If you are serious about achieving your business’s online objectives you should care about your Google ranking – a lot!
While there are over 200 ‘signals’ that Google uses to evaluate your website and determine its ranking, there are really only six things that you should focus on to give your site the ‘best’ opportunity to achieve a first page search rank.
Firstly, Content is key and underpins a significant portion of how your site is evaluated by Google. Why? Because, you want users to spend as much time on your site as possible i.e. dwell time. You achieve this by having fresh, relevant and authentic content – note those words: Fresh, Relevant and Authentic.
This content should be spread across your product/services pages, blog posts, FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions), About Us page and so on. Don’t try and game the system by having one or two articles spun into many. The blog content should be organised in Topic Clusters and should be useful to real people.
Second, your website should be optimised for Mobile First Indexing. This means that your site should be responsive to users on a mobile phone as now more than 60% of searches according to HitWise Research are conducted using a mobile device. Google has created a great tool to determine if your site is mobile-friendly.
Third, Page Speed which is how quickly your website pages load. In 2018, Google began down ranking websites that load slowly. This means if your website doesn’t perform well, you risk losing your ranking. Google is careful to explain however that they expect the speed update to affect a small number of pages. They have created a tool to evaluate your site’s performance. Check out PageSpeed Insights to take a look at how your site performs.
Fourth, is your site Secure? The SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificate encrypts data between a web server and a browser and sites that have SSLs are designated by HTTPS, rather than HTTP. HTTP sites are now being marked as not secure by Google Chrome giving users the option of selecting more secure sites when searching. As a consequence, sites without SSLs are likely to fall in Google rankings.
The fifth consideration is more forward looking and reflects the impact that voice search is having on SEO. Voice search has changed the SEO landscape because voice search terms are driven by conversation based searches rather than typed. In this context, voice searches are more likely to be in the form of a question, so pages that contain that question are likely to show up first. Tweaking your content to use more conversational language and include questions and answers can boost rankings for voice searches.
Another important factor of voice search is location i.e. the location of the user at the time of the search. For brick-and-mortar businesses, best practice is to include not just your address but also your neighbourhood and relevant location descriptors can make your site more valuable and popular for voice searches.
You can also use Featured Snippets to enhance the relevance for voice search. Using featured snippets helps with mobile and voice search and they are one way in which Google delivers concise, relevant answers to searchers’ questions.
Here’s an example of a snippet for the search query – Why is the sky blue?
So there you have it, six areas of SEO Best Practice that you can focus on to give your site the best chance of a first page ranking on Google and that’s what ‘Best’ really means when it comes to Google rankings!
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