By Lana Hall
Even your Grandma probably does it.
Google her name, that is. But how do you make sure it’s you (or your business) that heads the list amongst dead links and porn sites?
The experts whittle it down to three main steps. Keep these in mind and Google-related glory could be at your doorstep:
1) The search engine secrets:
If you are lazy, you can always do nothing. Eventually ‘bots’ (tiny bounty hunters that lurk inside search engines) will find you. In fact, Rick Broadhead, author, consultant and one of Canada’s leading experts on e-business, recommends this method. “Google will find you,” he says.
“There are services you can hire to submit your sites, but those were mostly popular in the late ‘90s when there were a lot of search engines. That number has dwindled considerably.”
Consequently, Broadhead says he doesn’t see the point in getting “gouged” by these companies considering “Google works so well on its own.”
Indeed, some of these “helper” companies use illegal methods; both Google and Yahoo mention that being affiliated with some may cause a ban on your site from the search engine index.
So, if you’re really getting your panties in a bunch and want to kickstart your web presence, you can do it yourself, Broadhead says.
Check the “about” page on major search engines like Google and Yahoo. From there, submit to the “add an URL” option, and you’re good to go. Alternately, you can wipe yourself off an index by using Google’s handy “website removal” tool, located on their “About Google” page.
2) Keyword conundrum:
According to Google’s business page, its search protocol doesn’t exclusively use words on your site. It also uses content of pages linked to it.
However, Google recommends a simple tactic for boosting your keyword hits: use a descriptive title with your keywords in it. So not “Bob’s Legwarmers” but, “Toronto Bob’s Homemade, Punk, Crocheted Legwarmers”.
Words will only do so much though, Broadhead warns, noting quality is key.
“At the core, your site has to have useful and quality content,” he said. Adding quality makes others like the site and ultimately increases links.
“The best thing you can do is get other websites to link to yours, especially if they have similar keywords,” Broadbent says.
3) To be on top, be popular:
Kathleen Greenaway, a professor with Ryerson’s School of Information Technology Management, has some suggestions if settling for a low spot on a Google list is simply not acceptable.
“We call it ‘counting eyeballs’,” says Greenaway. “You want as many eyeballs as you can get because eyeballs equal popularity. If you’re a business, you want to be top of the heap.”
Google calls it “PageRank,” the vortex of search engine technology. Basically, if your page is linked to another, both get one vote. Ultimately, the more votes the higher up a site places. But that’s not all. Each page linked to you has a quality rating, something that is taken into account during every search. Google suggests mentioning your page to blogs and content-specific lists.
“Search engines respond well to ‘popular’ sites,” Broadhead says. “If you are linked to a site Google considers popular or important, then by extension, your own site becomes popular.”
So Bob should link to “The Association of Canadian Legwarmer Artists” not, “click hyere 2 see pics of my kool legwarmrs I made while drunk.”
Despite the hype, Greenaway cautions against the consequences of topping search lists.
“It depends on why you think it’s important,” she says. “Something like this has lots of benefits, but people need to be aware of the downfalls … Your antics can also come up on search engines. So if you keep something like a blog, you’re probably best to keep your business life and your personal life separate.”