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They may have millions of pages at their fingertips, but people surfing the Web usually stop after seeing their favorite search engine’s top 10 choices. That means that those companies fortunate enough to land on the first page of a keyword search — and preferably as high up on the page on possible — are the ones that will walk away with the business.
“A high search engine ranking means that your Website will appear on the first page of a search engine, when someone searches for the subject of your site,” says Linda Girard, co-founder of online marketing consulting firm Pure Visibility in Ann Arbor, Michigan. An environmental consultant looking to generate new business online, for example, would want to take the steps necessary to make sure that his results appeared on the first page (and preferably in the top three listings) when someone types “environmental consultant” into Google, Yahoo, or another search engine.
Making that happen takes more than just a simple submission of your site and keywords to the most popular search engines. To get their attention, most companies use a mix of pay-per-click keyword searches (where you “buy” the most relevant keywords to ensure that your site attains a high ranking) and search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is the technique of attaining a high ranking in search engines and directories via changes to your site code that make it more search engine compatible.
The latter can be as easy as updating your company’s site map (which shows the site architecture), says Girard, who recently worked with a firm that was losing $5,000 a day because its site was relegated to pages two and three of the search engine results. By updating its site map and submitting it to the search engines, Girard says the firm was able to regain its first-page status.
Keeping title tag keywords relevant and updated is also important, Girard says, who advises firms to review the product and/or service descriptions regularly, keeping in mind that they must make sense to both the search engines and the users. “Look at whether the key phrases are really telling your company’s story to the user. If they’re not, then change them to better reflect your message and mission.”
The age-old SEO strategy of linking to and from high-quality, relevant Websites still work, says Girard. Link to publications, social networking sites such as Facebook, and those trade groups and organizations that are important in your industry, and your search engine rankings will improve exponentially, Girard adds. And remember to add video and photos to the mix.
“These days, it’s not unusual to see a search engine like Google pull up a YouTube video in its top 10 results, so upload your video there and attach good, searchable terms to the clips in order to get those high rankings,” Girard says.
Finally, Sergio Alvarez, COO at AI Media Group, a New York-based firm that helps