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How to rank higher in Google

In 1998 Google was invented. Compared to the busy interface of Yahoo! or Ask Jeeves with their ‘And’s and ‘Or’ choices, its simplicity was breath-taking. Now it’s a verb. And for any business with a website, the first page of Google is hallowed ground. But how can you rank higher in Google?

Here’s a quick tour through some key points about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to make your website more attractive to Google:

Getting Google’s attention

Google uses search robots to index the internet. When they get to your website, they whip out their virtual clipboards and a list of check boxes. The more times they see a search phrase in a relevant place, the more ticks you get. More ticks = a higher ranking.

What’s in a name?

Have you named each web page intelligently? For example, this post isn’t called ‘blog123’ but ‘google-ranking-tips’. To quote a well-known superstore, every little helps.

Do you have an e-commerce website? Make sure each product page is individually labelled.

The vital title

Is the key search term in the title? I first called this post ‘Why your rival is higher in Google – and what you can do about it’. But I changed it to include my key search term ‘how to rank higher in Google’.

‘Tiffanys! Cartier!’

Google ranking robot

I love the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes where Marilyn Monroe plays a materialistic showgirl who loves her labels. Google search robots are similarly obsessed. So make sure the labels are there in your picture file names.

If your rival has an image called ‘bbq_tongs.jpg’ and you have ‘123.jpg’, guess which is more attractive to Google? Yes, it’s a pain renaming them. But it’s worth that extra minute of work to give you the edge.

‘Alt-tuning’ for Google ranking

In the early days of the internet, images took an age to download. So designers added an ALTernative tag. These words filled the space until the image unveiled itself. It allowed you to decide it was worth waiting for an image called ‘cute puppies enjoying the snow’ to load.

Any canny competitor will make sure their alt tags include the key phrase.

Tip: Remember to keep alt tags under 20 characters. Read-out-loud software for the blind and those with visual impairments still uses the tags to help their users. A colon might help – for example: ‘Rank higher in Google: graphic of a pink robot with a Marilyn Monroe wig’.

Stop cramming!

It’s all about keyword density and the Goldilocks balance of ‘just right’. This means mentioning the search term maybe three or four times in the text of a web page.

If you’ve written ‘BBQ tongs’ 40 times in white font in a white background to cram in keywords, stop! Google has wised up to such dark arts and will penalise you.

‘Synonym’ bun anyone?

Google is getting really good about synonyms – as in recognising words like ‘jumper’ and ‘sweater’ mean the same thing. The search robots are also taking in the context of which other words surround a key phrase. So you don’t have to shoehorn in the exact phrase everywhere.

The need for speed

How quickly does your website load on a mobile phone? Google is taking page speed into account in rankings. So that beautiful but slow to load video showreel on your home page won’t be doing you any favours.

Shaping up on mobile

Is your website responsive? Responsive means that the website resizes when you look at it on a mobile phone or a tablet. Google ranks all websites on how they look on mobiles.

Don’t allow a web developer to fob you off with a separate mobile website and one for PCs. The technology has existed for years to display the same ‘mother ship’ of content on different devices. This ultimately saves you time as it means you don’t have to update two websites.

For example, here’s the same page on my Durham Cathedral project on a PC, tablet and mobile:

Durham Cathedral responsive website screen devicesWant a top spot guarantee?

Ignore the ‘We can get you on page one of Google’ spam messages

No one can guarantee you a top spot. It’s impossible – unless they control all your competitors’ SEO budgets and web content!

It would be like a garden designer guaranteeing she’s placed your patio in a place where you will always get sunshine in the evening, no matter what. But what if a block of flats is built blocking the sun? It’s something neither you or she has control over. But it will affect you.

Exhibit A: Here’s a graph for SEO rankings over time for a luxury website project I worked on. Did we change anything in our second month after launch? No. But we dropped a little in the rankings after two months because our competitors had boosted their SEO. And then we were 1st a month later!

Search engine optimisation boost - graph showing Picnic Wicker's rise in rankings

A DIY approach for you to use on repeat

This blog is meant as a starter about Search Engine Optimisation. For a real insight in how to ‘Get by in Google’, my affordable blog rewriting training package is just the ticket. I take one of your blogs and SEO the heck out of it, showing my workings.

Want to really delve into SEO? I highly recommend the nine-week Recipe for SEO Success course I took with Australia’s leading copywriter!

Hire a professional to do it for you

The web content I craft for clients includes all these ways to rank more highly in Google, plus a few more. Please call me on 07929 948 743 or email to see how I can help your business or organisation.