Five Things You Can Do to Improve Your Search Rankings Now
Success in business depends partly on the ability to bring in new leads and prospects. Today’s internet requires a strong presence on the first page of search results. The top three search results garner 70% of the clicks. Getting in the top three is imperative if you want to get business from search results. Here are 5 things that will help your site rise to the top of the search results.
1. SSL certificate and site security
SSL (Secure Socket Layer) is the padlock beside your domain name at the top of your browser. Recently, Google began penalizing sites that did not have this padlock. Insecure websites are a boon for hackers because it exposes information flowing from a computer to the website and back. This is especially true if you have contact forms or other means of collecting personal information from your site visitors.
Visitors to your website want to know their information is protected, and an SSL certificate does just that. If your website does not have a padlock or if you are concerned about the security of your website, speak with your website developer or hosting company.
2. Use an audit tool to inspect the site and fix any issues
Algorithms are used by Google to determine a website’s credibility and its position in search rankings. Much of the data Google uses in its algorithm is related to a site’s mechanics:
- how fast your website loads
- how content is structured
- the number of inbound links to your website
- the number of headings
- the amount of information included on each page.
Additionally, the quality and strength of your inbound links can affect what is known as a trust score. This trust score measures how credible your website is.
It sounds complicated. Fortunately, there are some excellent tools to help you determine how to improve your website’s searchability. These tools are called audit (or assessment) tools. These tools inspect your site down to the code level and identify what needs to be fixed to meet Google’s requirements. MySiteAuditor, MOZ, and GTMetrix are good examples of these audit tools. Most of them will give you a checklist of issues that you can take directly to your web developer to have fixed. Keep in mind that the web developer can not fix some issues. The number of words on the page (Google likes to see about 2000 words), how many times you use a keyword, and if your keyword appears in specific areas such as heading, title, or link text depend on strong content.
Use our free auditor tool to see how your site ranks.
3. Run a duplicate content check
Duplicate content can kill a website. Google likes unique and relevant content. If there is content on your page that is an exact duplicate of content elsewhere, Google will view your site as a copycat and penalize you significantly in your search positioning. Duplicate content can also mean that your words are plagiarized, which can lead to lawsuits for copyright infringement. Even one sentence used precisely the way another source uses it can cause problems. You can use content that is common across sources, but the wording must be original.
It might be tempting to take a manufacturer’s content to describe their product or borrow content from a subject matter expert to get your point across, but it will hurt you in the long run.
Many tools exist that will take your content and compare it against the millions of content already on the internet. Amazing, right? The truth is Google wants you to be relevant and your copy unique. Examples of the tools available are Copyscape and Copywritely.
It cannot be stressed enough: Duplicate content is the #1 KILLER of website rankings!
4. Create a proper sitemap and submit it to Google Search Console
Robots (bots) and spiders coming in and out of a website sound like something out of a science fiction movie. In reality, it is exactly what Google uses to “crawl” your website. A site map will tell you how many pages you have on a site, and bots and spiders will crawl through each page on your site to determine how you rank in search results. Google is comparing your content to the thousands of other websites that relate to common search terms and see how aligned your site is with them. A properly formatted site map is key to helping Google understand the focus of your website.
Site maps are created using XML, a coding style that stands for Extensible Marketing Language. XML makes your website readable to both humans and machines, so you can see how a properly formatted site map is critical. Google will continue to crawl a site to make sure content is updated regularly. Websites that are not regularly updated will drop quickly in search rankings.
To submit a site map to Google Search Console, you must have a Google account and a site map created by your web developer or use a plugin for your content management system. Once those two key pieces are in place, you will need to log into your Google account and log into the Search Console. First, you will need to verify your domain name (which may require the help of your web developer). Next, you will land on the Search Console page. Click site map on the left and enter your site map file name. Click Submit and you are done.
5. Create unique page titles, snippets, and engaging meta descriptions
The premise here is that, when Google returns a search result, the searcher quickly needs to know what they will find on that page. Search results are comprised of two key elements: page title and meta description. While the meta description is not a factor in how your website ranks, it is a factor in whether the searcher clicks on your page.
The snippet is a brief synopsis of your page that passes your information through social sharing mechanisms. For example, you found a relevant blog post that you want to share. When you click the share button, a box pops up to show you how that share will appear on a social platform. The text shown in the box is the snippet.
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