Number one on GoogleIf I had a pound for every person in the last week who has asked me how they can get their website to be at the top of Google’s search results, well I’d have enough for a bag of chips.

But that’s not the point, because frankly there are a huge number of people out there (wherever ‘there’ is) who are scratching their heads (metaphorically) wondering why in blazes their magnificent website is still buried so far down the search engines there are starfish crawling over them.

To be honest with you there’s really very little point in dwelling on being at the top of the search results, since that in itself means virtually nothing. It’s not about your position in the search results, it’s about traffic, and not just the amount, but the quality. It’s perfectly possible to gain huge amounts of highly targeted traffic and make a very nice living thank you very much without your site even appearing in the search listings. I know plenty of people who don’t even bother checking how their site is doing on Google.

But enough of the reasons why I don’t think people should be so obsessed with being NOOGs (Number One On Google). What I really want to focus on today in a fairly light-hearted way (as if you hadn’t noticed by yet) is why your site will never get to the top of the search results. So let’s kick off with reason number 1.

The Keyword Of Death

So you’ve set up a nice shiny new website offering information and advice about car insurance. And you want to get to the top of the search results for the word ‘insurance’. Right then. Good luck with that. Never mind the fact that there are one and a half BILLION search results for ‘insurance’, and a mere 425 million for ‘car insurance’, have you any idea at all just how big the budgets national insurance corporations have to spend on advertising, promotion and marketing?

For every half hour of your time you spend on your online marketing they’ve had a team of professionals invest the equivalent of a week in marketing, and for every fifty pounds of your money you spend on advertising, they’re throwing in fifty thousand. Trying to compete just isn’t viable.

Don’t be daft when it comes to choosing your primary keywords and keyphrases. Make sure you choose longtail keyphrases instead. For example, a search for ‘low mileage car insurance advice in Cheshire’ has less than 180,000 results. That’s still a lot, but you stand a much better chance of getting found.

Copy Paste Syndrome

It’s so exciting isn’t it? You’re putting together a brand new website and launching yourself into the world of online marketing. The only trouble is that you don’t have much content on your website at the moment. Frankly it’s just your logo, your address, a rather embarrassing photo taken of you eight years ago when you still had that ridiculous hairstyle, and a few words you thought of in blind panic.

Still, you’ve heard about this great thing called PLR articles, which gives you the chance to just copy and paste relevant articles wholesale into your site, as well as use them for marketing. Job done. Except you’ve overlooked one tiny little problem. From the very first moment the very first person publishes a PLR article anywhere on the web, Google’s seen it, got it, listed it, and lost interest in further examples of it.

Imagine someone telling you a rather weak cracker joke. Then someone else comes along and tells you the same joke. Then another. Then a few dozen more. Then a couple of hundred more. You get the picture? In my opinion PLR articles are a waste of time, money and web storage space. Copy and paste is a guaranteed way to shoot your site down in flames. It takes two fingers to copy and paste, and that’s what you’ll probably get from Google.

Addicted To Binary

Some people are really great at communicating, getting the message across in the right way to the right people. Understanding your audience and what they need is essential, as is writing in a way that ensures you are easily understood. The problem is that if you’re writing specifically for Google’s benefit then effectively your audience is comprised of robots, spiders, algorithms and programming.

Now don’t get me wrong, because if you want to spend your time writing to robots then that’s absolutely fine. Some people write to their mothers, some to pen friends, others even write poetry for their partners. But if you want to write to a robot that’s fine. As long as you realise that (a) it won’t ever write back and (b) it will absolutely guarantee you won’t be taking up any space at the top of the search results.

This is partly because Google can see straight through you if you write for algorithms rather than people, and also because real people will be so put off your badly worded, clunky and blatantly forced language that they’ll disappear faster than a duck in an orange sauce factory.

Can You Guess What It Is Yet

You don’t see it around these days as much, but you may remember the ‘Reduced to Clear’ shelves in supermarkets of tins of food which had lost their labels. You had a tin, you paid a few pence for it, and you never knew what it was. It could be a tin of baked beans, ham, spaghetti or even dog food.

Unbelievably some website designers actually seem to have seen this mystery approach to retail as something to be emulated. These are the websites where you have to hunt for the navigation. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes you think a picture or logo might be a button, but it’s not. Sometimes it is, but you’ve no idea where it will take you.

Take a look at the website for FlatPak (http://www.flatpakhouse.com).

Spot the navigation menu? 3 points for finding the contact link.

This is a clear example of a web designer deciding to try to look ‘cool’ whilst completely oblivious to the world of the internet in the 21st century. You might be forgiven for not noticing the navigation, thinking that those numbers are just there to look interesting. No, that there is your menu.

Just so that you know, press ‘1’ for information about what FlatPak is, ‘4’ for news and 6 to contact them. Oh, and the whole thing is made using Flash, so if you don’t have this browser plugin then you’re screwed. Oh, and this is what their website looks like if you happen to be using a mobile device such as an iPhone:

The dangers of using a Flash only website

A sure-fire way to make sure your website never rises high enough in the search results to be found by anyone is to design a website which tries its damndest to prevent anyone from finding anything, or even seeing anything.

Did I Forget Something?

What’s the point of your website? It’s a simple question, but surprisingly hard for some people to answer. Vague answers along the lines of ‘to get more business’, ‘to make money’ or ‘to increase brand recognition’ are simply not valid. The trouble is that a website without a point is a little like a needle without a point.

Just throwing up some nice graphics, some information about the business, a contact page, prices, a few photos of products and other such information simply isn’t going to work. Your website has to have a clear purpose, and without it, you’ll never make it to the top of the results.

Perhaps your website’s purpose should be to increase sales of specific products or services by a target percentage, but even that’s not enough. Because having a purpose is only a third of the challenge. The next step is to make sure you know exactly what you’re doing to achieve that aim, and the third stage is using analytics to assess how successful you’ve been.

If you aren’t clear about what the purpose of your site is, neither will your visitors, who will inevitably amble away with slightly glazed expressions.

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