Welcome back to our second installment of Google Juice part 2. A quick review before we continue: You’ll recall in “What the Heck is Google Juice? Part 1” in Entrepreneur's Anchor Magazine, we said that Google Juice is the value that Google assigns to each element in your website that helps position or list it on Google-powered search engines. To reiterate, the more Google Juice your site contains, the higher Google (and probably the other search engines) will rank it. Higher ranking generally means more hits. More hits usually garner more business, hence the formula: URL x (GJ)↑N = ↑HR → ↑$. We also stressed the importance of Search Engine Optimization, commonly known as SEO.
While Google is disinclined to let you in on what it is currently doing with search results, here are some time-tested techniques that will ensure you’ve created a site with the right amount of that oh-so-delectable Google Juice, garnished with just the right amount of SEO.
In order to provide you with catechizing examples, we’re going to create a fictitious Jacksonville-based company that specializes in teaching owners how to train their cats to do all sorts of cool tricks: fetch and retrieve, roll over, speak-on-command, shake hands, jump hurdles, dance, paint, walk on two paws, be a ventriloquist, and the like.
As we promised in our first installment, to help ensure your site includes just the right amount of that creamy, delicious Google Juice, we’re going to let the cat out of the bag. Below is a detailed catalogue of necessary elements your website should contain. These will ensure it contains ample nips of Google Juice, spiced with well-measured shots of SEO.
Domain Name (URL): Include good keywords. Avoid acronyms and words that are hard to spell, or are impossibly long. Whenever possible, use the suffix “.com” instead of the others (i.e., “.net,” “.biz,” “.tv,” etc.) A keyword-rich URL provides the most “Google Juice” of any technique listed. Use words in your domain name that people will search for in Google (or other search engines). There’s already a real-life greeting card company with the name, http://www.cattricks.com. So we’re going to call our imaginary firm, Jax Cat Tricks, so our domain name will be jaxcattricks.com.
Page Titles: Each separate page of your website—that’s worth repeating—each separate page of your website should have a unique title containing important keywords that pertain to that particular page’s content or main topic. This facilitates people searching for your product or service by ensuring every page of your website can be seen by the various search engines. For your Homepage, it’s often best to include the regions that you primarily serve or where you do a majority of your business. For jaxcattricks.com’s Homepage page title, we’ll use how to train cats to do tricks, Jacksonville, Florida.
Backlinks: This is a link to your company’s website from another website, particularly one that is pertinent to your industry. A lot of Google Juice is given to backlinks that come from popular websites that have lots of visitors. Have your website listed on other sites and directories. These might include organizations as the Chamber of Commerce, plus online directories like Google Places (maps). Make sure to list your website on the major social media sites, blogs and forums. To be the cat’s whiskers, this is usually achieved by companies skilled in executing backlinks. Ideally then, jaxcattricks.com would have backlinks from major sites including the national veterinary company, http://www.banfield.com, the national pet supply retailer, http://www.petsmart, as well as some links from some catchy videos we uploaded at http://www.youtube.com, which will especially give our site lots of what we call Google Love. That’s worth purrrring about.
Subheads: Use bolded subheads in the verbiage on each and every page of your website. Place important keywords in your subheads. Subheads that jaxcattricks.com might include: Teach Your Cat New Tricks, Your Cat Can Paint or Teach Your Cat to Do Celebrity Impersonations on its individual pages. Geek notes: Make certain your webmaster codes the bolded subheads as <h1> headers.
Page Text: Use keywords and phrases in your text that the average person would put into the search engine to find your site. Target different keyword phrases on each page. A properly coded bulleted list has a lot of Google Juice, and is critical to achieve that coveted higher ranking. Your bullets should list products and/or services your firm provides. Otherwise, you will never rank for keywords or phrases that are not on your website. Ensure your webmaster codes the list as <li>. A purr-fect bulleted list for jaxcattricks.com might include:
• Cat Acrobatics
• Painting with Paws
• Dancing with Your Cat
• Cat Tricks
• Walking on Two Paws
Also list the geographical regions that you serve. In this case, we’ll include: Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach, Ponte Vedra, Saint Augustine, Fernandina, and Fernandina Beach.
