A high search engine ranking is vital for any business. Not only does appearing at the top of Google help you to gain the largest amount of traffic, it also instills trust in the consumer as to the worthiness and relative importance of your company. If you’re appearing at the top of Google, your clients assume that you are popular and important. This is a great position to be in.

Users are not prepared to sift through pages and pages of search results. In fact 75 % of users never scroll past the first page of search results.* So if you want to be found, then you have to be appearing on that elusive first page.

This can be tough, especially if you want to rank for really competitive keywords. Let’s imagine you are a locksmith, and you want to rank for the term: locksmith London. This term has 9,900 searches every month in the UK, but the phrase is highly competitive with 0.81 competition (one being the highest) according to the Google Adwords Keyword Tool.

Search engines have 4 functions:

  • Crawling – looking for new pages
  • Indexing – recording all the pages located
  • Calculating relevancy and authority
  • Producing results for searchers

When a search engine decides where to rank a web page, it looks at its relevancy and authority. Relevancy refers to how closely the content on the page reflects the content of a search. Authority refers to how important the web page is determined to be. A page that is popular is deemed to be important.

Google uses a complicated and secret mathematical calculation to determine the authority and relevancy of a website. When a user makes a search, Google attempts to return only the results which are relevant, in the order of importance.

You can make your website relevant by targeting your content to include appropriate keywords. My advice is to concentrate on one keyword phrase per page. You can optimise your content to your chosen keyword by including it in the title tag of your website, in the article title and in sub-headings, throughout the content, in your ALT tags, in bold and in links to that webpage. Gaining relevancy is relatively simple as it is something you are in control of.

Gaining authority is much more difficult as you are relying on getting other people to link to you. You need quality links from relevant websites, pointing into your website, to tell Google that your website is authoritative. You can obtain these links from news websites, directories, guest blogs and by getting bloggers to write about you. You can get bloggers involved by doing something exciting, offering really interesting products that people can’t resist talking about or bribing them (who can resist getting something for free – strictly speaking they are reviewing your products).

You can also use social media to prove your authority: Google looks at engagement in your Facebook page, and the number of people tweeting about you, or retweeting your tweets.

Ranking for really competitive keywords can be hard work, but it is worth the investment. Appearing on the first page of search results is a must for any company wanting to gain new business through the web.

* Marketshare.Hitslink.com, October 2010