Back in the early years of the Internet, if you wanted to rank high in Google search, all you had to do was repeat a specific keyword onto your webpage. It was spammy, it was effective, but the users of Google were not impressed. As a result, Google got smart and changed the way their search engine worked.
Now, search results are no longer determined by how often you repeat a keyword on your website (also know as keyword density). Just a few years ago, they even stopped sharing which keywords were driving traffic to websites.
Google took this move to prevent website owners from exploiting certain keywords, and it was the first of several steps to ensure the integrity of their search results. In fact, Google is still tweaking their recipe for website ranking all the time – because they want to deliver the best, most relevant content it can find for searchers.
So how can you make your site rank well if everything’s constantly changing?
The good news for anyone who is struggling to get their site to not only show up in Google, but also rank well, is that it’s not impossible.
Yes, these changes can be challenging – especially if you’ve hired an agency that was bending Google’s rules – but you can improve your ranking just by following three simple (but important) steps.
1. Make sure that Google can read your website.
No matter how incredible your product or service, if Google can’t find your site, then you will never show up in the search results. That’s why you have to make sure that Google can easily navigate (also known as “crawl”) your website.
Once Google crawls through your site, it will then put your pages in their search results. Programs such as Screaming Frog can help you see how easy your site is to crawl – or you can manually check it yourself. Either way, you need to make sure it’s easy enough for your readers and Google to navigate.
Side note: You also should double check that your pages aren’t tagged as “noindex.” If they are, Google will skip over them when crawling and indexing your site, which is the exact opposite of what you want. (You can look at the source code, or get an SEO Audit to check on this issue.)
2. Don’t get carried away with images.
It’s tempting to post flashy pictures all over your website, and there is some research indicating that images work well in social media (that’s why we have one in this post), but too many pictures can actually harm your SEO efforts.
Before you slap multiple pictures into every page and post, you need to make sure they are optimized correctly. Are they the correct size? Did you add a descriptive caption or “alt” text? These are a couple of the biggest ways to help optimize your images.
Properly optimized images will not only improve the user experience by speeding up page load times, it will also help Google crawl your site more efficiently because it can “see” what the images are by reading the alt text and captions.
BONUS TIP: Never put the bulk of your text in your images. It might look nice and trendy, but Google can’t read that text, which means your content won’t get ranked.
3. Keep your individual web pages focused for Google search.
This is one of your most important steps. Often people want to put EVERYTHING on their home page and services pages, when in reality a site performs better when each page is laser focused on a specific topic.
Why? Because it’s easier for Google (and your website visitors) to tell what your products and services are about if you create one page for each specific idea you want to share. For example, if you talk about Window Replacement and Door Replacement on the same page of your website (instead of separating them into two pages), Google has trouble telling the difference between the two.
Taking it a step further, consider these points:
- Writing on topics that are relevant to your business and your audience
- Making sure that the language/tone is consistent across your site
- Fact checking your content for accuracy
Since you’ll be creating many of these focused pages, be sure to create “internal links,” which connect different (but relevant) pieces of content together on your website (the second hyperlink in this article is a good example).
These kinds of links should only be used when necessary, but they are a great way of building a tight and focused linking structure that is easy to follow – which will help you rank better.
Beyond the three steps – what’s next? I’m ready to see my site show up on Google today!
These things might seem fairly simple, but you would truly be surprised by the number of businesses we see missing the mark when it came to SEO.
In the Dallas, TX area alone, we have helped several local and regional businesses take control of their Google listings by just following these three basic steps. The end result was higher search engine rankings and increased traffic, which is exactly what you, and every other business owner wants.
This list is by no means comprehensive when it comes to what you need to be doing to improve your site, and you won’t show up in search results overnight, but it is a great start for those of you who want to dip your toes in SEO to see how it all works – and it really does work!