Canadian Pizza Magazine

Features Business and Operations Marketing
Get to the top of search rankings


May 16, 2012
By Marc Gordon

Topics

Who doesn’t like to be No. 1? There’s nothing quite like seeing your pizzeria come up first in a search.
A website is still the backbone of your Internet marketing.

Who doesn’t like to be No. 1? There’s nothing quite like seeing your pizzeria come up first in a search.
A website is still the backbone of your Internet marketing. No matter how much you tweet, blog, or maintain your LinkedIn profile, your website is the ultimate destination. Your contact information, promotions, company history, products and services are all showcased and presented on your site.

However, this article is not about the merits of a website in a Web 2.0 world. It’s about getting your site as high as possible in the search rankings. This article will walk you through the steps I took to make my site, www.marcgordon.ca, come up No. 1 on Google, Yahoo and Bing with a search for “marc gordon.” It took just under 60 days from the time I uploaded my site to the time I hit No. 1 in Google. Yahoo and Bing followed about a week later. How long I will be at number is anyone’s guess.

Your site might hit No. 1 sooner, later, or perhaps never. Search engines decide who should be No. 1, not you or I. They use ever-changing algorithms to filter what they deem the most relevant sites based on search queries.

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These algorithms are unique from one search engine to another. Search engine companies are secretive about how they filter and sort queries. As such, be leery of companies who claim they can make you No.1 in just a few days, for a fee.

None of these methods will cost you money. None of them are sneaky. All of them are deemed acceptable practice by the search engines. And together, they’ve worked for me.


Relevant copy

This is the most important element in getting a high page ranking. Search engines love rich, relevant content. Your site is about pizza, so talk about everything to do with pizza in all shapes and forms. But remember, your site should be written for visitors first – not search engines. So avoid tricks like using your company name in every sentence, repeating the same phrases, or making certain words bold. If your site is awful to read, people will leave it, never to return. Then it won’t matter how high you rank in Google.


Minimal flash

Sure, flash can be cool. But beyond the fact that most people do a lousy job of integrating it effectively into a site, search engines cannot read it. Text written in flash looks more like white space when the search engines look at the code. While html might seem boring, remember that a great looking site has nothing to do with the code and everything to do with visual style and functionality.


Minimal PDF files

While search engines can read PDF files, they don’t come through as clear as good old fashioned text. If the text has been converted to a graphic prior to saving, then the file can’t be read at all. Combine that with the fact that most people don’t always feel comfortable downloading files, and you’ve got two big reasons to add another web page instead of creating a PDF document.


Page titles

I have found the most success by having a detailed standard page title for every page, preceded by the name of the specific page. For example, assuming your home page title is ABC Company: Makers of the world’s best pizza, then the title for the menu page could be “Choose from over 30 gourmet pizzas – ABC Company: Makers of the world’s best pizza.”


Alternative text

Back in the olden days, some browsers could not display graphics properly, if at all, so alternative text would be attached to the html code. That way, if a photo of a house could not be displayed, you could at least see some text that would read “photo of house.” Even though this is no longer an issue, I encourage you to continue this practice.


Page Description

The page description appears under your site listing when it shows up in a search. Your description should be an objective description of your company, or you, and written in proper sentence form. For example: “ABC Company, located in Vancouver, makes an authentic Italian pizza. The company was founded in 1981and has received numerous industry awards.”


Key words

Many experts claim that meta tags such as keywords are no longer relevant as search engines stopped acknowledging them due to abuse by sneaky designers. Whether this is true is open to debate. But since they take so little time to insert, why not? Simply list every word you can think of that someone might enter into a search engine query, separated by a comma. You can also use what’s called long tailed key words. These are mini phrases that people might enter such as “deep dish pizza”. Avoid sneaky methods such as inserting the names of your competitors, or URLs of other sites.


Site map

Search engines love sitemaps. A sitemap is simply a text based file that lists all the pages in your site, when it was last updated, how often it changes, and how important each page is in relation to other URLs in the site.


External links to your site

If a lot of people link their sites to your site, it must mean you are pretty important. Search engines like important people (or at least their websites). While you can always pay others to link to your site by placing ad banners on their pages, I always like to encourage people to do it for free. This can be done by reciprocating with links to their site, or having content relevant enough that people choose to link their sites to yours on their own.


Search engine submission

Search engines have what are called web crawlers. These are little programs that scour the net looking for new sites. If you upload a site, eventually these crawlers will find it. But if you want to speed up the process, you can submit your site directly to the search engines. This is free to do and takes just a few minutes. I would encourage you to concentrate your efforts on Google, Yahoo and Bing. Then hit the others when you have some time to kill. Here are some links that will get you started: www.google.com/addurl , http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/submit , www.bing.com/webmaster/SubmitSitePage.aspx .


Patience

The most important part of getting a high ranking is patience. Search engines do what search engines want. Plan your marketing program, refine your services, and even try working the phone. Remember, there are a whole lot of marketing tools available to you outside of the Internet.

If you have someone else design your site for you, you can request these methods be applied. Any respectable designer should implement a number of them on their own.

One final note, to see how I’ve implemented these tool into my own site, visit http://marcgordon.ca and select View>Page Source in Firefox, or View>Source in Internet Explorer. Good luck!


Marc Gordon is a professional speaker and marketing consultant based in Toronto, Ontario. His firm, Fourword Marketing, specializes in helping businesses create a brand identity and developing effective marketing campaigns. Marc can be reached at (416) 238-7811 or visit www.marcgordon.ca