How to get higher on Google
“How do I get my website higher on Google?”
is something we get asked quite a lot.
So how does one “get higher on Google”?
Google uses a number of factors to rank websites. Some believe it uses as many as 200 methods for doing so, although the search giant is characteristically tight-lipped on the specifics, so we’ll probably never know exactly how many ranking factors they are using. Having said that, those that can be used to obtain higher website rankings are well known and have even been confirmed by Google.
The two main factors which can help with higher Google rankings are content and links. For the sake of making this article accessible to a wider audience we’re going to simplify things (by not going too deep into certain factors) and focus on these two ranking factors.
Content is king (sort of)
You’ve probably heard the phrase “content is king”. In truth, it is one of several rulers in digital marketing. Content on its own is very unlikely to give you higher rankings (at least not on competitive keywords).
The concept is actually quite simple. If we want the page you’re reading now to rank on Google for the search term: “how to get higher on Google” it has to talk about the ways of getting your website higher on Google. Simple as that! If you have a page selling cupcakes it has to talk about cupcakes. In other words the content needs to be relevant to the keywords for which you want to rank.
It is also important to note that both Google and its users like and reward quality content. Quality content is also one of the best ways to earn natural, quality links which we’re going to talk about later in this post. Another important aspect of content is length. Various tests and studies have shown a correlation between the length of content and search engine rankings.
According to a study by Backlinko which analysed 1 million Goole search results, the average length of pages ranking on the first page of Google contains 1,890 words.
Finally, your content must be easily accessible to both visitors and search engines. We’re not going to go into the technical aspects of SEO ( remember this is a super simplified version of Google ranking factors), but in essence it is very important that Google and other search engines can access and understand your website. If they can’t access it, they will not index it and therefore your website will not rank.
Links are the backbone of the Internet and the second of the two main ranking factors. Inbound links highly correlate with higher Google rankings.
A study of One Million Google Search Results found that the number of domains linking to a page correlated with high rankings more than any of the other factors they have looked at.
Of course we’re not talking just any links; over the last couple of years Google has put a lot of effort into better understanding links. What used to be a numbers game is now a quality game. Don’t get me wrong, the numbers still matter but quality is now paramount.
What does “quality link” mean?
As stated earlier, link building used to be a numbers game. Imagine blog comments and directory submissions in their hundreds or even thousands;
today this would most likely get your website penalised very quickly.
Obtaining quality links is not easy – even some SEO agencies struggle to do so and often outsource the task to highly specialised professionals.
So, to the point: a quality link has a number of characteristics (sometimes not all of the below but the more boxes it ticks, the better)
The content of the website or page linking to you must be relevant. So, for example, if you are running a bike shop, a link from a mountain biking club website or a blog post on the latest mountain bikes would be classed as relevant.
From trusted/authority websites
The website linking to you must be of a good standard. It needs decent content, good SEO metrics (Majestic Citation and Trust Flow) some levels of engagement (comments, social media presence) and, most importantly, the site you’re gaining a link from should be built for humans and not the search engines.
Of course, the above is a very simplified description of a quality link and an experienced link prospector will use many more and much advanced techniques in her link building. Perhaps we’ll go into that detail in a future post!
It is super-important to understand Google Webmaster Guidelines and in particular their stance on building links.
Quite often, some of the techniques used by SEO companies are way outside of these guideline and therefore put websites at risk of being penalised. We do remove these nasty penalties but as they say, prevention is better than cure.
These factors were recently confirmed (although it wasn’t really news to anyone with even a basic knowledge of SEO) in a recent Google Q&A hangout. You can watch the video below and read the summary here.
So, there you have it, the two main ranking factors which can get your website higher on Google. Good content and relevant, natural, quality links.