How to Improve Your Website Rankings in Search Results
In today’s time, most of the businesses including your competitors are online which means they are vying for the attention of your target audience on Google’s search engine results. This makes it important your online business “ranks” (appears) on top of the search engine results ahead of your competitors every time one of your customers search for your products/services on Google.
According to a research by Infront Webworks, 95% of Google’s traffic doesn’t go past Page 1. Page 2 and subsequent pages only account for around 5% of the traffic. This indicates that Page 1 position is bound to affect your online businesses positively while being on Page 2 or lower is not going to benefit you that much.
Now, this is where Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) comes into the picture. When done correctly, SEO can propel your online presence to Google’s Page 1 which means more online visibility and thus more business for you.
If you’ve just recently launched your website or have been working on “keyword optimization” for some time with no concrete results, then here is a quick guide on how you can leverage SEO to improve your Google search ranking and get more eyeballs on your online business.
1. Become More Informed About Google’s Ranking Algorithms
Before you think about how to manipulate Google on showing your website on top of the search engine results, it is highly advisable to first understand how Google ranks your website in the first place so that you can rank on top without getting hit by any Google Penalties.
Google executives and SEO experts have time and again hinted that Google regularly updates its search engine ranking algorithms. Moz, the largest community of SEO experts on the planet, estimates that Google introduces around 500 changes every year to their ranking methodologies.
Here, you can see John Mueller, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, confirming the same.
While Google does make major update announcements, the exact inner workings of how and in what way these algorithms affect your online presence are a big secret. Most of the information out there is just speculation from industry professionals.
Here’s is quick list of all the major algorithmic updates confirmed by Google so far:
- Mobile-friendly Update (April 2015), that gives preference to websites with mobile-friendly versions and might penalties sites that don’t comply.
- Pigeon (July 2014), that integrated local search results like Google Maps with organic search results.
- Hummingbird (August 2013), emphasizing on context and intent-based results to user’s search queries.
- Penguin (April 2012), targeting “poor unnatural backlinks”
- Panda (March 2011), taking into account the overall website and content quality while ranking websites
So how can you stay updated with all of these ongoing changes?
There are some great resources you can look to for constant updates. Moz’s Google Algorithm Change History is a vast database that organizes updates chronologically. Keep an eye out on Google Webmaster Central and The Webmaster too.
2. Analyze Your Current Search Ranking and Online Presence
Before you start working towards improving the search engine ranking of your website, you need to know where your website stands currently. Now there are several tools and resources such as SERPs.com that can help you with this.
When you input information like your target keyword(s), target region, target devices among others, these tools provide you with information that includes but is not limited to:
- your website’s current search engine ranking for a particular keyword
- the first page on your website that appears for a keyword
- the monthly average searches your website currently gets
The above picture demonstrates how an average keyword rank checker looks like.
Next, it’s important to see where you land on the site speed factor, as site speed is considered a major Google ranking factor.
If your site is slow, it hampers the user experience and usability for the visitors as well as your ability to convert new customers, too. Thus, you will have a scarce chance of a high search position on Google search results.
The above picture demonstrates how poor site speed can affect your rankings and conversions. Walmart experienced a sharp decline in conversions when its page load times increased from one to four seconds.
If your site’s speed is poor, Google’s search algorithm will not place you on top, even if all other parameters like Meta Tags, Sitemaps etc. are fine tuned.
Now that you have a good idea of your website’s current state, you can move forward with actionable pointers on how to appear head and shoulders above your competitors.
3. Make Sure You Have A “Good Quality” Website
Google algorithms boost websites that offer a high-level experience to their visitors. Almost always, websites that score high on usability and user-friendliness are preferred over ones that don’t. Hence, it is safe to say that Google favors sites that apart from being rich in keywords, but also demonstrate high user engagement.
SEO ranking is known to improve when users who visit your website showcase signs of a having a good user experience on it which is indicated by higher on-site times, more page views, and repeated visits among other factors. The more user-friendly your site is, the better it is for your Google rankings.
Below are some factors that make for an “SEO friendly website”:
a. Useful, informative and relevant content
When you provide useful content on your website, visitors tend to stay on your website for a longer “dwell time” – the amount of time visitors spend on your website – which is considered to positively affect your search engine rankings.
Based on the research data by Quicksprout, it is advisable to have a content length between 2,000 – 2,500 words for the best SEO results.
Now word count in itself doesn’t determine your Google rank but it has long lasting implications such as increased “dwell time” that do tend to affect the overall usability of your website.
Content around 2,500 words gets the most Google juice.
An ever-increasing number of users are now searching on Google using their mobile devices.
According to Smart Insights, mobile-based Google searches have overtaken desktop-based searches, at least in the US and the trend is only expected to continue forward.
On January 10, 2017, the Google Webmaster Blog said:
“Starting today, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as high.”
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test is a good tool to help you determine if your website is mobile-friendly or liable to a Google Penalty. Just type in your URL and click “RUN TEST.”
c. Site structure and navigation
When Google sees that visitors on your website don’t tend to stick around for a significant amount of time or have a “higher bounce rate”, it classifies your website as “poor quality”.
Not having a user-friendly site navigation is one of the most common factors that contribute to higher bounce rate. You need to make sure that your website is easy to navigate so that visitors can find what they are looking for with ease. This not only promotes lower bounce rate but also adds up with more repeated visits by earlier visitors thus leading to higher SEO value.
4. Find The Right Keywords
Now that your website has a good layout and provides an enjoyable browsing experience, you need to place relevant high quality content on it. This is where having keyword-rich content comes into the picture.
You need to know what keywords your target audience uses to find you on Google. When you have this information, you can modify the content of each page to optimize it for your website visitors.
It is advisable to have a good mix of commercial and informational keywords on your website. Commercial keywords target users who are looking to “buy” a product or a “service” and are thus conducting a Google search for that purpose. On the other hand, Informational keywords are used by visitors who want to gain some information for their own queries.
5. Improve your website’s On-Page SEO
So you have now also added keyword rich and high quality content to your website, the next step is to work on incorporating high quality on-page SEO for an increased value on search results.
There are certain on-page SEO elements that add credibility to your website when it comes to Google’s ranking algorithms and thus they need to be present and optimized on your website for a higher Google ranking.
Let’s take a look at some of them:
- Optimize your title tags and include your target keywords in them.
- Add modifiers to your title tags such as “best”, “top”, “2018” etc.
- Adopt short, clean and SEO-friendly URLs on your website.
- Make sure the titles on your website pages are wrapped in <H1> header tag. While sub-headings are to be wrapped in <H2> tags.
- Make sure the images on your website are optimized and compressed for faster load times
These are just some of the pointers that will help you have an effective on-page SEO profile. Here’s a comprehensive On-Page SEO guide by Moz if you want to dig deeper.
6. Adopt WhiteHat Link Building Techniques
While there are ton of ways to gain both outbound and inbound links from and to your website, it is important that you only practice whitehat link building for your website.
Google has continuously dropped the gauntlet on unethical linkbuilding techniques through its various algorithmic updates. And now more than ever it is important that backlinks you create are clean and high quality.
Google cares more about what other people say about you than what you say about yourself to improve Google rankings. Hence, it is important that your website has a diverse profile of inbound links.
Here’s a detailed guide on how you can make the most of your link building exploits.
The constantly evolving nature of Google’s ranking algorithm means that you need to stay updated on how the SEO landscape is changing. More importantly, you need to always adapt quickly to the latest updates so that you are always one step ahead of your competitors on Google search results. After all, if you’re not on Google Page 1, you might as well not be online.
Follow these tips and get your website to the top!
Featured Image: shutterstock.com