Putting out the welcome mat to Google

One frustrating aspect about running a website is making sure you look good in search results. It can be incredibly irritating to have a beautiful site, but for some reason the text displayed in Google is ugly. Here’s an example from the early days of DoLeaf.

Ugly and is no help to anyone.
Ugly and is no help to anyone.

This is where the art of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes into play. By understanding how Google works, It’s possible to “suggest” text that you would like to be displayed in the search results.

It’s all about placement

The key to getting the results to look right is to make sure that the text you want displayed is located near common search phrases. For example, with DoLeaf, it’s common for someone to search for a nursery on Google, say Ohiotraders Botanicals. When Google looks at DoLeaf, it will search for text that is nearby to occurrences of the phrase “Ohiotraders Botanicals” Whatever it finds nearby will be used to make the result that’s shown.

So, we make sure that there is always text nearby that describes the main element of the page being displayed. On a store page, the store’s description is always close at hand. Likewise, on a plant listing page, the plant’s description is used. In both cases, we make sure to have the text as close as possible to the first occurrence of the item’s name so that Google knows right where to look.

It works

Following our initial SEO efforts, the results displayed on Google are much, much nicer. For example, a search on Bannister Creek Nursery will show the following result:

Has a nice description of the nursery in it.
Has a nice description of the nursery in it.

Likewise, a search on Bishop’s Cap Cactus produces the following result:

A nice description of the plant.
A nice description of the plant.

By making sure to keep your desired description nearby to common search phrases, you can extend the welcome mat to Google. They will return the favor by describing your site exactly as you wish. There are many, many more Search Engine Optimization methods that can be used as well, and I’d be happy to explain in subsequent posts. Just let me know what you’d like to hear about and I’ll write it up!