It’s finally live.
Ask anyone who’s built a website, and they’ll tell you that the process is a labour of love that drains your emotional and financial resources. In a digital world, so much is riding on your online presence that the pressure is immense to get it just right.
After all the blood, sweat and tears, your new website looks great and primed to rake in the clients and the cash. It’s time to sit back and watch the business roll in. And then…
Crickets. Tumbleweeds. A deafening silence where the sound of sales gongs and the kerching of cash registers should be.
Frantically, you jump onto Google and search for your product and service. Such a work of art clearly deserves Page 1 prominence, right? You scroll madly but find nothing. Ok, deep breaths, it’s only been a week or so, and it takes time to rank. You’ll probably be on Page 2. Nope. Page 3? Nada. So it continues, until, if you’re lucky, you find your website on page 38, nestled in between an article in a second rate Turkmenistani newspaper about premature male pattern baldness and a video of a sloth wearing a top hat and spats while riding a unicycle.
It is then that realisation sets in that a stunning Maserati of a website is not enough to get you ranking on page one of Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Trust me, you’re not the first person to burst a blood vessel yelling in agonised frustration “Why isn’t my website ranking on Google!?!?!”. Your website, like any other investment, needs to deliver a return. That can only happen if people can find you. Let’s be perfectly honest: nobody but my great Aunt Bertha navigates past page 1, or at best Page 2. However, the nefarious world of Search Engine Optimisation can be a murky, confusing place to operate. That’s why we thought we would break it down for you. We’ve put together this clear, simple guide to identifying what you can do to get your delightful digital specimen out of the dank, dark basement of online irrelevance and right where your target audience can see it:
Master of Your Domain
Remember the bad old days when companies purchased domains that were exact matches with the highest volume keywords, yet had nothing to do with your business name? Google quickly realised that Tony’s Plumbing was trying to game their system when they launched their third-rate website on www.bestplumbermelbourne.com.au. They responded accordingly by putting the kibosh on that kind of dodgy activity. That’s not to say that your domain is not important; It’s just a question of understanding the potential pitfalls:
- New Domains: Ranking takes time. Be patient as Google takes its time to digest your virtual home and contents.
- Common Name Domains: Maybe your business name really is “Melbourne’s Best Plumbers”? If that’s the case, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that Google will register you as relevant for the target keyword. The bad news is that everyone wants to rank for that term as well. Unless your SEO is top-notch, an exact match company/URL is not always going to guarantee top rankings.
Rankings Rocket Tip: A domain can’t be indexed until there is a website on it. Sitting on a domain you’ve purchased until you’re ready to build and launch your site is a huge wasted opportunity. Use that time well by throwing up a coming soon or holding page with content that includes the keywords you’ll target. Google will then get a head start on digesting who you are and what you do so that you can hit the ground running when the full version of your site goes live.
Just in Cache
Google and other search engines have spiders and bots that crawl the web caching and indexing the new content or data they find to determine relevance for search rankings. The problem is that there is no way of knowing when or how often this will happen. Could be a month, could be three, who knows? Rather than sitting there obsessively hitting refresh on your browser every 12 seconds for 3 months like a crazed lemming (which is a great way to either remain or swiftly become single), you can speed up the process by requesting that Google crawl/recrawl your website. If you want to check when Google last crawled your site, you can do so with Search Console.
Rankings Rocket Tip: Google seems to prefer sites with frequently updated content and higher traffic. Keeping the supply of fresh content flowing can encourage Google to pop over more regularly.
Keywords to My Heart
There’s no sense in stressing out about not ranking if you’re not sure what you should be ranking for. Numerous free online keyword research tools can help you identify the right terms to target. An effective keyword strategy will take into account monthly search volume, competition, specificity, relevance, your resources, website content and other factors. Those top keywords with squillions of searches certainly seem tantalising. However, it’s crucial to be realistic about whether you’ll be able to beat out the bazillion other businesses that also want to rank for them. It’s better to rank for a smaller volume, less competitive keyword than nothing at all.
