It’s no secret that an online presence is essential to growing a business. Regardless of what category your company falls into, an easy-to-use, interesting, and attractive website helps people find out what they need to know about your products or services. If they can find your site, that is. Chances are that you have heard about Search Engine Optimization and how important it is to have your business’ name listed relatively high in search results. But despite what you might read elsewhere, it’s not important to optimize your site for all search engines. In fact, there is only one that you need to focus on. And I’ll give you one guess which one it is.
Google is king. If you use Bing or Yahoo you are definitely part of the minority. Google’s brand is ubiquitous. They’ve become a verb synonymous with their service. Everyone has used Google. They are the search engine of choice for 67% of online searches. Bing, Yahoo, Ask, and AOL combined add up to less than half of that.
(Image by University of Alabama at Birmingham)
People trust their results, and for good reason. Google has a complicated algorithm that rewards sites with better content, more incoming links, location relative to the searcher, and mobile compatibility. Sites rank lower if they contain spam, pornography, or use shady SEO tactics known as black hat SEO tactics. These include all the annoying hidden links, stuffed keywords, and sneaky redirects you remember from the internet of the early 2000’s. And Google frequently updates its algorithm to provide ever-better and relevant results for users. This is why Google grows it’s average number of daily searches by at least 500 million each year.
(Image by University of Southern California)
Why It Matters
Ranking on the first page for a Google search result means more than just an enormous boost in traffic to your site, but a higher conversion rate too. This means more people who click on your site will follow through and become a customer or client. Google achieves this by having the most relevant search results, so more people who click through to your site are looking for your products or service specifically.
Doing well on Google will also help elsewhere. Since Google has the most strict set of ranking guidelines, there is a very good chance that if you rank high, you will also rank fairly well on other search engines. It’s a win-win.
This, of course, can be a challenge. It’s important to stay informed on Google’s algorithm updates. As SEO-experts MOZ point out, “Each year, Google changes its search algorithm around 500–600 times.” These updates are typically pretty inconsequential, but more significant changes have the potential to bring your ranking up or down in a major way. The best way to prepare for these updates is to ensure that your site has an abundance of great content, quality backlinks from respected sites, fair and realistic descriptions of what your company is, accessibility from all platforms, and an absence of black hat SEO tricks.