How to improve your search engine ranking in Google
To give your website the best chance of ranking well in Google (and other search engines):
- Publish Useful Content. Quality content is THE NUMBER ONE driver for your search engine rankings. This cannot be emphasised enough. In the early days of the internet, people tried to trick the search engines by adding as many keywords into their pages as possible by using a keywords meta tag and repeating it several times in their content. All search engines have changed their approach now and can work out if you’re trying to trick them. If you do, your page will be de-ranked and you don’t want that. Rule of thumb: If your page or blog post contains useful information and is easy to read, Google will reward you for it.
- Publish often. Adding new products, tips and guides or Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages about your products or services lets Google know you have a website that is constantly being improved and your ranking is increased because of it.
- Check what pages Google has already indexed for your site. Type site:yourdomain.com into your browser and see what pages are displayed. This is also how they look to your prospects and customers. If they don’t convey the right information, they are less likely to be clicked. If information is repeated, then very likely the page has not had a basic piece of information about the page set, the description meta tag. So Google is trying to “guess” the description from your content. This is easy to fix if you have access to your site. Contact your developer or if you need help, please get in touch with us.
- Setup Google Console to understand how your site is ranking in Google. This is a free tool from Google and can be accessed at https://search.google.com/search-console. If you haven’t set that up, have a read of our blog post called How do you find the ranking of your sites pages on Google?
- Host your website with a fast, reliable hosting company. Google have announced that page speed will be taken into account when indexing mobile versions of sites. This also means you need to ensure your site is fully responsive and works across all desktop, tablet and mobile devices and on different browsers like Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Microsoft Edge (previously Internet Explorer) and Firefox. If your site is using WordPress, make sure it has a caching plugin installed. We use a super fast cache called LiteSpeed for our WordPress sites. For more information, see our hosting page at https://align.com.au/hosting/.
- Check Misconfiguration of a small file called robots.txt on your site which tells search engine robots like GoogleBot what and what not to index on your site. You can easily check this by typing yourdomain.com/robots.txt into your browser. If you use WordPress, it may look something like this:
This is ok. If you have any Disallow commands, understand why they are there. Disallowing the /wp-admin folder is really not needed anymore as WordPress have blocked it. But it’s fine to leave it there if it is. For the technicalites of that you can read about it here.
- Missing or badly formatted meta tags. Your pages might not contain two fundamental meta tags, title and description or they are not very descriptive. If they are not set, Google will try to guess them from your sites content which might not be appropriate.
- No consideration for SEO. Search Engine Optimisation is a term used to describe the practice of doing everything (including everything in this guide) to give your site the best chance of being ranked well.
- Badly written page titles, descriptions and wording on pages. The title, description and content of your page might not be written using the right words (or keywords) that your customers are searching for. Use Google Search Console to see which keywords are being typed to access your site.
- Install a plugin to help with SEO. If you use WordPress, consider installing a plugin like Yoast. There is a free and paid premium version but the free version has a lot of functionality.
- Missing inbound links. Your page might not have any or few inbound links from other sites. This helps boost your page ranking as it tells Google there are other sites that think your site has useful content.
- Don’t have Inbound links just to your home page. When linking from other sites, don’t just link to your home page, but to the various pages on your site.
- Missing sitemap. Your site might not contain a sitemap which is a special file on your site that search engines look for that links to all your pages. The free Yoast plugin for WordPress automatically creates this for you.
- Ensure your site is secure. This is also known as having an SSL or secure certificate.
- In the address part of your web browser it will say either http://yourdomain.com.au or https://yourdomain.com.au. The ‘s’ on the end of http means it’s secure. You could have a mix of both where your shopping cart links to a secure link on another domain. That’s usually a hangover from years ago when secure certificates were expensive and sites linked to other secure ones. We include secure certificates as part of our hosting offering. Non secure sites are downgraded by Google in search engine rankings.
- Your site might have a mix of secure and non secure content. Use tools like Google Chrome (View -> Developer -> Developer Tools) to inspect the source code of the page. Search for any instances of http instead of https.
- Don’t have duplicated content. Make sure your site doesn’t have duplicated content on different domains. i.e. Don’t have more than one domain published with the same content. If you have a .com.au domain and a .com, decide which to use in your advertising. The other one should re-direct to the main one.
- Submit your site name to Google. Check which domain you’ve submitted to Google as your main site. (Use the old version of Google Search Console – https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/home). You need to tell it that you prefer domain.com over www.domain.com or vice versa. Decide on one and just always use that. The general consensus is to use the non www version nowadays but you don’t need to change that if your site is already established using www.
- Integrate Social Media. If you have social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, the Yoast plugin easily allows you to link your pages to them which will help users create Facebook and Twitter posts from your pages, which in turn creates inbound links back to your site. Pinterest is a very good site to integrate with if your site has great images as it will help to create inbound links. More information can be found on this Pinterest Save Button page.
Google echoes many of the points above in its document Steps to a Google-friendly site. They also have some sage advice for companies being approached by so called SEO experts guaranteeing a high ranking for your site:
Don’t feel obligated to purchase a search engine optimisation service. Some companies claim to “guarantee” high ranking for your site in Google’s search results. While legitimate consulting firms can improve your site’s flow and content, others employ deceptive tactics in an attempt to fool search engines. Be careful; if your domain is affiliated with one of these deceptive services, it could be banned from our index.
If you need a hand, we’re happy to help, so please get in contact with us.
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