SEO Secrets: What Does Google Look for in Top-Ranked Sites?
In this day of Googling literally everything (“Where can I get one of those popup outdoor beanbags?”), search engine rankings are, well, literally everything. Appearing at the top of a list of search engine results can make the difference between customers finding their way to your beautifully designed website or discovering your competitor.
Where you appear in the Great Order of Search Engine Results isn’t some mystical secret. Rather, it’s determined by the amount of time you spend applying SEO to you website to be discovered by search engines.
Since Google is one of the major players in the search engine world, let’s focus on them and discuss a few of the top things they consider when ranking a site in their search results.
What is Your Site Speed?
Google ranks sites according to an algorithm. Although website designers don’t know exactly what’s in the algorithm or exactly when those things change, one thing they do know that affects your rankings is the time it takes for each page to load, as well as your overall site speed.
This is for any number of reasons. The Googlebot may not be able to crawl as many pages on your site if it functions slowly. In addition to this, pages that lag when they’re loading have a higher bounce rate. Users are impatient and will quickly move on to a page that won’t make them wait. All of this adds up to lower SERP rankings. Taking steps to speed up your site and implementing some great user experience and web design will make Google view it in a better light.
Have You Done Keyword Research?
Many website owners have heard of keywords, but aren’t quite sure what to make of them. Keywords help tell search engines what the content on your site is about. Once you’ve researched to discover the best keywords, you need to know where to use them.
Putting keywords in strategic places throughout your main content isn’t enough. Google will also look for keywords in your title tags, meta tags, and anchor text. It’s worth noting that keywords must be used with a certain panache in all of these places, as Google frowns on obvious “keyword stuffing” and will ding you in its rankings if it suspects it.
Does Your Site Have High-Quality Content?
For a site to rank high on Google’s SERP, it needs to do more than simply exist. Google will rank your site based on whether or not it has high-quality content.
What defines “high quality,” according to Google? The search engine giant specifies that your content needs to be useful and informative, as well as credible. It also needs to be more valuable than other sites and not simply repeating what’s already out there. It should be engaging and focused on giving users a good experience (rather than being obviously and overly-focused on plugging itself full of keywords to boost search engine rankings).
Is Your Site Mobile-Friendly?
On January 10, 2017, Google announced, “Starting today, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as high.”
Can they be any more clear that in order to get the best possible ranking, sites must be mobile-friendly? This is more than just a good idea for SERP rankings; it’s good business sense. In this age of smartphones and tablets, a whopping 60% of internet searches come from mobile devices.
Clearly, creating a site that people can easily find involves more than a “Build it and they will come” mentality. With a lot of research, care, and patience, your site will soon be sitting pretty on Google where everyone can find it.
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