So, you spent quite a lot of money on a beautiful, functional and impressive website. But now you’re thinking, ‘why isn’t my phone ringing?’ and ‘where are all the new customers I was expecting?’. The fact is, a modern, visually-appealing new website design is a part of your digital marketing strategy. But alone, it may not guarantee a noticeable improvement in Google ranking and subsequent customer contact. Unfortunately, at this stage, your new website design may be lost in the dreaded cyber-space void. And no wonder, with over 1.7 billion websites on the internet, it’s easy to get lost. Therefore, you must pull your website out of the void and into the light. Or more importantly, get it in front of your target customers. To do this you need to know a little about the Google ranking algorithm.
The Google Algorithm is continuously attempting to move us towards a better-quality internet. This means positive discrimination for better quality content. Which, in turn, equals better-ranking results for those businesses that are algorithm savvy. Google constantly tweaks its algorithm in order to improve its performance. Essentially, it’s becoming more nuanced every day. And sometimes, they activate a step-change in the way it ranks our search results, such as ‘Mobile First’. More on that below.
Clearly, being at the top of a Google search is great for your business. In fact, research has shown that the number 1 result in Google gets 31.7% of all the clicks! Furthermore, you pretty much have to appear on the first page to receive any clicks at all.
An important strategy to improve your business’s Google search ranking is to implement Search Engine Optimisation or SEO techniques. SEO is a broad subject that includes specific ways to position your website’s content to align with what Google considers best-practice. The most effective of these is a keyword strategy. At its simplest, this involves choosing keywords, or search terms, that your customers are most likely to type into Google in order to find your kind of business or service. These are then included within your website’s written content. Fortunately, although there are lots of ‘do’s and don’ts’ to learn, there’s nothing a bit of time and enthusiasm can’t conquer. Try this guide to keywords published by Yoast.
Producing quality content is also a major Google ranking factor. The better the content, the higher the rank. So, what is quality website content? Simply put, good content is relevant, informative, substantial (over 300 words per page) and well structured. The algorithm can rank for these qualities in two ways. By assessing the content directly and also by examining such things as the time customers spend on your site and the popularity of the content, i.e. through links and shares. It’s also a great idea to maintain a regular blog section on your website. This helps keep the site dynamic and drive better organic search results.
We’ve discussed Responsive Website Design in a previous blog. Briefly, responsive website design means the same website is viewable across any platform. PC, tablet, phone should all display the exact same website with all the same functionality. A few years ago, Google began up-ranking sites that included a mobile-friendly version. Then, a year ago, they began actively rolling out mobile-indexing. Now, Google has announced ‘Mobile First’ indexing for all new domains. This means a site’s position within Google ranking will be determined by their mobile version first. This is surely a response to the rapidly growing mobile internet user population. Incredibly, mobile internet data is slated to increase four-fold from 2017 to 2022.
In short, ensure your website design is responsive before you begin sliding down the search results!
Of course, free advertising is great too. Such as organic click-throughs from your well-written and smart looking new website. Plus, enquiries from your fully-featured Google My Business listing are fantastic. But nothing is as far-reaching, targeted and effective as a well-planned Google Ads campaign. Do Google Ads work? To answer this, you should probably consider all those successful businesses out there that are spending hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions, of dollars annually on Google Ads. Why? Because they work.
First, consider your goals and budget. What is it that you’d like to achieve with your campaign? More calls, visits to your website or direct sales? Next, decide on how much you’d like to spend each week. You, or your agency, will be able to track progress and make changes as the campaign progresses.
Ultimately, it’s better to be found directly. But don’t underestimate the importance of both a free Google My Business listing and some of the other free directories. These include True Local, Yelp, Hot Frog, and others. A well-written, complete, Google My Business (GMB) listing is essential for any business. In fact, it’ll often appear ahead of your website for different search terms and can easily lead customers to your site or create an instant contact. In addition, the increasingly popular search term ‘near me’ will usually direct a customer to your GMB listing. These directories don’t improve your Google ranking as such, but they do hugely increase your local visibility. Furthermore, to rank well within Google My Business listing, get as many positive reviews as you can. Try a service such as ‘Fetch Review’ to encourage your customers to create a review.
Remember to complete each listing fully. This includes adding pictures, video (get some) and a unique description of your business. (No cheating with a cut and paste from your website!)
In addition, make sure your NAP (Name, Address, Phone) are correct and consistent across all the directories. Finally, be sure to create links to and from the directories with your website (back-links). This helps build your website’s authority within Google.
A Digital Marketing Plan is a strategy that aims to optimise every aspect of your digital presence. As such, it’s a full digital audit from which a strategic plan is proposed and launched. There’s no doubt that every aspect of a businesses online presence is important. Each has its role to play and each part can create gains. But looked at holistically, if each element is honed and optimised to both fit perfectly together and to move in the same direction, a powerful marketing strategy is borne. DMP’s include the audit and optimisation of a businesses’ website, Google Ads campaign, Social Media, Content Marketing and SEO.
We’re going to be exploring the benefits of a Digital Marketing Plan in more detail in next month’s blog.
So, there it is. 5 ways to improve your Google ranking. Perhaps the takeaway message overall is to prioritise quality. It’s clear that businesses that don’t care about the quality of their content are probably doomed to obscurity. Fortunately, this is relatively easy to avoid.
Let’s face it, the folks searching on Google (i.e. everybody) are your biggest and most easily accessible customer base. So why on earth wouldn’t you do what you can to convert as many as you can?