Website Promotion – understanding how page titles, descriptions, and keywords can get you higher search engine rankings.
You’ve purchased a great domain name, developed a wonderful looking website with fresh and informative content, yet when you try to find your website through a Google search your website cannot be found. Why?
There can be a number of reasons why your website cannot be found but don’t be discouraged; with a little knowledge and implementation of some simple techniques you should see some noticeable results.
A great place to start is with the very basics of search engine optimization through the use of proper page titles, descriptions, and keywords within your web pages. Depending on who developed your website, you can make these changes yourself, or ask your web designer to make them for you.
Here’s how it works.
When you do a search on Google you will notice that each listing includes a title and description. And interestingly enough that title and description most likely includes all or part of the search term you just used in your search.
Let’s use an example of Brad Currie, a mortgage broker from Surrey, BC. If you did a Google search for “mortgage broker in Surrey” the results of that search would reveal listings that will include the keywords “mortgage broker” and “Surrey” in both the title and description. Brad’s website is currently ranked second and includes those exact keywords.
The basic principal is pretty simple, you want to choose a title and description that includes the search terms and keywords that you think people will type in when they perform a search. If you are a mortgage broker in Surrey who also covers Vancouver then include the keyword Vancouver in at least the description.
Sounds pretty simple right? Well, almost. There are a number of additional things to consider. First, it is important that you do not make your title and description too long. It is recommended that your titles be no longer than 70 characters and your descriptions be no longer than 150 characters. While there are some search engines that accept longer titles and descriptions, the majority will just cut them off. If you do decide to extend the length of your titles and/or descriptions, try to make sure that your most important keywords fall within the recommended guidelines.
Secondly, try to place at least some of your keywords at or near the beginning of the title and description. Try to sprinkle additional keywords through your description including the middle and end of the sentence or paragraph. Little tough to do in the title but you do have room in the description. And don’t think you can beat the search engines by placing a bunch of the same keywords in the title or description as many search engines view this as spamming and will actually penalize your website.
Here is an example of a title and description which offers most of the above. In this case I was attempting to optimize a webpage that includes a mortgage calculator.
The title is “Canadian mortgage calculator, calculate mortgages and amortizations.” The description is “Canada mortgage calculator calculates mortgage payments, mortgage amortization schedules, mortgage interest rates and more. Powerful yet easy to use.”
A couple of things to note, the search term I am targeting is “Canadian mortgage calculator”, a term I think people would use when searching. I was also thinking people would include in their Google search words like amortization, amortizations schedules, interest rates, etc. There are 67 characters in the title (70 recommended) and 149 in the description (150 recommended). This webpage ranks 5th out of 152,000 possible results on Google for this search term.
It’s not only important to rank high for a specific search term but it’s more important to rank high for a search term that people will actually type in. A high ranking for a search term that nobody uses is a waste of time, that’s why it is important to put some real thought into the correct search term. Spending a little time choosing the right search terms can result in a significant amount more traffic to your website and the more traffic the more customers. A great example of a poor description is a realtor’s website I saw with the following description “I love to sell real estate”. Question is how many clients do you think would type in the phrase “I am looking for a realtor that loves to sell real estate”? I’m guessing not many.
Once you are happy with your changes to the titles and descriptions it’s important to be a little bit patient. Depending upon which search engine it is, it may take from a couple of days to a number of weeks before you see if the changes you have made will have an impact on your rankings.
Undoubtedly the most used search engine is Google so I would recommend you concentrate on those results first. Every couple of days or so type in the search term or phrase you optimized the web page for and look for your listing. If your website does not show up after a month, I would suggest looking at your title and description and making some changes. If your website listing shows up on the first page you might want to leave things alone, you’ve done what you set out to do, Congratulations!
A word of caution, don’t try to optimize your title and description for too much of a generic search term like for example “mortgage broker” or just “mortgage”. First off there is far too much competition for those search terms and odds are your client would not just type in “mortgage broker” or “mortgage”.
What has to be understood about search engines is that they do not put out manuals on how to achieve high rankings. Rather, through trial and error search engine optimization experts have come up with what they think it takes to achieve good rankings. For now it appears that many of these experts have figured out for the most part how the search engines work. Of course this could all change tomorrow if Google or the other search engines decide to change or tweak the way they provide search results to their customers.
As we alluded to in the beginning of this article, titles, descriptions, and keywords are a great place to start in your quest for a greater internet website presence but are by no means everything. Items such as fresh, informative, interesting, and relevant content, keyword rich web pages, website layout, design, and links from other relevant websites play just as much or even more a part in achieving great results.