How To Get Your Website At The Top Of Google
How often do you click past the first page of Google search results? I am willing to bet, you don’t go past page two. In fact I bet most people don’t go beyond page one. This is why do what we can to get our websites as high in search engines as possible. By achieving this, we get more traffic, which ultimately brings us more money. So, in this post I am going to tell you how to get your website at the top of Google.
This is going to be a big one, so I suggest that you book mark this post so you can revisit it when you need to.
The Different Elements Of Google Search Results
What you see on Google depends on what you are searching for. If you are searching for a product to buy, Google will show you the most relevant shops at the top of the search. For example, if I wanted to find some mountain bike body armour, I get this.
The results start with shopping results with the image at the top. To make sure you appear here, you need to pay Google, as they are sponsored. Sometimes, below this you will get sponsored ads. But, in this case we get some YouTube videos, as they are relevant to the search. Then you start to get organic content that Google has deemed the most relevant to the search.
However, If I did a search for “Chamonix” (it is a place in France), I get a very different result.
There are no paid or sponsored results, and on the right hand side you will see the knowledge graph. This gives you loads of information about Chamonix.
The Results Page
The normal results page that you get the most often, is the page where different result appear. This is where Google decides which results are the most relevant to your search. This could be anything from blog posts, news articles, shopping, images or videos. You can filter these by selecting the shopping, images, videos, news and more tabs at the top of the page.
You can get a number of different sections to a Google search:
You will get sponsored and organic search results, but sometimes it is hard to tell the difference. The paid results are usually at the top of the search. How many you see depends on how many people search for that particular term and how many people are willing to pay to be up there.
Paid results will have the green “Ad” logo in front of the URL. Shopping results are also paid for by the companies that want their website at the top. You should check out Google Adwords for details on how to do this.
2. Local Pack
Whenever someone searches for a local business or service, Google places a map right next to the results. Below is an example of this. I live in a ski resort called Morzine. The local pack shows a few local chalet companies and a map of the village. To appear here, you need a Google My Business page for your company. This is more for a local business, such as a restaurant, hairdresser, bar, hotel etc. Click here for more info if this applies to you.
The organic results are all the ones that are not paid for. The first few results are the ones that fit the requirements of Google’s algorithm the best. I will go in to this stuff a bit later on.
4. Rich Snippets
Sometimes you will get rich snippets. These show you extra information about the search result.
If I search for for one of my favourite local bars we get a star rating and a little bit of information that should encourage people to click on the link.
5. PAA (People Also Ask)
Below the search for Bar Robinson, we get the PAA panel. This gives you questions that other people have asked Google that relate to your search. Clicking on any of these will give you the answer instantly.
6. Featured snippets or Answer Boxes
A featured snippet (also known as an answer box), is a box that appears at the top of searches to give you a quick answer to a question. It sits above the PAA section when a question is asked.
These are the main elements that you will find with Google searches. Knowing what these are will help you understand the different techniques to get your website at the top of Google. In essence, you need to know that there are two ways to get there. You can pay or get there organically, ideally you want to get there organically. This will save you money in the long run and is a great way to attract visitors to your website.
What Does Google Look For?
Now you have an understanding of the different elements of Google search results, I am going in to the details of what Google actually looks for. Actually, Google looks for about 200 different elements to determine its rankings, but I am just going to go in to the ones we all should be focussing on. There will be a lot to this, so bare with me.
A Secure Website
You may have noticed that you get two different prefixes to a URL, http and https. The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’. When an https website is uploaded to a web server, an SSL certificate activates the padlock.
The padlock allows secure connections from the web server to a browser. Having a secure site has an impact on SEO in the following ways:
- People don’t want to buy from a non secure website
- Google are working to create a fully secure web by default
- Google Chrome alerts users when they are on a non secure website. This encourages them to leave the website and go elsewhere
- Https websites load much faster. This helps them rank better, as Google uses site speed as one of its ranking factors
- Google says that over half of all desktop page loads are from secure websites
- There is a direct correlation between high search rankings and secure websites
- 40% of organic pages are from secure websites
- Https has been part of Google’s search algorithm since 2014
There is a new thing with Google called Mobile First. This has been implemented as the number of mobile users is still increasing. Therefore, Google has decided that they should prioritise mobile users and give them the best search results. Google now bases its rankings on how it crawls the mobile version before the desktop version. There are a few things you can do to ensure that Google is happy with your website’s mobile friendliness:
Keywords attract people to your website for free, as they are based around what people are looking for. Therefore, basing your content around quality keywords is essential, if you don’t, you are just shooting in the dark hoping that people will find you, or you have to pay for promotions and adverts.
I will go in to content in more detail later, but you need to compare the mobile version of your content with your desktop version. You have to make sure it is of the same great quality, it can be read properly and fits on the smaller screen.
The metadata will be taken from the mobile page, so make sure it looks good on both desktop and mobile versions.
