Once you know how a search engine works, it’s time to better understand how your site is performing in search. In this blog post I’ll be discussing how the index and algorithm are presenting your website to potential visitors.
These steps are less about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and more about Search Engine Marketing (SEM). The goal of SEO is to show up in search results. By expanding the definition to include SEM, the goal is to use your good search results to appeal to users and incite action that will result in lead generation.
Remember to keep your marketing hat on through this process – while 90% of success may be just showing up, when it comes to earning search traffic, that last 10% means doing the marketing work to earn a click through to your website.
Examining How Your Site Appears in Search
How Do You Look on Google?
Go to google.com and perform a site: search to see how your indexed pages look on the results page. In the search box, type:
Please note that there’s no space between the colon and your site’s URL!
This tells the search engine you want to see everything they have from your website. While reading the results pages, ask yourself the following:
Does your website show up? If not, there is probably a very straightforward fix using Google Search Console. We’ll cover how to fix this in the next Search Engine Basics article. If yes, awesome!
Do your titles and descriptions look right? They should be easy to read, and give people a reason to visit your site. Do they look like gibberish grabbed from your pages? Use a tool like Yoast to write concise titles and descriptions for your most important pages.
Are all of your pages showing up? Google usually doesn't index 100% of the pages on a site, but your most important pages should show there. If they aren’t, there are a few ways to check what is happening and fix it. I will get to that in the next post.
Next, see if you’re getting the benefits of any search engine special features.
An info box is when information from a source is pulled from a site and shown in the right-hand column of a search results page. For ATAK, a box shows up with a map of our Downtown LA office, a photo of our office building, and some of our customer reviews.
This box can make your company look enticing and professional to searchers. There are many ways to help Google find this information, and one of the easiest is to create a Google+ Page for your business, populate it with your company information, and then verify that you’re the real owner of the page. Here’s how.
The Local Infobox.
This is also referred to as “Local Pack,” and it’s an infobox with a map and three nearby businesses that provide a service related to a search. The real power of this feature is that it shows up for general searches.
If someone searches for “ecommerce web design” near the ATAK office, we show up even though the searcher didn’t add “Los Angeles” on the end. This can help people in your area find you, even if you provide a service that’s available almost everywhere. This is especially powerful if you run a store or service of some kind, because the results are right in the searcher’s neighborhood.
The Local Infobox is also a place where you can get a bit of competitor information. Check the websites of competing firms that show up alongside yours, and see how they appear in search – don’t copy them outright (after all, how do you know it’s working for them?), but see if they are including information you didn’t think of.
When your website gets big, Google starts to recognize which of your pages visitors want to find in search the most, and collects these below your homepage search as a set of 4-6 smaller links.
If you see that your site has sitelinks but you don’t like what’s showing up, there are also ways to demote parts of your page so they will be less likely to show up. Here’s how.
Once you go through these evaluations, you should have a good idea of how your website is currently showing in search, and what you’d like to change and work on. Again, make sure that your goal is customer interest over filling the titles and descriptions with keywords. Google’s algorithm uses thousands of criteria when choosing to rank your site, which means that your goal here is quality.
Remember to be interesting and informative, because this will win customers much faster than a list of terms that searchers won’t understand. Steady traffic is better than dozens of top positions that nobody wants to click on.
Make a plan, then make your changes and updates to your site and carry on as normal. Google won’t know about them right away, so it may take time for your changes to show in search results. In my next post, we will go on a deep delve into the Google Search Console and see search terms, search traffic, what Google thinks your website is really about, and how to speed up the index and crawl process when you make site updates.
Need a web strategy that involves search engine marketing from the ground up? The team at ATAK can help with design, development, search strategy, and more. Let's talk about your next project.