June 21, 2019
We’re often asked by clients why their website isn’t coming up on Google when they search a relevant phrase to their business. While it seems like a simple enough question, the answer is actually a lot more complicated than people realize.
By Hannah Freyvogel
Demystifying how Google ranks websites can help you understand where your website is going wrong for rank and how to fix it so that your website shows up more often on the search page. This process is commonly known as Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.
“Rank” is the term for where your website shows up on the search engine results page. In Google terms, this is commonly called PageRank. When you search for any term, the top result is the first “ranked” website, then the second, etc. Your rank will change depending on the search query and the other things that Google takes into account when ranking sites. The most important part of how your website ranks has to do with “authority.” In its simplest form, authority is a combination of the popularity and the trustworthiness of a website. There are plenty of popular sites that are not safe to browse, and alternately there are extremely safe websites that are not popular at all. Combining these two metrics is how Google determines where your website ends up when a user completes a search.
Believe it or not, there actually aren’t hard numbers for rank or authority that digital marketers can look at. Google keeps its cards close to the chest, and so while we know what Google is looking for, Google doesn’t tell us outright when we’re doing search engine optimization correctly. There are various marketing tools online that attempt to guess at authority and rank, but they’re just that – estimates. Despite the uncertainty, there is an accurate list of things that contribute to more authority, and higher rank:
Internal links on your website for usability
An XML sitemap for Google to “crawl”
Safe browsing features, such as HTTPS
Lots of relevant content for your users
Optimization for mobile devices
Social media metrics
And, most importantly: Backlinks from relevant and authoritative websites.
The “web” may be a colloquial word, but it accurately reflects what Google is looking for above all: interconnectedness. Google rewards sharing content and connecting to pertinent articles and other related websites. This is why articles that go viral rank so well – there are tons of people backlinking to the original article, thus boosting its authority and rank, so it reaches even more people! While it can seem like a lot to take in, learning what Google values in a website can help you understand what may need to change in your digital marketing strategy as you optimize your website for success.
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