Gaining one of the top positions in Google search results for your top keywords may be a tough ask. However, there are some simple steps you can take to help Google recognize your business, index your website and recognize why you should be on the first page. In this post, I’ll go over some essential optimization techniques to ensure Google notices your website (and Google My Business profile), which will help boost your chances of first page rankings.
1. Verify your Google My Business profile.
Registering your business with Google My Business can help your website appear in relevant search queries that occur near the geographic area of your business location.
Once you have registered, Google sends out a postcard with a unique pin to your business address – this is used to verify your business with Google. The verification gives you a stronger chance of appearing in the search results as Google will now recognize your business as a legitimate local business.
Verification will also increase your chances of appearing higher in Google Maps listings and in the local results – which tend to appear in a 3-pack listing above the top organic listings and below the paid ads.
2. Register your website with Google Search Console.
Google Search Console, formerly known as Webmaster Tools, is a service provided by Google which allows you to submit your website and sitemap to Google for indexing.
But that’s not all, you can also use the tool for many other purposes, such as:
- View the search queries which people are using to find your site
- View the average position for keywords which Google thinks you should be ranking for
- Check the backlinks to your website and ensure there aren’t any bad or spammy links
- Disavow links that you don’t want to be linked to your site as they may be giving you a bad reputation
- Ensure that Google is not experiencing any crawl errors with your site
The main advantage with Google Search Console is that you are basically telling Google that your website exists. Submitting your website (and choosing which version to use in the search results, e.g. https://www.example.com vs https://example.com) is a fundamental aspect of SEO that all webmasters should be undertaking to ensure maximum visibility.
3. “Sell the Click” through well-written Meta Titles, Meta Descriptions & URLs.
When you find yourself browsing through the organic search results in Google, you’ll usually see three components of a listing: the page title, the description, and the page URL. All three of these are customizable and should be meticulously optimized to ensure the click through to your webpage.
There is some debate in the SEO industry about how much click-through rates (CTR) impacts organic rankings. Some studies have shown that CTR has an affect on rankings, while other studies have shown a less conclusive impact.
Our view is that Google monitors the click-through rates that your pages generate in search results, with the higher click-through rates indicating that a page answers a particular search query well. We believe Google takes this into account when ranking a page, and that the more often someone clicks your link for a particular search query, the more likely Google will rank it again the next time someone searches.
However, regardless of how much of an impact CTR may have on rankings, if you are getting high click-through rates, then you’re getting more traffic to your website. So, for that reason alone, it’s important to “sell the click” in the search results.
Ensure that your page titles and meta descriptions contain:
- Accurate, concise descriptions of your page content
- For optimum effectiveness, meta descriptions should be 70-156 characters long, while page titles should be between 45 – 65 characters long, including spaces
- Your meta descriptions and titles should be concise and contain your best keywords
- Make sure each page of your website has its own, unique title and meta description
Ensure that your URLs are structured properly:
- To correctly render in all browsers, URLs must be shorter than 2,083 characters.
- In optimal format, e.g.: https://www.example.com/category-keyword/subcategory-keyword/primary-keyword
Well-structured URLs provide an improved user experience, and they can improve click-through rates if keywords are included in the URLs. In addition, keyword-rich URLs can create effective backlinks, because the URL can serve as its own anchor text when copied and pasted in posts across the web.
4. Use Structured data (schema markup) on your website.
Structured data (also referred to as “schema markup”) is code that you input to your site to help Google return more information in search results for users. Therefore, it also allows your listing to stand out more against those who haven’t implemented any schema markup on their site.
Installing schema markup is a user-focused improvement. Google and other search engines exist for users to gain the information they need and that is exactly what schema markup is for. Schema markup helps your website rank better for all kinds of content types including:
- Local businesses
- TV episodes and ratings
There are hundreds of markup types and if you have any type of data on your website, there’s a good chance that it’s going to have an association with some type of schema.
We recommend all local businesses include Local Business schema on their websites to provide Google with information about the type of business and the business Name, Address, and Phone number information. We also recommend that e-commerce businesses install Product schema on their product pages.
5. Provide quality, informative and useful content on your website.
Providing quality content that is relevant to your business and the keywords you want to rank for in search results will benefit your website. The more relevant your content, the more likely that users will find the kind of information they are looking for and encourage them to stay on your website for longer, come back again and possibly convert into a customer.
When users come to your website, browse through multiple pages, and spend time reading your content, Google will take their actions into account and the positive user metrics will benefit the ranking of your website.
Quality content is not just good for your search engine ranking, it’s good for the user experience on a site, the overall brand image — and in the long-term, quality content will have an impact on sales.
To summarize, the best way to build a website for optimum exposure in search is to make it easy for search engines and users to navigate your site and understand what your content is about.