Google’s search engine uses a variety of methods to determine which pages are displayed first in the results. Their exact formula is a secret, but there are always a few things you can do to improve your rank in Google search results. The term for this is Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Following SEO best practices is how to improve site ranking.
There are no guarantees and no quick schemes. If someone promises you quick results, it’s probably a scam. No matter what you do, make sure you make a site that you want to visit and written the way humans would want to read it.
If you’re gaming the system, sooner or later Google will figure it out and change their formula. You’ll end up plummeting in the search results and wonder why.
Google Rank Tip #1 – Keyword Phrases (aka Give Your Page a Subject)
A keyword phrase is the words you think someone is most likely to put into a search engine to find your content – basically what you think the subject of your page would be according to Google. You could put a lot of energy into keyword phrases alone and improve your site ranking. Your keyword phrase should obviously appear somewhere in your content, preferably in the first paragraph or so. “This is an article about X, Y, or Z.” Don’t overdo it, and don’t make it look unnatural. If it looks spammy, it probably is.
Again, the point here is to speak like a human and just use the words that humans are most likely to use when searching for a page about your topic. Telling people what they’re about to read is helpful.
Making a word salad to cram in keyword phrases is not.
If you were searching for your own website, what keyword phrase would you type into Google for each page? Would you look for super fast widgets? Would you look for cooking with widgets? Try searching Google for that phrase. Did you get a lot of results?
Was the content what you expected to find? It may be helpful to get a different perspective. Ask someone else to read your page and suggest what they think your keyword phrase might be. You can also check Google Trends to see if one phrase is starting to gain popularity.
Try to stick to one key subject per page. That doesn’t mean you should write stilted text or use odd phrases to keep your subject narrow. Your subject can be broad. Just don’t put a bunch of random and unrelated content together. Clear writing is both easier to search and easier to read. Don’t be afraid to be really long and detailed with that subject, so long as you start with the big ideas first and get into the weeds further down the page. In journalism, they call this the “inverted pyramid” style.
Google Rank Tip #2 – Keyword Density
One of the things Google looks for when it catalogs pages is the density of the keyword usage. In other words, how often the keyword occurs. Use natural phrasing. Don’t try to trick the search engine by repeating the same word over and over or making text “invisible.” It doesn’t work. In fact, some of that behavior even get your website banned.
Give a strong opening paragraph that says what your page is actually about.
This is just good practice, but it may help search engines find your page, too.
Google Rank Tip #3 Name Your Pages
Give your pages a descriptive name with the ‘[title]’ attribute. This is vital. Google often displays search results as a link using the Web page’s title, so write it like you want it to be read. A link called ‘untitled’ isn’t enticing, and nobody is going to click on it. When appropriate, use the page’s keyword phrase in the title. If your article is about penguins, your title should have penguins in it, right?
Google Rank Tip #4 Pay Attention to Links
One of the biggest factors Google looks at is the hyperlink.
Google looks at both links to and from your website.
Google looks at the words you use in links to help determine the content of your page. Use links within web pages as a way to emphasize keywords. Rather than saying, “click here to learn more about SEO” you should say: Read more about SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Links from other websites to your website are used to determine PageRank.
You can improve your PageRank by exchanging text links with other relevant websites. Linking to your own website is fine. Be a good citizen and link to places other than your own website – but only when relevant. Banner exchanges are not effective, and pages that want to charge you for this service are often known spammers that can hurt your rank.
There’s some debate about just how many links you should have per page. This is one of those rules that’s likely to bite you if you abuse it, so the key, again, should be to be helpful and natural with the rate and quantity of links you offer. Scripts that link your content to other pages or ads within your site may end up damaging your site in the long run.
Google Rank Tip #5 Social Networking
Social networking sites can be a good way to promote a site, but it is unclear how much it will affect your rank directly. That said, you may find that a great deal of your traffic comes from social networks, so be sure to make your content “social friendly.” Add images and give your content engaging titles.
Google Rank Tip #6 Make Your Graphics Search Friendly
Give your images ‘[alt]’ attributes. Not only does it make your website more accessible to the visually impaired, it also gives you another chance to place your relevant keywords where Google can see them. Just don’t stuff keywords that don’t belong.
Google Rank Tip #7 Make Website Mobile Friendly
An increasing number of people are using their phones to search for content. You want to make your content mobile-friendly for the sake of good user experience, but you also want to do it for the sake of search. There’s no guessing on this one. Google has indicated that mobile-friendliness is a Google ranking signal. Follow some tips from Google on setting up your site for mobile.
Google Rank Tip #8 Good Design Is Popular Design
In the end, strong, well-organized pages are pages that Google tends to rank higher. They’re also pages that tend to become more popular, which means Google will rank them even higher. Keep good design in mind as you go, and much of the SEO will design itself.