People often ask "how do they get their website to the first page on Google". Many companies promise they can do this, and if you have an unlimited budget then Google Adwords would certainly put you on the front page if you optimise for specific search terms. It is pretty easy and very straightforward. Write an ad that tells people what you offer. Next, choose the key words that will make your ad show in the Google results. Finally, set a daily budget and there you go, your web site will appear at the top or the side of ‘normal search results.

However most of us do not have an unlimited budget and would aim to get their site to the front page on the page’s own merits, or ‘organically’. Having been involved in web site design for the last fifteen years, I’ve kind of picked up a thing or two and have a good idea of what is probably good practice and what is bad.

The Domain Name

The first element is your actual domain name. You can set up your domain name to be a hint or one-liner to describe what your company is about, or you can build a brand. For example, Google's own name doesn't suggest to anyone "this is a search engine" and neither does Twitter or many other popular brands. But they are popular because they are all one word names that, after a long time, build up a reputation and eventually become nouns/verbs to describe what they are in the first place. Here an example would be people saying "Google it" instead of "search it", or "Tweet it" instead of "post it".

Searching for the sister site and company "TritonTS" get's you the website as the first hit on Google.

Triton-Search

‘Triton Taunton’ Google Search

Do you rely on Google alone to promote your business? If you are in a market where there is a lot of competition, then that’s not so easy. If you have a fairly unique business name, and can get it out there through other means, then finding you on the Internet becomes a lot easier.

Page URL

The next element is the actual url (or page address). Short phrases or keywords which accurately describe the page content is very useful. Using a Bridal shop as an example, the main web site address is bridalrooms.co.uk. The shop itself actually stocks a wide range of dresses from various designers. Therefore if you want to highlight the different designers then a page name that accurately describe the pages content is the way forward… bridalrooms.co.uk/Veni-Infantino tells both the search engine and the visitor exactly what the page is about.

Page Keywords

The next thing to think about are keywords relating to the site and more specifically that page. There does appear to be a misunderstanding regarding use of Keywords. Stuffing the first page with lots of keywords related to brides, bridal, weddings, wedding outfits, seems like a good idea, but if the keywords out of context and do not flow naturally filling the background tags and page with random associated words can harm the site ranking. The focus must be on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.

Page Build

A web page is made up of several elements. From a design perspective, things I would think of are:

Meta Title

This is a reference to your page title. The title tag tells Google in a few words what your page is about. If you don’t tell Google, it will guess. The most effective page titles are about 30-65 characters long, including spaces. Keep your titles concise and make sure they contain your best keywords. Each page should have its own exclusive title.

Your Meta Description

The Meta Description does not appear on your page. It appears in the source code and Google reads it to decide what your site or article is about.

Meta Keywords

Meta Keywords appear in the background code of a web page and help tell search engines what the topic of the page is. Meta Keywords are no longer an important part of the Google ranking algorithm and more attention should go to Title Tags and Meta Descriptions than to Meta Keywords. However they can still play a useful part in describing the page content and attracting searchers to your site. A few page specific Meta Keywords is still useful as there are other search engines out there that still use the Tag.

Page Content

Basically the way forward is logical descriptive page content. Standards for web design have evolved and recently have been spending my time upgrading sites to meet these.

Elements to be aware of include the H1 tag which tells Google what is important about your page. It backs up the Title tag. The H1 tag should only be used once on your site. Search engine spiders check the relevancy of the header tag with the content associated with it and they also check the relevance between the header tags and other parts of the page.

Other tags to be aware of are: H2 for major sub headings and H3 for general category sub headings and you also need to be aware of Alt tags. These  are similar to title tags and description tags  they help Google to understand the site pictures. They should be used on every image and ideally should be unique.

So why do you need to know about Tags? Well many of the sites we build can be content managed which means clients can edit their own pages. During the editing process if you are aware of what the search engines are looking for, you can manage your content to be Search Engine friendly and therefore help boost your own pages of your site up the rankings. This article is a perfect example of this.

Sitemaps

Having a sitemap helps search engine robots spider your site. A Sitemap, as the name implies, is just a map of your site – i.e. on one single page you show the site structure.  Sitemaps are an important way of  telling search engines where you’d like them to go.

So... how do you get your site to the top of Google?

There is no set method or secret recipe for success. If it was easy for me to optimise your website with keywords and then see your site rise to the top of the search results for those keywords, questions like this would be less common. What can be done however, is create content based around keywords and key phrases and ideally build links to your site from other sites to boost it’s rating. What shouldn’t be done is stuff the site with blocks of text listing towns cities and counties and repeating the same words or phrases too often in the same area.