After you build my website, can you list it on the Home Page of Google?
I sometimes hear this when creating a first-time website for typically more mature entities who have been resistant to new technology. Much to their credit, they've determined that having a website for your business or service today is what having a listing in the Yellow Pages meant a generation ago. This is how you get found.
Reminds me of an old joke:
Where do you hide a dead body that you don't want found?
On page 2 of a Google Search Result.
The answer to being the first Google Result?
"How much money do you have?"
Just kidding, sort-of. The good news is you have some options and control for driving your website's search rankings.
Before we cover the basics, let's take a look at the anatomy of a Google Search Results Page.
Anatomy of a Google Search Result for the term "laptop computer":
The first things we naturally notice are the top results. If you look at the indicator on the website line for each result, you'll see that these are Ads. Ads from companies in the Computer industry who have a big reputation and therefore a lot of buying power - Intel, Microsoft, Staples, Office Depot.
Just under those, Best Buy and Walmart are at the top of what I call the organic section of the list. This portion is driven by site maturity, volume /number of users, activity and active content, and keywords and items related to "laptop computer". This makes sense because these are two of the biggest "laptop computer" sellers in the country.
Finally, the right panel of the pages displays shopping results. Essentially, if you are doing a google search for what might obviously be a Product, you'll see items in this Shopping grid. These are are also effectively paid ads; they happen to be product specific.
DOUBLE-EDGED PRO TIP:
Did you know that you can opt out of this shopping section altogether, if you don't like seeing it as a user? Click on the Information "i" of the sponsored shopping results to see your options.
But you don't want potential customers opting out, if you're sponsoring a shopping item result!
Back to getting your website to the top of a Google Search Result.
You can Pay....
The quickest and easiest way to get on page 1 of Google for a particular keyword is to advertise. Sign up with Google, choose the keywords you would like to target, define how much you would like to pay every time your ad is clicked. This is "pay-per-click bidding". The higher you bid -per click- the higher your ad will appear in search results related to your keywords.
You can also set a daily budget so when your budget is met, Google will not show your ad any more that day. It won't be clicked on and you won't be charged, and the whole cycle repeats the next day. This is an economical approach to advertise and land on Google's first page.
Or you can work your way to it.
The other way to get on page 1 of Google and other search engines is the organic, or natural, method. From the Google search result image above, examples of these are Best Buy and Walmart. These results cannot be achieved by paying money to Google - they are achieved with careful and longterm evolution of many factors that Google uses when ranking relevancy. Just as with sports or school - if you work hard, keep things current, and provide useful information - your website's reputation will rise in the mysterious rankings of the Google Algorithm Genies.
These are the top general factors that helps grade your website's relevancy to search keywords - and as a result, where your website would rank on a Google Search Result page for those keywords:
Keep in mind also, just because you rank well for one keyword or key phrase does not mean you will rank well for a similar keyword or phrase. Google is constantly updating their algorithms, so today's rankings may vary from those of tomorrow. Your website will move up and down in the rankings naturally.
SEO: Search Engine Optimization
This information is pretty generalized, but should give you an idea of the factors responsible for your website's appearance in Search Engine Results. As your business changes, so does the need for your keywords and other website metadata to be updated.
Of course if this is more maintenance than you plan to devote to your website, there are a number of SEO or Website Developer consultants who can arrange a routine SEO management effort to keep your site's background data current!
Need a little more help with your TCT West email migration before year-end? We have a few additional resources for you
We are having a "Road Tour" of live, hands-on classroom events. Bring your laptops, phones, tablets, and perform the step-by-step instructions live on the classroom Wi-Fi. Have a large desktop unit at home, but you don't want to unplug 12 million cables? No problem - the classes will also provide handouts illustrating the same exact steps that we'll be doing live, so that you can repeat them at home on larger computers.
I'd like to thank TCT West for partnering up with Paintrock Consulting to offer a community education and support forum as part of their email changes.
The Pew Research organization estimates that this year, 2015, will see Millennials overtaking Baby Boomers in the workforce. We also know that Millennials are more prone to digital communication -at least as a first point of contact – when engaging with a new company, brand, service, provider, etc.
Virtually every website that you visit will have some sort of Contact feature – perhaps a separate page with multiple contact options: a fill-in form, email addresses, phone numbers, snail mail addresses, live chat, or multiple social media paths: Twitter handles, Facebook page links, Instagram feeds, and so on.
If you are a small business, keep this in mind: be sure to have Contact information, but you must also endeavor to monitor those incoming communications. It’s fine if you have a channel on every social media platform out there – but if you do, you’ll need to monitor those for engagement, at a minimum. Bonus if you devote the time to provide content to engage your existing and potential audiences.
