How does Google rank websites?
Nowadays, it takes an online presence for businesses to thrive. Although going online is simple, making sure that customers will find you is quite a task to undertake.
When customers want to find you, they usually go to search engines like Google. While investing in paid search ads gives you immediate search engine exposure, combining paid and organic search engine results are often the better approach in increasing your online visibility.
This is where search engine optimisation comes in. Today, we will be taking a closer look at how Google ranks all websites by using tried and tested SEO practices and taking note of ranking factors.
What is SEO in the first place? This is the process of enhancing the rank of your website in the search engine results and allowing it to take the highest possible rank it can reach. This can be achieved through organic results (unpaid traffic generation) or pay-per-click advertising (paid traffic generation).
Search engine algorithms determine the rankings of paid and unpaid search engine results and today, we will be taking a brief look at the metrics used by Google that will determine your website’s performance, trustworthiness and quality, all of which are factors that help you reach the number one page in search engine results.
Google’s ranking factors are grouped into three; off-page, on-page and technical. Off-page factors involve the use of backlinks. On-page ranking factors involve the use of keywords and content quality of your web pages. Lastly, technical ranking factors view your website as a whole and measure its overall performance.
Now that you have an overview of the ranking factors, let’s take a closer look at them.
The Technical Ranking Factors of Google
To determine the ranking of your website, Google works by crawling and indexing information that is found in it. To ensure the improvement of your rankings, you need to implement strategies that will address the following technical ranking factors.
- Website loading speed. Websites that take forever to load will not rank well in this category. With this in mind, you need to make sure your web pages load seamlessly and quickly, providing your visitors with a fast browsing experience. There are many online tools that can test your website speed. Keep this in mind when you want to improve your website.
- Mobile-friendliness. A lot of people are now using the internet through their mobile devices. Google is now prioritising the crawling and indexing of websites that are mobile-friendly. If the desktop version of your website is already good, you need to do the same with your mobile website. To measure your website’s mobile-friendliness, you can use a mobile usability testing tool and determine what needs to be improved.
- Internal links. These links determine how tightly connected your website structure is and how easy it is for search engines and website visitors to find what they are looking for. For instance, if you have a blog about sales, it would be great if you can link your other blogs about sales with it and vice versa.
The On-Page Ranking Factors of Google
Unlike the ranking factors mentioned above, these ranking factors are page-specific.
- Keyword targeting. Ranking specific keywords is the focal point of an effective SEO strategy. The search terms that you need to rank would depend on the type of business you have. For instance, if you have a bakery in Swindon, you should focus your efforts on getting the highest possible rank for the ‘bakery’ and ‘Swindon’ keywords. Aside from that, you need to create high-quality content that will keep your audience staying longer and compel them to do something (such as a purchase from your website).
- Title and header tags. After knowing what keywords you should focus on, it is vital that you place them in key and specific areas in your web pages, such as the title and header tags. Google uses them to index your website appropriately.
- Meta description. This is the brief description or summary that is displayed in search results. Google uses this to feature a snippet about your website in the search engine results. This will help people get information about the featured page and be compelled to click on it.
- Image alt-text. The images on your website should be optimised for SEO to help the visually impaired gain access to your website, allow an alt-text to appear whenever your website image fails to load or help search engines understand and index your image.
- URL structure. If your URL is made up of mixed characters, it will have a negative impact on your rankings. To address this issue, create a simple and concise URL that includes your target keywords.
- Content quality. We all know by now that Google algorithms and search trends change from time to time. Google wants fresh and relevant content so in order to stay relevant, you need to update your old content or create evergreen content.
The Off-Page Ranking Factors of Google
These factors involve platforms outside your website such as social media channels, other similar websites and influencers.
Backlinks. These are hyperlinks that come from pages that are outside your website. This was added into the algorithm by Google back in 1996. This ranking factor aims to determine the quality of your web pages by looking at the websites that are linked to your website. There are 4 ways to get high-quality backlinks.
- Create high-quality content. If your website is filled with content that is unique and valuable to your target audience, it will eventually generate backlinks as time passes by. Building your web authority by this method can be time-consuming however, the value that it will give to your website is exceptional.
- Ask other webmasters to add your links to their website. Otherwise known as cold outreach, this method requires you to contact as many webmasters as you can and ask them to connect your website in their website as a backlink. You can also do the same thing for them in return, provided that their links are relevant to your type of business and target audience.
- Invite influencers to publish posts on your website. Otherwise known as guest posting, this method requires influencers to create blogs and high-quality backlinks to your website. The key to this method is creating content that your audience would likely engage in and appreciate.
- Become a thought leader in your industry. If you want to become the leading website, business or person in a specific industry, creating data-driven and valuable content pertaining to your industry is actually a remarkable strategy. For instance, if you want to be known as a leading financial adviser in your city, you need to create content that your audience would need, like and engage in. You may create content about financial advice through a podcast, vlog, webinar, blog, subscription and more: all of which can give you high-quality backlinks in the long run. These are just some of the strategies to help cement your reputation as the leading person in finance.