Search engine optimization, or SEO, and Google go hand-in-hand. While SEO is meant to optimize your website for all search engines, many business owners take a vested interested in how it’s performing on the world’s top search engine: Google.

So, it’s important to understand how SEO works on Google if you’re hoping to improve your performance there.

Understanding Google’s Updates

The first step to understanding how SEO works on Google is understanding that they’re constantly making changes to the Google algorithm and how search results are displayed. In fact, in 2018, Google made over 3,000 updates.

And while you might not be able to keep up with every update Google makes, it’s easier to break up the type of updates they make into three pillars:

  1. Local Updates: These are algorithm changes that impact local searches and how they’re displayed.
  2. Technology Updates: These are updates Google makes to its search engine algorithms based on new technological advances or the way they’re able to process search language and behavior.
  3. Layout Updates: These are updates to the way Google looks and displays results.

By breaking it down in this way, you can start to guess what types of changes they may make in the future. It also gives you some insight into what Google finds important.

How Google Chooses Which Sites to Display

So, you know that Google is constantly changing. But, what’s important for search performance right now? There are more than 200 known factors Google looks at when determining which sites to display for which searches. And, Google is notoriously tight-lipped on what those actually are, so there are likely more. But, luckily, we do know a good chunk of what they find important.

Here are the top five:

  1. High-Quality Content
  2. Mobile-Friendly Website
  3. Website Architecture (Secure Site + Fast Site Speed)
  4. Backlinks
  5. Schema Markup

Google looks at these, and many other factors, to provide searchers with a list of results that best matches (in their estimation) the searcher’s intent. Beyond the factors Google analyzes from your website, they’re also looking at information from the searcher, including their location, their previous search and user behavior, and more.

Google is constantly aiming to provide searchers with the most relevant results for their queries, which is why they make so many changes and why their search engine has evolved so much over the last 21 years.

So, you know that it’s important to understand how SEO works on Google, and you know some of the top factors they look at when determining which sites to show. Now you probably want to know how to improve SEO on Google, right?

You’re in luck!

How to Improve Your SEO on Google

We outlined five of the top factors Google looks at when determining which sites to show in search results. And while a good SEO strategy looks at much more than these five factors, it’s a good place to start. We’ve grouped them into three top tips.

Audit Your Website

Let’s kick it off by looking at your website. Your website needs to:

  • Be mobile-friendly or responsive.
  • Load quickly.
  • Be secure ““ meaning an HTTPS address.
  • Include high-quality content that’s relevant to searchers and search engines.
  • Be laid out in a way that makes sense to users and search engines.
  • Have schema markup.
  • Include an internal linking strategy.
  • Have metadata.

Okay, that’s a lot. And that’s not even the full list. Your website is the foundation of your SEO. If it’s not up to snuff, then your SEO won’t be successful.

Check Out Your Content

Now, let’s talk about content. Content is extremely important for SEO ““ it’s the main way search engines (and searchers!) can tell what your business does, where you’re located, and what type of queries your website should appear for.

Your web content needs to include information about what you do, your brand story, all your relevant products and services, where you’re located, and more. You can use your content to address FAQs from customers and share testimonials from happy clients (who agree to have their information shared).

Google, especially, has made updates over the last few years to reward websites that are writing content for people, not for search engines. They’ve created and released technology that allows them to better understand what a searcher is asking and source a site that best matches that query. This is why tactics like keyword stuffing (where you pop your business’s top keyword into your content as many times as you can, even if it makes no sense) no longer yield good results. In fact, if Google suspects you’re using any black hat SEO tactic, they may blacklist your site, meaning it won’t show for search results at all.

Read through your web content and make sure it reads naturally, clearly answers who you are and what you do, and provides a clear journey for the user to flow through your site.

Manage Your Local Listings

When Google’s algorithm is determining which sites to show in search results, they factor in over 200 signals. Some of those signals are those I’ve outlined already ““ your web content, the way your website is set up, etc. But, they’re also looking at signals from sites and sources all across the web.

One of the sources they look at is your local listings. These are sites like Yelp, CitySearch, Google My Business, and more, that has information about your business. The algorithm checks to see if the information in these listings matches the location information on your website ““ if the information matches, it signals to Google that the location is likely accurate. If the information doesn’t match, which is often the case as there are hundreds of local listing sites across the web, then Google doesn’t know for sure if the information is correct.

In order to combat this, it’s important to manage your information on top listing sites and work with a company to help streamline your listings across the web.

Your information should be consistent across all these sites, especially your name, address, and phone number (also known as NAP). This means your business name should be displayed the same in each and every location online ““ if you have Vet Care, Co. on your website and Vet Care on your listings, it’s not consistent and may signal to Google that there’s an issue.

If you want to get seen on Google ““ and, let’s face it: what business doesn’t? ““ then upping your SEO game is a must. For help optimizing your website for SEO, reach out today, and one of our SEO experts will be in touch.

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