Let’s get something straight right away. Google doesn’t hate your site. Just like it doesn’t love other sites that it ranks highly in the SERPs (search engine results pages). Google has two missions. One is to give the user the exact information they seek. The other is to make money from advertising. The only way they accomplish the second goal is by doing an excellent job on the first. Serving the needs of users is how Google captured the lion’s share of search traffic on the entire internet — 92+%, to be exact. If you want to improve your SERPs, you need to improve the quality of your content then do what it takes to show Google you provide quality content so you show up higher.
In this article, we’ll help you understand factors making up the Google algorithm used to rank every piece of content on the internet. Armed with this information, you can easily improve your SERPs and gain more traffic to your website. And, improved traffic translates into higher conversion rates. So, let’s get started.
Why you should improve your SERPs
As you can see above, the higher you rank in SERPs, the more traffic clicks on your link. Visits are the first step in any conversion process so, at least in theory, gaining more visits translates into higher conversion. You can check your current rank for any page, although rank on landing pages is likely most critical for success, by visiting your Webmaster tool (now called your Search Console). If you don’t already have this free Google platform, learn more here. The tool even suggests some ways to improve elements that improve your SERPs.
To improve your SERPs, you must understand the ranking process. First, a Google spider bot constantly searches the internet for new content. When it hits upon a fresh piece of content, it adds information about that content to a large database (called indexing) the search engine accesses every time a user enters a query into the Google search engine. The bot uses keywords identified within the content and when user intent matches those keywords, Google delivers your link in the SERPs rank-ordered based on a complex, ever-changing algorithm based on factors Google believes helps deliver the best query results first.
Here are some of the top reasons Google might not rank your content as well.
Your site isn’t getting crawled
The Google spider may not crawl your content, meaning it never shows up in the database. At times it is Google itself that has issues with its crawler, but eventually, these problems get resolved. A bigger issue occurs when there’s an issue on the site itself that prevents the site from getting crawled and indexed.
For instance, you may have your meta robots tag set wrong, which directs Google to not crawl or index certain pages on your site. You may have also set up your XML sitemap incorrectly and that is doing the same thing.
To discover whether you made either of these mistakes, first take a look at the Google Search Console where you’ll see a list of the posts and pages on your site indexed by the Google bot. You may see your entire site is missing or maybe just a few pages. If this is the case, you might start by checking your settings. If you recently set up the site, you may have forgotten to set your site to discoverable after you finished building it. Also, to speed up the indexing process, you can submit your XML sitemap through the Google Search Console.
Once you have everything sorted out and resubmitted your sitemap, then you can manually request the Google recrawl your site to ensure it’s indexed properly. You should do the same thing if you update your pages to speed up the process to change the page’s rank. It can take a few days before these changes show up in SERPs.
Your site is not responsive
Taking a look at the data provided by Google Analytics to see how many people use their phones for search and you’ll likely discover that 60% of search traffic comes through a mobile device if you fit the norm. This means that creating a site that’s responsive and mobile-friendly is key to gaining visits. For this reason, Google uses responsiveness as part of its algorithm.
There are a couple of things that hurt your ability to rank when it comes to mobile. The first is that the page is not responsive. Responsiveness reflects the ability of your content to transform itself to the screen of a phone and still perform well on this smaller real estate.
Another issue commonly encountered in poorly designed mobile pages is that links are placed too close together. Remember that people are using their fingers on the screen and clicking the wrong link because it is too close to another is frustrating for the user. Again, Google Search Console warns you if buttons are too close for easy mobile use.
The site is too slow
Page speed is one of the biggest factors to Google’s new Core Web Vitals metric, a new set of ranking factors designed to assess utility for users. Now, a slow site on its own doesn’t get punished by Google. What it does mean is that, if you and your competition are neck and neck on most metrics, but yours is slower than the competition, they beat you out in the rankings.
Make sure to take a look to assess your Core Web Vitals results are frequently. Google gives you some tips on ways to improve your SERPs, so you can fix your site and speed it up. Make sure you stick with a lightweight theme and avoid too many plugins, as a first step in speeding up your site.
It’s your content
Content is king in your effort to improve your SERPs, since serving up great content makes visitors happy, and happy users make Google happy. Google uses several factors to demonstrate your content is up to snuff.
If you are just trying to jam keywords onto a page so Google ranks it higher, called keyword stuffing, actually has the opposite effect of penalizing your content.
User experience and satisfying user intent are essential to keeping visitors and Google happy. You need to provide good content that is informative, satisfies the query, and is easy to navigate. Wherever you create content, keep the reader at the forefront of your mind instead of satisfying what you think Google wants. What Google wants is a user that is happy to have clicked on your site because it means they served up the best result.
Providing value to your reader is the name of the game. And Google understands there is value based on the metrics they receive based on the user’s experience. For instance, if the reader spends a lot of time on the page, clicks the links showing up in SERPs, and navigates the site by reading more pages, this sends a strong signal to Google that your site provides value.
Backlinks from other reputable sites also signal the value of your content.
To improve your SERPs you must carefully monitor ranking factors contained in the Google algorithm and ensure your content matches the most impactful ranking factors.
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