Ever since the birth of the internet, the search engine has been king. As information has become more readily available, the need to filter through it has become a profitable venture for some of the largest companies on the planet.
Figuring out how to reach the top results for search phrases is an ever evolving process. This is because as soon as the industry learns how to ‘game’ a search engine’s algorithm (that is, learns what tricks they need to do to make the search engine think their content is most relevant), the search engines react by making their system harder to manipulate.
Nowadays, due to how elusive and large the number of factors are that determine any particular page’s ranking, it is much harder to propel any one site to the top arbitrarily. But that does not mean you don’t have control over the future of your site – in fact, it’s much simpler to become successful now. It just takes time and genuine effort.
All search engines have now followed suit with Google and basically consider sites that have new and valuable content the most relevant for search results. How it determines new content is pretty simple – if it wasn’t there before, it’s new! But new content is a minor factor. This is because anyone can put up new content, even automatically.
Valuable content is where results come from. And Google invented the method of determining this, which is now standard across all search engines. More relevant than the words on your page are the pages that link to you – plain and simple. If a thousand high ranking websites linked to your page, and your page just had the word ‘apple’ on it, and these sites all had something to do with fruit, you can bet that your page would show pretty high in the search results if a user searched for ‘apple’. This should give you a reasonable demonstration of how nowadays, the central hub of power no longer lies in what you have on your page, but who is linking (or voting) for it.
That’s right – links are now like votes. The web has become a massive democracy, and your site is the leader you want everyone voting for.
But in the past, votes were too important – so people started buying and selling them, and Google didn’t like that. So now, although backlinks are important, there are a lot of other factors that play parts. In fact, it is a large combination of factors that, in the end, trigger Google to think you are genuinely providing good content to people searching for the term you are targeting. We’ll try to cover as many of them as we can.
It all starts with new and relevant content
No one is going to link to you if you don’t have good content. This is one avenue where writing comes in handy. Write interesting articles, blogs, commentaries and the like. Participate in forums and add a link to your site in your signature. The best way to create an impression of authenticity to Google is to be active everywhere you can, genuinely participating in dialogue. You can’t just plaster your link everywhere – it will get deleted, and even if it doesn’t that won’t do much for you. Google even checks to see what words are around your link.
As you can see, over the years, the number of variables that trigger the search algorithms to spot attempts at gaming their system has grown more and more sophisticated. As a result, the best way to market yourself is to genuinely immerse yourself in the industry you are trying to target. Add links to your signatures, network with people in the same industry, and most importantly, cover all bases so that as many triggers as possible occur to give Google the impression that you and your website are relevant and that people are talking about it.
When search engines first came out, everything was determined by what was on your page. Then as people gamed that criteria, they switched to only checking who linked to you. When people started gaming that, it became a combination of things. So now, how you format your page is important – its not so much you are gaming the system anymore, but more along the lines of telling the search engines what you think is important on it. Let’s outline some important things:
- Your page title, sometimes called the ‘meta title’, is the single most important thing on your page. It is what shows up in search results and what search engines will weigh upon when deciding what keywords your page is relevant to. Each individual page is its own entity, so title them properly, and uniquely.
- Your page ‘meta description’ – this, although important, plays a smaller role in where your page ends up. It is sometimes used by search engines to show a preview of the content that will appear under the title of your search result.
- Your page content – with a media-centric store, you need to put relevant phrases wherever you can. Describe everything – images, links – make it relevant, don’t overuse any one word (‘keyword stuffing’) – just fill your pages with lots of relevant content. Write a blog! Even if you don’t want to, add content daily to keep your site outputting content. Differentiate the keywords, titles and descriptions for your media – make it unique to your store so that search engines don’t think your site is the same as a larger agency’s (search engines hate duplicate content).
- Don’t do it alone – for all our hosting customers, we will have SEO plugins ready for you to use. For all you standalone users – look around for the best SEO plugins, and use them. They won’t do anything just by being installed – use them to fill your pages with relevant content.
Be professionally friendly in every interaction you have. Don’t look to network just for links – it never works in the long term. Immerse yourself in your industry and make genuine professional friends. Participate in forums – help others out with information or advice. Compliment others when compliments are deserved. And look – the people you’re talking to, they’re networking too! It doesn’t hurt to declare to people you’re slowly becoming friendly with that you’re new to the game, are looking to genuinely promote your media, and would love to network with them.
Join the Symbiostock Artist Network! It’s completely free, provides you tonnes of exposure, and guess what? Other artists who like your stuff will probably contact you for, that’s right, networking! Link to each other. Link to the Artist Network. Search engines love it when relevant sites vote for each other because it tells them that these sites are immersed in these topics. It boosts each other, and is completely free.
Networking for votes on the internet is a little like finding a date – everyone knows why we’re here, but it’s improper to come out and say it. So find hooks to talk to each other about. And nothing works better than complimenting someone on their media. Or, if someone else is a Symbiostock user, you already have an in – ask them questions about it – you are now using the same software for the same purpose, why not help each other out?
Believe it or not, the URL you use matters too! Make sure your URLs are search engine friendly – this means no URLs with question marks and ‘&’ signs. They should be relevant to the page, and contains short keyphrases that describe it. Using the title is always a good way to go. If you have your own domain, that could matter too if the keywords are relevant. But for most of us, the content is what will get most noticed, not the domain name itself.
As you have probably gathered, it’s not easy to build a strong web presence. Lucky for you, the steps are reasonably intuitive – just stay active, stay vocal, and keep your store in the center of it all. The word is reputation – it doesn’t build overnight, but once you have a good one, your workload reduces.