In our last article we talked about Pay Per Click (PPC) – the adverts section at the top of Google results pages. Below the ads are ordinary listings – the “organic” results.
These websites are listed in order of relevance – most relevant at the top. When people say they are “getting to the top of Google”, this is what they are talking about. Obviously the higher you appear you’ll get more people clicking on your site so improving your “ranking” is important.
No one outside Google knows exactly how the order is decided, but it’s possible to work much of it out by trial and error – and companies have been doing that ever since Google became the dominant internet search engine.
The two main activities that affect the position of your website (your ranking) are on-page and off-page optimisation.
This brief guide covers some of the things you can do on your website to make Google take notice – it’s called “on-page SEO”. In follow-up articles we’ll cover more on-page techniques then go into “off-page SEO”.
In the code of every webpage there are “meta tags” you can complete to inform Google about your site. These are hidden – not seen by people reading your site.
There are dozens of meta tags but as an example, entering:
<title>What your website is about </title>
… will cause the text “What your website is about” to appear in the top of the browser tab. It’s also important to Google when ranking sites.
Another important one is the description tag:
<meta name="a longer description of your site" content="text">
… which will cause that text to appear below your website name in the search listings.
If you’re using a content management system or other menu-based system to create your website – WordPress, Joomla, Wix or Shopify to name just a few – you will complete these tags in a menu system somewhere.
If you want to find out more about these meta tags and which ones you might want to use, google “meta tags list” as a starting point.
Keywords in text
Once you know which search terms you’re targeting you need to mention them on the relevant pages of your website. Never over-do it, because Google is constantly changing the way it assesses sites to stop people getting good rankings by ramming keywords everywhere.
These days it’s not considered good practice to put a keyword or keyword phrase on a page more than a couple of times. In fact it’s better to write copy that tells people what they need to know, because Google is getting better and better at understanding text in that way.
But it won’t hurt to tell people what you do and include a few keyword phrases. Do use keywords in your meta tags though, particularly the description and title.
There’s more ….
We’re going to come back next month to cover the second half of on-page SEO techniques, like site structure, image tags, multimedia, linking, social sharing buttons and more, then move on to off-page SEO.