Search Engine Optimization often looks like a dark art performed by wizards with a keyboard. But the reality is that it's much like anything else, there's a process and given the right amount effort anything is possible.
We're going to cover the basic concept in this article.
What does Google look for?
Keep in mind this is a basic introductory article and that Google owns a lot of patents that describe how the specific algorithm works. So we're focusing on the most important elements. We're going to break this down into two pieces.
1. On-site optimization – Things you do on your website which help Google understand what your site is about.
2. Off-site optimization – Things which are not part of your site such as links from other websites.
Let's get started with On-site Optimization.
There's one general rule I use here. If a normal person can see it, Google will use it to help decide what to rank you for. So that includes the text on your website, pictures on the site and the Title Tag.
Let's talk a little about the title tag. The Title Tag is a small piece of html code inserted just after the head tag. It looks like this Belleville Real Estate.
. You can see what a title tag is saying about a site by looking at the very top of your browser, directly above the File Edit View Menus. This is perhaps the most important element on your site to optimize. Google uses this tag in the search engine results to describe your site and as such puts a lot importance on it when deciding what your site should rank for. So if your site is about Belleville Car Sales the your title tag may read, Belleville Car Sales.
.When Google sees that title tag what do you think it will think your site is about? That's right "Belleville Car Sales". Google does the same with the rest of the site, but the title tag is perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle and for most local companies may be the only thing you need to focus on when optimizing your site.
Let's move to Off-site optimization.
Again this is not as complicated as many people think it is. Think of trying to rank high in Google like a popularity contest. The person with the most friends and most important friends win. Ranking highly in Google is the same process. You need to have a lot of website link to you, and the more important those websites are the better it is for you. What that means is that a link from the New York Times is better than your cousin's son's myspace page.
To break that down more, 1 link from the New York Times is worth 1000 links from unknown web sites, you get the idea.
Links from sites which are relevant to yours are better as well. A real estate focused site linking to a Realtor makes sense and helps Google understand you should rank for Real Estate related terms. So can you guess what the best link would be? Yep, a topic related link from a highly authoritative site. For a realtor that would be a link from a site like Realtor.com
The next piece to linking is something called the anchor text. Anchor text is the text you see in blue looking at a link. Your anchor text needs to be keyword focused. Again a link with anchor text like, "Belleville Real Estate" helps Google understand your site is about "Belleville Real Estate". The more sites that use the anchor text, means more votes for you to rank high for that keyword phrase.
That's it! Rinse and repeat, get more links from related sites, the more links you get the higher you will rank.