How to Improve your Google Rankings

How to Improve your Google RankingsDid you know that Google indexes 130 trillion individual web pages with each web crawl? Only about 10 of these web pages fit on the average search engine results page—and every marketer aims for the first spot on the first page. If ranking in the Google 10-pack sounds futile, don’t worry.

Search Engine Ranking Dreams Do Come True
With more than one-hundred billion searches happening on Google each month, at least one of your web pages is bound to rank somewhere, right? It’s worth your while to do your search engine optimization (SEO) due diligence, if you will, because most of the organic search website traffic comes right off of Google’s page one.

SearchEngineWatch.com reports:

  • Page 1 results get 92% of all traffic from the average search
  • 33% of search traffic goes to the top listing on page 1
  • 4% goes to the 10th ranked listing on page 1.

Here’s what you can do to get your web pages as close to the top spot as possible.

First, A Brief Look at Algorithms
We can’t talk about the art of search engine optimization without talking about the science behind the page rankings. Search engines employ ever-changing programs and formulas—Google’s PageRank algorithm is the most well-known—to measure and calculate the importance of a website page. A page’s relative importance determines its place on the list of organic (non-paid) search results.

What are the components of these formulas, you ask? Only a select group of Google’s search engine engineers know for sure. According to Google, their algorithms rely on over 200 factors, or “clues,” that help the search engine guess what a searcher might be looking for. More on these factors below.

The algorithms change frequently (upwards of 600 times each year!) to reflect improvements in the code—with the intention of improving the relevancy of search results and the likelihood that a person finds the information they need without having to perform multiple searches. Sure, algorithms are moving targets, but the things we can do to optimize our web pages for search engines are tried-and-true (at least for now!).

Visit GoogleInside Search to learn more about how search works.

Improving your Rankings for Organic Search
When it’s time for SEO—and getting your website on page 1—you’ve got to look at Google’s ranking factors.  SearchEngineJournal.com combed through a number of industry SEO studies to report the four most important ranking factors for 2017 are:

  1. Content
  2. Backlinks
  3. Mobile-First User Experience
  4. Other Technical Factors (e.g. encryption, H1 and H2 headings, anchor text, and interstitials,)

With these in mind, here’s our take on what you can do to improve your Google rankings:

Focus your efforts on publishing great content.
Content is king. You knew we were going to say that, but it’s true: content is the “stuff” that pulls customers to your website. It’s information, advice, and even entertainment—delivered via words, video, or images. When this content connects with visitors and answers their questions—and better yet, keeps them engaged, coming back for more and telling their friends about it—you can consider it the gold at the end of the Google search rainbow.

In other words, it’s the content that Google serves up to searchers. To optimize your content, make sure your web pages, including any images or videos, are:

  • Keyword-rich
  • Comprehensive, providing “just enough” detail
  • Relevant to your target audience
  • Fresh and up-to-date
  • Accessible from any internet-connected computer or device

And we’ll add that to make your content really shine, it should be well-written (or well-produced), visually appealing, and actionable. For more insights into creating effective, search engine-friendly content, don’t miss:

3 Types of Marketing Content that Drives B2B Sales Leads

White Space/No Space? Why Strategic Web Design Matters in Direct Response Marketing

The Importance of Responsive Design for SMBs

Stay on top of keywords.
Keywords are the words, terms, or phrases searchers type into the Google search box. If your content is optimized with the keywords your target audiences use, consider yourself in the game. If you’re a chocolatier in Chicago, for example, a few keywords you’re going to want to focus on are:

  • Best chocolate in Chicago
  • Gourmet chocolate Michigan Ave
  • Chicago chocolate factory

By all means, use tools (and there are tons of ‘em) to help you find the right keywords, and keep an open mind. Google AdWords is a great place to start your research. Also, pay attention to what competitors are doing, and check your website analytics program (e.g. Google Analytics) to find out which keywords are already driving visitors to your site and what content is attracting them.

And keep in mind that ranking for short-tail keywords (e.g. “chocolate shop”) is harder than ranking for long-tail keywords (e.g. “chocolate shops on Michigan Avenue Chicago). They’re more common and therefore more competitive. But note that short-tail keywords are contained within long-tail keywords, and the extra words will be triggered by more specific searches.

To make the most of your keywords, place them on a webpage where they naturally fall. But make sure they’re also in the page title, H1 header, and image tags. Make sure that your company is listed in Google’s business directory so your company is shown to people doing local searches.

Aim for external backlinks.
Incoming links from other websites are a critical piece of the Google rank formula. When the search engine “crawls” the web to index pages, it’s moving from link to link to link to link. The more links that bring it to your site, the better. Especially when these links come from popular (well-ranking) websites, like those of other businesses, influencers in your industry, and social media sites.

Think of these backlinks as web page content “shares.”

To earn more backlinks, you can ask partners to link to your content. Or quote an influencer or name a business in blog post—and link those mentions to the influencer’s or business’s website. Tag people in Tweets or other social posts so they’ll visit your content and share it. Affiliate marketing, through third-party sellers or vendors, is also a great way to get backlinks to your content.

If the backlinks appearing on other websites contain your target keywords—score! More mileage for your keywords.

Use Google’s advertising options
Depending on the popularity of your target keywords and your SEO savvy, it can take a long time to earn a position on page one. If you’re struggling with getting first-page rankings, consider paying Google for front-page real estate.

Using Google AdWords, you can target specific keywords, user demographics, and app categories to reach customers who may not be seeing your website in organic search results. Advertisers use a bidding system within Google AdWords to manage placement and spend.

Google offers various pay-per-click display ad options. The standard text ads appear above or right next to the organic search results and contain a headline, two lines of text, and a URL. You can run banner ads, app ads, or give Google permission to show your ads across the Google Display Network—participating web pages reach 90% of internet users worldwide.

Contact us  to learn more about optimizing your site for Google.