How to improve your Google Search Ranking
Ok, so I had a nightmare recently with my website and it’s Google Search Ranking. My page dropped down the rankings and off search altogether. That’s right, it disappeared from Google search – disaster!
I realised I’d neglected my website and so after spending the past month getting my page back on Google I thought I’d share what I learned along the way and help you avoid this problem in future.
Before I start though, I want to expand a little on the world of Google search because let’s be honest here – very few of us understand it and an even smaller number know how to master it.
I’m certainly not claiming to be an SEO expert in this post, but I did come across some useful tools that were reasonably easy to use to make sure your website is optimised for Google Search.
You said SEO, what’s that?
Search Engine Optimisation – meaning: to make sure your website meets the criteria required to be listed on a Google search. You see, Google has a mission statement for this:
Google’s mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful
This means that Google is constantly looking at how it ranks all of the information on the web to provide the best possible search results for us, the user. What this also means is that it can change the way it does this at any point and you need to be on top of things when this happens.
The tools I’ve listed below will help you to make sure your page is optimised for search rankings (listings).
Ok, show me the tools…
Before we look at the tools there’s something important you need to know.
Your site being optimised for Google search today or tomorrow does not mean it’ll still be optimised for Google search next week or next month. Google are frequently refining how they index websites and therefore you need to be keeping an eye on this on a monthly basis.
I know, I said indexing. What’s indexing? Indexing is the process Google go through to pull together their database of websites and determine how they should rank in a search. You’ll also hear this called a “crawl” (i.e. Google crawling through everyone’s websites looking for the key information they need or don’t need, in order to index each site).
Can we get to the tools now?
Nearly, I want to explain that there are 3 key things to consider when thinking about your website’s searching performance at this point in time (2017).
Google recognise that a growing number of people are using a mobile device to look at content on your website. In fact, we’re at a point where it’s overtaking desktop search.
This means your website needs to be optimised for mobile. Let me clarify, your website needs to be immaculate when it comes to being viewed on a mobile device. We’ll come back to this in a bit…
If your website takes 15 seconds to load, it’s not going to perform well on search. The average website apparently takes 6 seconds to load, you need to be quicker than this.
This is how Google understands what your website or blog are about. If you’ve written a blog about baking bread, you’d better make sure your keywords reflect that it’s about baking bread, your blog title mentions baking bread and your article also contains keywords pertaining to the baking of bread. This is how Google validates that your content is aligned with the topic or question someone is searching for.
Now, let’s get to the tools.
The next part of this article will take you through these tools at a high level. I would suggest you research further on them as a separate activity because the results of these tools will determine what you need to fix on your website.
Mobile Website Optimisation
As stated above, Google have recognised that more searches are being performed on mobile devices now and hence how your website performs on mobile devices is now a #1 priority for you.
There are 3 tasks I’d do here to optimise for mobile at a basic level:
- Check if Google think your site is mobile friendly by going to this link and entering your website address: https://search.google.com/search-console/mobile-friendly
- Test your mobile site. Seriously, open your website on your mobile device and scroll through it. Ask:
- How quickly does it load?
- Does it look good? (Sometimes the menu and navigation bars can look messy)
- Is it easy to navigate?
- Do you get the same impression as on the desktop? (i.e. are you as happy with it on mobile as you are on desktop)
- Can you read pages and content (blogs) ok?
- Do forms work?
- This will tell you if you have any issues you need to fix. Some may impact on search rankings but generally, given the information from Google, a poor performance on mobile could push visitors away and nobody wants that.
- Ensure your website’s using Responsive Design. If you use a WordPress theme then you may have options to enable responsive menus so that they’re automatically optimised for mobile. If someone else manages your website then check with them and ask “Is my site optimised for mobile?”.
Website Speed Test
Google will penalise you if your site is slow. When I ran through the checks below I was given a host of areas to improve for performance and this was a key area that I needed to improve my website in.
- Run a Google Speed Test. This will identify improvements and some of them look complicated so please reach out to me and I’ll help if I can with these. https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
- Another speed test tool is GTmetrix. This will give your site a rating and lots of advice on key improvement areas but what I also like is it allows you to compare with similar sites. https://gtmetrix.com/
Google Search Console
The Google Search Console is a vital tool for checking if your site has any errors that will affect your search performance. To set up Google Search Console you can follow the instructions here.
