Simple steps to gain visibility in Google search resultFaith / February 27, 2019
Getting a good placement in Google search results may seem tough, but you can make life a lot easier for yourself and your website by taking some simple, Google-recommended, steps to help the search engine giant know you’re there.
In this article, we give you some key tips to make Google sit up and notice your site.
1. Register your site with Google Search Console
Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) is a free service from Google that allows you to submit your website (and its sitemap) to Google for indexing.
That’s not all though: you can use the tool to do a lot of other useful things including:
- check important backlinks to your site
- ensure that Google is not experiencing any crawl errors with your site
- let Google know if different versions of your websites exist for different countries
- view the kinds of search queries that are driving traffic to your site
- tell Google when you’ve updated a piece of content so that the fresh version can be displayed in search results more quickly.
Most importantly, by submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console you are telling the search giant that your website exists. Which of course is the starting point to appearing in search results.
As soon as you register your site with Search Console, Google will send you an email with several tips about how to use the tool to maximise your visibility in results. Make sure you follow them!
2. Link your site to Google MyBusiness
Registering your business on Google My Business (essentially the successor to Google Places) can help it appear in relevant geographic search results.
When you do this, Google will send a postcard containing a pin to your business address – you can use this to ‘verify’ your business with Google.
This verification lets Google know that your business operates in the physical location you stated, meaning that you have a stronger chance of appearing in search results – and on Google Maps – for people who are searching for a business like yours in the area in which you operate.
If, for example, you run a web design business in Hackney, London and somebody with a Hackney IP whacks ‘web design Hackney’ or even ‘web design’ into Google, you may surprise yourself by popping up in a higher-than-expected position in search (usually as part of the map results, which is placed above the regular text ones).
The bottom line is that Google My Business is a massive part of local SEO, and if your business relies on attracting customers in your own area, registering on this service is absolutely vital.
And once you’ve registered, it’s very important to keep your Google My Business entry up to date.
This is because customers are now quite likely to see your Google My Business information before they encounter a standard listing for your website – usually in a hard-to-avoid box either to the right of search results (on a desktop) or above them (on a smartphone).
So, if your Google My Business entry contains incorrect information (like incorrect opening hours or an old telephone number), then this is going to work against you.
Tip: Encourage happy customers to review your business on Google – having some nice stars beside your business name can increase click-through rate, something that many SEO experts believe can have a positive effect on search results.
3. Make your site load as fast as it can, particularly on mobile
Google has been using ‘site speed’ as a ranking signal since 2010 — accordingly, it’s important to ensure that your site is loading as fast as possible.
This means that you should
- minimise the number of HTTPS requests on your site (to do this, keep use of scripts to a minimum and use images only when they are genuinely beneficial to your content)
- ensure your image file sizes are as small as they can be (you can use tools like Tiny Png to help you compress them with minimal loss of picture quality)
- use fast hosting
For a more comprehensive run down of the things you can do to speed up your site, I’d advise using Google’s Page Speed Insights tool (screenshot below).
Not only will this help you to you to test how fast your site is loading (on both mobile and desktop), it will provide you with a report containing a checklist of things that you need to do to help you speed up your website’s performance.
Google’s PageSpeed Tools can help you find ways to improve the loading times of your website.
It’s particularly important to ensure that your website is blazingly fast on a mobile, and that the user experience for people viewing it on smartphones is as good as possible.
Studies show that 29% of smartphone users will immediately switch to another site if they are not satisfied with how your site performs; as such Google places a strong emphasis on rewarding sites that load quickly on mobile devices with higher positions in search. Another thing worth bearing in mind is that Google prefers mobile sites that are clutter free – i.e., ones that don’t feature obtrusive popups or ‘interstitials.’
You can view Google’s mobile SEO overview guide here, which outlines how you can maximise your mobile site’s visibility in search results.
4. Use relevant keywords in your page titles, meta descriptions and URLs
Ensure that your page titles and meta descriptions contain
- accurate, concise descriptions of your page content
- keywords that you are hoping to perform well for you in search
- some location details if relevant.
Google often shows snippets of your meta descriptions in search results, and can use them to decide how relevant your site is to particular searches (by monitoring the clickthrough rates they generate in search results, with higher clickthrough rates indicating that a page answers a particular search query well).
In the above example of a search result, you can see that in addition to including the business name in the page title, the site owner has included some information about the type of food served, along with some geographical information.
Avoid being spammy though by stuffing titles and meta descriptions with too many ‘catch all’ keywords however, because this can:
- actively damage your chances of appearing high in search results (Google’s algorithms are, to say the least, pretty good at spotting spam)
- make your site appear appear off-putting or ‘cheap looking’ to users who come across it during searches.
In addition to focusing on creating well-optimised page titles and meta descriptions, you should try to ensure that your site URLs also include keywords that you are focusing on for search purposes.
This makes it easier for users to spot relevant pages in search results, and also means that if somebody creates a link to your site from theirs but only copies the URL, the keywords in the URL would become the anchor text. And, as Google looks at what words are in the anchor text when indexing content, accurate ones can help you rank better.
Example: if you are trying to sell guitars on your website, a ‘clean URL’ of www.mysite.com/guitars would be more likely to help your search engine cause than a more generic one like www.mysite.com/instruments.
5. Create backlinks to your site
Even if you’ve got fantastically well-constructed page titles, meta descriptions and URLs, they’re usually fairly useless unless you’ve got ‘backlinks’ pointing to your website too.
Backlinks are essentially links from other sites to your site, and in a very simple sense Google counts them as ‘votes’ for your content.
There are two main ways to generate backlinks:
- via outreach, by asking other site / blog owners to feature links to your content on their sites
- by creating long, keyword-rich blog posts that are extremely relevant to your business niche (if they are REALLY interesting / helpful articles about your area of business, they are more likely to attract a relevant audience, a proportion of which will create backlinks to them).
Avoid using companies that promise to create thousands of backlinks for you however – Google can and will penalise your site if it thinks there is spammy activity going on in this regard.
Our ‘Super Simple SEO’ e-book features a lot of tactics you can use to build backlinks effectively (along with other key SEO tips).
6. Follow Google’s advice
Google are actually pretty helpful when it comes to advising you how to improve your site’s performance in search results – so helpful in fact, that they provide a free guide to optimising your site for Google search.
Read it in depth and make sure you are following all their advice. The guide can be found here and deals with the nuts and bolts of SEO – how to use headers, meta data and keyword-rich content appropriately.
As mentioned earlier, it’s worth checking out Google’s mobile SEO overview document too.
You might also find Google’s guide to page titles and snippets handy too (you’ll find a video at the end of this post, and an article on the topic here).
If you’re a Google+ user, you might want to stay posted to the Google Webmasters page – where you’ll regularly get tips on SEO and other Google-related issues straight from the horse’s mouth.