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According to Hitwise figures (4 weeks ending 04/09/2010.) Google maintains its complete stranglehold on the UK search market with 91.85% share of volume of searches. Therefore, like me you probably think it’s fairly important for your site to feature (hopefully prominently) in Google’s listings. But how dammit?! …. 10 points to consider…

1. Relevance

Google is looking to present back to searchers relevant search results and broadly speaking this is done by focusing on three main factors – content, code and links into your site.

2. Content is king

It should reflect your target search phrases – but remember it will ultimately be read by a human. Generally they don’t like to see an endless stream of repeated phrases, repeated phrases, repeated phrases, repeated phrases – Get it – rather annoying.

3. Think of your content like the front page of a newspaper

More importance is paid to the headlines, sub heads and bullets – these are often much larger than the body copy to draw your attention. Google works on a similar way – and whilst it doesn’t matter about the size of the font it’s important to ensure for example headlines are coded as headlines <H1>, < H2>. Eek! … sorry that’s a bit of code!

4. What are your target customers searching for

First brainstorm within your team, ask your current customers, ask suppliers but best of all ask Google or Wordtracker . The key phrases that you think are right for your site may not be the ones that they are searching. These services provide you insight in to search phrases – the reality and what you should be targeting. But don’t get too generic. Everyone wants to be top of Google – your better off targeting two or three niche but valid phrases per page. Eg. NOT THIS – ‘Travel’ …TRY THIS – ‘self catering cottages in cornwall’

5. Content, content and more content

It’s one thing having a website up but are you generating fresh, engaging and interesting content on a regular basis? The more relevant content you generate, the more times Google returns to your site, the more pages that get indexed, the more phrases you target, and ultimately the more leads they’ll potentially generate. Remember to write at least 200 – 250 words on your target phrases. Google needs to “read” what your page is all about.

6. More quality content the more quality links

Create interesting and thought provoking content and links will naturally come your way. Whether it’s from Tweets, blogs or referenced from articles on others sites. The more quality themed links into your site the more important Google will perceive your site. Notice the word “quality” – ie. links coming from relevant sites, with relevant content.

7. Linking in your site

When Google moves through your site it wants to know where it’s going. So links like “click here” and “more” are bad as they give no clues. Your much better off placing the key phrase in the link eg. “mens watches” or “black umbrellas”. Note – the blue texts aren’t real links in this case !

8. Create a top TITLE tag

You what? This is a bit of HTML code that is critical as it’s given a high relevance by Google. It appears in the browser right at the top of your screen above the tool bars. Think of it as a “Key Phrase Title Tag” and write accordingly. Therefore, for example,  “home page – business x” – IS BAD, “Wedding Florist London, Wedding Flowers London” – IS GOOD.

9. Meaningful Meta tags

Completing these careful is valuable but they aren’t the nirvana they were say 10 years ago. Write a meta description that reflects your target phrases and the content of the site. This will often appear in Google’s search listings and could therefore potentially influence how a searcher might click. Worth considering carefully therefore. Keywords on the other hand aren’t used by Google to influence its results. Use it though, but don’t obsess about it.

10. Time

Getting listings in Google can take time, be patient. The longer your site has been online the more trusted it will be. By focusing your site consistently over the long term the trust, importance and relevance Google places on your site will increase.

Plus one for luck….

11. Your link popularity

I detailed the importance of content to drive links but you can also be proactive in obtaining inbound links – eg. by submitting your site to directories, reciprocal linking, article distribution, blogging, forums and social bookmarking.