies can make this happen, but positioning your page in the first results of a search engine like Google is maybe the thoughest one.

Magali Benitez, Online Marketing expert at Poliedric.comThat’s why I attended the Cibernàrium course “Position your company at the search engines” of Magali Benítez, online marketing expert at Poliedric.com with over 10 years experience in SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Personalized results

Most of us are not conscious about the fact that the results obtained from Google Search are personalized. Google takes into account all information it can find about you and your online behaviour before showing any result to you. Doesn’t matter if you’re logged in onto Google or not, Google knows a lot about you!

An example is your location. If you search for example on the keywords ‘flower shop’, you’ll obtain very different results whether you’re in Barcelona or in a village nearby.

"Is Personalized Search Getting Too Personal?" Infographic by MDGadvertisingAnother example is your navigation history. If you visit a lot your own website, Google will record this as a very important page  to you, and will show it among the first results when doing a search on keywords related to your website.

That’s why, very mistakenly, a lot of people think their page is positioning very well on Google. Doing the test from a different device or from Google Chrome through ‘File/New Incognito Window’ will reveal the painful truth to you…

Indexing

A second mystery to reveal before getting into the art of positioning is the indexing of your webpage at Google. Contrary to what most people think, Google isn’t searching through our webpages in real time. What Google does is searching through its own database of copies of our webpages.

Google Bot (Spider)These copies were made by Googlebot, a robot (also called ‘crawler’ or ‘spider’) that with a certain frequency ‘takes a walk’ on the internet and copies everything it finds on its way. It is this stock of ‘indexed’ information that Google is scanning when you enter keywords in its search engine.

To see the last indexed version of your website, put ‘site:yourdomainname.xxx’ into the search field and click on the green arrow next to the resulting links where it says ‘cached’. At the banner above the cached result, you will see when the ‘spider’ last visited your webpage and indexed it.

Pagerank

Now that we know that Google searches its own database, what decides whether a webpage is ranked among the first search results? The precise answer to this question is top secret. Google will never reveal the exact composition of its PageRank formula, the mathematical algorithm that decides how the ranking exactly happens.

SEO Ranking Factors by Seomoz.orgWhat we do know are the ingredients of this formula – the factors that Google takes into account for positioning a certain page among its search results. About 200 factors have been identified, but it basically comes down to 2 main dimensions:

  • Correspondence of keywords
    Google wants to give the best answers to the questions people are asking through its search engine. That’s why it looks for the pages that best represent the keywords. Googlebot needs to see those keywords repetitively on a certain webpage before it ‘classifies’ the page as one of the candidates of its search results.
  • Authority (or ‘popularity’)
    For Google, a result that corresponds to what you were looking for is not enough. Results have to be of good quality too. Google Search wants to show content that is ‘popular’ across the internet. To measure this popularity, it takes into account the number of ‘inbound links’ – the number of times your page was linked (‘referenced’) by other websites. Not just by any website, but by websites that are popular themselves too!

Optimization

Now that we know the theory, it’s time to put things into practice and learn about the art of optimization. A good guide here is the SEO Pyramid from SEO guru Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz.org.

SEO Pyramid by Rand Fishkin for SEOmoz.org1. Content Quality & Accessibility

As explained above, the first step is to create webpages that are fully accessible for the search engine ‘crawlers’ or ‘spiders’. Examples that are not ‘indexable’ are webpages that are made in flash, that contain menus in javascript or that only consist of images.  To see which webpages of your site are being indexed, do a search on ‘site:yourdomainname.xxx’.

Besides accessibility, as the pyramid says, create useful content with a high user experience. It’s the best way to get others to link to you and increase your popularity in terms of SEO!

2. Keyword Research & Targeting

"SEO at a Glance" infographic by Hall Internet MarketingIf you want to appear in Google’s answers, your website should include the keywords people are using for their search queries. Stop describing your business in your own terms, use Google’s Keyword Tool to find out which search terms are most used among the people that want to find out about the type of product, service or activity you’re delivering.

After, place these words strategically throughout your website. Don’t use the same words repetitively on all your webpages, but work page by page and choose a different (combination of) keywords for each webpage. This is because it is very unlikely that on Page 1 of its results Google Search will show different pages from one and the same domain name. Instead, the results will consist of pages from 10 different domain names. If you aren’t lucky with 1 of your webpages, maybe another webpage (with content developed around another keyword) will appear among the first results!

3. Link Building

"How to Build Links for SEO, Traffic and Response" infographic by HUA Online MarketingAlthough Google’s PageRank formula is secret, a research conducted by SEOmoz.org deducted that about 40% of the ranking decision is related to popularity. So how to obtain links to your webpage? One way is to play with vanity and write about others on your webpage or blog. Chances are big the person you write about is going to link back to your article. Doesn’t matter if this happens from a blog/website or a social media channel, a link is a link!

4. Social

In his article Experiments on Google+ and Twitter Influencing Search Rankings, Cyrus Shepard states: “Some people believe Social Media have displaced traditional SEO. This is far from the truth. Social media doesn’t replace traditional SEO. It helps it”.

Logically, if there is any social media channel that will help boost your Google ranking, it most certainly will be Google Plus!

Leave a Reply