Fresh Text: Make changes to your website on a regular basis. Add a blog to your site that is easy to update. Additionally, jaxcattricks.com might list new tricks it developed, staff changes; and/or new features, services, projects, awards, testimonials, etc.
Contact Information: Put your company’s name, address, phone number and email on each page. If jaxcattricks.com doesn’t say Jacksonville, Florida anywhere on our Homepage, we will not rank for Cat Tricks in Jacksonville, Florida. It is also very important to include the actual physical address of your business, as in: Jax Cat Tricks, 9 Lives Lane, Jacksonville, Florida 32207.
Internal Cross Linking: Create hyperlinks from key word phrases from one page of your website to another. For instance, we would link the bullet, Catch ’n’ Fetch, to a video on the page of our website that shows an owner and his/her cat playing catch and fetch. As crafty cats, we would also post that video on YouTube.com to create a valuable backlink.
Alt Tags: Have your webmaster place alt tags on every photo on each page of your website. For example, an alt tag on a photo that shows a cat painting on a wall might read, teaching cat to paint. (We might even attribute the artwork to Clawed Monet.)
Meta Description: This is a short description of your business, which shows up in Google’s search. Your Meta Description should be succinct, direct and easy to understand. Also remember that Google only shows approximately 140 characters in its Meta Descriptions. Jax Cat Trick’s might read: Jax Cat Tricks specializes in teaching owners how train their cats to do various tricks. With our unique methods, most cats easily learn new tricks and skills.
Google Places: Also having—ideally favorable—reviews on your Google Places listing ensures higher ranking. This is similar to a short testimonial. An example might read: “Jax Cat Tricks is amazing! Before, my cat would only sleep, eat, use its litter box, and occasionally play with a piece of string … but only for a few minutes. Now we’re playing Catch and Fetch, we’re dancing together, and she can meow in five different languages. Next up: painting classes. Thanks Jax Cat Tricks!”— Felix Sylvester Katus
Social Media: Take advantage of today’s Web 2.0 by having links (not lynx) on your website to the various social media channels (LinkedIn, Google +, Facebook, Twitter), which—importantly—you should update frequently. This raises your ranking on Google and/or Google Maps. Just like having a good rough ’n’ tumble with some stout catnip, you should be updating your company’s Facebook page at least three to five times per week.
Graphics: Make sure your important verbiage is not in the various graphic elements of the website. The easiest way to tell is by trying to highlight the verbiage. If you can highlight the copy, it is text. If you can’t, it is probably a graphic image. A few words about Flash: While once regarded as being the cat’s meow, do not design your website, or any part of your website using Flash. Google has a hard time cataloging a website created with this program, so these websites typically rank very poorly. Also, a site built using Flash cannot be viewed on iPhones or iPads.
Google Analytics. Have your webmaster install Google Analytics on to your website. That way you’ll know what people are typing in to Google to find your website. You will also be able to determine what key phrases are working for you, as well as those that may not be working as well either.
Meta Keywords: Include any common misspellings of your business’ name. Our jaxcattricks.com will use jacks cat tricks, qat, kat, teaching, train your pet, kitten, Meta keywords are not as important for SEO as they once were. FYI: Google no longer gives any “Google Juice” to these, but some other search engines may still use them.
Page Load Speed: Having a fast-loading site (i.e., not oversaturated with images or videos that take a while to download) helps it to populate and rank higher, particularly on smart mobile devices. Google has recently started down-ranking websites if they are slow loading.
Even though websites fight like cat and dog for higher ranking, it’s worth mentioning a word of caution. Don’t over imbibe your site with Google Juice or become a cataholic to keyword stuffing (using the same keywords over and over again). If you do, Google has hissed and hinted your Google Juice will be taken away from you. And that’ll cause a lot of caterwauling within your firm.
After your site is tastefully quenched with the just right amount of Google Juice nectar, sprinkled with muzzle-licking morsels of SEO, it usually takes 60 to 90 days before you’ll feel totally satiated. A spoonful of patience helps the Google Juice go down. That’s because it typically takes 60 days or more to see your rankings change. But when your site does start ranking higher and higher, it’s certain to be the cat’s whiskers for your business.