How to improve your website’s Google search ranking

Posted by Martin Stott

The intelligent computer in Star Trek has often been cited as the model for the perfect search engine by Amit Singhal, long-time chief of Google’s search business.

The USS Enterprise’s computer answers instantly any questions that Captain Kirk and the crew throw at it.

Content to stun …

We’re not there yet, but Google is constantly changing and trying to improve the algorithms at the heart of its search process to help users find what they need more quickly among the 60 trillion individual pages that make up the internet.

These algorithms are the computer processes and formulas that decide where your company’s website will appear in the Google search ranking results.

They are designed to allow the search engine to understand exactly what users are looking for – and websites are then ranked based on more than 200 factors, including the quality of pages and site, geographical region and the freshness of content.

How to go boldly into the Google universe

Of course, by definition, not everyone can be at the top of a Google search ranking, but here are our tips to help improve your site’s performance.

  • Make sure your website is as user-friendly as possible. Simple navigation and quality design will increase page views and the time visitors spend on your site, both of which are positives when Google is ranking results. Embed links within pieces on your website to encourage visitors to explore deeper and take more time engaging with your brand.
  • Don’t stuff your site with keywords. Google is wise to this old trick and it can now harm your ranking. Instead, focus on providing useful, relevant and information-rich content.
  • Make sure your site is mobile-friendly. This plays a significant role in where it will appear in results for searches by people using mobile devices, which account for more than half of Google searches worldwide. Sites are penalised for things like text that’s too small to read on a smartphone or horizontal scrolling.
  • Invest time and resources in content. Quality content is an essential factor in Google search ranking and will drive visitors to your site, improving its all-important relevancy and authority. In addition to well-written, informative text, think about infographics and video. And ensure content is regularly updated.
  • Consider a content hub. Google judges context and relevancy not just by what’s on your page but by the pages around it and linking to it. So if you have a content hub with individual pages exploring several themes in-depth around a central theme, and linking to each other, this will improve your position in the search results.

It’s important to remember that the way Google determines search results is continually evolving, as its engineers come up with new ideas and test them with ‘live traffic experiments’ involving a small percentage of searches.

As for the future, the successor to Amit Singhal as the expert in charge of Google’s algorithms is John Giannandrea. Appointed last October, he is an expert in artificial intelligence. It seems the Star Trek vision – technology that understands its users and provides a single answer instantly – is getting closer all the time.

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