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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 spell these out for you — follow the below tips to make your site more visible!
1. Register your site with Google Search Console
Google Search Console 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 it 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 (generally speaking, the more high-quality links pointing to your site, the better it will perform in 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 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 may also find the ‘Intro to Google Search Console’ video below useful too.
2. Register your site with Google My Business
Doing so can give your business a quick win by helping it appear in relevant geographic search results — within just a couple of weeks.
When you register your website with Google My Business, 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 genuinely operates in the physical location you specified, 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 with this service is absolutely vital.
Remember: keep your Google My Business entry up to date
Once you’ve registered on Google My Business, it’s very important to keep your 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 you’re Google My Business entry contains incorrect information (like incorrect opening hours or an old telephone number), then this is going to work against you.
Once you’ve set up your Google My Business profile, 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 — this means keeping use of scripts to a minimum and using 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 image compression 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.
The importance of page speed for mobile devices
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. Accordingly, Google places a very 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.’
Not only can these slow down the loading of your website on a mobile device, they can make for a poor mobile user experience — something that Google’s algorithm typically penalizes.
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. 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
To find out what the best keywords are for your website, you need to perform keyword research.
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.
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
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, however, by stuffing all the above with too many keywords, 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/ref1456_zblue_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, bur are helpful in another way too: 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.
6. Follow Google’s advice
Google is actually pretty helpful when it comes to advising you how to improve your site’s performance in search results – in fact, the company provides 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.
The Google Search Central Youtube channel also contains useful video content for anyone hoping to improve their presence in search results.
And, as mentioned earlier, it’s worth checking out Google’s mobile SEO overview document too.
More ways to boost your position in search results
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 search 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 do sign up below to get access to our free SEO toolkit.
Download our free SEO toolkit
For a limited time we’re offering our readers some excellent free SEO tools and resources. Sign up now to immediately receive:
- our downloadable cheatsheet containing the 20 key steps to ranking highly in search results
- access to an extended free trial of a leading SEO tool
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- ongoing free tips and advice on growing your business
Making your site visible in Google: checklist
Register your site with Google Search Console.
Register your site with Google My Business.
Make your site load as fast as it can, particularly on mobile devices.
Perform keyword research, and add the right keywords to the right parts of your site.
- Create high-quality content.
Create backlinks to your website.
Make use of Google’s free tools and resources.
Got any queries about SEO or making your site more visible? Feel free to share them in the comments section below. We’ll do our best to help 🙂