If you are searching on Google the same exact key words that I am searching, chances are NO – you are not seeing what I am seeing.
I am in New York City and you might be in Kalamazoo, Michigan so Google looks at our IP addresses, which tells them where we are and they adjust the results according to our location.
Next Google looks at what your search history reveals and attempts to work on assumptions that would be relevant to you according to their calculations. They are doing the same thing for me.
Then add into the mix Google Instant and possibilities start to show up before you finish typing as to what you might be looking for based on those factors mentioned above and other factors such as the most popular websites.
If you are searching at 10 am and I am searching at 3 pm then real time results are certainly going to vary based on that 5-hour difference and Google takes that into consideration and offers results based on real-time activity as well.
So you are not going to see what I see when we search the same exact key word or phrase.
Add to that Google Instant is now taking up valuable ATF (above the fold) real estate, if you were hoping to get first page visibility after all your SEO work, you might be pushed down to BTF (yep – below the fold) or even worse, page 2.
So what is a website to do to be seen these days?
If becoming the most popular brand in the universe isn’t yet achievable then I would begin to focus on Google stuff. Yes Bing is making headway and other search engines still hold a foot in the search game but for now, at least for now, Google still holds the lion’s share of search. So let’s focus on Google for this post. The following are some things that Google likes, not in order of importance as much as the order of my random thought patterns. And let’s be real – if Google likes it, then you have a chance.
1. Google loves video so start posting videos. Youtube, Vimeo and Ustream are some sites to consider. If you are self hosting or third party hosting videos I would suggest copying them over to one of the main video sites to gain traction. And if you want to make Google really happy, Youtube keeps it in the family.
2. Google loves real time. Are you tweeting yet? This is the best tool to keep a steady stream of real time activity. Start thinking about keywords, topics, article sources to share and start tweeting today. Know that Google pays attention to your credibility and that is measured by RT (retweets) and conversations with other Tweeters indicated by @name. So Tweet in earnest not in vain (promo only).
3. Google loves places. Get a Google places account. They love coupons so they can add value to their searchers. And Tags – yes Google will let you set yourself apart on the map if you pay to Tag – that runs about $25/month.
4. Google likes you to play with their toys. Try using Google Docs it is actually pretty handy for file sharing or getting your info on the go. Google calendar might be a solution or even a cool application on your website.
5. Google likes it when you tend to your website so be sure to install Google analytics and have a webmaster account that you actually look in on from time to time.
6. Google loves to read your mail so make sure you have a Gmail account. I use mine as a receptacle for the dozens of newsletters and blogs I subscribe to.
7. Google loves their maps. Please make sure you have one for your location on your website.
8. Google loves bloggers. Since they have a vested interest in blogspot you might want to consider using blogspot. I am a believer that a blog belongs on your website and so I might give this one up.
9. Google loves fresh content. That is where a blog on your site is helpful. Other ideas are changing up a section on your home page with news about your company or in your industry, getting some pdf files and other shareable downloadable content – Google likes it when you play nice and make things available to their searchers.
10. Google loves fast loading websites so go back and clean up your code, ditch the flash, cut down the amount and size of your photos and check out anything that might be slowing your load times down.
11. Google loves tags. They really like it when you make their job easy so double back and look at your code. Hopefully you are using CSS by now and so make sure your H1 tags are keywords; have a keyword rich and well-written meta description.
12. Google likes real word page names. That means if you have dynamic pages that generate a lot of phooey like ##&^236.html well that doesn’t help Google at all. Make sure page names are words, particularly keywords and oh don’t have all the words run together or use underscores to separate the words, Google is fond of hyphens. Your page name should look like page-name.htm and not page_name.htm or page%$###.htm.
13. Google likes links. Lots and lots of links. But they must be good links and they must be text base links. Reputable directories are a good start. Getting other relevant sites to use your keywords and link to your site is worth a pot of gold or maybe two pots if it is a well established website.
14. Google loves well trafficked sites. Get visitors coming and keep them there because Google pays attention to how long their searchers actually stay on your site and how many pages they explore.
15. Google loves commitments. If you have a domain name expiring soon go ahead and renew for generations to come. Ok, well at least for a couple of years.
16. Google likes deep thinkers and many pages. I realize that the more pages you have the more money you might have to spend and certainly more time thinking about what you are going to put on those pages but think hard. Come up with a site plan that makes sense and gives your visitors information in a logical arrangement.
17. Google likes directions. Give your visitors an html site map and make sure you submit an xml site map directly to Google.
18. Google likes breadcrumbs. These are the little text navigations at the top of a page that indicate where you are on the site in the scheme of things. It might look something like: home > food > meat > organic. Your web programmer can set that up for you if you don’t know how to program.
19. Google really likes alt tags. They still can’t read photos so remember to give your images alt tags and use keywords. Rather than using a generic word like image.jpg try using a keyword for instance organic-meat.jpg. Yes the hyphens work well here as well.
20. Google likes to know you are real – install hcards or at least make sure you have address and phone numbers visible on your site.
The point is that search engine optimization is undergoing radical changes and shifts and I have no idea where PPC is going to wind up in the scheme of things – neither do the experts at this point, they are all in wait and see mode from what I can tell. So follow these basic rules:
1. Have a clean coded, well organized, keyword relevant website.
2. Provide good content on your website.
3. Blog and post updates regularly.
4. Get social – use Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and other sites that give you the opportunity to engage with the world at large. No more hiding behind your desk Mister / Missy!
5. Don’t resort to black hat techniques or link farms – not only does Google not like that, well they can shut you down!
6. Read other people’s blogs and comment where it makes sense and when you can offer insight or add to the conversation.
I invite you to start right now, comment on this blog post – add in some of your suggestions or feel free to refute mine. Let’s get the conversation and links back to your site going!