Beyond SEO Basics
Think of the basic signals listed in Part One as the beginner course of what it takes to get your website to rank. Things like relevancy, popularity, authority, and technical SEO, are all vital. But, within those are other details that can also vastly improve your website. Forgetting these can result in crucial mistakes that can leave your website virtually invisible. In Part Two below, we’ll get into the nitty-gritty details of what it takes to rank.
If you have broken links, fuzzy images, and a website that is not user-friendly, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Clean up these issues first. Doing this will leave a good first impression on your visitors. They will be more likely to stay on your page, browse, and hopefully become a new customer or client.
When your site looks like a hot mess, potential customers will wonder if you give that little attention to your business and customers. Making a good first impression can have a greater impact than you think.
Produce Only High-Quality Content
Produce only high-quality content and be picky about it! Google loves a website that is oozing with great, original content. They’ll reward you with a higher ranking. Keep it relevant and accurate and don’t stuff unnecessary keywords for products or services you don’t offer for the sake of getting more traffic. This is considered spamming and is against Google’s best practices.
While you want to see what the competition is doing, you don’t want to copy it. Your content needs to be unique. That is the biggest factor for any content you place on your website.
DO NOT USE another website’s content. Google has indexed millions of web pages and can cross-check content very quickly. If the website crawlers read content on your site that was first published elsewhere, Google will likely reduce your page rank in favor of the original owner.
While the quality of content is important, so is the quantity. You want to give people something to read. You need to find the right balance between quality content and pages that are crammed with useless content just to increase the word count.
If you have quality content that is longer than your competition’s, Google will probably give your site a boost.
Just as you want quality content, you want content that is full of important keywords. Do keyword research to find out what searchers use to find your product or service. Many tools can help the process. Keyword.io is a useful tool to see what keywords are used across the web. Just place your potential keyword in the search bar and view the results. This can help you come up with new keywords and phrases to add to your content.
One thing some people mistakenly do is assume they know the keywords because they are so knowledgeable about the subject. This is a big no-no! Don’t focus on the keyword you think you should optimize for; rather focus on what the research says users are searching for.
You can even try typing a keyword into the Google search bar and see what comes up from auto-suggest. This is a useful tool to see what keywords searchers have actually used in Google.
While you want to use keywords to optimize your site, you can have too much of a good thing. While you want to write content that is going to get indexed and pickup up by web crawlers, you also want to write content that is keyword rich and written for humans! This means finding the right balance between finding keyword-rich content that is also valuable to the reader.
Don’t Duplicate Your Content
You don’t want to have duplicate content on your site. While Google may not punish you, it gives your website a low-quality appearance. If you have unique content sitewide, you’ll rank better than a competitor who has cut and pasted everything across their site.
Here’s an example:
If your company has multiple locations, you can create additional web pages for each city you serve. Don’t cut and paste the same content on all city pages and just change the name. Make each page unique to that specific city. You can still deliver the same message by satisfying the search across each page.
Video is an excellent way to add content to your website. It creates a visual opportunity to get your message to visitors without the user having to read it. Unfortunately, many people skim content, so using video can reduce this from happening.
Optimizing your videos properly can help with search ranking as well. YouTube is owned by Google, so Google tends to prioritize YouTube videos over other video-sharing platforms. Creating a YouTube channel for all your videos creates an additional resource for your web visitors that can enhance their experience.
Google has shown favoritism to websites with video links embedded in their web pages. An increase in your time spent on site by users watching a video shows Google that your website provides value to web users. That gets rewarded with higher search rankings.
Dwell Time and Click-Through Rate
We talked about dwell time and click-through rate a bit in part one. We’re going to touch on it again because it is so important. Depending on your industry, time on site is a good thing. It creates relevancy signals to Google, while potentially adding to your website authority. Google recognizes long dwell times on sites as an indicator of a satisfactory user experience.
A high Click-Through Rate (CTR) from the search page to your website suggests to Google that the information on your website is worthwhile. More clicks to your website compared to how often your competitor’s website is clicked in similar searches indicate quality. This is a trust signal Google uses to determine the value of the information provided on site.
To improve the privacy and security of web searchers, Google has been reducing the search rank results for websites that lack the SSL certificate. This is a ranking factor that Google has admitted to using.
The goal is to have all sites with an HTTPS display higher than those without. If your website needs the SSL certificate, you can purchase, activate, and install the certificate at a low cost. The benefits outweigh not paying the fee because you’ve created a trust factor for Google. This offers a better user experience to your customers, which results in improved website performance.
