Did you know that failing to show up on a Google search within the top five positions dramatically reduces the chances that an internet user will click through to your website? Worse than that, even failing to show up on the first page of a Google search will almost guarantee your company won’t be seen by the casual internet searcher. If those searchers cannot find the information they need on page one, most will refine the keyword or phrase previously used and search again to get better results.

Competing in business is always going to be a challenge regardless of your industry. However, you can get a leg up on your competition with improved Google search result rankings. Here’s part one in getting your website to rank in Google for 2018.

Be Better Than Your Competition

In the past, business owners would pour all their time and energy into the everyday tasks of running a company. They might place emphasis on marketing the business, designing the best product in their market, and creating a fantastic customer experience. Now, simply having a great product, outstanding customer service or a fantastic store location just won’t cut it in the modern internet age.

Consumers spend so much time, either shopping online or conducting research on future purchases, that if you don’t have a website or it ranks very poorly, then you are setting yourself up for failure.

Ranking Factors You Can Use to Help Your Website Rank in a Google SERP

In the digital marketing world, it is pretty well known that Google uses over 200 different ranking factors within their algorithm to determine where a website is listed on the search engine results page (SERP). Unfortunately for digital marketers, Google is very secretive about which factors are most important. It’s their way of making sure the internet landscape remains competitive.

You may be asking, “But why does my website look better than my competitor, and they show up higher in the SERP?”

Well, it could be because of a number of reasons – having a nicer looking website doesn’t necessarily change rank factors. This is precisely why getting a website to rank can be very challenging.

Take a look at the example below of the website for Lowe’s Home Improvement. The left image is when the site first launched back in 1996, and the right is the most recent version as of 2018.

website comparison

Lowe’s Home Improvement website circa 1996 compared to current 2018 version

In the 20 years from the launch of the original website, the internet has changed drastically. As you can see, the original website was very simple, with a few links to relevant pages. The current website has all the bells and whistles of modern web design and is optimized using today’s search engine optimization best practices. However, apart from the visual aesthetic of the website and the experience the user has while shopping on the site, there isn’t much separating these versions regarding how they would rank.

So how DO you get a website to rank?

Ultimately, finding the edge you need to outrank your competition requires putting in a lot of work – knowing where to start is key.
Google releases very little information about their ranking factors, marketers have crunched endless amounts of data and have reviewed the trends to see what factors carry the most weight. These factors do change over time as Google updates their algorithm. Some updates are relatively small and can disrupt your page’s rank for a day while other updates are more substantial.

Since Google is always making updates, it is a good time to review which factors marketers have found important in 2018. For a comparison, take a look back to our previous list of Google ranking factors and how they stack up to today.

An SEO Guide to Google’s Core Ranking Signals

While not all digital marketers agree about every single ranking factor, they do tend to agree about the importance of specific factors. Some of those factors have been in place for years, while others are new and are the result of changing times and technology. The basic concepts of what Google uses to rank are very simple and if you make the best website possible following these core signals, you have a good chance to rank. Remember, the goal should be to deliver internet searchers the best experience possible while also giving the most accurate and relevant information possible.

Relevancy

First and foremost, does your website provide goods, services, or content that a web searcher using a specific keyword is looking for? If not, then don’t expect to rank.

Basically, when Google uses “bots or crawlers” to scan a website, it indexes all the information on the page. Whether this information is pictures or text, the information indexed is then used to determine what a website is about. When a user searches for a specific keyword or phrase, Google matches the search query with millions of previously indexed websites. If the material on your website matches what a searcher is looking for, then your page has a decent chance to rank for that search query.

However, since the space on page one of a Google search is limited, it becomes expensive real estate and the market is extremely competitive. You will need other factors to make a positive move up the SERP ranking for your keywords.

Popularity

Popularity is a great way to make that next step up the search rankings. Google tracks user interaction on websites to determine behavior patterns. This is through the use of RankBrain and other data streams. Once Google has enough data to reference how users interact with your site, it can determine if people stay and interact or quickly “bounce” out.

A high bounce rate may signal to Google that searchers found your website in the search result, but they didn’t find enough content of value once the webpage opened. If your bounce rate is higher than a competitor for the same keyword, then it is a pretty good indication that you won’t rank as high as your competitor.

If all your content is relevant, then as people visit your website and view the content, your website should increase in popularity. Having relevant content increases the chance people will stay and interact with your website. Click through rate (CTR) and time on site (dwell time) are prime indicators of whether your website offers value to its visitors. If they stay and interact, Google will recognize this as a popularity signal and may give you a boost. Hopefully, if you have great content, some of your visitors will create a link back to your information from their website or social profile.

keywords search result

Authority

In your business field, you may be the best there is, but does your website convey this? Show your expertise in your website’s content. By offering helpful information to your website visitors, they will likely return or share your content, improving your domain authority.

Let’s take a look at the image on the right of the search result for the keyword “sports news” and see how authority impacts the search result.

Notice the arrow at the top of the page, it shows that there are over 29 million results! The top four organically listed results are sources known as the top sporting news resources, ESPN and Sports Illustrated, and two actual news sites, USA Today and Fox News, that have a comprehensive sports section.

Notice that you don’t see joesportsnews.com on that list. That is because joesportsnews.com has little chance of competing with these industry giants. Google knows this, and as a result, will award higher authority to ESPN. In turn, joesportsnews.com could share content from ESPN on their own website by placing a link to an ESPN article on one  joesportsnews.com blog article. This results in a backlink to ESPN. Google loves this! It shows that ESPN is providing worthwhile content to web users. As a bonus, this backlink adds more authority to espn.com.

As a business owner, this example may not mean much to you directly, but it’s a good example of why you should take advantage of authority. By providing something of value to your website users you can also improve your website’s domain authority.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO can be intimidating at first, but it’s a powerful tool to help your website rank. Using the comparison of the two Lowe’s websites mentioned earlier, this is where the newer website excels.

Being able to add schema markup to your website’s HTML code, optimizing your content for technical SEO, and other various factors can make your website a big player in the digital world. Basically, the goal of technical SEO is to ensure that your website is complete, properly coded, with lightning fast loading speed, and delivers an exceptional user experience throughout the user’s visit.

Technical SEO can be a bit tricky for beginners but it is important. There are some more advanced tips on technical SEO listed below that will dive more into how to improve search ranking, but first, there are plenty of basic steps that all website administrators should focus on.

Stay tuned for Part Two of this article, which will go into finer detail on rank factors for your website.

Don’t Wait, Get Your Site’s Search Ranking Up by Contacting TheeDesign

There are a lot of factors that go into a site ranking well and it’s a lot to learn – but you don’t have to do it all by yourself! Contact TheeDesign’s digital marketing specialists for your free consultation and get your website ranking well.

Contact the internet marketing professionals at TheeDesign in Raleigh, NC at 919-341-8901 or schedule a consultation to find out how your business can benefit from strategic video marketing.