Sometimes, climbing the rankings of Google’s search results can seem a more difficult task than throwing on some climbing gear and scaling a mountain yourself.
Don’t take it personally though, Google doesn’t actually hate your website. It’s just simply following its ever-evolving algorithm – a set of rules and decisions that help it decide where your website should rank in a search.
To climb those all-important rankings then, you’ve got to impress Google. Unfortunately, the search engine giant keeps the intricacies of its complex algorithm locked tight, so unless you work at Google (and if you do, why are you even reading this blog?), you won’t know everything that Google looks for when ranking your site.
Fortunately for you though, SEO and digital enthusiasts around the world have spent hours upon hours testing different aspects of numerous sites to try and work out what works best (and what doesn’t), when it comes to getting Google to like your website. New things are always being found, and things are always changing, but here are the top things to bear in mind to ensure that Google loves your website.
Let the spider crawl
No matter how great your website might look, Google can only show your website in its search engine results if it’s indexed by spiders in its database. Thankfully, the process is a lot less scary than it sounds.
These digital spiders scour the internet through links, and when they find your site, they collect all the pages they can find and place it in Google’s index.
However, while the spiders are clever, the more you can help them navigate your site, the easier you’ll make their job, and thus more of your pages are likely to be indexed.
Links that accurately describe each page of your site, including alt tags and having a detailed site map means the spider needs less time to crawl through your site, meaning you can end up on Google quicker.
Avoid bad link tactics
Bad link tactics are reminiscent of those awful pyramid schemes that some of your Facebook friends still post over social media insisting their one is different and it will work. Help me and I’ll help you right? It doesn’t work, and it’s the same when it comes to links, both on and off your site.
Google loves links, but only ones that are genuine and come from well-respected sites that are similar in content to your own. If you have links from lots of low-quality spammy sites that you only have because you promised them a link in return, Google isn’t going to be happy.
Similarly, if you have lots of links from sports websites but you own a burger restaurant, they are unlikely to be useful links for your users, hence Google will deem them as unhelpful.
It may be tempting to take the easy route, but taking the time to build high quality and helpful links really is the best way to go, and Google will love you for it.
Use your keywords liberally
An SEO copywriter walks into a bar, grill, pub, public house, Irish, bartender, drinks, beer, wine, liquor…
Including as many keywords as you can might be the punchline to this joke, but if you do the same for content on your site, Google’s going to find it anything but funny.
That’s because its algorithm is smart. Like really smart. These days it can differentiate between the slight semantic differences of words and phrases, and more importantly, can tell if you’re just using specific terms to pad your content out.
Of course, there are terms you will use more than others. To avoid using them too often, try incorporating some long tail keywords, ie more specific and niche terms, alongside your more general ones.
So what Google, what are you gonna do?
So what actually happens if you don’t follow the rules and go ahead with tactics that Google doesn’t like? Well, quite a lot actually.
Google can penalise websites it finds using unethical tactics, which can prevent your sites from appearing in Google searches for a time, and in some cases, can stop you from appearing altogether. Naturally, this can have a dramatic effect on your organic traffic and chance of conversions.
If you’re worried you may have received a penalty, you can use Google Search Console to see if Google has flagged any on your site.
Put simply, if Google hates your website, they’re likely going to let you know. Stick to what is known to work and avoid cheap short-term tactics to be sure and you end up with a website that Google (and your customers) will love.