That’s where everyone wants their site to be. Some people, incredibly naively, think that as soon as they make a website, their site will magically appear above the millions of other existing pages in the search results. I’ve often heard stories from other developers of clients calling them up in a rage, accusing them of not doing their job properly because their site only appears at number 8, rather than 1 in Google! Completely ignoring the fact that their site is already appearing above millions of other pages and is infact in the top 99.9% of pages on the subject; which is an incredibly impressive feat in itself!

Unfortunately it’s a lack of understanding in this area that can lead to confusion and misunderstandings between client and designer, and ill feeling where there really shouldn’t be any.

So I thought it would be worthwhile outlining a few basic points about ranking in Google.

1. A basic search result page in Google shows 2 kinds of ads:

i) Paid listings – Which anyone can appear in, but you have to pay for each and every visitor you receive.
ii) Organic listings – Which are the pages that Google considers to be the most relevant to your search.

Obviously it’s far better to not pay for visitors to your site, so appearing in the organic results is the primary objective of every website.

What a lot of people don’t realise, is that there’s a HUGE industry based about Search Engine Optimisation or SEO as it’s often known. Getting a number 1 ranking in Google for a term such as ‘mortgages’ for example could be incredibly profitable as your site will receive lots of traffic from people wanting to take out mortgages. You could then send these people on to mortgage providers via their affiliate program and make sometimes more than £100 for each mortgage taken out. If you site is receiving 1000s of visitors each day this could easily make you a millionaire very quickly.

So as you can imagine the most popular search terms are incredibly competitive!

The more niche and small your chosen audience, the more likely you are to appear in the search results. For example if you are a plumber in Bristol you might want to target people searching for “plumbers”, but if you search for “plumbers” you’ll see it results in 18,300,000 web pages on the subject. Now that’s an awful lot of competition! If however you search for “plumbers bristol” you’ll see it returns just 355,000 returns. This might still seem a lot, but your chances of appearing on the first page are considerably better.

Here are my top SEO tips for small businesses.

1. Target your audience and try and think what they will be searching for.

2. Build pages targeted to specific topics.

3. Get as many pages of your website as possible listed in Google. The more pages you have indexed, the more possible entry points there are to your website. Say for example you’ve written a ‘how to’ article about changing lightbulbs and someone somewhere searches for ‘how to change a lightbulb’ you might appear in the search results for that search. Then if the user gets stuck and decides that they need ‘professional’ help, your site is right under their nose. This is obviously a slightly silly example, but I’m sure you get the point.

To see how many pages of your site are included in the Google index just type ‘ (www)’ in the search box. This will return a list of pages and you can see how many of your pages are included in the index.

4. Don’t try and trick Google. – Some people over optimise their websites and try and trick the search engines into thinking their page is more relevant than it in fact is. This is a very risky business and could see your website dropped from the search engines completely.

5. Finally – Don’t believe anyone who says they can get you to number 1 in Google for any search term you like. Just remember if they were that good why aren’t they a millionaire already.

If you’d like more specific SEO advice, including on-page optimisation tips, help building a sitemap, or anything else there’s a vast array of places online to get help. for example is a great site. Or just drop us a line and we’ll do what we can to point you in the right direction. We’re also always happy to swap links with related sites or sites that we just think are cool. So please get in touch or leave us a comment.