5 things you may not know about Google search rankings
5 things you may not know about Google search rankings
Is ranking high in Google one of your business goals?
Since the dawn of search engines, ranking as high as possible has been a target for companies of all kinds. The reason why is pretty clear — ideally, the higher you rank, the more people will see your website, the more traffic you’ll get, and the more sales you’ll make.
How you rank in Google has a lot to do with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). To be successful in digital marketing, you need a multi-channel approach, and SEO is one of those channels that can drive significant traffic to your website.
Improving your search rankings is a sensible goal to have, but not a simple one to accomplish! Here are a few things you may not know about Google search rankings.
Search results are personalized for each user
Two people can search for the exact same keywords and see different results.
This is because Google’s algorithms customize search results based on several factors including the user’s search history, location, and device. This means it’s essentially impossible for a business to ‘take the top spot’, because what appears in that top spot depends on the perceived interests of that specific user. This also means that it’s tough to measure where you land in search rankings, because it’s different for everyone.
For example, if your business has a physical location, you’ll be more likely to appear in the search rankings of those who are in your city, which is a win-win scenario. If you search for ‘Farmer’s Market’, you’ll see search results for farmer’s markets near you, and of course these same results won’t appear for someone living across the country.
Or, if someone has a tendency to do a lot of online shopping on Amazon, Google may recognize that and place a higher priority on search results for Amazon web pages.
Google’s goal is to make search results as relevant to the user as possible. So, it’s important that your web content is relevant to your target audience and helps solve the user’s intent.
Featured snippets are taking the main stage
When you Google a question, you may have noticed that a box appears at the top of the page (above the organic results) that offers a quick answer to the question. These are called ‘Featured Snippets’ or sometimes ‘Answer Boxes’.
The website from which the answer was pulled does appear, but the goal of the snippet is to offer a brief answer to the question right on the results page, potentially leading to less click-throughs to other webpages.
These answers are not always pulled from the #1 ranking search result. Instead, Google pulls from the webpage that it feels provides the most accurate and concise response to the question. This website may rank further down on the page, but is essentially bumped to the top in the snippet.
What does this mean? Even if you’re one of the highest ranked websites for those keywords, a Featured Snippet may end up stealing the spotlight. But, it also means there are opportunities to be the one who is featured in those snippets, which is a big win!
Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) are getting more sophisticated
Featured Snippets aren’t the only thing you’ll see on results pages. Ads, Knowledge Graphs, news stories, and videos may also appear at the top of the first page, depending on what was searched.
In the end, Google adapts to serve the user as best as it can, as it should. It also means there may be opportunities for your business to be featured in these SERP highlights. But on the other hand, it means there’s less room for the regular ol’ organic search results that we’re used to seeing and striving for.
Best practices and algorithms are always changing
SEO certainly isn’t what it used to be. Once upon a time, all it took was some clever keywording and maybe even link buying to get into top search results. As with most things on the internet, best practices and algorithms for SEO are always changing. Common ‘shortcuts’ that once improved rankings could now harm them.
Now, SEO is really about the quality and value that you provide to users. And while there are some generally accepted ‘rules’ or best practices to follow, there aren’t any shortcuts. Which brings us to our next point...
Search rankings are just one part of a bigger overall strategy
Improving your search rankings is just one positive result of a great overall SEO strategy. Creating and executing a proper digital marketing strategy will help you in many ways, but it requires resources and can take time to see results.
While the SEO landscape is always changing, there are some factors that remain pretty constant. Here are a few things to focus on, which will hopefully help your rankings in the long-run, too:
Creating a comprehensive, results-driven content strategy that targets your ideal audience. Quality content is a huge component of SEO. Make sure that you’re providing something of value to your audience — they’ll appreciate it, and so will Google. Creating a content calendar is a good way to get started.
Enhancing your website’s useability. Make sure that your website offers a great user experience on all types of devices.
Collect genuine, positive customer reviews. Potential customers are more likely to trust the opinions and experiences of other people like them, and Google reviews can help improve your rankings, too.
Track what’s helping you achieve your ultimate goals — high click-through-rates, leads, and sales. Then, continue to invest in those areas.
Start with a solid foundation — an intuitive, well-made website — and then start creating quality content that is of interest to your target audience and uses the right keywords. If you can do this consistently, you’re already on the right track!