Ever wonder exactly how Google analyzes every website and ranks it?
Behind their incredibly complex (and secret) algorithm are a few surprisingly basic tenants that dictate all website rankings. Google recently shared their approach to search engine optimization (SEO) on their Think With Google blog, and it’s a great time to make sure your website is following Google’s best practices:
1. For big SEO results, start small
It might sound simple, but focusing on small, incremental changes to a website’s overall SEO strategy really can produce noticeable gains over time. The Google My Business marketing site, for example, saw a near 2X increase in organic traffic,1 partly because the team implemented a number of web fundamental best practices, such as showing search engines what URLs to index by implementing canonicals.
Of course, correlation does not imply causation, but a number of Google sites have noticed strong organic growth after making some of these simple SEO changes. If you’re struggling to identify some of the issues your site might be facing, Search Console’s new URL inspection tool is a great place to start.
2. Don’t be scared of changes — embrace them
Search features are always evolving to surface the most relevant content for users and to keep up with their changing behavior. For example, today, over 50% of website traffic comes from mobile, and Google Search has quickly been adapting in response, with new developments such as AMP and Progressive Web Apps.
It can be easy to get overwhelmed by these changes, but internally we’ve found that the more we embrace them and experiment with them, the better our SEO results. For example, last year we focused on fixing Google Search Console errors, implementing structured data, and adding AMP to the Think with Google site. After we fixed one common AMP error on a number of URLs, those impressions increased by 200%. We also found that improving our content overall may have led to us being selected more often for featured snippets, which led to an additional 1,000 impressions a day.
3. Where possible, consolidate
It can be tempting to create multiple websites, each containing very similar content, to target different customer profiles or geographic regions. In fact, it’s something we’ve done at Google. A recent audit revealed that, over the years, we had developed a large number of near-duplicate sites based on different campaigns or marketing goals.
Here’s the problem with that approach: duplicate content is not only confusing for users, it’s also confusing for search engines. Creating one great site instead of multiple microsites is the best way to encourage organic growth over time.
For example, after that site audit, we decided to overhaul our marketing websites for Google Retail. Cleaning up six old websites, consolidating content, and focusing our energy on one great website doubled the site’s call-to-action click-through rate and increased organic traffic by 64%.2
The lesson here is clear: While on-page performance is important, a successful SEO strategy must take into account your entire web ecosystem.
1,2 Google Internal Data, June 2017–March 2018.
How to Use Google’s SEO Strategy
Google’s insights offers one large takeaway: that having a strategy for your SEO is vital. SEO is a slow and steady process and doing the heavy lifting to figure out what keywords work for you before building your strategy will help you maximize results. It’s also important to stay up to date on the goings-on at Google to make sure you’re utilizing all their available technology. To start, get introduced to Google’s new marketing platform and make sure your Google My Business page is as current as possible.
While these three tips help you understand how Google ranks websites, they’re only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to SEO. Get more tips on how to rank on Google in Minneapolis or learn more about how SEO works.
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