Ways to make your website more visible on Google (image of a magnifying glass)”>
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 (previously known as Webmaster Tools) is a free service from Google that allows you to submit your website and its sitemap to Google for indexing.
By submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console you are telling the search giant that your website exists, something which — as you might expect — is key to appearing in search results.
That’s not all you can do with Search Console though — you can use the tool to do a lot of other useful things, including:
checking who is linking to your site (external links being very important to the performance of a site in Google search results)
ensuring that Google is not experiencing any crawl errors with your site
letting Google know if different versions of your websites exist for different countries
viewing the kinds of search queries that are driving traffic to your site
telling Google when you’ve updated a piece of content so that the fresh version can be displayed in search results more quickly.
The Search Console help pages are a great starting point to understanding how the tool can help you maximise visibility for your site in search results.
You might also find the ‘Intro to Google Search Console’ video below useful too.
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2. Link your site to Google MyBusiness
Registering your business on Google My Business (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 (see video below for more information on this process).
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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 Queens, New York, and somebody with an Queens IP address enters a search phrase of ‘web design Queens’ or even ‘web design’ into Google, you may surprise yourself by popping up in a higher-than-expected position in search results (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 devices
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
Getting page speed insights
For a 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). Pingdom’s Website Speed Test site is also a good resource for identifying aspects of your website that are slowing it down.
Using these tools will help you see how fast your site is loading and 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.”>
Google’s PageSpeed Tools can help you find ways to improve the loading times of your website.
Check out our full guide to optimizing a website for search engines.
4. Identify the right keywords to use — and add them to your headings, page titles, meta descriptions and URLs
It’s important to identify the best keywords — phrases that you want to rank for in search results — for your site, and to make sure that they’re added to it in the right way.
Identifying the right keywords
This involves finding out three key pieces of information:
the keywords that people are using to search for products or services like yours
the volume of searches for each of them
how difficult it will be to rank for each keyword (this is based on how many existing authoritative sites or pages already perform well in search results for those keywords).
When you have these three pieces of information, you can usually identify the phrase (or phrases) to optimize your content for.
This is because you have enough data to find an SEO ‘sweet spot’ – keywords that are popular enough to generate a reasonably large amount of traffic, without being so popular that there are already lots of other websites dominating search results for them.
To get your hands on this data, you’ll need to use a dedicated keyword research tool like Semrush or Ahrefs; these let you enter in keywords and provide you with all the above stats for each one.
You can access a 2-week free trial of Semrush here.
Adding your keywords to your site
Once you’ve identified the most appropriate keywords, you need to make sure that they’re added to the right places of your website.
You should add them to:
page titles — the text displayed in search results as the clickable headline for a given result
meta descriptions — a page description that is presented in search results as the main summary of the content
headings — the ‘signpost’ headers (H1, H2, H3 etc.) that guide readers through an article
page content — the main copy of your page
your URLs – the address of the page, i.e., www.yoursite.com/page-name
Search result example highlighting a page title and meta description.”>
Search result example highlighting a page title and meta description.
Google uses all these elements in various ways to index your content and determine whether it is relevant to searches for your preferred keywords.
(One caveat on meta descriptions: Google is on record as saying that meta descriptions aren’t a ranking factor. However, it does monitor the clickthrough rates that meta descriptions generate in search results, with higher clickthrough rates (CTR) indicating that a page is likely to answer a particular search query well. Pages with high CTRs are often rewarded with higher placements in search results — so meta descriptions can end up influencing proceedings after all.)
Avoid being spammy by stuffing all the above with too many 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.
When it comes to URLs, using ‘clean’ URLs with a simple structure is encouraged by Google.
Clean URLs are short, simple and intelligible: as an example, if you were selling blue cars, it would be advisable to use a URL of www.yourdomain.com/blue-cars rather than www.yourdomain.com/prd/p223.php?ref=1456_blue_cr
You’ll find more information from Google on simple URL structures here, but the key things to remember when creating them are:
Always use short URLs that contain your focus keywords.
Break up your URLs with punctuation when needed to make keywords more obvious to both Google and users (i.e., www.yoursite.com/green-shoes is better than www.yoursite.com/greenshoes).
Use hyphens rather than underscores to denote spaces (i.e., www.yoursite.com/green-shoes is preferred to www.yoursite.com/green_shoes).
Clean URLs make it easier for users to spot relevant pages in search results, but 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.
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 high-quality, 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 low-quality backlinks for you however — Google can and will penalise your site if it thinks there is spammy activity going on in this regard.
And remember that links from higher-quality websites count more than those from lower-quality ones — i.e., if you get a link from The New York Times to your website, it will have more impact on your site’s ranking than one from an unknown blog site.
More ways to boost your position in search results
Super Simple SEO book”>
I hope the above tips have helped you understand how to make your site more visible in Google search results!
However, there are a LOT more steps you can take to improve your ranking — if you’re interested in finding out more about these and want to make more substantial improvements to your site’s performance in Google, then you might like to download our ‘Super Simple SEO’ book.
Written in a friendly, jargon-free way, the book is ideal for website owners who need to get quickly to grips with SEO without spending a fortune on consultants or online courses. Find out more about the book and download it here.
You can also join our mailing list for more tips on SEO.
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Got any search tips of your own, or queries about SEO? Feel free to share them in the comments section below.
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