Sounds so easy doesn’t it?
Ranking well in Google search is becoming harder and harder as the algorithms change so frequently and makes it even more difficult to beat the system, if not impossible, and definitely NOT recommended. So what’s the solution to the question of how to rank in Google search, and how to rank well? Follow my tips below, and you will be able to fight your way through the mist.
The latest updates that are relevant to this article, are the PANDA updates. Yes, Google uses animals to reference each and every update. And they change their search algorithms maybe every couple of months, to make sure we are on our toes. It’s like the best kept secret, no one really knows EXACTLY what they are looking for.. But we know some things..
Warning, this is a long article, but I promise it’s worth it, you will learn a lot!
So to make everything a little bit harder, even the first page isn’t enough.
You need to be in the top 6.
You can see from this image below that the top position drives significantly more click throughs than any other, so what they hey, let’s just go for that easy 1st position spot. As you can see, the drop from even first to second position is so significant. They are going to make us work for it!
What does Google look for these days?:
Google is looking for relevance, engagement and authority. They will reward sites whose content is relevant to the search terms that are being used. They base their positioning decision on whether the users intent has been recognised and whether the website has met the needs of the search. They are looking for page quality and authority and in some instances locality, when relevant.
Lets’s dissect this is a little:
These are some of the criteria Google look out for when users are searching for keywords. How to address these is outlined further on in the article, so make sure you keep reading!
- Authority: How long has a site been around? Are they considered an expert in their field, are they a trustworthy source of information.
- Relevance and engagement: Is a website relevant to the user search, and does it do enough to engage them?
- User Intent and needs met: What does Google think the user is intending to find out by visiting a site and does the site deliver this? Is the user’s needs met?
- Page Quality: This is assessed on a number of factors including relevance of the content, level of additional supporting side content which adds value, authority, site design, and information about the site owner is also important.
- Locality: This can be relevant in some cases, but for the purpose of this article, I will leave this out for now
What is Google Panda About: The Latest Google Update
The latest Google update is called Panda. So we all want to know What is Google Panda about?
There is speculation as to why their updates are named after animals and what this actually means, but to be honest, I think this is pure speculation. They have to call them something, why not a soft gentle cuddly animal? How accurate. They usual have various animal updates running at any one time and each is updated at different intervals, Panda, Pigeon, Penguin, Hummingbird, I could go on.
The main big ‘Panda’ update which people talk about which destroyed a lot of businesses overnight was created in 2011 and was all about getting rid of sites that don’t fit Google’s quality rating. The main idea behind this being that users are given results of the most relevant sites when they search. It makes sense and it adds value to those looking for information, but makes it a lot harder for us on the other end who are trying to build our websites or blogs. And the updates are constantly evolving. This is what Google the top search engine. And they want to stay this way.
Have a look at what Matt Cutts from Google says about the original Panda update. Anything on top of this are iterations of the original update, and just improvements since that time.
So lets get onto the good stuff. What can you do to help your ranking? Have a look at my 10 ways to improve your Google Rank. I would love to hear if you have any questions or comments about this, please leave any comments below.
12 Ways to Improve your Google Rank
Tip No 1: Write great content
Oh of course, how easy, I hear you say. But writing great content takes time and care. And this is what Google will reward you for. I know it sounds like the long way round but a site with content that is written with effort and quality is what they are about. You need to put in the effort to get the reward.
This section warrants a whole article of it’s own, but I hope to point you in the right direction here. So what does Google want? They want valuable content that is interesting and that people want to read. You need to write as you would speak to make it the most readable to users. Keep it light-hearted, and use imagery. Keep the paragraphs short and the information interesting. Keep people there and reading on. Tease them of what’s to come as you go through (be careful not to overdo this!).
Another thing that is important to include in your content is engagement and interaction, so how does Google measure this? Think about whether you are getting comments, encourage people to comment on your pages, include video content that they can watch (this is an interaction). Encourage sharing on social media. All of these things, if users are doing them it’s going to show your site in a favourable light.
Basing your content around keywords is vital to achieving successful ranking in Google. I have another article on how to do this which you can find here about how to use keywords for your website – the right way.
Make sure that you structure your content around a selection of keywords BUT in a relevant way. Be careful not to keyword stuff as this will only harm your ranking.
Tip 3: Be aware of duplicate content
In the old days this meant copying and pasting was a definite no no and it still is. But I’m talking about where your content is repeated within your own site. If your articles appear more than once, say on your homepage and as their own page, try and make sure it is just an excerpt on one (the home page) and not the whole thing twice or you can be penalised for this.
Does that make sense?
Tip 4: Focus on the ‘engaging’ elements of your content:
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post I think most people know or at least have witnessed that Google search is turning its attention to video content delivery. Everywhere you look its about video, video, video.
You need to think about making your own videos, and at the very least using other video content from YouTube, which you are legitimately allowed to include. In every page you write, think about if there is a video that you could find or create that is relevant. Google will love you for it!