Sometimes internal links work differently on mobile devices to desktops. The difference can make a poor user experience on mobiles, meaning users may find it difficult to find information they need from you and go elsewhere.
This also goes for the menus your website has. On my first website, I made a great menu that looked and worked great on a desktop, but was awful for mobile phones. It was too small to tap on with your finger and it had drop down menus that didn’t display properly on the screen. This meant I had to change the WordPress theme and do some redesigning.
The speed of your website for mobile devices is really important. That first website of mine was nice and fast on desktops, but took ages to load up pages on a mobile. This was a problem, as 80% of my visitors were using their phones. This slow speed gave them a poor user experience, causing them to leave. Not only this, but the speed impacts on Google rankings. This is because it is almost a race to the top. Slower websites will be penalised and be given lower rankings than faster ones.
Therefore, you need to ensure that you have a “responsive” website. Examples of ways to do this are to have a responsive theme (if you are using WordPress) and to use images with small file sizes.
Quality Website Hosting
Quality content is super important for Google rankings. By ‘quality’ I mean free from spelling and grammar mistakes. It also needs to be engaging and well written (please let me know if you see any of these on this website).
Quality content leads to higher rankings, which leads to increased organic website traffic.
Potential visitors to your website rely on search engines to find answers to questions, solutions to problems and products to buy. The amount of people that go beyond the first page of Google is very small. If your website is not up there, you are missing out on potential customers. Good search rankings bring more traffic to your website that will buy from you.
People searching Google for answers believe that higher ranking content needs to be authoritative and relevant. Google strives to give the users the best experience possible. The philosophy is based around the users and everything else will follow.
What Is Quality Content?
Google uses what they call the E-A-T method to determine what quality content is. E-A-T stands for:
- Expertise – To make sure your content ranks high in searches, it needs to demonstrate that you know what you are talking about. Your expertise also needs to be shown in your author biography. Expertise is very important and can be determined by other on-page indicators, such as bounce rate, shares and the time people spent on the page.
- Authoritativeness – Indicators such as backlinks from other reputable websites, have a huge impact on rankings. If you can get some recognition from other websites such as reviews, awards, articles etc you have an even greater chance of ranking highly. Authoritativeness is also demonstrated with well written content.
- Trustworthiness – By proving that your readers can trust you, your authoritativeness and authority will be improved. You do this with the right language in your content and ensuring that you have a secure website.
Other ways to make sure that your content is good quality, you need to:
- Create content with the reader in mind before the search engine.
- Not deceive your readers in order to make money
- Don’t use tricks to try to rank highly. Google can spot these tricks and will punish you for using them.
- Make sure that your website is unique, gives your visitors value, make it engaging and make it stand out from your competitors.
In the past creating content with a high word count gave you more of an opportunity to use your keywords. The more times you shoehorned your keyword in to the post, the more likely you were to rank highly. However, Google found that this gave website visitors a poor user experience.
Now keyword density is not a ranking factor. So now you need to use a wide variety of variations of your keyword. This is called Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) and Google uses this to determine how relevant your content is to people’s searches.
All this means that Google doesn’t actually have a word count that you should aim for. However, larger posts tend to rank higher than shorter ones. This is probably due to LSI.
Social media can have a huge impact on the amount of traffic your website has. It doesn’t have a direct impact, but it can help your SEO in the following ways:
- More visibility and traffic
- More authority and brand recognition
- Wider content distribution and longer lifespan of your content
- Better local SEO
When other websites link to your website, it increases your authority in Google’s eyes. However, you need to make sure that these backlinks are good ones. If they are from websites that spam the internet, it won;’t do your authority any good.
When your website has an association with a trusted websites, search engines deem it to be more trustworthy. If you can get credible websites to link to you, search engines determine that you are credible and are providing valuable information to their users. This in turn will improve your rankings over time.
You really don’t want to be associated with bad links. These are being cracked down on by Google, as people were paying for backlinks to improve their rankings. One of Google’s algorithms can spot these bad links and penalises websites that use them by making it harder for them to rank.
Optimise Your Images
By putting images in your content, you are creating a much better user experience. But you need to make sure that they are optimised for search engines. Here are the techniques you need to employ to ensure that your images are optimised.
Don't Go Too Big
By this, I mean reduce the file size of your images. I mentioned earlier that page speed is really important for Google rankings and large images slow down your page. There are a few ways to do this, personally I like to use Pixlr. This is a free online, watered down version of Photoshop. Ideally, you should make sure your images are below 100kb. However, if your image becomes pixelated by reducing the quality, just keep increasing the quality bit by bit, until the image is clear enough. Cropping the image to a smaller size can help too if it is possible.
Use A Descriptive File Name
This is where keywords come in. Choose a file name using the keyword that you are trying to rank for. Make sure you use lower case letters too, as this can cause server loading errors.
