This is the million-dollar question. Google itself doesn’t even have a definitive answer. They are constantly changing their algorithm (a mathematical code computers use to display the most relevant results), and it can become increasingly overwhelming trying to keep up.
It may be a useful place to start by exploring where Google gets its data in the first place. Google is constantly analyzing user searches to get them to the right place. However, it doesn’t just take one person’s search results; it takes everyone’s search results and compares them according to certain target factors.
We are going to discuss 3 of the major factors Google takes into account when it analyzes websites. There are a plethora of other details that figure in, but focusing on website experience, backlinks, and keywords will get you off to the right start.
Top 3 Factors to Consider to Rank Higher on Google
1. User Experience
User experience on your website is one of the most important factors Google considers when ranking your page. Your website is the first impression users will have of your business, product, or service. For a great user experience, keep the following in mind:
- Organization and Accessibility
First impressions count big, which is why user experience is such a priority for ranking. When people come to your site, you want their experience to be as seamless as possible. Information and supporting images should be neatly organized and easily accessible.
Think of a landing page as a grocery store. Many times, you are going to the grocery store for a specific list of items. Being able to locate these items easily makes your experience far more enjoyable. We will talk more about organization when we get to keywords.
- Graphics Optimization and Relevance
Another way to enhance website experience is to keep graphics to a minimum. This doesn’t mean there should be no graphics. Relevant, high-quality images are important for the user experience and SEO. But too many images will bog down your site and can overshadow the written content.
Every image, video, or even sound you add to your website increases the amount of page data, which increases the time users will have to wait before accessing the content they want. Loading speed can significantly impact your ranking.
In fact, Google will lower your web page listing if it takes longer than 2 seconds to load. There are several websites that can help test you load time. You can also compress images to not be as high quality.
However, there is a fine line on how much you can compress an image before the lower quality becomes obvious to your viewers. If you are new to file compression, it is recommended that you hire a professional to ensure your images remain useful and relevant.
Too many images is like too much garnish on a cocktail. Is that a hamburger? How do we even drink that?
- Regular Updates
One final thing to consider when looking to improve user experience is when and how often to update your site. Google likes to see action and movement on a website; this demonstrates that content is staying in pace with ever-changing viewer interests.
Next, let’s talk about backlinks. A backlink is when another website puts a link to your website on theirs. A good backlink is, essentially, a vote of confidence by another user in your site’s content. It gives your site an element of authority and usefulness-two words that figure heavily into Google’s site preferences.
When looking to backlink to another site from your own, look for websites that are in a consistent position in search results. Avoid linking to sites that pop up under the “ad” section. Choose the sites that come up organically under those search results and are in a stable “top 5” position.
While most backlinks are good for site visibility, there are such things as bad, or “toxic,” backlinks. Toxic backlinks lead to spammy or broken sites. This will actually negatively affect your rankings, since such links call into question the overall quality of your site.
Think of a toxic backlink as the shady guy on the corner that tries to sell you a bogus Rolex. When you buy it and try to pass it off in your own shop as authentic, your customers begin to doubt the quality of the rest of your inventory. One compromise in your site’s authority via a toxic backlink can have a similarly negative impact on your rankings.
3. Keywords and Phrases
Lastly, let’s talk about keywords or phrases. Keywords and phrases are like flags on your website that search engines use to determine the topic of a webpage. They are the popular questions, statements, and words entered into the search bar by users looking for information on a topic.
Once upon a time, keywords were essential to good SEO. The more keywords you had on your site, the more it appeared in top search results. This inevitably led to manipulative tactics like “keyword stuffing,” with high-ranking words added whenever and wherever possible.
Such tactics compromise readability, usefulness and, overall, the user experience. As a result, Google has relied less and less on keywords and phrases when considering a site for rankings. This does not mean, however, that you should never keep popular search phrases and words in mind when generating content. Keywords can be used to reiterate a relevant point and topic, so long as they are used judiciously.
How do I know what keywords to use?
Luckily, you don’t need an expensive software program to help you decide what keywords and phrases to use (although it is handy). Simply open up a new Google browser and start typing about your site’s topic.
Let’s say I have a website about puppies, and I want to answer common questions about what they can do. I will open my Google browser and type in the words “can puppies” and let Google automatically fill in the rest:
The results that are auto-populated are the most popular questions asked by users and are, essentially, key phrases. In this search, the number one question starting with “can puppies” is “can puppies have peanut butter?” This may be a question you’d like to answer on a blog post or FAQs page. Keep in mind, however, that top searches will change daily, which is why it is important to keep updating your site.
The most important takeaway with key words is to keep them relevant and useful. Avoid packing in words and phrases that compromise your site’s quality and readability. A site about puppies should, necessarily, have a lot of words about puppies, but keep it reasonable.
Example of keyword stuffing:
🆇 When looking for the best place to adopt puppies from adoption centers with puppies to adopt, refer to user reviews and testimonials about puppy adoption centers
When looking for the best place to adopt puppies, look for adoption centers with high user
reviews and positive testimonials
Hopefully, these tips will help you get started on your quest to rank higher on search engines. The last tip I will leave you with is to be patient. Ranking higher does not and will not happen overnight.
We like to think of SEO as the tortoise, not the hare. Slow, steady, and consistent is the way to win the race. Keep your content useful, relevant, and updated, and you can’t go wrong.