What’s great about Google Search Console is it’ll tell you if it found any errors whilst crawling/indexing your site. This might be broken links (i.e. maybe you deleted a page on your site which has created a broken link), a missing sitemap (a sitemap is file which shows the structure of your site) or some other problem.
My advice here (because Google Search Console is a huge topic):
- Create an account following these steps
- Check for errors
- Fix obvious errors (broken links etc are easy to resolve)
- Research others (for example, I had to speak to my WordPress theme provider to resolve one issue that Google reported).
Ok, so what tools are available to help you find out how your page stacks up when it comes to Google Search Ranking?
The way I found out my search rank had dropped was through tracking it in SEO Edge Rank, which is an app on my phone. My website was ranked 6th or 7th on a search of the page name and 4 weeks ago it dropped into the 60s and then some days didn’t appear at all!
I’m now using this tool to track several keywords (see – blogs) on my website. The way it works is you enter your domain and then you can add keywords. The app will then show you where your page ranks against those keywords. So, for example, when I finish this blog I’ll add the keywords “Google Search Ranking” (see the title) to the app and it’ll tell me where this blog appears on a search for those keywords. This will tell me if my blog is going to appear high on a search for these keywords or not.
This is a website (WooRank.com) that will perform an assessment of your site based on entering your URL. It’ll allow you one assessment without paying for it but it’ll provide you with some useful insight on to your website’s SEO rating and as with the other tools in here, it’ll give you areas to look at.
My site is driven by WordPress. It’s a platform I love because of the ease of use and the enormous number of plug-ins that are available for it. If your site is a WordPress site I’m going to share the tools I used to help improve my site speed & SEO rating.
This tool is essential. It provides a number of easily understandable options available to you to improve your site’s SEO optimisation as a whole but what’s most important is it’s value when you’re creating blogs. Yoast will tell you whether your blog is optimised for SEO before you’ve even posted it (warning: this can also be a frustrating!).
It’ll check key factors within your blog and allow you to customise them to maximise the chance of you getting it right first time. It’ll also give you a green traffic light when it thinks you’ve got the right level of information.
If you’ve had a blog for some time and THEN install Yoast you may feel less positive about the plug-in because you may find that it tells you all of your previous posts are not optimised for SEO and display a nice red traffic light against them. You have two options here:
- Ignore them and focus on SEO optimisation in all future blogs
- Fix them. Note: This isn’t always easy as it may require a large number of changes to your blogs.
Another tool which makes it super easy to configure your site for SEO optimisation. Install the plug-in and it’ll show you some recommended options. There’s also an Advanced setting tab which you may need to use to resolve issues identified by the tools above.
When I checked my site against the Google Speed Test it told me my images were too big and they were impacting the load time. I took two courses of action to resolve this:
- Removed some of the images because, in all honesty, they added nothing to my site
- Installed WP Smush and compressed all images on my site.
WP Smush goes through each image on your website and compresses them in order to make them smaller and hence, quicker to load. This helped a great deal with the speed of my website.
This is another tool I had to install to fix a problem reported by the Google Speed Test tool. The problem reported by the tool was this:
I had to Google this issue (as you will for others) and set the following two options within the plug-in to reduce the number of errors I was getting around this problem.
However, this plug-in is also useful because it has caching functionality which helps improve the performance of your website – very useful!
This isn’t an easy topic to master, I have not mastered it. There is a tonne of helpful content out there to help you with your Google Search Ranking and the WordPress plug-ins I mentioned are incredibly helpful and easy to use. Almost all of the errors reported via the tools were resolved by doing a Google search – I expect most people have the same errors.
This (SEO) is something to keep on top of. I would imagine anyone who’s had the same experience as me has experienced this because they stopped focussing on SEO content or were affected by a change to a Google search algorithm.
I am here to help. If you are using the tools above and struggling to fix the issue please do reach out to me via email or one of my social media channels and I will do my best to help you.
I hope you took some value from this blog and if you want to add any information or ask a question just leave a comment below and I’ll get right back to you.