There’s a lot of advice out there on how to rank higher on Google.
Heck, we provide a ton of it ourselves as it’s the basis of what we do.
But not all of what’s out there is accurate.
Since SEO is so important for modern-day business success, business owners are always looking for the next quick way to shoot up the Google rankings. And “SEO experts” look to provide that for them.
This has resulted in a lot of SEO advice over the years that sounds great – but doesn’t actually work.
And, as Google continues to refine its algorithms, you need to refine your strategies. You need to switch your focus from quick fixes to long-term reputation building.
To help you refine your strategies, here are 7 facts and 7 myths about how Google ranks your website – and you’ll notice the focus on long-term reputation building throughout.
7 Facts About How Google Ranks Your Website
Fact #1: Keywords in URLs Outside of the Domain Name
Make sure to stay on top of keyword research. Always know what search terms people are using to find the type of content you provide (or hire an agency to do so). Then, to rank higher for those search terms, create blog posts, articles, landing pages, etc. with those keywords in the URL.
Now, don’t go trying to stuff 2 or 3 keywords into the URL. That’s one of those quick fixes you need to move away from and, as the URL gets longer or keywords are repeated in it, the ranking benefits are reduced.
Just pick one keyword per piece of content to place in the URL. And, keep your clients in mind. The biggest mistake is to start writing content just for the purpose of Google ranking. Write high-quality content named in a way that will help it be found on Google. This is part of a longer-term strategy focused on creating a portfolio of high-quality content that will see your reputation improve steadily as you provide massive value – the type of value Google rewards.
Fact #2: Formatted Keywords
Words that are bolded, italicized, underlined, or in larger font on a page of your website will allow your website to be ranked higher for those words.
However, and this can’t be emphasized enough, don’t implement any of these strategies at the expense of the user experience. Don’t format keywords on your website or on blog posts just for the heck of it. Emphasize keywords to emphasize important concepts to your clients – and for no other reason.
Find creative ways to use keywords throughout your content so that emphasizing those keywords will benefit your clients. Build a habit of writing blog posts in that manner.
Fact #3: The ALT Text of Images
Google still loves ALT text. The “alt” parameter of an image should be used to describe the image in words. This provides value to your clients – and Google – in a number of ways.
It allows Google to rank your images in a “Google Images” search, which improves the overall Google experience – which makes Google happy.
And, on your website, ALT text allows your clients to see, in words, what the image is – which is especially helpful if the image didn’t load for some reason. And Google awards websites that focus on such accessibility.
Fact #4: Keywords In the Anchor Text of Internal Links
When you’re linking from one page of your website to another, avoid using vague anchor text like “click here.”
In fact, the anchor text of a link is a perfect example of an opportunity to improve the user experience of your website while also getting a Google ranking boost. Using a keyword in the anchor text can help your users know what kind of information they’ll be getting if they click the link. And it will help Google know how to rank the page and what keyword to rank it for. You’re making everyone’s life easier.
Fact #5: Link to External Pages
While you shouldn’t overdo this, linking to external pages will help your Google ranking. Websites aren’t supposed to be dead ends. Google appreciates websites that are part of the bigger internet community, not just silos – and the reward websites that don’t live in a bubble.
Now, the same rule of thumb applies here. Don’t link to external websites just for the heck of it. That kind of “quick fix” attitude will backfire on you. Link to external websites (and only reputable ones) when it will help your clients.
Fact #6: Your Website Needs to Work Well on Mobile
While having a website that isn’t optimized for mobile won’t affect your Google rankings on desktops or laptops, it will affect your Google ranking on mobile devices.
And, with more and more Google searches being performed from phones and tablets, this is not something you want to ignore. You’ll lose potential customers to other businesses who do have mobile-friendly websites.
An easy way to do this is to use an existing responsive theme from sites like WordPress or SquareSpace.
Fact #7: Ensure Your Website Is Fast
Use online site-performance analyzers to determine the speed of your website and to also receive recommendations on how to speed it up. Pay attention to image sizes and formats that can increase load time.
