Search engine visibility is key to the success of any web-based business and individual looking to profit from online activities. When it comes to building an online profile, many individuals and companies are in the dark about the steps that can be taken to boost visibility in search results. There are countless search engines available for web surfers, such as MSN, AOL, Ask, Yahoo, and Bing, but the search market in the US is dominated by Google.

Market analysis released in June 2014 by comScore showed that Google dominated the market with a 67.6% share of search activity in May 2014, unchanged from April. By comparison, Microsoft sites held a market share of just 18.8%, representing 0.1% growth from the previous month, Yahoo remained unchanged at 10%, Ask shrunk 0.1% to 2.3%, and AOL remained flat at 1.3%.

This leaves most companies focusing solely on improving their search results ranking in Google. In this post, we highlight the steps you can take to improve your ranking in Google search results.

Do Your Homework

First and foremost, we cannot stress enough the value of understanding how search results work. If you want to move your site from page 3 to page 1 on Google’s search results, you need to understand how the system works in order to achieve the changes you seek. Page visibility and page rank are terms that are often confused, and worse, used interchangeably. While they sound similar, your page rank and page visibility are two different concepts.

The visibility of your website on Google is the relative position of your site on the list of “natural” search engine results that appear when someone uses a search term related to your business or industry. Your objective is to push your site as high on the rankings as possible, preferably appearing on the first page of results. Page rank is a different concept.

When Google talks about page rank, it has a unique meaning within its search engine and algorithms. Page rank refers to web pages that link to your web page and provide your site with a higher ranking. However, it’s not as simple as having a lot of inbound links. Quality is more important than quantity. When high-quality pages link to your page, that helps boost the page rank of your site. On the other hand, having a number of links to your page that originate from low-quality sites will not boost, and could even downgrade, your page rank.

As your page rank improves, so too does your site’s visibility in Google search results. The key factor to keep in mind is that page rank alone does not improve visibility. Quality content that engages users and generates links to your site, improves your page rank and can boost your visibility.

Where to Start

We recommend starting your quest for page 1 search results by improving the search-engine friendliness of your website. There are a number of steps you can take to achieve this goal, but focus on these four factors in particular:

  1. Title tag: When your site’s title tag is set up right, with unique phrasing, you improve the potential for landing on page 1 for search rankings. The best approach is to include your top keywords early in the title and use your brand name last.
  2. Meta tags: Your meta tag is the brief description of your site, products, and services that appears on search engine results page. Meta tags have to be short, sweet, and relevant. Include your keywords and a call to action that generates engagement.
  3. Header tags: Header tags help search engine bots crawl your page and evaluate the relevance of your content. H1 tags should contain your primary keywords, while H2 tags should contain derivatives of your primary keyword and secondary keywords.
  4. Body: Your site needs fresh, relevant content that matches the focus of your primary keywords. Each page should, ideally, have between 400 and 800 words. Additionally, a blog helps create engagement with consumers and offers an outlet for posting fresh content on a constant basis.

Focus on Users First

You can spend all the time you like attempting to craft a website that is search-engine friendly, but if users don’t like your site then you aren’t going to see a boost to your visibility. It is vital to generate valuable content that users deem readable. If users don’t stick around to read through your website and never return, your site will eventually plummet down the rankings regardless of the search engine optimization tools you employ to avoid this result.

A good website has a navigation and directory structure that is easy for users to deal with. Try to keep your directory structure to three levels of depth at the most, and use your keywords in the file name when creating directory pages.

Research Keywords

If you don’t know what keywords help boost your visibility in search results, you won’t be able to generate relevant content that users are looking for when they conduct search queries. Google’s Keyword Tool will help you identify which of your keywords perform the best online. When you understand which keywords perform strongly, you can integrate those terms and phrases into your content to boost visibility and land higher in the rankings.

Understand the Competition

There are few, if any, companies that can claim to operate in an industry that has no competition. When you want to beat out the competition with better products or stronger services, you need to understand what it is they offer so you can create a superior product or service. The same goes for online competition. If you want to land higher in the rankings than your competitors, you need to understand what tactics they employ to boost visibility.

You can start by conducting your own online searches with relevant keywords for your business and industry, and looking at the top three or five results on the page. Take the time to navigate their website and see what approaches they use to boost visibility. What is their directory structure like? How easy is it to navigate their site? Which keywords do they use and how fresh is their content?

Sources:
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/174368
http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/how-to/2336779/3-ways-merchants-can-gain-more-visibility-on-google
http://www.elbelconsultingservices.com/website_design_hosting/high_search_engine_rankings.html
http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Market-Rankings/comScore-Releases-May-2014-US-Search-Engine-Rankings