Rankings Rocket Tip: In general, broad terms are searched more frequently, but have lower click-through and conversion rates. Someone searching for “Plumbers” is far more likely to be just kicking tires. The more specific a term, the more likely the visitor is closer to making a purchasing decision. So, someone searching for “24-hour emergency plumber near me” is far more likely to need you to come and save them from an epic toileting disaster right now.
On the Same Page
Here’s a little secret: Google ranks websites according to the time taken for their algorithm to determine their respective relevance for a specific keyword. The faster Googs makes the connection, the higher you rank. There are innumerable factors that go into this. However, there are a few critical “signposts” you can put up that will help Google tear down the information superhighway at breakneck speed and come to a screeching, rubber-burning halt at your homepage. In the biz, we call these “On-Page SEO”. They include:
- Page Titles
- Header Tags
- Meta Descriptions
- Alt-Tags on images
All these signposts communicate to search engines who you are, where you are, and what you do so that they can find you more quickly.
Rankings Rocket Tip: Most website CMS systems have plugins or built-in tools that can help you optimise the On-Page SEO. Research the best one for you, and it will make your life much easier.
The Need for Speed
Google is the digital version of Veruca Salt: Don’t Care How, I Want It NOW!” Jokes aside, this is actually a good thing. One of the most gratifying aspects of modern SEO is that Google’s algorithm has been steadily evolving to preference websites that give users what they want, rather than those that manipulate the system. What users want is speed. Especially on their mobile devices. Google has explicitly stated that they believe that speed is important and are using it as a ranking factor. There are many simple things you can do to get your site zooming like a gazelle. Choosing the right hosting provider, ensuring that images are compressed, implementing browser caching and a Content Distribution Network (CDN) are all things you can do ensure your content loads quickly. This is not just good SEO, it’s solid website practice! After all, when it comes to your website users, happiness and harmony are what counts, right?
Rankings Rocket Tip: Use various online page speed measurement tools to find out whether your website is running like Winx, or that nag that’s still wandering around Flemington since last Spring with your lazy $100 on his back.
The Missing Link
For better or for worse, link building is still unquestionably the most important ongoing SEO activity. For the uninitiated, building links back from 3rd party websites acts as a sort of online endorsement that channels some of the linking site’s authority back to yours. Once upon a time in the Wild SEO West, link building was a race to the bottom to see who could build the largest number of crappy links in the shortest space of time. Fortunately, as with other aspects of SEO, Google has moved slowly but surely to eliminate the most suspect and problematic aspects of this strategy. These days, a smaller number of legitimate, high-quality links from reputable sites is a far more effective means of achieving rankings success than a boatful of garbage directory listings, nefarious citations and other dubious bookmarking. Focusing on relevance, robust, natural content on legitimate sites is the perfect complement to your fast, intuitive and highly optimised website.
Rankings Rocket Tip: The other vital ingredient is patience. Especially in competitive industries, you can’t expect results overnight. Consistent, high-quality link-building activity is the order of the day. This is not something that most people can address on their own, so the assistance of a reputable SEO agency is strongly advised.
Achieving high rankings in search results is usually a painstaking and frequently frustrating exercise. With so many variables at play, the layperson may feel totally overwhelmed. Conversely, the rewards for success can be exceptional. Many businesses rely on web traffic for their success. With so much at stake, it pays to speak with an online marketing agency with market-leading expertise in web development and SEO. That’s where Launch Digital comes in. We’ve been helping small and medium-sized businesses reach and exceed their online marketing goals for years. Our consummate design sensibilities and unparalleled search marketing expertise place us in the perfect position to get your website not only looking great and performing spectacularly, but ranking right where the maximum number of punters can find you. So, if your website is Not Feeling Lucky, don’t sit around asking yourself why your website is not ranking on Google! Contact us today and find out how we can help you launch your digital presence into the stratosphere.