It’s always an exciting time when you launch your website. However, as the first few weeks pass by, you begin to have serious questions. Why isn’t my blog getting any traffic? Am I doing something wrong? Below I outline how to get your new website ranked in Google.
Unless there is another issue like a website structure that is not crawlable, the answer is pretty simple. Google determines the rules of the game. Or any other search engine, for that matter.
The algorithm is the master, and we are the slaves. Not in the strictest of terms, but you get the drift. The search code specifies several guidelines that websites need to meet to get indexed and ranked in the SERPs.
There are some best practices you can follow from the get-go for compliance.
Besides this, it’s also important to note all these take time. Many sources quote anywhere from as low as 3 months to over 12 months to receive considerable traffic from Google’s search engine.
Optimize site speed
Google has openly admitted to using site speed as a ranking factor. Search engines try to put user experience first hence the disclosure.
Since you are already aware of this, it’s best to check and ensure your blog passes this test.
Of course, Google will not disclose the rest as it risks people gaming the system.
Secondly, another component you are directly in control of is image sizes. Heavy graphics utilize a good portion of bandwidth to load.
It consequently slows down the speed with which a web page loads.
Optimize images before loading them to your website’s server. I use Adobe Illustrator in my case. I directly control the image quality and size.
There are, however, other equally capable graphics software packages like Adobe Photoshop and GIMP (free and open-source).
If you do not have the luxury of buying, downloading, or installing these, use web-based apps like TinyPNG.
Your hosting can harm your site speed. That’s why you must choose a reliable hosting service provider.
Many of us, I’ll assume, are not techies. We do not have the skill to go behind the hosting scenes and tinkle with this and that. You are better of paying more for guaranteed, good quality hosting.
Create an accessible website structure
If search engines cannot access your website to crawl it, then you will not show up in SERPs. It’s as simple as that. And by extension, the intended audience will not see it.
The best place to start is using a content management system that has high support for accessibility. I recommend WordPress for blogging purposes.
It has been around for two decades and has continually been improved over this time by the open-source community.
Moreover, it’s free to use.
A website structure should be in the form of a linked hierarchy. It ensures an easy time for a search engine crawler and prevents orphan pages.
From the initial step, set up Google Search Console. It’s best to start collecting vital information as early as possible. It gathers information like crawl rate, indexing errors, security issues, etc.
The console is also handy for submitting sitemaps. Sitemaps tell the crawl bots about the URLs in your website. Some testers have proven that blogs without sitemaps submitted have a hard time getting crawled than their counterparts.
For pages and posts content, use cascading headings. For example, the title should be an H1 heading. Subheadings should be H2. And H3 if you have sub subheadings.
These give the bots visiting your website have an easier time at every visit.
Have proper use of both internal and external links. Internal links guide bots on various resources around the website that need to be indexed.
External links, especially backlinks, determine the authority of your site’s pages. These take time to obtain but impact your rankings positively.
Write proper meta titles
Writing titles correctly has a huge impact. A user largely determines if to open a particular result or another based on the title. Besides this, search engines use the title as a ranking factor as part of on-page SEO.
Meta tags are found in the <head> section of an HTML document. The meta tag is an element that specifies the title of a web page to search engines hence its importance.
The good news is that we do not have to know HTML to use it. WordPress plugins like AIO SEO and Yoast provide placeholders where you can define these.
Search engines display the title in SERPs and browser tabs.
So what makes for a qualifying title?
First of all, it should be unique to one post or page. Come up with relevant titles as you create different blog posts. Do not use a one size fits all approach. Duplicate titles across your site will affect your ranking and search visibility.
Secondly, include the post’s target keyword within the title. Use one, or if possible, two keywords only. It avoids keyword stuffing which is frowned upon by search engines. You run the risk of penalization in rankings.
If a company or personal branding is paramount, include it towards the end of the title. Separate it with a pipe or hyphen.
Finally, keep the title within a 60 character limit. If longer, vital words or phrases might get truncated in search results, leaving users confused.
Put thought into meta description
On the other hand, the meta description is the smaller font that appears below a title in SERPs. See the example below.
Search engines usually pick a snippet of text from the post’s content for meta description. It is, however, not ideal. You are better off controlling what Google displays.
Users determine whether to open a result or not based on the description. If it’s bland, then you run the risk of zero click-throughs.
The meta description does not directly affect the SEO. However, click-through rates are a vital metric to search engines whether your web page is valuable. Your page will get a bump up in the rankings if it scores well.
Therefore you can take some simple yet valuable steps to ensure each page and post is optimized.
First, research the users’ intent. A user reading the description will open the result if they immediately feel the post will answer their query.
Search engines are all about improving the user experience. Hence a post that receives regular visits will be regarded highly.
Use emotional words to spark curiosity. They have to be compelling and create an air of suspense. For example, words like ‘guaranteed’, ‘genuine’, ‘annoying’, ‘vulnerable’, ‘become an insider’, etc. Also, use a clear yet simple call to action in an active voice.
And just as in the meta title case, make your meta descriptions unique.
Ensure the content is informative and of good quality. Otherwise, users will leave the web page immediately, causing a high bounce rate. A high bounce rate usually indicates to search engines the content is of a low value.
Search engines will downrank pages with low user experiences.
Finally, keep the meta description to within 160 characters maximum to avoid truncation in the SERPs.
When you consider these few steps, success online will not be elusive. It might take some time. Therefore you mustn’t take this as a get-rich-quick affair.
More important than just getting indexed on search engines is getting ranked on the first page of the results. Preferably in the first spot.
At this point, keyword research comes into play. But today was just on making friends with the search engines.
Let me know in the comments below if this was useful.
Have you had a journey with establishing a new website online? How was the experience? Let me know below. It might help someone struggling with theirs.