Everyone wants to rank in Google. In fact, for years now, people have thought that all it takes to do that is to launch your website and then you’ll magically appear 1st on page 1 of Google. Or you could spend money to hire a company that “guarantees to make you #1 in the rankings.” Insert <cough> <cough> here.
We’re not sure either scenario was ever truly the way things worked. In our 20+ years working in the digital world it’s definitely not what we have seen or experienced. In fact, times have changed quite dramatically for search over the years.
Today, competition for rankings is incredibly fierce and for good reason. The higher up you rank in Google, the higher the percentage and chance that your company link will be clicked on.
In fact, according to a study done by Wordstream. The top 3 listings get 41.1% of the clicks (paid search) and 8.9% of clicks then go to the top most Organic listings (organic search).
A thought that may spring to mind when seeing these stats is, “well does this mean I should be investing in paid search?” Well, probably, but you can learn more about that in our post about pay-per-click advertising.
This post is about the important things you need to know about how Google Ranks websites so YOU can make sure your website ranks well.
So, How Does Google Decide Your Website Ranking?
You may have heard about the Google search algorithm. In short, Google needed a way to decide how to rank content on their search engine so they came up with a quite complicated algorithm (ranking system). By many accounts that algorithm has about 200 different signals that impact rankings in various ways.
As all technology does, the algorithm has progressed and changed over time. As you’ll read below. These changes are important to know about so you (or your technology team) can be aware of, plan and build for.
1. Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?
Google’s Mobile First Indexing Is Here And It Matters For Your Website
You’re probably thinking, what the heck is that? Well simply put, it means that Google will rank mobile versions of content, or content that would perform best on mobile devices, above non-mobile content. It stands to reason that this would happen since 57% of all U.S. online traffic comes from smartphones and tablets (BrightEdge, 2017) To make sure your website is mobile-friendly, checkout Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool.
2. Does Your Website Make Google Happy?
Introducing Rank-Brain And Why You Have To Know How It Works
Google is getting smarter and smarter every day. Much because of it’s development of RankBrain which is a machine learning (AI) algorithm that Google uses to sort search results. It also helps Google process and understand search queries. In the past, Google’s algorithm (used to identify website rankings) was basically hand-coded by humans. So developers would decide to test various ways to rank results and then analyze whether their changes were worth a change to the algorithm. RankBrain is part of the overall algorithm and according to Google it is one of their top 3 ranking signals!
Before, Google would try to match the words in your search query to words on a page. Today, RankBrain tries to actually figure out what you mean.
RankBrain has two main jobs:
1. Understanding search queries (keywords)
2. Measuring how people interact with the results (user satisfaction)
In essence, the happier you make Google users, the higher you’ll rank!
3. Is Your Content, Website Construction & Usability Meeting Googles Expectations?
A Website Done Right Will Let You Reap Google Rewards
So, here’s the bottom line.
Google’s main goal is to make their users happy.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone and in our opinion it’s a respectable goal.
Like any business, they have customers, potential customers and competitors. They need happy customers and they need continued innovation to maintain their position as the #1 search engine, as well as grow their position as a leading provider of internet products, services and technology.
What does this have to do with you and your website?
When you think about your website you have to ask yourself these questions. Because Google is taking all of this into account when they determine your search ranking.
- Do you have quality content that is valuable to the user?
- Is your website user friendly?
- Does the website load quickly?
- Is it mobile friendly?
- Is the design responsive (adjusting so that it is easily navigated on all devices)?
- Does your content allow you to be viewed as an authority on your subject, product, service?
- Do you have links out to authority sites?
- Do you have Google Analytics on your site and do you know your site statistics?
- How long do people stay on your website (average time on page found in Google Analytics)?
- Do you have relevant and specific long-tail keywords on your website pages and in your page titles and in your page descriptions?
- Are your photos tagged with keywords?
- Do your page URL’s have slugs that concisely define the content of the page?
These are just 12 items of the 200+ signals taken into account by Google when ranking your site. They are all important, but if we had to pick what we thought the most important one of all it’s GREAT CONTENT!
Let us be more specific.
We mean great content that is UNIQUE and makes it super clear that YOU are the expert in your field. Great content that is engaging, helpful, valuable and interesting to your target market.
If you can accomplish that and keep your website updated regularly, you will definitely be heading in the right direction toward a Google friendly relationship.