A large part of helping your site perform well is simply time–it just takes time for your site to be established. Hopefully the people who created your web site laid the groundwork by building a very solid foundation–they have optimized your site for the keywords you want to target, and made sure the platform on which your new site has been constructed is the very best for communicating with search engines.
You have to consider whether the terms/keywords that you are competing for are competitive. You could probably spend $10,000 a month on search terms related like “puppies for sale” and not even crack the top 5 pages on Google. But if you’re hoping to capitalize on visitors looking for “Boston Terrier rescue in Oklahoma” then you won’t have nearly as much competition for search terms related to that concept. If you are targeting very competitive words, there is honestly nothing you can do–even paying thousands of dollars in Google Adwords campaigns–that will catapult you to the top of the rankings overnight. You can definitely find companies that will promise you “#1 Google Rankings in 1 week!” but it just doesn’t work that way. There is no magic bullet! The only thing that can make that happen is traffic; it’s a double-edge sword of sorts. Traffic begets traffic. You have to have traffic in order to get more traffic.
That being said, any good search engine optimization service (and there are ways you can do this yourself if you want; check out Google’s free keyword research tool) will help you figure out what keywords to target. Instead of targeting “dogs for sale” or “dog breeders,” for example, you might target “Kansas City Lab Rescue” or something very specific to your organization. Because really, no matter what you do, if you are targeting “labrador retriever breeder” as a key phrase, and you aren’t actually a lab breeder, your page content won’t rank as high, and you won’t be seen in search results. Because your content doesn’t match those search terms as well as, well, someone who’s breeding and selling labs online.
So what can you do, for free, that will help your web site’s performance in search engines? These are things that YOU have to do–YOU, the subject matter expert.
You need to write regular blog posts, and they should have original, valuable content (preferably with lots of links). This means you writing content–not just copying and pasting content from somewhere else. Search engines value original content, and they won’t rank your site as highly if you use recycled content.
You need to read and comment on other blogs. And not just with links back to your site–you need to comment with valuable info (the blog will link your comment back to your site anyway).
Your site needs links to and from other web sites. So you need to have lists of links to other relevant sites (web sites that would be helpful to your visitors, and interesting to you), and you need to put links into your blog posts as well. Google sees other sites linking to your site as an indication that your site has quality content, and it will rank it higher.
How are you making use of social media? Maybe you’re on Twitter and Facebook, but are you using them to promote your rescue efforts? If you have a Facebook fan page for your organization, you can use that as a traffic driver to your site, and a great place to create some links back to your site and generate interest.
Basically, the process of getting good positioning in search engines is an ongoing process. There is no magic bullet that will get you to number 1 on Google. Truly, the success you have with Google and your search engine rankings largely depends on you and how much time and effort you devote to developing relationships on line (through social media, through commenting on other blogs, developing reciprocal backlinks with other sites). In short, it takes time and effort!
What have I missed? Are there ideas you have that are working for your organization? Share them. Are there ideas presented here that you don’t understand? Comment and let me know. I’m eager to hear from you and help you!