We recently had a situation with a client from far, far away who asked me, within two days of publishing their website, “Is our site online? Why can’t I see it?” After a fair bit of questioning I finally figured out that they were doing a search on Google’s search engine. I had to go through a tedious explanation of something that I mistakenly thought was common knowledge. So if you ever wondered why things didn’t work like that, consider this post your answer!
We will look at the following topics:
The search engine indexing process
Boosting your ranking in organic search
Boosting your ranking through paid ads
I’m sure most of us have been there. We’ve all had that moment where we, like Kevin Costner in “Field of Dreams”, believed “If I build it, they will come”. Then after designing, building, registering and publishing, we wait for our business to BOOM….. just to be utterly disappointed. So how exactly does it work?
The Search Engine Indexing Process
Most search engine listings are added automatically. Years ago you had to manually add your site to search engines, and some of them still work that way, but with all due respect, those aren’t the search engines that count anymore. The big search engines use things called “spiders” that “crawl” the web, looking for content to index. These are essentially bits of code that follow hyperlinks, scan content, send info back to the search engine’s database, follow the next link, send data back, etc. So eventually your site will be reached by one or more of these spiders. This process could take some time, though. On Google’s FAQ they specifically state, “Crawling and indexing are processes which can take some time and which rely on many factors. In general, we cannot make predictions or guarantees about when or if your URLs will be crawled or indexed”. In other words, it will show up when it shows up.
Boosting your search engine ranking in organic search
By “organic search” we mean people who search for something and end up on your web site without you paying anything for that. An important factor to keep in mind with organic search is that you have to be mindful of what people will search for. For example, if they search for specifically your company name, or your URL, you will probably list on page 1 of Google. But why would people search for you if they already know who you are? Most of the time that’s not what you want. You want to draw in people who use a search engine to search for your product or service, but who don’t know about you or your business yet.
For example, if you own a company that sells widgets, you would want people to find you when they search for the word “widget”. If your head offices are based in Pofadder, then you need to be visible when people search for “widget in pofadder” or “pofadder widget agent”. Getting that done is a very specialized field called “search engine optimization”, and discussing it in detail is far beyond the scope of this post.
However, the important thing to remember when you’re designing your web site, is that Google, Bing, Yahoo, and all the other search engines are trying to give the searching person the most relevant information using the phrase that they searched for. So if you can establish that your website has quality content, with relevant information, about the keywords and keyphrases that you chose, then you will rank well ahead of those who simply see their website as “a way to earn a quick buck” and don’t put in the effort to make it valuable in itself.
Boosting your search engine ranking through paid ads
Though there’s no real competition for good organic search rankings, you can also use paid ads to bring more people to your website. There are many kinds of paid ads and affiliate marketing systems (including social media marketing), but since the focus of this post is search engines, we will mostly discuss paid search engine marketing.
If you look at the image above, you can clearly see that the paid ad is in the top position (often there are two or three paid ads), followed by the organic search results. You can pay any search engine money to appear in one of the paid ad positions. The prices will depend; first you have to choose your keywords, then you will enter a bidding process for those keywords. The companies who are willing to pay the most for those keywords will have their ads appear most often. Then it works on a “pay-per-click” basis; everytime someone clicks on an ad, the search engine will charge the company who placed the ad.
According to statistics, paid ads bring in approximately 20% of the visits to a customer’s website (the other 80% being through organic search results or other traffic). This statistic will obviously differ from website to website, depending on the amount of effort put into all of the different marketing strategies.
And that’s all there is to it, really. There are a few simple things that can be done to improve your website’s ranking on most search engines. Recently we published two new blogs; just by implementing very basic systems (taking less than an hour of our time) we were able to draw 11 new visitors per day to each blog, WITHIN 2 DAYS! This was through organic search, not paid ads; apart from the time we put in (like I said, less than an hour) it didn’t cost us a cent.
So where do you start to get these same results?
First you have to identify the problem areas on your website. Our Web Performance Optimization Audit Report is the perfect starting point!