Google Places and Your Website Ranking: What You Need to Know
Learning how to manipulate and control your website’s placement through search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing has become an important part of operating a business online. Without understanding how to effectively get to potential customers, you are putting your company at a competitive disadvantage.
Securing the Best Possible Ranking
If the end goal is to have your company’s website appears as high in the search engine rankings as possible, you need a roadmap on how to make that happen. In order to handle the process in the proper manner, you want to start by filling out your company profile with Google Places. By doing this, you put your website on Google’s radar. Now that you have determined what will appear to users, you can shift your focus to where in the rankings your company will appear. The ranking process is handled by a series of ranking algorithms developed by each search engine provider. These algorithms use search engine optimization (SEO) and link building as well as other relevant data to determine where each company is going to appear during keyword searches done by users. Obviously, the websites that are fortunate enough to appear on the first few pages of a search are going to have a nice competitive advantage.
Once your company has a viable website, Google is able to start the ranking process. When your website’s information first appears, it is usually limited and generic in nature. For the best possible results, you want to do all you can to build this information up, essentially painting a picture about your company the way you want users to see it. Through Google Places’ Dashboard, you have the ability to dictate what information is going to appear in your Google search listing and on Google Maps. The information you have control over includes address, contact information, hours of operation, photos, content and business description. One piece of information that appears on your Google Places without your control is customer reviews of your business. Once your information has been completed and verified through a verification process, it is ready to go live. Through the dashboard, you have the ability to manage your information anytime you want.
In the e-commerce world, you would be hard press to find anything more important to your company than its search engine rankings. Having a solid ranking and appearing on the first few pages of a user’s search is one of the few ways your business has to attract new leads on a consistent basis. Given the importance of your these rankings (91% of the hits come from websites listed on page one), it is important for you as a business owner to understand what affects your ranking and what you can do to control or improve it.
What Affects Website Rankings
Based on the query entered by a user, search engine providers have a series of algorithms that determine priority when the search engine results are returned. While there are many algorithms looking at as many as 200 different criteria, there are 3-4 factors that seem to carry the most relevance.
- Keyword and keyword order – Keywords and the exact order of keyword phrases keywords entered into the search bar determine which websites will be targeted.
- Anchor Text – The text within your website that is used by other sites to link the two sites.
- Link Popularity – The number and quality of the sites linking to your site.
- Site Age – The chronological age of your website.
What You Can Do to Improve Your Ranking
In general, your website is going to get its due recognition if its content is solid and you and your marketing personnel do the things necessary to get exposure. The best ways to improve your website ranking are:
1. Search Engine Optimization – Depending on the industry, there are certain keywords and keyword phrases that are more popular than others with search engine users. Whether you have your website built in-house or by outsourcing, you want to make sure the most popular keywords and keyword phrases are being used throughout your site’s content. It would also be helpful to have different titles for each website page to increase the likelihood searches will find at least one of your website pages.
2. Link Building – Through the use of strong content and self-promotion, you can build an empire of good websites linked with yours. The key to link building is to avoid shortcuts like spamming. If your site is good enough, other related companies will want to link with you, creating a natural link building communities that ranks high with the search engine algorithms.
3. Social Media – Social media is proving to be fertile ground for the e-commerce community. By promoting your company through this medium, you should be able to increase traffic to your website. There is also the possibility users will link and share your information with friends. Since both of these activities are used in search engine algorithms, it stands to improve your website’s ranking over time.