What is Google Search Engine Optimization? Is it as hard as it seems? How do you get the best out of Google using SEO? What tools do you need to optimize for Google? All of these will be the focus of this article.
Saying Google is a search engine is as good as saying the sky is blue – everybody knows that. And as the number one search engine in the world, Google is committed to providing their users with the most relevant information per time. How do they determine the relevance of a web page to a search? Answering this question is a good place to start understanding Google Search Engine Optimization.
How Google Search Engine Works
There are over 1.9 billion websites worldwide. Now do the maths; how many web pages do you think are on the internet given the number of websites? Your answer should definitely not be in billions because it would be much more than that.
Yet, every time there is a query on Google, a certain web page comes out top, then there is the second down to the last on the page. And the list continues in subsequent pages. How does Google determine what position each page should be in the ranking?
To an average Google user, the whole process begins when they search for something on Google. However, there is a lot of unseen work that must takes place before Google is able to get results for searches.
First of all, Google needs to know all the web pages that are out there. Google does this using crawlers known as robots or “spiders”.
These Google crawlers constantly crawl through the internet adding new web pages (not websites) into its database. This is known as Indexing.
When Google Indexes a web page, it saves a cached version of such page in its database. Imagine cached page as the screenshot of the page capturing how it looked at the time.
If you make changes to your site after it has been crawled, Google will not recognize those changes until the crawlers return to re-index the page. This explains why it often takes time for changes on your site to reflect on the search engine.
How Does Google Know What Results to Serve?
This is where it gets more interesting. How does Google now determine what result to return for every query? And how does it determine what position each web page should be in the search engine result page (SERP)?
One word that explains this is relevance. Google returns the most relevant results and ranks them based on relevance level.
So, let’s say you perform a search with a specific key-phrase. What simply happens is that Google takes your key-phrase and run it through its database of indexed websites. It then returns with a list of what it believes is the most relevant results to your query.
One question is still yet to be answered – how does Google determine whether or not a page is relevant to a search?
There are a number of factors Google looks out for when doing this and they include:
When indexing, Google looks at each page to determine its topic. Then it looks at words and possibly, tags on the page to see if the keywords searched can be found. This exactly why Google advice that any website that wants to rank must focus on producing valuable content.
If you hover on a tab on your browser, that content that pops up is what is known as the title tag. It is used by Google as a headline when it returns the search results. Again, Google looks to see if the keywords in the search exist in the title tag of indexed pages. Ranking is already taking place as sites are already moving up or down based on relevance.
The description is the long text you see under each search result explaining what the web page contains. Google will also look here in search of the keywords.
This refers to the web page address. Again, Google crawls your URL in search of relevant keywords. This is why you must be sure to create optimized page URLs if you’re looking to rank.
Backlinks are other external pages “rooting” for a web page. They are external pages that are linked to a web page. Google considers backlinks to further determine the quality of a content. The more backlinks a content has, the higher Google rates such content.
Google always favours quality over quantity.
These five ranking factors can be seen as the core pillars of search engine optimization. Of course, there are several others. Nevertheless, it’s safe to say the other factors depend mostly on the five here. Get it right with your content, title tag, description, URL and backlinks, and you can say you have gotten it right with search engine optimization.
Notwithstanding, experts in the SEO industry have come up with different SEO techniques to help you get the best out of your SEO effort.
Popular Google Search Engine Optimization Techniques
Now that you understand how Google search engine works, especially with regards to ranking, what you want to do next is know how to get the best of it. You know the key ranking factors, now how do you use these to take your website high on the search engine?
Here are 5 SEO techniques you can use to improve your ranking on Google in 2020:
Improve Titles and Descriptions to Increase your Click Through Rate (CTR)
Imagine ranking high on Google SERP but not getting clicks. Tragic right? All that effort just gone to waste. That’s why improving your click through rate is key.
Two major things get you clicks on search engine – your title and description. You need to make them make your readers want to click. How?
- Include “power” words
- Make your USP (unique selling point) clear
- Align your title and description with possible search intents
- Show a clear benefit
Great User Experience
User friendly websites reduce bounce rates significantly. And the lower your bounce rate, the higher your ranking on search engine.
For best user experience, make sure your website is optimized with clear heading tags, navigation menu and call to action (CTA). Look out for the following in particular:
- Make sure your website is mobile friendly
- Boost page load speed
- Add social media icons and links to your site
- Slow down with those many pop ups (they can be really distracting)
Quality over Quantity Content
Content is king, no doubt. But your content has to be quality content to be “king”. While you should put out as many contents as possible, make sure you make quality a priority over quantity. So, if you have to choose between quantity and quality, make sure to always settle for quality. That’s what would help your SEO effort more.
Aim for the Featured Snippet Position (Position Zero)
These are the contents displayed at the top most part of the SERP. This position usually contains brief answer to a search query.
In the past, the best position to be on Google is number one. Nowadays though, being in the featured snippet is the new cool. This is because it increases traffic to your site, improves brand awareness and ultimately boosts revenue.
Here are some things you can do to increase your chance of making it to this position:
- Research on the questions your readers are asking
- Create content with specific intent of answering questions
- Create really high-quality content
- Have the intention of providing the best answer
- Create question and answer pages on your site
- Itemize your points
Use Google SEO Tools
There are a number of free and paid tools that can further help you get better results from search engine. While some of these tools are useful for research, some help with analytics and there are those that help with diagnosing issues.
SEO can get overwhelming sometimes if you to take it on all by yourself. That’s why you need these tools to ease your work and make you get results faster.
Here are some Google SEO tools you should start using:
According Neil Patel, “Google Analytics is to the online marketer like air is to the human being”. In other words, you literally can’t do without it.
Google analytics gives you important data about your website such as traffic, visitors, bounce rate, conversion rates among others.
The main focus of this tool is search and optimization; another crucial Google SEO tool that you need to boost your site performance on Google.
You already know that Google crawlers look out for keywords when they crawl your site. So, you need to optimize your site contents for relevant keywords. Google Keyword Planner will help you with this.
Mozbar helps you know the position of your site at every point in time. You need the information you can get on what’s working and what’s not so you know what steps to take to get better results. Mozbar gives you all that information at a glance.
This tool lets you easily enter a URL here and generate report on your website. Try it out and see how it easily shows you your site data. The fact you can enter any site of your choice also gives you the opportunity to spy on competitors.
The site provides handy insights into important details that some other analytics sites may overlook.
A keyword research, competitor research and content idea tool. UberSuggest is Neil Patel’s all-round SEO tool.
Search engine optimization does not work overnight. It’s a process and that means it often takes time. So, you have to be patient, keep working and evaluating. Use your analytics tools to see how you’re doing. Celebrate small wins and strive for better results.