Getting Website Visitors from Google is Becoming Harder

Every time we talk about setting up a website for your business, the question of how to get visitors to it comes up.

There are lots of ways to get visitors, but the two basic ones are through social media marketing and Google (or Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, etc).

I’ve talked plenty about social media marketing, so this week I’m looking at Google search.

As with most things in life, you’re better off with quality than quantity – it’s no different with visitors to your website.

And visitors who come from the search engines are of high quality.

People use a search engine because they want an answer to something, and if your web page provides that answer, they are more likely to buy, or sign up, or do whatever you want them to do, because they have ‘intent’.

That makes them high quality.

Last week I talked about the development paths of the social media sites making it harder for businesses to promote their products, and the same is true of Google.

Its original slogan, ‘Don’t be evil’ was abandoned in 2018 and, since then, Google’s search results have increasingly favoured itself and its owned businesses. I’ve explained this in detail in the third link below.

But here’s the short version: the chances of any of your pages appearing on the first page of Google’s search results for a popular keyword are low.

Instead, you need to be optimising for ‘long tail’ keywords. Key phrases, rather than single keywords, that accurately describe the content of your page.

At the same time as Google’s search results are becoming more biased, Artificial Intelligence and other technology advances are changing how we need to optimise our websites for the search engines.

As a result, you can now get to 80% of where you need to be by publishing high quality pages (the first link below gives you some more steps to follow).

But quality is subjective, so how can we know what we should be producing?

Here are some characteristics of a ‘quality’ page:

  • Good use of headings and sub-headings to break down the content and provide a ‘route map’ through the page
  • High readability – here’s a readability checker
  • No grammar or spelling errors
  • High quality content

What do we mean by ‘high quality content’?

As I said earlier, it’s subjective. But the best way to improve the quality of your content is to do a search for whatever you’re offering. When the results come back look at, and analyse, all your competitors’ pages.

Have they left something out? Have they been totally accurate? Are they up to date? Could they have explained it better? Could they have used better examples? Could they have used diagrams, images, or a video?

Make a note of the omissions and gaps, and cover them on your page to give fuller, clearer, more detailed content.

There is a downside to all this, though: search engine optimisation is a long game.

Not only that: as I’ve shown in the third link below, the results Google returns in searches are becoming steadily more biased.

They increasingly place well-disguised paid ads, or its owned sites, at the top of the results listing, particularly for popular searches.

You should still follow the SEO guidelines for quality content, though, because they do deliver a better user experience. You won’t see quick results, but if you keep publishing high quality content you will see a steady improvement over time.

This week’s links

This week I’m looking at how to get more visitors from the search engines:

I’ve linked to a page on basic search engine optimisation steps that you can take on your website today, a podcast on how to create content that gets returned in the search results, an article that looks at how Google’s search results are becoming more biased, and a podcast discussion on whether Google’s search results are getting worse.

Basic search engine optimisation steps you can take today

However new you are to running a website, there are some basic search engine optimisation (SEO) steps you can take today, that will improve your website’s performance in the search results.

Neil Patel goes through the basics – and shows you how to implement them whatever platform you’re using for your website:

SEO steps you can take today

How to create content that ranks in the search results

Neal Schaffer takes the question of getting your content returned in the search results a bit further.

He interviews Neil Sheth in this 35-minute podcast, on what you should be focusing on when you create content that you want the search engines to find and return.

Many think of SEO as some kind of dark art – it’s not. And you have control over many of the things you need to do to get your content to rank well:

How to create content that ranks in the search results

How Google is damaging the business of webmasters and bloggers

As I said earlier, Google’s search results are becoming more biased. Increasingly, they are placing ads or links to their owned websites at the top of the search results.

In this article I delve into why Google has been fined millions of dollars, and is coming under increasing scrutiny from the anti-trust regulators, particularly in the US and EU:

How Google is damaging the businesses of webmasters and bloggers

Are the Google search results getting worse?

This podcast takes the points I made in the previous article a step further. It’s 3-way a discussion about why it is becoming harder to get your content returned high in the search results, at least on Google, and what you can focus on to do better:

Is Google search getting worse?

Fun flashback

Way back in 1995 I did a 3-month project in Dallas, and we used to go out to Lake Lewisville on the weekends where they played Eagles, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Toby Keith all day long – wonderful!

Here are the Eagles with Hotel California, being performed at the 1998 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony:

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Martin Malden

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