Tip 5: Optimise your images
This is really important! Make sure that your images are as low resolution as they can be without becoming blurry. There are many ways that you can do this, but here is some great training that takes you through it step by step. And gives you some ideas of the packages you can use.
Not only is this about image size, but its about the alt-tag attribute you give your images, so think about this when you name them. Make sure that all your images are named, using your main site keywords, as this is how google reads the images rather than wasting that opportunity.
AND make sure that each image links through to a relevant page, if there is one. There is no point in randomly linking for no sake, but where relevant, make sure you do.
Tip 6: Consider the Design and Reponsiveness
Make sure that your site is really strong on mobiles and tablets and that it works really well. Often this gets overlooked and this can have a huge effect.
Desktop usage is often not the first vehicle of choice these days, so make sure you are covered. Your site should be clear, easy to navigate and expand and grow as screen sizes do. Make sure you test this out before you choose your theme or design as amending this at a later date can be a long process.
Tip 7: Use Social Media
Boring I know and yes everyone say it, but use social media. Try and focus on Twitter and Facebook as these are the networks that seem to be holding the most rate by Google at the moment. They are the most widespread and the most prolific.
It does make sense though. If your article gets shared, Google considers that it is worth sharing. They are looking at what people want, so if your article or page is shared it can be considered that people think its good. And if they do, then so does Google. So make sure that you a) have both of these accounts, and b) that you are active in them.
But also, and importantly, make sure you aren’t just posting your articles every so often on your Facebook and Twitter accounts and that’s it. It’s not that interesting for people. Interact with people, ask for comments, respond to their comments, share other peoples articles. Keep active and keep interesting. Keep working on building your following and likes (this is another subject in itself). Social media is hard work but it does pay off, in maybe not such tangible ways. You have to trust these things are going on in the background for you.
Tip 8: Look at your Bounce rate
So what is bounce rate? This is the measure of how many people leave your site without ‘interacting’ with it. It is when they view one page and don’t move on to any others.
A bounce rate of 100% means that EVERY viewer is coming straight off again from the same page on which they entered. Google is including this metric on their assessments too as it is considered a measure of value to the user, so if they stay then the site represents value. Makes sense.
But a difficult question to answer, is what is a good bounce rate? Of course it depends on the area of your site and how much search traffic you are getting. Traditionally high levels of search traffic means a higher bounce rate than other forms of traffic. But you need a guide so this is good to work to:
Anything below 50% is fantastic or even below 60% is pretty good. As you start to approach the 70’s there might be something you need to look at.. Have a look at some fixes below:
- Consider the user journey through your site, where do you want them to go to after the page they are on? Things like related stories, or showing highlighted or important posts. A lot of WordPress themes have the ability to add a widget to your side column to include latest posts, or most related posts, or top stories, what even you want to call it. Put this at the top of your page.. People want to see these thing. If your widget can have pictorial reference to each of these, even better! .
- The look and feel of your site is key. If it looks cheap and wordy and full of advertising it’s not very appealing. Take a step back and have another look
- Have a think about how your page looks above the fold. i.e. before people have to scroll down. If they don’t see something of interested above this fold, you could lose them right there and then.
Tip 9: Create GOOD backlinks
Backlinks have been really problematic for sites in the past, but only really for those that misused them, bought them, sold them, and essentially cheated the system. Some newbies still feel a bit scared about this word, but what I am talking about is a way to create GOOD backlinks, quality backlinks.
Backlinks are massively important still today, but they key is GOOD backlinks. It has to be from quality websites, those with authority and trust and those that are doing well on Google. This does make the process of backlinking quite difficult but as your business and website becomes more established you have more sway as to who you can approach to link TO YOUR WEBSITE.
Tip 10: Don’t forget about the others
We always focus on Google and rightly so, as they are the big boys, but don’t forget about the others, Bing and Yahoo. You can see from the carts below that they still command a good percentage of the market, and something not to be sniffed at. Make sure you have submitted your sitemap to Bing and Yahoo Webmaster tools. Generally speaking their algoritms are a little simpler than googles, so as long as you are working on the Google principles, it should be working for the others.
But make sure you let them know you are there. Here is some training on how to do this
Tip 11: Test the speed of a website
This is really important. The slower your site, the more quickly people will leave. People expect a page to load in under 3 seconds! We are all so busy these days! So all those extra plug ins, or themes that you are not using need to go. You need to also check the size of your images too, as if they are large they can have a huge impact on your loading time.
Here is a really good tool I use for testing site speed called GT MEtrix. https://gtmetrix.com/. Give it a go and see where your site comes up.
Tip 12: Internal Links
This is so important, and often forgotten. It’s really important to ensure that you link to all your pages. Wherever you can, link to other content in your site. The reason for this is so that Google can see that you have other pages. If you don’t link the google spiders will come in and look at your content and leave again. If there are internal links, they will follow these links and check the rest of your pages too. You don’t want to miss this opportunity.
Have a look at this video and see if it helps explain it by Matt cutts. Its short and definitely worth a watch He’s certainly featured in this article!
Let me know if you have any comments or any other ways to help us learn how to rank in Google search.