3 easy steps to boost your Google traffic

Written on 01 January, 2006 by WebCentral
Categories: Search Engine Optimisation | Tags: google, search engine optimisation, search engines, seo

Driving a large amount of traffic to your website is best achieved by gaining top positions on the Google search engine. While Google’s algorithm is very complex, the essence of what they are trying to achieve is quite simple - reward popular sites with good content.

Website popularity is measured by the strength of the links that point to a page. Basically Google regards links to a page as ‘votes’. Essentially, the more votes you have, the higher you will appear in the search results. Votes do vary in strength, so it’s not just a numbers game. For example, a link to your site from the Google.com home page will provide a boost that may carry be equivalent to 100,000 votes from average web pages.

Building up good quality linking is the key to success on Google. Web sites that have already established good linking may find that a few simple changes to their web site could result in an immediate boost to their Google traffic.

In addition to its analysis of your links, Google will be assessing your web site for its quality and relevance to a requested keyword search. There are 3 easy steps that can be taken to help Google understand what your site is about as well as showing that your information is of value to users.

Step 1 - Optimise your Page Titles, Link Text and File Names

There are many areas of your site that Google will be assessing; however three of the most important in my opinion are page titles, link text and file names. It is vital that these components are connected and that they contain your target keywords.

For example, if you were to use a page title “Contact Us”, it would be beneficial to use the file name contact_us.html and link to the page from other pages using the text “Contact Us”. I’ve found that web sites will be rewarded by Google on a usability level if this direct connection is made. In regards to the link text component, the prominence of the link on the web page is a major factor to Google calculation of value. If the text appears closer to the top of the page you will score more points.

In addition to matching these 3 components together, you may need to insert some keywords to boost your website’s relevance for a specific search. If your company was called “Leather Boots R Us” and you were wanting to rank for the keyword search “leather boots” you could then go ahead and rename your “Contact Us” page to be “Contact Leather Boots R Us”. It would then be beneficial to change your file name to contact-leather-boots-r-us.html2 and your link text to “Contact Leather Boots R Us”. Keep in mind that the insertion of keywords needs to be balanced as too many occurrences will have a negative impact on your search engine positions.

Step 2 - Provide quality content

Providing your visitors with great content will be rewarded by the major search engines. You will need to keep in mind that a search engine is simply a program and as such will judge content quality differently to that of a human visitor. When a search engine looks at content, it will be looking at the amount of content displayed and the formatting that has been used. Using headings, large text and user friendly colours will all contribute to a higher ranking with search engines. It is highly possible that Google also considers the content from pages that are linking to the page being assessed. In this respect increasing your content quality is best carried across your entire site. Make sure that you are consistent with your formatting as this may be a variable in Google’s algorithm.

Once your good content is available, keywords need to be checked to make sure that a search will recognise your focus. Keywords placed towards the top of the page will have more weight. However, it is important to maintain a natural feel to the page. Do not repeat keywords within your content (eg, inserting “boots, boots, boots and more boots” would probably be penalised). Again, do not add too many keywords on the page. If it reads funny because there are too many occurrences of the same word, then you’ve probably overdone it.

Step 3 - Refresh your content

It is a great idea to refresh your content as much as possible. This will communicate to search engines like Google that your site is active and current. A good tip for refreshing content easily throughout your site is to use a web design template. Making a change to your template will affect all pages using that template. A good suggestion is to add a news section to your template. You can then update your news regularly to keep your site refreshed. It is preferable to update your content on a weekly basis, however if you can manage at least one change per month, the search engines should be happy.

By following the above 3 steps you will probably see some improvement in your search engine rankings. Of course if this article has simply flown right over your head or you just don’t have the time to look at these improvements, you can employ an SEO specialist to do the analysis for you.

Footnotes

1. A keyword is any word entered into a search box on a search engine. For example if you visited Google.com and typed “leather boots” into the search box, both “leather” and “boots” would be the keywords being used for your search.

2. A theory that is commonly shared by search engine specialists is that keywords within a filename should be separated by a hyphen as this will strengthen each keyword when relevancy is being determined. Like many search engine formula theories, no one can say for sure, however there’s no harm in this technique so there is nothing to lose by employing it throughout your site. One important point to consider when changing file names is that search engines will need to locate and reassess the new file. If a large amount of files are changed at once, you may experience a temporary loss in search positioning. This potential loss should be worthwhile if your filenames have been optimised properly.

3. Headings on a page use a special type of formatting called the <H> tag. Using this tag basically bolds your text and sets it to a specific size. <H> tags range from 1 to 6 with 1 being the largest size. An example of the code for a <H1> tag would be <H1>This is a Heading</H1>. As the name implies, this formatting is used for headings on a page. Text using this formatting is considered to be more important than standard text, so inserting your target keywords in heading tags is a good idea. Again, do so in moderation. Too many occurrences will have a negative impact on your overall score.

4. Google is very secretive about the formula it uses to calculate search results. This makes the process of optimising a web site very much a guessing game. For many web masters there is a lot of trial and error, confusion and faith based on the opinions of others who are attempting to elevate their own sites. My theories are sourced from articles listed on respected expert sites as well as some threads I find on SEO forums. I’m in a fortunate position to then test these theories by analysing the 1,200+ sites on our database of clients who have received SEO. This analysis has provided myself and my team with a more educated idea as to what is actually happening. While we are constantly making improvements to our own formula, deciphering the exact Google formula I think is an impossibility due to the complexity of that formula. As an indication, Google states that PageRank (an important element in the Google formula) “...performs an objective measurement of the importance of web pages by solving an equation of more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms”.

5. For further information on html templates, browse the Google results page

References

  1. http://www.google.com/corporate/tech.html