Everybody knows how important it is to be visible online.
Without a web presence, your business may as well not exist, at least in the eyes of the majority of your prospective customers.
But actually getting in front of your target audience online is a challenging task – you either have to use paid advertising which can quickly drain your marketing budget, or you need to use organic methods to try and get your website to appear on search engine results.
You’ve probably heard the term SEO, or search engine optimization, more than once. It’s what’s commonly referred to as the strategy that helps websites get noticed and ranked for relevant keywords on Google and other search engines.
Now, many strategies go into making this happen, but they all revolve around the same thing – getting your site to be perceived as more valuable and relevant than your competitors by Google’s algorithm.
Without at least a basic understanding of how the Google algorithm works, it will be tough to put together an effective SEO strategy and drive more traffic to your site.
Luckily, you don’t have to spend months going through user manuals to gain at least a working grasp of how the algorithm determines which sites to rank. In this article, we’ll go through all of the essentials and uncover the basics behind the entire process.
Ready to get started? Then read on below.
Google – the Most Powerful Search Engine
Google plays such an important role in our everyday lives, we often take it for granted – whether it’s doing research for work, looking up information, or just browsing, the search engine has become an integral part of how we live and work.
But how does the process look like from Google’s end? For instance, if you’re looking for the best apple pie recipe, how does Google choose what results to display to you?
Well, that’s where the algorithm comes in.
Google’s algorithm picks out the most relevant and trustworthy pages that write about an apple pie recipe, so you don’t have to sort through thousands of pages of similar results, looking for the ones that contain the most valuable info.
The entire process is actually quite complicated – once you put in your search query into Google, it looks for pages that contain your desired keywords and then ranks them according to countless different factors.
Some of these factors include number and diversity of relevant keywords, the authority and age of the page, how well a site is optimized for desktop and mobile devices, the safety of the site, and how many other relevant pages are linking back to the content.
These are just a few of the things that Google take into account, and they all play a vital role in where a page is ultimately displayed.
So, as you may have gathered, ranking high on Google is no easy task, especially when there are plenty of other sites competing for the same coveted spots on the results page of high-traffic keywords.
How Ranking High on Google Can Help Your Business
It can seem like ranking on Google is hard work – and sometimes it can be challenging and take a long time.
So is it worth it?
Well, when you consider that people use Google to make a staggering 3.5 billion searches per day, it becomes obvious that you need to get in front of that massive audience if you want your business to grow.
If you could manage to get ranked on the first page of Google for the most prominent keywords in your niche, you’d get an incredibly powerful lead generation source, absolutely free.
And you can’t ignore the trust factor as well – people trust Google and its results, so if your page comes up on top of the search results, they will be naturally more inclined to trust the information that’s presented on your site.
Important Factors to Consider
We’ve already talked about how Google’s algorithm works and how it determines which sites to rank.
But how can you increase your chances of getting your website ranked higher?
Well, there are many ways to improve your SEO ranking – even a quick search on (you guessed it) Google would reveal plenty of resources and paid services that promise to help you rank your site.
But the problem is, some of the information that you’d find is plain false – many SEO agencies use cheap or shady SEO tactics, which can get your site penalized and blacklisted.
Instead, a safer bet is building a solid understanding of what Google looks for in a quality website by reading their Webmaster Guidelines, which outline the exact steps you should take on your site to improve your chances of getting ranked.
Still, to get you started, here are a few of the most important SEO ranking factors you need to work on.
The first thing you need to focus on is quality content. Google’s primary goal is to provide its users with the best possible information, so the algorithm is built around detecting the most informative and in-depth content on any given subject.
Even a decade ago, spammy websites could get away with stuffing their articles full of keywords, which made them almost unreadable by humans but still got the content ranking high on Google.
Luckily, today the algorithm is much more refined and can quickly notice any attempts of unnatural keyword stuffing and distinguish between organic methods for building backlinks and cheap, spammy posting on low-quality sites.
So your best bet is simply producing long, in-depth and well-researched content, using plenty of media such as images, graphics, and videos, and inserting relevant inbound and outbound links, instead of worrying about which keywords to use.
Security of Your Website
Another thing Google takes very seriously is the security of its users – if you want your site to appear anywhere near the top of search result rankings, you need to make sure that it’s safe and up to the latest requirements that Google puts out.
One thing you can do that can help you gain a small edge is use a secure HTTPS connection for your website – today, main browsers are already warning their users if they stumble on an HTTP site, so the sooner you switch, the better.
Also, never settle for free hosting and always use a reliable web hosting provider that has a good track record.
Great User Experience
In 2018, 52% of website users use mobile devices, and Google is very aware of this.
That’s why if your site doesn’t offer a convenient and seamless user experience for its mobile visitors, you don’t have much chance of appearing high on search rankings, no matter how good your content might be.
If your website isn’t mobile friendly, it will be penalized by Google, and it can lower your NPS score as well, which is also a good indicator of whether your visitors enjoy browsing your site.
Another vital aspect to consider is how quickly a page loads – if it’s more than a few milliseconds, that will send a signal to Google that it’s poorly optimized and shouldn’t be ranked highly.
Luckily, this is not hard to fix.
A good first step is optimizing your images so they don’t take a long time to load – there are plenty of WordPress plugins that can help to reduce the size of your blog images without sacrificing quality, which can significantly improve loading speeds.
You can also use one of the best SEO plugins for WordPress, which can help to optimize your entire site.
Latest Google Algorithm Update
Although Google tweaks and updates its algorithm thousands of times a year, not all of the updates are equal.
Some of them are barely noticeable at all, while others, such as the (in)famous Panda or Penguin updates, have completely reshaped the way webmasters optimize their sites, and set new SEO trends for years to come.
The latest broad core algorithm update came out on August 1st.
According to Danny Sullivan from Google, it’s just a routine “broad core algorithm update” that’s done several times per year.
But no matter how big or small the update is, one thing will remain constant – if you take the effort to make your content stand out from the rest and provide your users with a secure and convenient experience, your site will always be viewed favorably in the eyes of Google.
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