How Does Google Rank My Site in Search Results?
Written by Katie Kinlaw
Search Engine Optimization doesn’t have to be rocket science. Well, even though that might be the case, SEO isn't always easy to understand. There are so many definitions, acronyms, and reports to digest. In this blog post, Punchmark will be going back to SEO basics and talk about some of the foundational, proven variables that impact the Google algorithm.
We’re here to help teach you what you need to know!
The 4 Key Search Engine Factors
There are 4 main categories of factors that impact how a site is ranked in search results. These can be broken down into the proximity and relevancy of the user, technical SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO.
Proximity & Relevancy
If you have a cell phone you’ve probably searched for ‘restaurants near me’ or another variation of a local search. More than likely you were met with a map and recommendations based off of where you were at when you typed in that keyword phrase. With location settings turned on search engines are able to pull the most relevant results based off of a user's physical proximity. Also, with Google’s machine learning capabilities, when a user searches a keyword their past history and prior website interactions also impact what results are provided.
Maintaining Your Google My Business Listing
While you can’t impact where a person is located or their prior search history if you have a physical store(s), you can help impact what they see when they do a search. This is why it’s so important to have a Google My Business listing that is maintained and up to date. This includes having a business description, business hours, phone number, and link to your website.
Technical SEO, in a nutshell, concerns the structural foundation of your site. This includes variables such as site security, page indexing, and site speed.
With some of the recent changes in Google’s algorithm, it's more important now than ever for your site to be secure. If your site is currently HTTP instead of HTTPS one of the best things you can do is acquire an SSL certificate. This is something Punchmark can assist our clients with and is included with our V6 platform.
Another important part of technical SEO is the search engine's ability to index your site. Indexing is Google’s process of adding your web pages in it’s catalog. This allows your pages to show up when someone searches a keyword related to your business. It’s important that the pages you want to show in the search results have an index tag (this is already done for you when a new page is created.)
Search engines want to show the most relevant sites with the best user experience. This includes how long it takes to load your website. Also, the faster your site speed, the more pages Google can index on your site which means more visibility for you. Most of the time the better your site speed is, the more favorable it is to search engines.
While there are other technical factors that play into SEO these are a few key ones to keep in mind.
This aspect of SEO is predominantly concerned with business reviews and links to your site. This helps to build Google’s trust in your website and your company. Google wants to provide the most trustworthy results for its users. So, because of this, reviews and backlinks are key to a successful website.
Let’s say Google has two websites with the same average review star rating of 4.5. If Business A has 20 reviews and Business B has 200 reviews, Google will almost always showcase the business with more reviews. Encouraging customers to leave a review (whether in-person or through marketing software) is crucial!
Also, as a best practice, reply to all Google My Business reviews. Yes - even and especially the bad ones. Google and the users searching will see that you are actively responding. This is another trust builder.
Gaining new backlinks can be a bit trickier. If a website is linked to from another website that Google finds trustworthy, Google sees that as a sort of vote of confidence. The more quality backlinks you have the better a site tends to rank in the search results. By having a well-designed website that showcases engaging content it is natural to gain these types of links.
By having an updated inventory on your website with clear pictures, it can help encourage gaining links from other websites. Blog posts that are educational or articles with helpful resources tend to gain links from other websites as well.
When Google crawls your site its search spiders bots are looking for fresh content and changes that you’ve made to existing pages. This is when indexing occurs and when your new pages are prepared for search users.
Content Really Is King
Keeping Google interested in your site by adding new, relevant, and optimized content is crucial. As more and more content from the same site is indexed over time that site becomes more likely to improve its keyword ranking. The higher you rank for important keywords the more traffic you will receive. With more traffic hopefully comes more business!
Optimizing Your Content
When creating content on the site there are key variables to keep in mind. This includes metadata optimization, H1 optimization, length of content, keyword variation and depth, URL structure, internal links, and alt text for images. For a more in-depth breakdown on the above, you can check out Punchmark’s webinar on SEO Basics. This is included under the Education section in V6’s SiteManager.
For those looking for assistance with On-Page SEO, Punchmark also provides this as a service.
Update Your Meta Data
Out of all of the pieces that go into optimizing on-site content, meta descriptions and title tags are one of the most important. This is because these are the labels on your pages and are what the users see when your pages show up in Google's results.
While there are many things that play into Google’s algorithm there are actions you can take to encourage your site’s visibility. As a high-level recap, when it comes to search-engine-optimization, the biggest things you can do as a site owner are:
• Ensure you have a good technical foundation of your site including site security and healthy site speed.
• When building pages, make sure they are built to encourage page flow and depth.
• Up-to-date inventory is essential as well for good user experience.
• Build trust with Google by maintaining your GMB listing, request reviews, and reply to them.
• Generate regular quality, optimized content.
• Update and optimize your meta data.
Punchmark’s digital marketing team is here if you have any questions around SEO best practices. For our existing clients, we also offer to provide a free SEO analysis and high level consulting.
This post was written by Punchmark's Search Engine Marketing Manager, Katie Kinlaw.
Holding a background in SEO and Adwords across many different types of industries, Katie is a results-driven and hardworking professional. Years of experience have prepared her for clients of any size, budget, or background. When she isn't organizing marketing campaigns, she is listening to True Crime podcasts and television shows.
Have questions on the above? Feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.