Beyond the Core SEO Signals
Think of the core signals listed in Part One as the broad picture signals of what it takes to get your website to rank: relevancy, popularity, authority, and technical SEO. Within each signal, there are smaller factors that provide an opportunity to vastly improve your website. Part Two below will get into the nitty-gritty details of what it takes to rank.
Cleaning up the on-page issues of the website is probably the best place to start – making sure your site is easy to navigate, there are no broken links, and your images look crisp and clear. After all, you want to leave a good impression on your visitors. It doesn’t matter how good the off page optimization is if you can’t convert your website visitors into customers.
Google Wants Unique Content
The old saying goes, “Content is King!”
Google loves a website with a lot of great content. Remember to keep it relevant and accurate to the searcher’s query. Don’t stuff unnecessary keywords for products or services you don’t offer in hopes of getting more traffic. That’s considered spamming and against Google’s best practices.
Quality content can be hard to come by, so do research on your competitors who rank well to see what works for them. That can help inspire creativity for your content, but you have to make sure your content is 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.
Don’t skip out on how much content you place on your website either. Content length is a big factor. That doesn’t mean every page you have needs to be crammed with content. But, if you have quality content that is longer than your competition’s, Google will probably give your site a boost.
Unique On-Page Content Site-Wide
This is something that seems to be missing on a lot of websites – it’s actually more common to see websites with duplicate content throughout the entire site. This won’t necessarily result in a penalty from Google because you are only duplicating your own content. However, this may give Google the impression that your website is lacking quality. If your content is unique sitewide, this could be the difference between where you and your competition rank.
For example, if your company has multiple locations, you can create additional web pages for each city you serve. You should not simply copy and paste the same content on all the city pages but make each page unique to that specific city, while still delivering the same message your consumers will need to satisfy their search across each page.
Keyword rich content is crucial.
When writing your content, do keyword research to find out what searchers use to find your product or service. There are many tools that you can utilize to 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 the view the results. This can help you come up with new keywords and phrases to add to your content.
It is very common for business owners use the wrong keywords for what users are searching. Be careful when you optimize based on your knowledge. Being the authority in your industry, you probably know the industry jargon. Don’t focus on the keyword you think you should optimize for, focus on what the research says that users search for, because if your potential client base doesn’t know your keyword, then they probably won’t search for it.
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.
Be careful with over optimizing though. Although it is important write content that is easily read and indexed by crawlers, the trick is to write meaningful content that is keyword rich and written for humans. This means writing content that is a happy medium between being easy for the user to read and understand versus optimizing for Google bot crawlers.
Video is an excellent way to add content to your website. It creates a visual opportunity to get your message to the website visitors without the user having to read. Unfortunately, most people skim content – but utilizing video can combat a user’s natural urge to skim.
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 a value to web users.
Dwell Time and Click Through Rate
Time on site was touched on earlier, but here we can dive into the details. Remember how an increased bounce rate can reduce rank? The opposite can be said as it relates to time on site. 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 onsite.
These are factors that are impacted by website content and overall user experience.
This is a ranking factor that Google has admitted to using.
In an effort to improve the privacy and security of web searchers, Google has been reducing the search rank results for websites that lack the SSL certificate. Their end 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 that 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. The downside is that most businesses choose their name as the domain, and it is understandable why. But, 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.
Westmarine 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 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 competitive domain and will probably cost a little extra to purchase, but it is worth the cost.
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. This is a bad signal to Google. 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 their 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 tidy and fast. 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 to their correct location in your FTP server.
Responsive Web Design
Mobile traffic continues to grow as the primary search traffic. That is why it is essential to have a website with 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 is shifting to a Mobile First index format, which means rankings could be 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 redesign.
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 in the SERP. If the data points to a poor user experience from the examples listed above, then you can expect to fall below your competition.
Let Us Talk about Link Building for a Bit
There aren’t many people who truly enjoy link building, but those that do have formulated ways to make the process work for them. Their success is usually through providing quality content that someone else values and wants to share or by trial and error link building. The process is arduous but necessary to help elevate your website’s rank.
Be sure to use strong anchor text for links built on and to your site from other sources. Strong backlink profiles have been shown to provide certain websites with a boost over others in the SERP rank. It is time-consuming and sometimes the value of a specific link doesn’t seem worth the time it took to get it.
Focus on creating quality backlinks from sources that are trusted, but also can use your help. Guest blogging is a great way to get a high authority link to your content. Reach out to a few sources and see how they respond. If they are enthusiastic about your contribution, they may have found a fountain of links that you can gain over time. Just be professional and avoid spammy tactics.
Improve Your Website Google Search Ranking
The digital marketing professionals of TheeDigital can optimize your website to improve search ranking, thus allowing you to the increase in sales opportunities.
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. So many factors are at play, that unless you have the support of a qualified marketing team, you are probably missing out on several key areas for a better ranking. 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.