Are you wondering how you can make your website more visible on Google search engines?
Wondering how you can increase your rankings and get to the first page of the search results?
The fact of the matter is that there are no shortcuts that would help you miraculously get to the top of the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). There are specific steps you would need to take to start seeing significant changes in your website’s ranking.
In this guide, we would look at 10 steps you can take to make your website more visible on Google search engines.
1. Improve your website’s user experience
User experience (UX) and SEO work hand in hand to determine which web pages feature on search results.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the strategy used to optimize websites for search engines. In simple terms, SEO helps increase your website visibility so you can gain traffic from search engines.
In the past, SEO activities were primarily keyword research and link building. The majority of website owners were concerned with finding the best keywords to create articles for and then building backlinks to those content to increase its chances of ranking. And for a while, this strategy worked.
Today, SEO has gone further than just keywords and links.
With the constant increase in technology, Google’s algorithm has developed so much that its sole goal is to improve the user’s (searchers) experience.
How does Google do this?
Google makes use of an algorithm called Rankbrain.
What is Rankbrain?
RankBrain is a component of Google’s core algorithm that uses machine learning (the ability of machines to teach themselves from data inputs) to determine the most relevant results to search engine queries.
The whole point of Rankbrain is to try and understand the user’s intention (search intent) and accurately verify how the content of a website answers the user’s request. So, for your website to consistently appear on Google search results you must meet the conditions set by Rankbrain.
The factors that Rankbrain takes into consideration when vetting a website are: bounce rate, dwell time, and click-through rate.
What is bounce rate?
Bounce rate is a metric that determines the number of people that visit a website without taking an action, such as filling a form or making a purchase. A high bounce rate is an indication of poor UX.
In fact, bounce rate may be one of Google’s ranking factors. Several studies have shown that bounce rate is correlated to Google’s first-page ranking.
What is dwell time?
Dwell time is the length of time a user spends on a webpage after they have clicked on a link on the SERP page, but before clicking back to the SERP result.
Dwell time plays a big role in determining the results on the first page of Google search. From Google’s algorithm point of view, the more time a user spends on a webpage, the higher the probability that they are satisfied with the content on the page.
What is click-through rate (CTR)?
In simple terms, click-through rate is the number of impressions that lead to a click.
So if you have a PPC ad with 2000 impressions but had only 1 click, your CTR would be 0.1%.
Search engines, especially Google take CTR very seriously since in the PPC model, the more someone clicks on an ad, the more money they make.
As a metric, click-through rate would tell you whether searchers are finding your ads relevant. When you have a high CTR, it signals to the algorithm that your ad is relevant and they would increase its visibility in the SERPs.
In this age of SEO and UX, website owners should not only create valuable content that answers the questions that searchers are looking for but also make their web pages attractive.
Here are some tips to help you improve user experience (UX)
1. Mobile-first index:
Mobile-first index is a design philosophy that involves creating mobile versions of websites and applications before adapting them for larger screens. With the majority of Google searches coming from smartphones, Google’s algorithm has prioritized mobile-first indexing.
It is important that your webpages are suited for mobile. Not having a website that is optimized for mobile can decrease your positions in the rankings, and therefore lower your visibility in the search results.
Google has offered a tool to help you identify if your website is mobile-friendly. Take Google’s mobile-friendly test.
2. Website navigation:
When your website is difficult to navigate, most visitors would use the exit button; leading to a high bounce rate and low dwell time.
When creating your website, ensure that users can smoothly navigate through the pages of your site.
As a bonus, user-friendly navigation would allow robots to index your site easily. Before your website can become more visible on Google search engines, they need to get indexed first.
Read this interesting article from Orbit Media on website navigation best practices.
3. Text formatting:
The formatting of text on your website should make it easy for users to scan through the page content easily. Organize your web pages into H1 H2, H3,.. hierarchical structure to facilitate easy reading.
Tip: Your headers should contain key phrases that hint towards what the article is about. This would help search engines identify what your article is all about.
4. Page loading speed:
The speed it takes your webpage to load can affect its ranking on search engines. Plus a slow website would also annoy users leading to a high bounce rate.
2. Identify the right keywords
Keyword research is the most important part of any SEO strategy. Before you start creating content, you need to identify the right keywords to write about.
It is the keywords that you choose that would determine your content’s direction, ensuring that your website is visible on Google search engine.
When performing keyword research, it is not enough to find high-volume search terms. You want to ensure that they match what your users are searching for. Once you have properly identified the right keywords for your brand or product, you can now start creating content that can rank on the SERPs.
How can you do keyword research?
