No one would fault you for thinking that Google’s ranking system is a complete mystery. The rapid growth of the Internet along with the millions of new websites popping up daily only adds to the frustration web owners feel about rising to the top of the search engine results. Certainly, it is very challenging trying to keep current with SEO techniques, as search engine strategies seem to change with the wind direction. The result is that most website owners feel frustrated and about to abandon their dreams of reaching number one on the search engine results. It doesn’t have to be such a shot in the dark though; this article will go over some simple things Google looks for and how to use them to make a significant impact on your site’s ranking.
At one time, it was important for the keywords to appear in the site’s domain name—experts online suggested that this one move would give the site a substantial boost in ranking. But, as you’d expect, things have changed over the years. Google now looks at domain names differently, making domain keywords step down in the place of on-page keywords. The most important way to use keywords nowadays is in a page-by-page strategy, starting with the <title> tag and bold headlines, such as <h1> and <h2> tags. Mentioning your keywords in these tags as well as several times in the body of the page is how to teach Google what your site is about, making it rank for your intended topics.
Don’t, however, go overboard with on-page keywords. Visitors can become annoyed and lose patience with your site if it’s written with only search engines in mind and doesn’t sound like it has a human voice. Google knows this as well, and will penalize pages that are obviously pandering to its algorithms by using too many keywords in unnatural, forced ways. Mention your keywords naturally in the flow of your writing, and always use a voice that speaks first and foremost to human readers.
Here is something worth noting: Google places great value on the domain history. Let’s say you purchase a domain that has a bad record with Google, such as one associated with a known Spam site or scams. Google will probably never give a high ranking to that domain, and the site will have almost zero chance of every ranking well and attracting customer interest. Do your research before settling on a domain!
Many still believe that the only way to boost a site’s ranking is by building strong backlinks, which means linking from outside sites that already rank well. While this strategy is still relevant, there is another more powerful way to link that you may not have considered: Google likes sites that have strong internal linking and meaningful structure. Also called siloing, this strategy consists of grouping related pages together into categories or “silos”, and establishing a conceptual connection between your pages through internal linking.
For example, you may have a site about homes, with a category for houses and a category for apartments. The best course of action is to make sure that any pages related to houses link to your main house page (a parent/child link) as well as to each other (sibling links), letting Google know the relationship between all of your pages. At the same time, you should avoid a link between a house page and an apartment page, as each silo should be kept separate and distinct. Being well-organized by keywords in this manner gives your site a much better chance of ranking successfully.
Siloing is a very in-depth topic that can’t be done justice in a broad overview article like this, so be sure to follow our blog for more information on siloing and other topics in the future.
It’s important to realize that Google takes a look at all the images on a website as well, making it worth the effort to make sure that you optimize all of your images for your keywords. Take a look at the name of the images uploaded to your website—perhaps they are just a set of numbers or initials. It’s better practice to add keywords to the name of the images as well as their ALT attributes, as Google reads the ALT tags and places very high relevancy on them. As with on-page keywords, be sure not to go overboard—image titles and ALT tags are, after all, there to better inform visitors and improve user experience above all else.
Last on our list but certainly not least: don’t let the site go stale. Keep the content on the site fresh and regularly updated. Google places higher relevancy on sites with fresh content, so it’s your job to add fresh articles, important news, more web pages, and any other strategies you can think of to keep the content flowing.
These are just a few basic SEO techniques that will make a huge difference in Google search engine ranking for just about any website. You don’t need much technical knowledge or experience to put these strategies into practice; just be thorough and consistent. For further SEO consulting, call the experts here at tekRESCUE and stay up-to-date with our blog; we’ll be keeping our own content updated with plenty more articles like this one!