A few ranking myths debunked and how to improve your site results

“Will searching for my website and then clicking on it a million times improve my site ranking?”

Um – “no”. Search engines like Google and Bing use algorithms (patented and top-secret) to determine site rankings. It is an ongoing alchemy designed to return increasingly relevant, useful results to user queries.

Here is why clicking on your own site link will not improve your search ranking: your IP address (the address unique to your computer) is logged when you visit your website. So, even if you click on your website every second for 24 hours – the search engine knows that you are the same single user and its only that first unique click that really counts for anything.

However – because of the way Google works – when it sees that you, personally, like and click on something that will inform all of your future searches on that computer. Based on what you “like” it will show you more items similar to the favorable search. So, you may actually see MORE links to your site as you continue to search and only click on your site… if that makes sense. Here’s another good one:

“Adding an unsubscribe form page with 1 or 2 steps (and additional pages) will improve my search ranking.”

I think this myth is circulating some marketing seminars for small businesses right now. Simply adding more pages that the user has to click through will not affect your search ranking. There are too many more important factors – the actual content of the page, how long a user stays there, does the user link to, forward or return to these pages. In short, making your user jump through hoops (especially to unsubscribe from a newsletter) will pretty much ensure that that person never comes to your site again but will not push your page up the ranking ladder of success one iota.

So, what’s a small business and DIY person to do?

It will typically take 3 to 6 months for a new site to be fully indexed by search engines. Things that you can do to help make this process easier for search engines is to include a sitemap.xml file on your host (like a table of contents for spiders).

  • Create a Place Page for your business, add and manage coupons, invite reviews, use the Google QR code on printed items and on your window if you have a brick and mortar business.
  • Create a Yelp! page. You can also create coupons and invite reviews – this site is also integrated with Facebook and is very useful for people to find you and see what other people are saying about your business.
  • Create a Facebook Page for your business. Again, widely used and indexed by search engines. Post related links, articles, news, promotions here.
  • Start a blog – write articles or posts (can be just a paragraph or two) that are related to what you do or things that might be of interest to your clients. Use these posts as links on your Facebook page – both the blog and your FB page link back to your website so you are propagating links, making your site more relevant in searches and making your site a resource – building user trust and interest.
  • Tweet it. Twitter is becoming a powerful factor in Search Engine results. If you can get into tweeting – do. It is also fairly simple to connect Facebook and Twitter so that posting on one will automagically update the other.
  • Consider joining a Professional Group – any associations, chamber of commerce, LinkedIn, etc. that are respected and related to what you do. You will most likely get an online profile for your business and also benefit form networking with your peers.
  • Check out the competition – what are they doing/saying that you could incorporate and develop for yourself?

Remember, what is good for users is good for search engines.

All of the old methods for promoting your business are still important. Have an open house, keep in touch with past clients, ask for referrals … a web audience has to be cultivated, just like any other aspect of your business. They may not come as soon as your site goes live – but give it time, spread the word and keep the site (and related social accounts) updated with useful information, news and offers – and the rankings will come.

Read the Google Webmaster guidelines to creating great, searchable web content.