The same applies to the most basic online contact – a fill-in form or email contact. Do you know where that information goes after a visitor to your website sends it? If not, you should do an immediate ‘health check’ on your website. Full disclosure, I’m not a millennial – more of a Gen Xer – but my communication style is all millennial. Millennials, and many others, are often behind keyboards or smart phones for most of the day. It is far easier for them, and me, to keep my fingers on the keyboard to reach out to your company – as opposed to stopping my productivity to pick up a phone and call you. If they reach out to a company, it’s usually digitally – texting, via social media, email, or submitting a fill-in contact form via your website.
When those inquiries are not handled, not only have you potentially lost a customer, but that person is likely going to share that frustration among other social media channels about your business. Case in point: over the last two weeks, I’ve submitted either emails or fill-in contact forms to the following entities, because I’ve just bought a home and would like various projects done: a home repair business, a co-op, a furniture store, a waste management company, an attorney, an insurance company, a car dealership, and probably some others that I can’t recall. How many of these entities contacted me back? Zero. None. In some cases I’ve reverted to phoning them, because they were the only providers in my area. But if there were more competition where I live, these businesses would not have been given a second chance to obtain my consumer dollars.
Don’t let your website disappoint a potential customer before they even have the chance to do business with you. Make sure all of your Contact lines of communication are active and addressed to prevent this problem.
I predicted this 18 months ago....but today at a tech conference in China, Microsoft has announced that its new Windows 10 Operating System will be free to anyone using Windows 7 or later. Previous articles mentioned that Windows 10 was floating the idea of a subscription service, but 18 months ago, Apple announced that they were doing away with the pay-for-operating-system structure, and Microsoft is wise to follow suit.
Last quarter Microsoft’s revenue from consumer licensing accounted for only 16 percent of the company revenue, down from 23 percent the previous year. With Apple and Google Chromebooks slowly eating into Microsoft’s market share, a non-paying customer is better than no customer at all.
As I mused earlier, the business world, for the most part, runs on Microsoft Office. It's a smart move for Apple; it would be equally so for Microsoft.
A while back, I sent out a survey to the community find out if there was interest in Hyattville for a few basic Computer courses, and here are the classes that got the most votes, along with their presentation schedules:
March 10 - Course 1: MS Office Tips (Word, Excel, Powerpoint – the Big 3). Most of these tips can also be applied to Google Docs or Open Office – Word, so don’t hesitate to join in this class if you don’t have Microsoft Office. Other document options (Google or Apache's free version of Word, Powerpoint, Excel)
March 17 - Course 2: Storing information on "the Cloud", and Accessing your information from any device (home computer, tablet, phone)
March 24 - Course 3: Mobile Device Basics (smart phones, tablets, iPads)
March 31 - Course 4: Introduction to Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc): The importance of "owning" your own name on these platforms
April 7 - Course 5: Overview of the variety of internet browsers (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari) and Safe Practices for using the Internet
Each class will take place in the Hyattville Community Center Library at 6:00 pm.
Course cost is $5.00 and Handouts will be provided.
The library has open wi-fi that all are welcome to use for the training.
What to bring: You do not have to bring a computer along to attend. If you have a desktop computer at home, you can still attend and receive the tip sheets, and try what you have learned at home.
Please RSVP if you plan on attending so that we know how many settings and printouts to provide.
It's a new year, and along with that come new resolutions. One of them on your to-do list might involve determining if you could - or would - cut the cord to pay-for-cable TV. This has been harder for some folks to do than others - namely, sports fans.
Last week's CES (Consumer Electronics Show) illustrated that the cord-cutting tipping point is here. For those who have been unable or unwilling to cut the cord previously, largely due to sports channels and movie channels, a new service called Sling TV offers a collection of streaming channels - including sports - for $20 per month.
I cut the cable cord two years ago, and for me, it has been relatively easy. I watch lots of documentaries, I get my news online, and I love PBS programming. That said, I've been able to find all the shows I love through a simple combination of Hulu and Netflix, with PBS online to round it it.
If this is something you're considering, I say - go for it. Often, depending on your market area, if there is competition, you'll see great promotions from cable providers to woo you back into the fold if it doesn't work out. If it does, you might end up saving quite a bit of money.
Slate magazine has created a great little cable-cutting calculator that allows you to populate your cable costs, internet costs, and what you might want in terms of online viewing choices. The handy calculator tallies up the expenses and tells you at a glance exactly how much you might stand to save by cutting the cord!