There are several ways to do keyword research. You can either decide to do it manually or use a keyword research tool.
From my experiments, the best keyword research tool in the market today is SEMrush.
To help you have a good idea of SEMrush vs other keyword research tools, I have written an in-depth comparison review of SEMrush Vs Ahrefs Vs Moz Vs SpyFu.
No matter which steps you take — manual or with a keyword research tool — there are several steps you would have to take.
STEP 1: Study your niche
Before you start keyword research or creating content, you need to have a good idea of your niche/industry.
To find out more about your niche, you can talk with your existing customers to get to know them better, get involved in your niche’s online communities, and study your competitor’s keyword profile (SEMrush comes with a handy tool that helps you spy on your competitors).
STEP 2: Define your goals
You need to identify your goals before you can decide which route to take for your SEO strategy and plan.
What is the aim of creating the content? Do you want to generate more leads? Do you want to increase your number of subscribers? Etc.
The search term you use should align with your business goals. There is no point in getting traffic from Google when it doesn’t help your business meet its goals. It is better to get 1000 search clicks that lead to 10 conversions than 10,000 search clicks and no conversions.
STEP 3: Make a list of relevant topics
Depending on your business goals and niche, create a list of topics you want to rank for.
For example, if you are a women’s health brand that specializes in female personal care products, some of the topics you would target are female facial care or remain hair products.
The topics you choose should align with the products and services you offer and also match your buyer persona.
STEP 4: Create a list of seed keywords
After you have decided on the main topics you would center your content on, start creating a list of seed keywords. These keywords should be related to your main topics.
Seed keywords are the terms your target audience is searching on Google. Seed keywords or focus keywords help you define your niche and identify your competitors.
STEP 5: Use keyword research tools
Keyword research tools make your job easier and faster. After you have identified your goals, main topics, and focus keywords, you should use a good keyword research tool to refine the search terms further.
With a good keyword research tool, you would be able to identify how much monthly traffic a search term gets and how difficult it would be for you to rank for the specific term on Google. You can use Google Keyword Planner for your research. But for more detailed insight, use a keyword tool like SEMrush.
STEP 6: Understand user search intent
Google algorithm is very smart. The algorithm uses marching learning to match search results with the user’s search intent. When creating content, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are the users searching because they have a question or want an answer to a question?
- Are they searching for information, education, or do they want to make a purchase?
- Are they searching for a specific website or product?
When you get search intent right when doing keyword research, you would be able to create content that users are searching for on Google. Finding keywords that match search intent would make your website more visible on Google search engines.
3. Write high-quality SEO content
SEO content is any content with the goal of attracting search engine traffic.
I am not about to tell you everything you need to know about optimizing content for search engines; that is an entire guide on its own. But here are some quick tips you can use to create SEO content:
- Keyword research: We have already discussed keyword research in the number 2 section of this article. Just remember that if you want to get any traffic from Google, you need to perform keyword research before you start writing any content.
- Keyword optimization: While writing the article, you need to know where and how many times you would use the keyword in the article to increase your article’s searchability on the SERPs
- Content organization: The content on your website should be in the form of silos; one content should lead to another. Organize your website in a logical way so that both search engines and users can find related content with ease. The easier it is to parse through your website’s content, the longer users would spend on your site.
- Content promotion: You would also increase visibility to your website content by sharing it on social networks. If a lot of people are sharing your content on social media, then it’s likely more people will link to it, and links are a hugely important SEO ranking factor.
Another thing to note when creating content is that long-form content always outranks thin content. In fact, the top 5 results in the SERP pages are articles that are 2000 words or more.
Sites that have thin content run the risk of getting penalized by Google. Plus they usually have a low dwell time and increased bounce rate.
Tip: Your content can also be in the form of videos. Since search engines can’t read the videos itself, it’s important you use proper SEO optimization for videos to ensure that your videos get picked up and ranked by search engines.
4. Improve your website speed, especially on mobile devices
How fast your website loads, especially on mobile devices, play a crucial role in your website’s visibility on Google’s search engine. Website speed has been a Google rankíng factor since 2010.
Here are some strategies you can use to increase your website’s speed:
- Use a fast hosting site. (My number one recommendation is Bluehost. You can start using Bluehost for as low as $2.95 per month OR you can read my complete Bluehost hosting review).
For further information on how to increase the speed of your website, I have written two in-depth guides: 17 WordPress speed optimization tips to improve load times AND how to increase your website speed without plugins.
Getting page speed insights
The best part of all these tools is that they give you recommendations on how to improve the speed of your website.
