Where do I rank on Google? It’s a common question among small businesses and entrepreneurs, concerned that their rivals may be stealing a march in terms of ranking results. An estimated 80 per cent of website visits originate from a search engine, usually Google, despite the best efforts of Microsoft’s stylish Bing engine.
For newly-launched websites, the answer to “where do I rank on Google” is probably “not very high”. Established sites are regarded as more authoritative by the algorithm that determines the order of Google results – and authority is the watchword for this process. Google (and Bing) want to deliver the most relevant results for each individual search string. Huge sums of money are spent each year on crawling billions of websites, analysing their contents and ranking them with the most relevant results receiving prominent positions. And when it comes to the process of search engine optimisation, relevance often equates to authority.
There are some things you can’t easily change with regard to a site’s Google ranking, such as its domain name or how long it’s been live. However, other factors are within the owner’s control – including the choice of web hosting company. If a website is offline when crawlers arrive, they’ll punish it in future rankings. Happily, this is avoidable by using a web hosting company with high-speed servers around the world, storing multiple copies of page data.
Content is also hugely significant, of course. People visit search engines to enter keywords or short phrases known as long tails. Individual web pages containing exact matches to these terms will naturally perform better because the search engine assumes they’re directly relevant to the input string. For instance, this article contains the phrase “Where do I rank on Google” four times. Anyone searching for that term is likely to see this article at or near the top of their results. Indeed, if you visited the UK2 website today after typing “Where do I rank on Google” into a search bar, our SEO endeavours have clearly worked!
Eventually, it becomes difficult to shoehorn any more words and phrases into your website, and keyword stuffing soon becomes harmful if content begins to sound unnatural. A popular workaround involves using social media accounts to publish bite-sized stories containing the keywords and long tails you want to be associated with. Each post, tweet or update should include a link to your site since respectable inbound links have a positive impact on Google rankings. Interestingly, internal links also impress Google and Bing, so try to ensure every page links to at least one other page. On ecommerce sites, internal links ought to drive audiences towards registration or completing a purchase.
Search engine algorithms recognise inbound and internal links, but they can’t read graphics. An animated homepage or unlabelled image gallery won’t deliver any SEO benefits. Ensure photos or infographics have keyword-filled titles (e.g. ourflagshipitem.jpg), and add an image caption and tags to squeeze in some extra keywords. This can also be accomplished on individual web pages (via page titles) and throughout a website (using an XML sitemap).
Many SEO elements aren’t necessarily visible to the public but will be easily identified by web crawlers. For instance, Google and Bing prioritise fast-loading websites as being more suitable for mobile audiences. Accelerate loading times by removing unnecessary plugins or program code, compressing images and hosting videos offsite with an external provider like YouTube. None of this will be obvious to humans, but search engines will appreciate it…