Use A Caption
This won’t really help your ranking, but it will improve the user experience.
Don't Forget The Alt Tag
The alt tag is alternative information about the image. This is for people that cannot see the image in their browser for whatever reason. But, it also helps Gooogle know what the image is. You are basically describing the image to Google. Which means that it should show up when people do an image search for whatever your image is.
Don't Forget The Title
This is different to the alt tag, as the title adds more information about the image. You need to make the image title relevant to what the image is and has to add value to the user experience. By doing this, you have a better chance of ranking well and helping Google users to find the information that they want.
The alt tag and the title are useful for users, but the alt tag is what search engine crawlers look for, as it helps it to determine what the image is all about adding relevancy to your content.
In a nutshell, your image needs to add to the user experience by providing all the relevant information while loading up quickly. This added value will help you rank better.
One more thing you need to be careful of, is that your images should not be stolen form other sources. If you do this, you run the risk of copyright infringements and being fined for it. All the images on this website are either royalty free, or I have taken the photos myself.
The user experience is very important, as it impacts on the way a visitor navigates around your website, interacts with it and uses it. You need to make your website super easy for visitors to find the information they want.
In the past everyone with a website did a lot of keyword stuffing. This means that the keywords they wanted to rank for were shoehorned in to content as much as possible. This is because Google ranked content based on keyword density. Unfortunately, this made the user experience to be awful. Google have evolved their algorithm to prevent these “black hat tactics“.
I have mentioned a few things that help with Google rankings earlier on in this post that are related to user experience. Here is a quick reminder with some extras, you need to make sure that:
- Your content loads quickly
- Your website is secure with an SLL certificate
- Your website is mobile friendly
- Easy to use
- Use clear headings on all of your posts (h1, h2, h3, h4 etc)
- Avoid pop up adverts
- Include videos where possible
Search intent is also known as keyword intent and is a big part of the buying process of a customer. To understand what I mean by this, I am going to go in to some detail about Google’s algorithm and how it determines what information it gives you when you search for something. Google recognises four different types of search queries:
This is when a user wants information on a particular subject. e.g:
- What is the Capital of Peru?
- Why can’t I sleep?
- How do I get my website At the top of Google?
2. Do Query
A Do Query is what someone types in when they want to do something e.g:
- Buy a new mountain bike
- Best restaurant near me
- Best birthday present for a fitness freak
3. Website Query
This is when someone wants a specific website e.g:
- BBC News
4. Visit-in-person query
This is when someone wants to find an actual address or location e.g:
- Closest Ikea
- McDonalds near me
- Pub within walking distance
Google breaks down these queries again in to different interpretations of the search. This allows it to decide which results to give you:
This is the most common type of interpretation of searches, but not all queries have a dominant interpretation.
This is what many users mean when they search for something on Google. A query can have many different interpretations.
These are the queries that not many users have in mind.
If someone searched for Bike Shops on Google:
- Dominant – This user wants to find a bike shop near them
- Common – The user wants directions to a local bike shop
- Minor – The user wants to know what a bike shop is
To use search intent to get your content to the top of Google, you need to optimise your content to match the most comment intents that are associated with your keywords.
For example, if somebody typed “damaged electric guitar” in to Google, Google identifies the keyword intent that the searcher has:
- The user may want to buy a new electric car to replaced a damaged one
- The user may want to visit somewhere that will fix their damaged electric guitar
- The user may want to learn how to fix their damaged electric guitar
Google’s algorithm uses historical data to determine what the most common intent is for searches. This means that users get them most helpful answers to their queries.
The higher up the rankings content is, the more common the intent it is answering. If you can tap in to intent, the higher your rankings will be.
Lets go back to the damaged electric guitar example.
As you can see the top results are related to the ‘buy‘ intent, by showing where you can buy damaged electric guitars. This is because Google interprets the search as “I want to buy a damaged electric guitar”. So if you want to rank for this type of query, you need to optimise your content to suit it.
How To Optimise Content For Search Intent
You need to find out what people search for when they are ready to buy something related to your niche or business.
You can do this by signing up to the Google search console. Navigate to the Performance area and filter by queries.
By choosing quality keywords that are based around queries with high intent you can rank highly. Here are some ways to do this:
- Purchase based – buy, quote, for sale etc
- Branded – Nutribullet blender, Whirlpool washing machine etc
- Contact keywords – Contact, call, request
- Comparisons – Review, compare, price of, cost etc
- Location – city, postcode, geographical locations
When you can get to grips with Google’s intent, you will improve your rankings massively.
Where To Learn More
Obviously you can keep coming back to adventurousaffiliate.com for updates. But, if you are a budding affiliate marketer, you should check out Wealthy Affiliate for loads more information and training.
That Is How To Get Your Website At The Top Of Google
I hope that this has helped you (I told you it was going to be a long one). Please let me know if you have any questions or thoughts on this subject in the comments section below.