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5 Tips to get higher on Google…

“How do I get to the top of the Google search ranking?” This is one of the most common questions our clients ask us, but one of the most difficult to answer. So we thought we’d have a go at writing some of the answers down. We’re using ‘google’ as that’s the standard question, but many of these points apply to other search engines.

A Brief History

Back in the good old days of Lycos and Ask Jeeves, search engines were simple creatures with simple needs. You could build a website, ensure it had the right metadata. submit to a search engine registration form. You’d be well on your way to front page search engine listing.

With the arrival of Google (no URL needed) in 1998, things started to become a little more sophisticated. I should at this point thank Tony Bingham for introducing google to me. He first mentioned it to me at the Pickavance Consulting Masterclass in 2001 and I’ve not looked back!

Gradually, the importance of putting keywords into your website and relying on the search engine’s simplicity became less relevant. Search engines began to fight back against people (like me!) who worked out how to play them.

What doesn’t work?

To address the most common question: your ranking on Google has nothing to do with the number of times you or anyone else clicks on your website. Searching for it and clicking on links to your site will make no impact on the ranking at all.

Equally, advertising with Google will have little impact either. You can advertise, focusing your adverts on top keywords that people would use to find your site. But it’s likely to be costly and in our view, not likely to bring you an obvious return unless you’re selling a low value, high volume consumer product of some sort. We rarely recommend google ads to clients, unless selling training or some other product.

What does work?

So, having dealt with what doesn’t work, how about what does?

Now, there are complex algorithms employed to determine how relevant, important, useful, etc your site is. But what exactly determines your site’s importance?

  1. Backlinks: The hardest things to obtain, but the best for your site’s position. Links from other sites to yours. And the better the other site, the better the link. So a link from bbc.com to your site will be worth its weight in gold.
  2. Outbound Links: Bizarrely, linking out from your site is also important. The best-indexed pages on the Limeslade site are those with links out to others (like this one). Always try and link to relevant external sites if possible. And if they reciprocate, even better.
  3. Content: Regularly updated and relevant content is important. Google and others love to see sites which are not stagnant, sites with lots going on and frequent updates. Add blogs, articles, updates to existing pages. Never leave a page unaltered for too long.
  4. Keywords: The positioning of these is as important as having them there. There are many tools to help you identify what keywords you should be using and how to place them on the page. We can help if you need assistance.
  5. Grammar: It might be surprising, but grammar is important. One of the biggest factors is the Fleisch-Kinkaid index. If your content scores well on this, then Google will be more likely to accept it. Things like the passive voice will also reduce your chances of a good indexing rank.

There are many other factors. Metadata is still important. Alt-tags on images, the name of your HTML or other files in the site, page titles and other content-based factors all make a difference.

But one of the most important things these days is to write for your clients, not for the search engines. Search engines are too sophisticated in 2020 for you to try and trick them. You (and we) have to work a lot harder than the good old days!

Good luck – and if you need any help, you know where we are.