Why Isn’t Your Website on the First Page of Google?
You’ve just invested in a great looking site that you believe best represents your brand, speaks well to your target audience and offers a strong user experience. You even invested in keyword research and site optimization. Yet, months later, your site has very little Google visibility. How could this be?
The Big Misconception
It seems to be the common question that every business or organization with a website presence wants to know…”how do I increase my Google ranking?” With Google owning 92.92% of the worldwide search engine market share, according to Statcounter’s February 2019 data, and with its proven traffic opportunity, it’s no wonder many are looking for the answer.
But, here’s the big misconception. A well designed website does not guarantee top Google ranking. You simply have a well designed website. However, if you were wise enough to invest in keyword research to use as the foundation of your site structure and content, you are miles ahead. Yet, ranking on Google’s first page takes time and ongoing work. And unfortunately, Google’s algorithm is always changing. Not what you wanted to here, right? Keep in mind, you are one of many vying for the same keyword rankings. You have to keep earning Google’s trust.
Basic Steps to Improve Your Google Rankings
So, what does Google look for and what can you do to improve your Google rankings? Google looks at many aspects of your online presence that ultimately strengthen the value of your website.
Here are 9 ways to improve your Google organic ranking:
- Keyword usage is the foundation of ranking results. Hopefully, your keyword research was thorough and your navigation and site structure was effectively built around these valued terms. Assess the following:
- Does your site have meta data (title tags and meta descriptions) specifically written for each page and utilizing keywords effectively?
- Is each page content written and focused on identified keywords?
- Were your website images named with page-focused keywords and do they include alt tags specific to your keywords?
- Do your pages use H1 and H2 header tags that are keyword specific?
- Is your content too condensed? Too little keyword use will simply not rank. Long form content almost always performs better.
- Backlinks are still a major factor in your website’s ability to rank well. If other sites don’t link to you, why should Google consider your site important? Each site has a Domain Authority score as well as individual Page Authority scores.
- Check your Domain Authority score to learn where you stand.
- Identify your current back links (those URLs linking to your site) and look at some of your competitor’s backlinks to get ideas. Moz Link Explorer can help you do just that.
- Keep in mind, sites linking to you that have high Domain Authority scores will improve your score. So, evaluate each existing backlink or those you are considering.
- Don’t overlook the value of other digital channels. Social media involvement, with links directed back to your site, can be valuable backlinks.
- Make a list of potential backlinks you could obtain and start working down the list.
- Optimize for speed. Google is all about the user experience. A slow site with images that are not optimized for faster load time will lower your ranking opportunity.
- If you are a local business, have you used Local SEO strategies to improve your location results?
- Make sure you have established or claimed your Google My Business listing and enhance the information and images. Your listing supports your Google Local 3-Pack results, directory listings and organic results.
- Assure you have consistent name/address/phone number (NAP). Google places a lot of weight on having accurate and correct information throughout directories and social pages. Use a tool like Moz Local to check and correct inconsistencies.
- Create internal links—especially using keywords.
- Make sure your anchor text is relevant and descriptive—do not force keyword use, but assure it explains the link, rather than “click here”.
- Make sure your site is mobile-responsive. Mobile use continues to grow and Google aims to reward those who provide the best user experience.
- Build out a content marketing strategy that includes consistent blog posts that are centered on keyword research.
- Google values websites that are consistently evolving.
- Make sure your content is based on keyword research—especially blog articles. Blog content in turn should be optimized so it too can rank well with Google to drive more traffic to your site.
- Use email marketing strategies to remarket and drive traffic to your new blog content.
- Add social media share widgets to your blog articles to encourage others to increase your brand awareness.
- Constantly analyze and enhance your Click Through Rate (CTR). CTR is calculated by dividing the number of clicks your website’s search results receive by the number of impressions or views. A higher CTR means that your search result is enticing and attracting the attention of search users. Google will reward those sites that have stronger interest.
- Assess your title tags and meta descriptions. Make sure they are written with focused keywords, relevant and persuasive—getting the search user to want to click on your listing.
- The first position in a Google search engine result page (SERP) is expected to average a 35% CTR—the best percentage on the page.
- Make sure your site has a secure protocol—an SSL certificate.
- With the SSL, your URL will change your hypertext transport protocol from “http” to an “https” encryption. This makes a visitor’s connection to your website secure. It will also display a locked or unlocked icon in your browser’s address bar to indicate secure or unsecure.
- Back in 2014, Google updated their algorithms to favor HTTPS websites. Google even announced that having an SSL Certificate is the easiest thing site owners can do to boost SEO ranking.
Addressing these 9 initiatives should definitely increase your Google ranking. But, you can’t stop there—it’s an ongoing process.