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Before you start: This belongs to a series of articles about getting your website found on Google and other search engines. We suggest that you read Getting found on Google and other search engines before you read this article.
We've told you about Getting found on Google and other search engines, which will help you get your website indexed by search engines. The next step towards being found online is to improve your website's search ranking. Your search ranking refers to the position in which your website appears in search engine results—the higher the ranking, the more likely you'll be found. We've prepared the following guidelines to help you get there.
- Website title and tagline
In most cases, your website title will be your business name or trading name. Your website tagline is a short summary of what your business does.
Your website title and tagline appear at the top of web browsers, and in tabs within web browsers.
They also appear in search engine results.
It's therefore important to make sure that your website title and tagline accurately represent your business, and incorporate terms (or keywords) that customers will be searching for. By including these keywords, your website is more likely to achieve high search rankings. We'll talk more about keywords in the Keywords section.
Note that most search engines will only display the first 70 characters of your combined website title and tagline. Your keywords should be positioned towards the start of these 70 characters—the earlier a keyword appears, the higher value search engines place on it. The below examples illustrate this.
Good example of website title and tagline
This is a good example, as the combined title and tagline includes a number of relevant keywords (such as Homewares, modern and affordable) within 70 characters.
Poor example of website title and tagline
This is a poor example, as the combined title and tagline includes just one relevant keyword (Homewares) within 70 characters—the rest of the tagline has been cut off due to length.
For information on editing your website title and tagline, see Publishing your website information.
Keywords are words or phrases that relate to your business. As a business owner, it's important to work out what keywords your customers will be searching for, so you can make sure you incorporate these keywords into your website. For example, in the website tagline Modern, affordable designs for home decorating, the keywords and phrases are modern, affordable, designs, affordable designs, home, decorating and home decorating.
You'll notice that when you search for a keyword in Google, and the keyword matches a word or phrase in your website title or tagline, Google bolds the keyword in the search results (see the image above, where the keywords Blue Bowl Homewares and homewares are bolded in the search results). These bold keywords give your website greater visibility in search results, and encourage visitors to click the link to your website (resulting in what's called a higher click-through rate).
Find keywords that relate to your business
Having trouble coming up with relevant keywords? Use the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to find keyword ideas for your business. For each suggested keyword, you'll be able to see how unique it is, and how many times per month it's searched for, both locally and globally.
Put keywords in the right location
- Keywords in your domain name: Consider including the most relevant keyword in your domain name. If there are numerous relevant keywords for your business, you may even want to register multiple domain names, and spread the keywords throughout them. Then, you can set the domain name with the most relevant keyword as your website's primary domain name and forward the others to it.
- Keywords in your website title and tagline: Try to put keywords at the start of your website title and tagline. For more information, see the Website title and tagline section.
- Keywords within your website: You can include keywords within your website, for example within the What we do section, or within news and gallery items. Just be careful not to overload your site with keywords—this may result in search engines ignoring your site altogether.
You may not see any improvement in your website's search ranking overnight, but if you follow the guidelines above you'll make your website more visible, ultimately resulting in a better ranking.
If someone else has a link on their website that links to your website, we call this link a backlink. Backlinks are also known as incoming links or inbound links.
Backlinks tell search engines how popular or important your website is. Therefore, backlinks are an important factor in determining your website's search ranking.
It may seem simple: the more backlinks to your website, the higher your site ranking. But quantity is just one of the factors that search engines use to analyse backlinks and rank your website. Google's guidelines state that 'The quantity, quality, and relevance of links count towards your rating.' Let's learn more.
The quantity of backlinks to your website is important, but if you pay attention only to this, your website may still not receive a high search ranking. As mentioned above, you need to make sure that you focus more on the quality and relevance of your backlinks.
A single backlink from a relevant and authoritative website can greatly improve your website's search ranking. Let's assume that the ranking improvement can be measured in points. This single backlink may contribute 100 points to your website's ranking. On the other hand, 10 backlinks from unpopular and irrelevant websites may only contribute 10 points altogether. So remember: quality is more important than quantity.
Backlink relevancy is determined by both the content of the anchor text and the source page.
The anchor text is the visible text of a link. It's usually highlighted in blue, and changes your cursor to a hand symbol when you hover over it. Well-written anchor text describes what your website is about. Let's take the following two backlinks:
Guess which anchor text will get a higher ranking from search engines? The second one, without a doubt. So it's important to include relevant keywords in the anchor text.
The source page is the web page on which the backlink appears. For example, if visitors like your website and talk about it on their blog pages, these blog pages are the source pages.
Make sure that the content of the source page is relevant to your website. Imagine that Blue Bowl Homewares store links to a physiotherapy website. It'll confuse visitors and search engines, and thus get marked down on search ranking.