No matter how amazing your content is or how fast your website loads, you need backlinks to give you an initial boost in search engines.
Backlinks also known as inbound links are links from one website to a page on another website. Backlinks are very important for any site. Web pages that have high backlinks tend to perform well on Google search engines.
Why are backlinks important?
Backlinks serve as votes from other sites. Each backing signals Google’s algorithm that the content of a web page is useful and valuable. Even though Google keeps making regular changes to its algorithm, backlinks are still one of the most important ranking factors.
Google themselves have even confirmed that backlinks are one of their three most important ranking factors.
Note that not all backlinks are created equally. It is better to get one high-quality backlink than 100 low quality or spammy backlinks. Here are some key traits of valuable backlinks:
- They come from trusted authoritative websites
- They include your target keyword in the link’s anchor text
- The link is a do-follow link
- The site linking to your page is topically related to your site
- The link is from a domain that hasn’t linked to you before
Here are some ways you can generate backlinks to your website:
- Create linkable assets: If you want people to link to your website, you need to create amazing content that they can link to. A linkable asset can be an amazing piece of content, infographic, quiz, or survey.
- Build backlinks from link roundups
- Broken-link building: Find websites with web pages that have 404 errors and let the site owners know that they have broken links. You can then offer your own resource to replace the broken link.
- Write guest posts on other sites
Avoid using black-hat techniques to build backlinks to your site. Google would penalize your site, if they notice a ton of spammy links to your website.
6. Register your website with Google My Business
Another easy way you can increase your visibility on search engines is by showing up on location-based results. By registering your website on Google My Business, your website would begin to appear in relevant geographical search results.
After applying to Google My Business, you would receive a postcard with a pin containing your business address. You would use this pin to verify your business.
Here is a video on how the process works.
After verification, Google would know that your business is situated in that geographical location, meaning that your website would start appearing in Google search results when users search for a business like yours in that area.
Google My Business is very crucial for local SEO.
Local SEO refers to the process of ‘optimizing’ your online presence to attract more business from relevant local searches.
To help you get started with local SEO, I have written a complete local SEO checklist for 2020. This list contains tips that would help your website rank locally on Google.
7. Register your website with Google Search Console
If you haven’t registered your website with Google Search Console, you should do so now — especially if your website is still new.
Google Search Console is a free tool from Google that allows you to submit your website and its sitemap for indexing. If the pages on your website are not getting indexed by Google, it would be almost impossible for your web pages to rank. Submitting your website to Google Search Console notifies the algorithm that a webpage exists.
Google offers a useful intro to help you get started with Search Console.
8. Optimize for voice search
With the rise of smartphones and technologies like voice assistants, there is a voice search revolution, with most people welcoming voice search with open arms.
According to reports from Statista, the number of voice assistants users is expected to reach 8 billion by 2023.
With this significant rise in voice assistant users, it would make sense to create content around it.
To get started, these are some SEO strategies you can use to optimize your website for voice search.
- Use structured data like Schema markup. They help you further optimize your content for search engines.
- Claim your Google My Business listing. Voice search sees a high number of hyper-local queries. For example, ” pizza shops near me”. This is why you should claim your Google My Business listing.
- Create blog posts that answer searchers’ questions.
- Incorporate likely voice search phrases into your website content. Make sure to use these phrases in a conversational style rather than as single keywords in sentences.
Backlinko has an amazing article on optimizing your website for voice search.
9. Aim for Google’s featured snippet
Sometimes, Google pulls out content from a relevant web page and displays as a featured snippet above the #1 result on the SERPs. Getting your website featured as a snippet can increase your website’s visibility and boost traffic to your content.
Here is an example of a featured snippet
Here are a few ways you can create content that ranks in the snippets:
- Create content specifically to answer questions and provide in-depth answers
- Know the questions your users are asking. 19% of searches using question result in a featured snippet in the first page of search results
- Create high-quality, comprehensive, and user-focused articles
- You won’t get the featured snippet unless you are the best at responding to a question. So ensure that you provide the best answer
10. Follow Google’s advice
Google offers a ton of resources to help you improve your website’s performance in search engines. For example, they have a free guide here to help you optimize your site for Google Search.
They also offer an SEO guide that covers topics like metadata, use of headers, and the right way to write keyword-rich content.
If you prefer video, they have a Google Webmasters Youtube channel with video content to help you increase search presence.
You should also check out this document on Google’s overview of mobile SEO.
Read all these guides in-depth and follow all their advice.
I hope the above strategies would help you understand how to make your site more visible in Google search results!
Which of the tips in this article would you implement right away? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.
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