It's hard to argue with the notion that Google is the king of internet search engines. It’s not the only one out there of course, but it’s fair to say that it’s the biggest and most widely used. It has developed so much since it started in 1998, it’s difficult to imagine a world (wide web) without it. You can’t underestimate how much it has absorbed itself in our lives, it’s even gone from a proper noun to a verb in our day-to-day language.
Whatever you think of the company itself, it is the go-to site for many people looking for almost anything on the internet. There are over 40,000 search queries every second, 3.5 billion per day and over 1.2 trillion every year. With figures like that, it’s easy to understand how important it is to get to the top of the Google search results. It’s a lot easier said than done, but there are some simple ways you can improve your Google ranking. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Before we talk about that, it’s important to understand just how Google search works. How the search results you ask for are delivered is, at their core, a three stage process. The first is achieved through Googlebot. This is a huge array of computers that Google has to crawl over billions of pages of web content. Google uses an algorithm to determine which sites to crawl through, which pages to include and how often those pages are looked at. By using site maps and previous results, Googlebot detects links to other pages and site changes, additions and dead links are all used to update the index. From there, each of the pages it looks helps to create an enormous index of the words on each page. Finally, when someone searches for particular terms, Google searches these indexes, looking for matches and delivers them to the user using over 200 different factors including PageRank; a measure of a pages importance based on links to it from other sites.
The algorithm Google uses to calculate their search results isn’t set in stone. It changes, it evolves and it’s very dynamic. What works today won’t be the same formula that works this time next year. It changes because it’s business model is governed with being the number one search engine, so the results it delivers need to be the most accurate and most relevant to the user. Because of this, the way you work with your SEO needs to adapt too. With all of this complexity behind the scenes, how do you get your pages closer to the top of any returned results?
The first thing you need to do, given how Google works, is to ensure they can crawl and index your site correctly. To start, you need to provide your webmaster with a sitemap .XML file, with links pointing to the important pages on your site. It is also a good idea to provide a page with a readable list of links, sometimes known as a site index or site map. It’s also important that all the pages on your site can be reached, via a link, from another findable page. That link should include either text or, if it’s an image, a relevant alt attribute to the target page.
It’s important that your web server correctly supports the If-Modified-Since HTTP header. This feature directs your web server to tell Google if your content has changed since they last crawled your site. This saves you both bandwidth and overhead.
When it comes to improving your Google ranking, something we’ve talked about a lot, and we make no apologies for that, is focussing on the quality, rather than the quantity, of the content on your website. When it comes to inbound marketing, the entire methodology is built around developing quality content and using that to drive visitors. As your reputation for quality content grows, people will begin to link to your site. All those links will soon begin to help your search ranking. Remember to update your content regularly too, it helps to keep your site relevant.
Social media also plays an important part when it comes to search results. It’s hard to tell exactly how much impact Twitter and Facebook posts have, but we do know Google incorporates social sharing in their search results, and this includes Google+! You might not have considered it as part of your strategy, but it does play an important part in Google’s, so it needs to be given due consideration.
Despite all these helpful tips, there is no one sure-fire way to rise to the top of the rankings overnight. Everything about this topic takes time, planning and forethought on your part. Great content is a fantastic place to start and the other things will hopefully follow naturally.
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