How Google ranks website
Google’s algorithm checks a website against upwards of 200 criteria when determining how high it should appear in organic search results – that is, in search results you don’t pay for Google to display.
Key ways to improve a website’s Google ranking
The best way to achieve higher Google rankings is to focus on satisfying the most important Google ranking factors, as follows.
Use an HTTPS site
Having a secure website – one that uses HTTPS – has been a factor in Google’s ranking algorithm since 2014.
There is a strong correlation between HTTPS websites and first page rankings. 45% of page one organic results use HTTPS encryption while HTTP sites are often marked as unsafe by Google. HTTPS sites also load faster, which contributes to a higher ranking.
Ensure your site is mobile-friendly
Google started shifting towards mobile-first indexing back in 2016. This means that Google is primarily crawling the mobile version of your website. If your content isn’t responsive and mobile-friendly, this will negatively affect its ranking.
In fact, mobile-first is becoming the norm – increasingly, websites are built for mobile and then translated into desktop versions, rather than the other way around.
Focus on fast page loading
Because Google aims to improve user experience, how fast your website loads will affect your ranking.
In July 2018, Google released a new algorithm that focuses on mobile page speed, so page speed is now an important factor on both desktop and mobile. Desktop pages should load in three seconds or less, while mobile pages are expected to load in two seconds or less.
Publish high-quality content
Google is attempting to prioritise high-quality, informative content over keywords.
Use of appropriate keywords in content is still important because it helps tell Google’s search engine what user queries your content may help answer. However, cramming too many keywords, or irrelevant ones, into content can now result in penalties from Google – hurting rather than helping your rankings.
Publish content that’s highly relevant to users
Google evaluates content according to its relevance, and the likelihood that it will fully answer queries that users have.
For ranking purposes, it’s best to opt for in-depth content, written in a way that’s easy to scan and understand and with supporting images, or even videos.
All images must be properly optimised. The file size of any image must be reduced to no more than 100 Kb so that it doesn’t negatively affect a page’s load speed. Each image should also have an alt tag, a descriptive file name, a title and, where possible, a caption. These things improve relevance and user experience – two things that make Google happy.
Secure quality backlinks
Backlinks are links from other trusted sites to your content. Ideally, you want lots of different backlinks but only from trusted, high-authority sources. Low-quality or “spam” links can have the opposite effect.
The importance of professional SEO
Many businesses question the importance of SEO and, because its results aren’t always fully tangible, might not see its value. However, according to a study by GetResponse, SEO offers the third-best return on investment when compared to other digital marketing channels.
Without proper SEO – which depends on having a professional website with great, properly optimised content – your services or products might never get seen by the right people.