Keyword in Root Domain
This is a great way to start off your website with a strong ranking signal. But, most businesses choose their name as the domain. So, if you can purchase a domain with your keyword included, then you have an edge on the competition.
For example, let’s compare West Marine and Overton’s. Both companies provide products for boating and maritime recreation.
West Marine has the domain www.westmarine.com and Overton’s is www.overtons.com.
Both URLs are the company name, but for the example, this will show how important the keyword in the domain can be.
Searching for marine products and boating products provides a significant variation in results, yet they are both keywords that can be used interchangeably.
For the search term “boating products,” Overton’s is number one, but West Marine is third.
The results show that for the term marine products, Overton’s is nowhere on the first page, and West Marine is second. As you can see on the left image, Overton’s failed to place it on the marine products page but each company listed shows marine in their name. This is a prime example of how having a properly placed keyword in the main domain URL can lead to an improved search result.
If you are asking, “how did West Marine rank for boating products?” This likely comes down to relevancy, authority, and popularity. Marine products are boating products. Overton’s didn’t show for marine products because the competition for that key term was too strong.
Even though it is not an exact match, if the domain was www.overtonsboating.com, then there is a chance the keyword boating could boost the site for a marine-related search. The URL www.overtonsmarine.com would almost certainly receive more domain authority in a search query.
Companies that offer services can really take advantage of this. A plumber with the URL www.raleighplumbers.com has a solid chance that their website will rank for the search term, “Raleigh plumbers.” This is going to be a competitive domain and will probably cost a little extra to purchase, but it is worth the money.
Page Load Speed
The slower a web page loads and takes to display to the visitor, the more likely you are to lose that potential customer. Not only do you lose a customer, but over time this will increase your website’s bounce rate. If your visitors are leaving quickly, this indicates to Google that the website is irrelevant to the keyword search or there is a poor user experience after a searcher clicks through to the website. Either way, this will hurt your rank.
Additionally, Google tests website speed on its own. You can be sure they take note of slow load speeds and adjust rank accordingly. That is why it is crucial to make sure all aspects of your website are quick. From HTML code to any plugins and images, it is essential to reduce the amount of data that has to load when a page opens.
One way to improve page loading speed is to compress images and other large files. Google’s Page Speed Insights is a good place to test your page’s speed. Google even offers tips on how to decrease your load time. Download the compressed files and upload them to their correct location in your FTP server.
Responsive Web Design for Mobile Users
Let’s face it; mobile devices are where it’s at. Statistics show that mobile accounts for half of all web traffic worldwide. That is why it is essential to have a website with a responsive design. This means that your website will provide a seamless, easy-to-use interface on mobile, just like a desktop. Basically, your website reacts to the type of device used and displays accordingly.
Google uses a Mobile First index format. As the name suggests, rankings are displayed based on mobile instead of desktop versions. If your website doesn’t have a mobile design, this could negatively impact your SERP rank. If your website is not mobile-friendly, then it is time for a makeover.
RankBrain and User Experience Signals are Key to High Search Rank
Google uses RankBrain as a way to monitor user patterns when interacting with search results. The data is collected and helps to analyze the behavior of searchers. If feedback on your website is positive, then Google may place your website higher. If the data points to a poor user experience from the examples listed above, then you can expect to fall below your competition.
Don’t Forget the Backlinks
Google’s ranking algorithms take backlinks into consideration big time. The more backlinks your site has, the better it is for your ranking. You want to publish high-quality and authoritative content that people will link to on their sites. Becoming a data source is one way to increase your backlinks. You can do this by:
- Providing useful data that other sites will want to reference
- Work on longer-form content
- Have visually-appealing content
- Promoting your content
Guest blogging can be another way to get a high authority link to your content if you do it right. It has the potential of being spammy, so you definitely want to avoid that. Be professional and give it a try! It works for some people and not so much for others.
Use Internal Linking
While backlinks are important, so is internal linking. You can boost your Google ranking by linking one page on your site to another page on your site.
Track Your Results
If you’ve done all this work, you’re going to want to know if it’s paying off. You can track your results through Google Analytics. This will let you know how you’re doing with organic searches…traffic that comes directly from search engines.
Improve Your Website Google Search Ranking with TheeDigital
The digital marketing professionals of TheeDigital can optimize your website to improve search ranking and drive more people to your site and business.
Updating your website with valuable content, repairing technical issues, and providing a better overall experience for the user, offers the best chance to increase your visibility in the Google search results.
With many factors are at play, it’s important to have the support of a qualified marketing team to make sure you don’t miss anything. Utilizing the expertise of digital marketers who understand the intricacies of how Google applies rank factors will free you up to focus on what matters: running your business.