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3 secrets to get to the top of Google Search results

3 secrets to get to the top of Google Search results
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As a small business owner, you know that getting your company highly ranked on Google's search pages is frustrating, at best. At worst, it's a mind-boggling mystery.

We can help. First, Google is pretty good about sharing what it doesn't like seeing on websites. Take a look at Google's content guidelines here, if you're OK with techno talk.

For instance, Google isn't crazy about sites that use Flash or AJAX, which are heavy on visuals but short on content. Your customers want to read useful information more than watch flashy graphics.

When it comes to figuring out what Google likes, its criteria for ranking sites highly is trickier to figure out. Google is always changing its search criteria and tweaking the mathematical algorithms it uses to rank webpages.

Plus, why would Google give away its secrets?

Fortunately, Google has said enough over the years for us to share three tips with you. Follow these tips to boost your small business' website on Google's search results. (These are our best pointers, but remember that we can't guarantee results.)

1. Write for your customers, not for Google

Google has been very clear about one thing in how it ranks websites.

"We encourage webmasters to create pages for users, not just search engines." That's directly from Google's search guidelines.

What it means for you is a few things. First, don't get bogged down with keywords. For more about keywords, check this out.

For years, Google has dinged websites that overuse keywords that they think Google is looking for. Google rewards content that's conversational.

Note: Your website should have a casual tone, but use your company name a lot. Google will eventually start searching for it. But it won't be searching for "we."

Google likes long content, meaning articles or posts that are up to 1,000 words long. If you really need to post something longer than that, turn it into a .pdf file. Then, post a link to it on your site. Need help creating a .pdf? Read this.

Giving your customers a good experience also means using lots of photographs, including slideshows. But don't go crazy. As a general rule, slideshows should have 15 or fewer photos for your customers to click through.

Note: You can boost your site's ranking by including photo captions. Google has an easier time finding words than pictures.

Google also rewards sites that have videos because readers like them. Keep videos shorter than five minutes, though. Remember, Google owns YouTube, so it's not a bad idea to make YouTube your go-to site for videos.

Next page: More tips for better search results.
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