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How to rank in Google – what is SEO and how it works

Want to know how to rank in Google. This post will tell you how to do this plus explains what SEO is and how it works.
Want to know how to rank in Google. This post will tell you how to do this plus explains what SEO is and how it works.

In this series of posts, I’m looking at what you need to think about to get your website to the top of Google. This mainly involves improving your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This article covers how to rank in Google plus what is SEO and how it works.

If getting more potential customers to your site organically is essential, you must focus on Google’s factors critical to rank. Of course, this means you have to get your SEO game on.

While Google considers many factors in their algorithm, many of these factors are not something you can directly influence.

When working on your SEO, the main thing is that you are trying to show Google that you deserve to be in the number 1 position. That means Google thinks you are THE MOST relevant result for that specific search.

What factors impact how to rank in Google

The big question is what should you do to put your website in the running.

The answer is a very complex algorithm that includes 200 different ranking factors, of which only Google knows the actual mechanics. If you want to find out a bit more take a look at this article. So all we are doing is making best guesses. But in reality, it is not essential to master every different ranking factor. Instead, we can group them into three broad categories:

  1. A websites’ relevance to the search. This means Google can find enough content on any page on a website that matches the entered search term.
  2. The popularity of the website across the internet. This means that many other websites link to your website, and those websites are deemed good quality.
  3. The quality of the website. This is essentially making sure your website performance is quick and mobile-friendly, has no broken links, and is regularly updated.

All you can do is give Google what it needs to justify showing your website. But, first, you need to make sure that your website is so perfect that you are the best logical choice to be picked.

What does relevance mean?

Relevance is the factor that Google is most renowned for.

If Google presented search results to users that were not relevant to their search, it would not remain the top search engine. The reason Google is so dominant is because its search results are relevant. This means the user experience is happy, and they keep coming back.

So anytime you want to rank a website, you need to make it super relevant to the targeted search.

How does Google measure relevance?

The content on your website is top of the list of the things Google uses to work out if your website is relevant.

It has robots that are constantly reading the internet. They crawl your website and make a note every time specific words appear. This process is called ‘indexing’.

When someone runs a search on Google, it runs through this index to see which websites use that combination of words, which gives them a list of websites that might be appropriate to show.

I hope you can see the importance of text on your website straight away. If your website does not contain the searched words or pseudonyms, you don’t get on the list.

And here is the kicker – not all web pages are indexed. There are plenty of web pages online that get no visitors, which Google considers low priority and therefore doesn’t bother indexing. Instead, it skips these pages to prioritise the websites that it deems more important, i.e. those regularly updated pages and those getting more traffic. So, unfortunately, if your pages are not indexed, you are also not getting on the list.

What is also important is how visitors interact with the search results and your site.

If Google shows a site with a slightly ambiguous description and people tend to skip over it in the research results, that site does not keep its position in the ranking.

If a searcher clicks on the site and then immediately clicks back out to the search results, this indicates to Google that this search result may not be relevant. So again, this site may not keep its ranking position.

Finally, if the searcher clicks on a website and then proceeds to spend time, clicking on subsequent pages and eventually making a purchase, Google has a good indication that this website was relevant to the searcher. Therefore, this website, at the very least, maintains its position, but it may even improve on it.

The ranking position doesn’t happen instantly, but if Google is getting similar results from different searchers, the signal is pretty clear on what Google should do.

As you can see, relevance is based on content and searcher behaviour.

It would help to make your website something that the searcher expects to find, answer their questions and hopefully compels them to buy. This means providing accurate descriptions for the search results, correct titles for your web pages and enough content so that Google can recognise that the page is relevant with content that delivers to the searcher what they need.

Popularity and Authority

Let’s think about this for a moment.

If you want to go out for a nice meal with your other half, but it’s been a while, and you’re not sure where to go. What do you do?

Ask a few friends for a recommendation?

Whose recommendation do you trust more, the friend who goes out as often as you do, or the one that is out and about every week, loves their food and is adventurous in their options. I’m hoping you said the latter.

It’s not saying your other friend’s opinion doesn’t count, but the friend with more ‘experience’ is more persuasive.

This is how Google uses links.

Having other websites recommend your website in the form of a link to your website is excellent. This is where you build credibility with your website. Google wants to see that other websites are happy to refer you.

The more links, the better – up to a point.

Not all websites are equal.

If you are getting links from websites that Google considers spam, this will not reflect well on your website. So don’t be tempted to buy links to buy your popularity. Google knows and does not look favourably on it.

However, it is not just the number of links pointing to a website that matters. It is also the quality.

All web pages on every website have a quality rating linked to them. This is kind of like the friend that you thought their opinion was better than the other friend’s. And you probably recognise it from your searches. If a site you trust suggests/recommends a particular site/product, you will take a peek, wouldn’t you?

You would probably be more inclined to buy knowing they have recommended it rather than a random website. A website’s domain authority is kind of like a popularity contest. Google’s measure of each website’s authority is called its PageRank. If a popular website (one with a high PageRank) links to your website, then that link is more favourable to Google.

The best part is that if a website with a high PageRank links to you, your PageRank also increases.

Each of your web pages has its own PageRank, so if you link to other pages on your website, that PageRank also flows internally. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving.

Therefore linking to internal web pages is as important as linking to external web pages.

Quality is import on how to rank in Google

Due to Google’s desire to provide searchers with the most valuable results, it is evident that the quality of your website will be an important factor on how to rank in Google. In fact, it is so important that Google has explicitly revealed what it considers to be a high-quality website.

Websites thin on content, i.e. have a low word count, can quickly boost their ranking by improving and increasing the text on their pages. Remember, Google wants to show websites that know what they are talking about and are experts in their field. How does Google know this if there is no information on the website to work this out?

It only takes about 300 characters on each page to improve your SEO.

If the website has many spelling mistakes, again this is also not favourable.

Broken links are also a big no-no. So if you have links on your website that go nowhere, get them fixed.

Speed is also essential. Would you wait 20 seconds for a website to load? No, you would give up and move on. Take note of this when you are assessing the quality of your website. Slow loading of pages is not good, so check out how you can speed up your website.

Finally, is your website mobile friendly? Over 50% of searchers do it on mobile devices, so Google expects you to cater for this vast audience and penalises websites that are not mobile-friendly.

If you want us to know more on how to rank in Google or would like us to take a look at your website to see if we can help improve your SEO, please feel free to get in touch.

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