by Tony Attwood
Going up the Google rankings is helpful because if you get close to the top of the rankings you can, quite obviously get more and more people clicking on your site: you are in fact getting visitors without paying for it.
Now there are two ways of doing this. One is to do it yourself through engaging in a spot of regular writing, and the other is to respond to one of the many advertisements circling around which generally contain lots of technical phrases about the things Google likes, and a statement that you are not currently near the top of the rankings.
Whether you follow such advertisements and buy in one of these services or do it yourself is up to you. All I can tell you is that I have a few websites that do turn up near the top of the rankings on certain subjects – and it was all done without the help of an outside agency.
What’s more there are, in my opinion, two reasons to be wary of these agencies. First, I can show that their adverts to the effect that, “we’ve been looking at your site and we see it is not near the top of the rankings” are sent out to sites without any checking. I know this because I get emails like this about sites of mine that are near or even at the very top of the rankings.
Second, Google is not staffed by idiots. Google does not want people to be able to manipulate their way to the top of the rankings – they want sites to be at the top because they give the enquirer the information that is required. Put it this way, if you type in “classroom furniture that improves children’s behaviour” you want to find sites that tell you just that. You don’t want to find sites that have got to the top of the list by manipulating their way up there through the use of a lot of key words and clever technical trickery, but which don’t give you what you are after.
So, how is it done, properly?
What you should start by doing is this: think what sort of questions people will type in, in relation to your product or service.
In my example above I suggested that they might write “classroom furniture that improves children’s behaviour” – and that is quite a sophisticated search requirement. But it is the sort of thing that people are writing more and more. I think most of us have learned that typing in “school furniture” will give us too many responses many of which may well be irrelevant. The more specific we get in our search topic, the more likely we are to find what we want.
Or as one web site which discusses Google put it recently “quit worrying about the number of words and write about your subject”.
Now I don’t want to give away secrets about what I have done with customers of schools.co.uk – and I hope you will understand that. So I am going to give an example of what I have done from outside the field of school sales. If you want to know how to apply this to your particular area of selling all you have to do is to write in, or call, and I will answer in relation to your specific work – and I will do that without any cost of obligation.
So here’s my example…
Some years ago I set up a web site about Bob Dylan. I did it because I wanted to try out a few theories in terms of gaining readership, and I chose Dylan because I’m a fan, so I was writing about a topic I enjoyed.
My approach was to review Dylan’s compositions, and write about his work in other areas too. Thus I took these steps:
1: I typed in various key phrases into Google such as “Reviews of Bob Dylan songs”. That told me that there were thousands of articles with that sort of phrase, and that I would be better off focusing on individual songs.
2: Next I took not just the most famous songs but also some more obscure songs and saw what people had written. My reason for that was not to copy them, but to ensure I was doing something different.
3: From here I chose a phrase that I would use as the subject heading for each article. Not every article of course, but as a opening, general guide. So I might write “Things have changed”: the meaning and the music in Bob Dylan’s song.
That way I hoped that if someone typed in Things Have Changed Dylan meaning, my article would find a chance.
4: As the site grew I started building indexes so that anyone on the site could easily find their way around. I quickly realised that the indexes were also ways of pulling people in – they might find the words they were searching for in my index which would lead to an article.
5: I resolved to write an article a day to make the site grow quickly, and I resolved not to advertise or promote my site at all.
6: Finally to give a bit of variety I then typed into Google either just the words “Bob Dylan” or some short extra point. After that I looked carefully at what came up on the list near the top, and in between my articles on Dylan’s compositions wrote articles with very similar titles to those elsewhere. Because what comes up at the top of a search tends to be what people are searching for. Obviously.
To give one really bizarre example, for a while Google was showing in its “People also search for” or “Top stories” section the bizarre question “What did Bob Dylan die of?” Bizarre because Dylan is not dead. So I wrote an article called “What did Dylan die of?”
Recently I found an article called “The politics of Bob Dylan” that came high up the rankings so I wrote one called “The Real Politics of Bob Dylan”.
Now at this point, people often say to me, “yes that is fine, but I sell …” and then mention something that is utterly essential to school life but is rather prosaic. I would still say, I’d write on that – and indeed if they are customers of schools.co.uk I’d do it for them. It is possible, in my estimation, to write about anything and make it engaging and interesting. One just needs a bit of time.
Anyway, the long and short of my tale is that now, if you type in the name of a Dylan song and Dylan’s name in many cases my article will appear near the top of page one.
So if you were to write “Tell Ol Bill Bob Dylan” and scroll down past the video and lyrics, most of the time, in most parts of the world my article appears at the top of the list
My article even appears above the entry from the official Bob Dylan site run by his record company.
And that is true for most Dylan songs. You can try it yourself – although let me confess that if you try the really famous songs like “Times they are a changin” and “Blowing in the wind” I haven’t always got to the first page yet – people use those phrases in so many contexts it is quite a hard task to overcome them. But type in “Bob Dylan Times they are a changin meaning” and yes, as it happens, my article is second on page one (out of around half a million results).
Now as the next objection, people say to me two things:
a) I don’t have time to do that
b) My subject isn’t interesting enough or varied enough.
I did it by determining to write one article a day five days a week – but if you don’t want to do that, you can do it with several colleagues, or you can use the Velocity package from schools.co.uk to achieve the same results.
Then your site rises up the rankings, pulled up by your blog, but taking your main site to which it is attached, along with it.
And remember you don’t have to have a blog. You can put the articles directly into your own web site as an alternative, if you wish. A blog is simply a way of making it easier to handle. Talk to your web designer or IT technician – she or he should know.
If you want to know more or you want to talk about setting up your own stream of articles, please call 01604 880 927 or email Stephen@schools.co.uk