It’s a fact that faster websites are ranked higher because Google rewards a better user experience.
– Chase Buckner | CustomerBloom
-Matt Coffy | CustomerBloom
7 Myths About How Google Ranks Your Website
Myth #1: The Meta Keywords Tag
Meta tags are placed in thesection of your website code. And there is one in particular that used to provide a boost in Google ranking: the keywords meta tag.
It looks like this:
This has been proven through extensive testing to be a myth. Google no longer takes this tag into account when ranking websites.
Myth #2: Google Analytics
Having a Google Analytics tracking code on your website will not help your page rank higher.
This is one of those quick fix ideas that was born out of the wishful thinking that simply using Google tools will result in being rewarded by Google with a higher page rank.
But, remember Google ranks you based on the user experience it perceives you’re providing to your website visitors. And, having Google Analytics installed has no direct effect on the user experience.
That said, you should have it installed. But, and you’ve heard this before, not just for the heck of it.
Actually use the data that it provides to improve your user experience. In that way, Google Analytics can certainly indirectly help your page rank higher over time.
Myth #3: Keywords in Code Comments
Here’s another “quick fix” recommendation that’s a complete myth. It was simply a theory years ago that, by just putting SEO keywords in the comments of your HTML, your page would rank higher for those keywords.
But keywords in comments don’t improve the user experience at all. And so Google doesn’t reward you at all. So, as always, when someone’s giving you an SEO recommendation, always ask if it’s something that will actually benefit your users directly or will better help Google classify and organize your site into its rankings. If it doesn’t do one of those two things, Google knows that.
Myth #4: Positive Feedback in Blog Comments
Google is extremely advanced. It does actually take into account any product reviews you have on your site and will rank you higher for positive reviews. But that’s not the case to comments on your content, e.g. blog posts.
They have the technical capacity to rank you higher due to positive feedback on your blog posts but would never because that would make divisive – yet valuable – sites harder to find.
So continue to write your viewpoint with conviction. Split party lines. Cause people to get riled up by your cause in either a positive or negative way. Because this does improve user experience. Thankfully, Google doesn’t penalize you for negative blog comments because then content all over the web would be watered down.
Myth #5: Submitting Your Site to Google
You can formally submit your site to Google to let it know your site exists. But this won’t actually help your Google ranking. In fact, if Google needed you to tell it your site exists, then that’s a bigger problem.
Google ranks your website by being able to find it via other pathways around the web. In fact, the best thing to do is to receive links from other sites that themselves are linked to by a large number of other sites. You can do this with guest blog posts on popular and high-profile sites. Make sure to consistently submit blog topics.
Myth #6: Building Links Is Bad
This is not true. Building links is very, very good for your Google ranking as long as . . . you guessed it:
Build links not with the search engine in mind. Build links with your clients in mind.
In other words, don’t just have your friends link to your site if your site won’t actually help their clients.
Connect with other businesses that have similar client bases or connect with publications that write content your clients are interested in and build relationships. Those are the sites you want to link to your site.
Myth #7: Backlinks from .Edu and .Gov Sites Are Weighted More Heavily
This is simply not true. Google, just like you shouldn’t, doesn’t do anything just for the heck of it.
And it won’t treat .edu or .gov sites as having more authority just because they are education and government sites.
Those sites have to earn their authority just like all the other sites. So don’t buy a bunch of “.edu backlinks” and expect these to boost your ranking. It is a complete myth. Instead, focus on building your reputation and helping more of your clients find you by seeking out .edu and .gov sites where your clients hang out and writing valuable content for those sites that will link back to your site.
Build your backlinks organically.
Well, there you have it:
7 Myths and 7 Facts about how Google ranks your website. Let us know in the comments if you know of any other facts or myths you’d like to share and a story you have to go with it.
There are many more but these represent the most important idea when it comes to getting your site to rank higher on Google: you need to focus on long-term reputation building, not short-term quick fixes.
And remember to only implement SEO recommendations that either improve your user experience or help Google classify your site.
SEO becomes a lot less mysterious when you do that.