Matt Cutts works at Google as a search engineer. He also runs a blog which is a great source of information about how Google search is changing.
In a recent interview with Jefferson Graham of USA Today, Cutts gives his top five things that a website owner can do to drive search traffic to their site.
This list does not provide anything new for experienced online marketers, or people who have read other marketing articles on this site, but for beginners it is useful to hear it from the horse’s mouth.
1. Spotlight your search term on the page
“Think about what people are going to type in, to try and find you,” Cutts says. He tells of meeting a chiropractor from San Diego, who complained that his site couldn’t be found easily using Google search. The words “San Diego chiropractor” were listed nowhere on his site. “You have to make sure the keywords are on the page,” Cutts says. If you’re a San Diego doctor, Des Moines architect or Portland ad agency, best to let people know so immediately, at the top of your page.
2. Fill in your “tags”
When creating websites, Internet coding language includes two key tags: title and description. Even if you don’t know code, which is used to create pages, software programs such as Adobe’s Dreamweaver have tools that let you fill them in in plain English (rather than “<title>San Diego Chiropractor</title”). Tags are crucial, Cutts says, because what’s shown in search results most often are the title and description tags.If Cutts’ chiropractor had properly tagged his web page, a search would have returned something like this: “San Diego chiropractor. Local doctor serves San Diego community.”There’s also a third tag, to add keywords, or search terms, but Cutts says Google doesn’t put much weight in its rankings on that one.
3. Get other sites to “link” back to you
Google says it looks at more than 100 pieces of data to determine a site’s ranking. But links are where it’s at, once your search terms are clearly visible on your site and the title and description tags correctly marked.In a nutshell: Google ranks sites based on popularity. If authoritative sites link to you, you must be good, and therefore you get to the top of the list. If you can’t get top sites such as USATODAY.com or The New York Times to link to you, try your friends. And what if they don’t have a site? They probably do. Read on.
4. Create a blog and post often
Cutts says blogging is a great way to add links and start a conversation with customers and friends. It will cost you only time: Google’s Blogger, WordPress and others offer free blogging tools. With a blog, you can link back to your site and offer links to others. It’s also a great way to start building content, Cutts says.
5. Register for free tools
Google’s google.com/webmaster offers freebies to help get your site found. You can upload a text-based site map, which shows Google the pages of your site (create it at www.xml-sitemaps.com). Once that’s done, you’ll be registered with Google, where you can learn vital statistics — including who is linking to your site and how often Google “crawls” your site for updates.Google’s Local Business center (google.com/local/add) is the place for business owners to submit a site so it shows up in local searches, with a map attached. Savvy consumers who use Google for searches know that the first 10 non-advertising results often are from Google Maps, so if you have a business and haven’t submitted it, you’re losing out on potential customers.
Don’t overdo it
When weaving keywords into a main page, Cutts says, some zealous web publishers will use the term over and over again. That’s called “keyword stuffing.” It’s a big Google no-no that can have your site removed from the index. After you’ve said it two or three times, Google has a pretty good idea — ‘OK, this page has something to do with this keyword,’ ” he says. “Just think about the two or three phrases you want to be known for and weave that in naturally.
The message I always try to emphasize to website owners is Google is trying to do one thing; find the best content for every search query.If you create the best content about your subject, it will get found and listed.This won’t happen overnight.You will still need to regularly add new content and focus on getting other sites to link to your website, but great content WILL triumph. This should be your priority and focus if you want to get huge amounts of free traffic from the search engines.