iStock_000006241161SmallTrue story. Several years ago a pastor at a medium-sized suburban church called me. “We need help. If you Google “Baptist church” in our town, our church website doesn’t even come up at all. Several other churches show up on page one, some aren’t even in our town. Why aren’t we listed?”

Being the internet guru that I am, I immediately looked at his site to see if the words “Baptist church” and his town name actually occurred on his home page. They didn’t. He had a warm, inviting website that would easily appeal to a good Baptist family in his area, but the specific words “Baptist” and his town name weren’t on the site. That’s a pretty big hit on Google. They index you on what your site says, not what you meant.

Much of our work in search engine optimization is not rocket science. It’s trying to figure out what the visitor is searching for, and putting those words on the site – preferably on the home page and in page titles.

Another sneaky killer is using the wrong keywords. Your store may be the largest retailer of quality footwear in the world, but if your customer is looking for “running shoes” or “boots”, the keyword  “footwear” isn’t going to put you on top of the search listing.

Google loves specialists. The more tightly tailored your pages are to your keywords, the better they will rank. The broader you go, the weaker the keywords rank. As business owners we want to market our products and services as broadly as possible — to reach as many potential customers as possible — but this has the unintended consequence of diluting our keywords. It’s a balancing act.

Take a look at your website. Do you have the right keywords on your site? Do you have the keywords that your clients are using? There are many nuances to search engine optimization that will make minor improvements to your listing, but start with the basics and you will be amazed how quickly you can improve your ranking.