Google hates you.
So does Yahoo!.
And don’t even think about calling up that Bing chap. He totally thinks you’re the pits.
You know, if I had a fiver for every time someone with a relatively established website asked me, “How can I get to the first page of Google?”, well my friend, I would be sunning myself topless on the deck of my EPIC YACHT. (It has a swimming pool and everything!)
I get this question a LOT, and I’m not saying it can’t be done, but a lot of you out there are making some seriously rookie mistakes. Not to mention putting WAY too much emphasis on what hitting the magical “top spot” in Google means.
Before I get into my reasons that Google hates you though, I want to say this: Don’t make the excuse that you aren’t reaching the first page of Google be the reason you piss and moan about your website failing.
Websites are bits of code and graphics. That’s it. They are only as good as the stuff we put into them. And by “stuff” I mean “content”.
As a second preliminary, Google users are pretty flaky bastards. You can optimise the bollocks off your site, but the Googler will still have a tendency to swoop in, have a quick dash around, then leave via the side door.
Let me paint a little picture: imagine you’re walking down a busy main shopping street. There’s someone handing free stuff out (The good kind, not just crappy flyers).
“FREE STUFF?!” you think, “AWESOME! I want in on some of that free stuff”.
You go up to the guy handing out the free stuff, he smiles at you and hands you the free pen/badge/condoms.
“SCORE!” you internally high-five yourself. “Free pen/badge/condoms!”
As you’re about to walk away, he says something about leaving your details and going into a prize draw, but y’know, all you really wanted was the free stuff, kthxbai!
THIS is how we use Google.
We say to ourselves, “I want to learn the best spaghetti bolognese recipe,” or, “why does my dog smell like he’s been rolling on a tramp?” or “why isn’t eleven pronounced onety-one?”. Then we basically just stick that into the search bar and wait for the answers.
The sites that come up? We don’t care for them, my friend. These are the means-to-an-end, one-night-stand sites that we go to, get the answer, and for the most part, leave never to return to again. Is this the sort of reader you want visiting?
But, even if after that, you still want to hit the front page on Google, read about some of the biggest reasons Google hates you.
- Shitty titles.
Your page title is one of the most important thing in the arsenal of SEO. It’s the thing that search engine spiders go hunting for, and it’s the link that comes up in blue on a Google search and it’s in the browser page tab. Do me a favour, and go and have a look at some of yours. Hover over them, what do they say?
– If it says the name of your site and the page you’re on and perhaps manages to squeeze in a little more, like what it is that you actually do. You earn 3 points. Hurrah!
– If it just says the name of your company on every page, then you earn one point and a stern, “see me”.
– If it says either, “Untitled Page” or any variation on “Just another WordPress Site”, then my friend, you lose onety-one points. This shit needs sorting.
Quick fix: If you have a WordPress website, go straight to the Dashboard > Settings > General page. Change your site title to the name of your company, and a couple i.e. two or three key words describing what you offer. Change your site tagline to something meaningful, a bit more detail about the title. Do not just chuck in a bunch of keyword phrases in the hope that it will score you highly. Remember that it’s people who have to read this site, and they’ll be a bit weirded out if the blue search result Google has just returned them just has a bunch of roboty-sounding keywords in it.
- Same-old content
Does your website need some Mr. Sheen? Or perhaps a jetwash?
When was the last time you updated the content? Does it even still apply to your business?
Are you one of those website owners that has three items of “Latest News” (and the last one was made over 3 years ago)? You know what I’m talking about, because exactly the same thing that pisses you off on a website, pisses off Google - neglected websites!
Google gets bored, and after the first few times of dropping by your website and the content doesn’t ever seem to change, it will come less and less often.
“But I have a blog, ” I hear you say. And that’s great, but if it hasn’t been updated since time began it’s not seerving anyone!
Quick fix: make sure that you update any blogs and website content regularly. This helps not only Google realise that you’re serious, but it tells the people (and remember they’re the IMPORTANT thing here as we’re talking about potential clients or customers) that you give a shit about keeping your information up to date.
- Outsourcing your search engine optimising to a far-eastern freelancer with a penchant for stuffing
I’m talking keyword stuffing here rather than the sage and onion version. And when I say far-eastern, I mean as far as China. Or Canvey Island. Seriously, it’s easy to fall prey to this kind of Search engine optimsation “specialist”. They’re everywhere.
Keyword stuffing is a bit like the roboty titles I was talking about earlier, but they basically do it over your WHOLE WEBSITE. The thought process behind it being, “Well, I want to be found for these terms, so I’ll just put them here in the footer and header and main body hundreds of times over in slightly different variations”.
But what a lot of people don’t realise is that search engines are cleverer than that. They’ll pick up if you overuse a particular phrase, and they’ll hate you, and show you that they hate you by sending you to the back of the pile. And perhaps putting you on a blacklist.
Quick fix: read your site content. Does it sound like a robot has vomited everywhere? Change it. Now. I won’t tell you again.
Google’s mystical front page results can be beneficial. You’ll get a load of new hits (as long as your content is what people want to find out about), and they could become customers. But remember that your main action has to be to sway the visitors.
Google hates you. I’ve told you that already.