HFB’s resident web expert, James Purves, looks at the specifics when it comes to boosting your Google ranking.
Having reviewed many websites against the different factors which affect a site’s search engine presence (technical quality, on page content, security, website speed, link structure, keyword relevance and others), there is often one specific area where we find websites are vulnerable and weak compared to their competitors which are ranking ahead of them.
It can often be puzzling for website owners to see that whilst their overall domain authority is good, they have an attractive, usable website with useful and relevant content and yet they are ranking further down the page than they would like.
The reason they are not ranking often comes down to the website’s incoming link profile and how they are perceived from an off-site point of view. Although this is a common metric to gauge a site by, it is also often the one least understood and therefore acted upon by site owners.
In simple terms, this metric is looking at the number of sites that have some form of link to your website and it is often the main noticeable difference in ranking factors between sites ranking for similar terms. These are links that are on various websites that, when clicked, take the user to your website. Google uses this factor as a sign of popularity, credibility and trust, and as such, rewards sites with a good number of incoming links – especially if those sites are also considered authoritative and trustworthy.
Often, when looking at a link profile, we will notice that there might be a high spam score (seven per cent) on the link profile. This score represents the percentage of sites out of your overall link profile that are penalised or banned by Google that link to your website. All sites are affected by the number of spammy sites that link to them, but the issue can appear worse due to the fact that a site which has few legitimate sites linking to it makes the ratio of bad site links to good site links less favourable. In instances like this, any spam links should be investigated and removed or disavowed with Google so that they do not harm your rankings.
All of the above scenarios and a drop in website rankings can often correlate with the timing of a Google update. An update that was first released last September is called the Google September CORE Update. In this update, Google was most concerned about what they refer to as E-A-T. This stands for expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. Google uses your link profile, the type of sites linking to you and how they talk about you to determine a profile of your expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. If your link profile is weaker than your competitors, it is possible to conclude that rankings will drop and sites with more E-A-T will be promoted ahead of you. It is now more important than ever before to consider how other sites, organisations and authoritative figures and bodies perceive your business and how this is represented online.
There isn’t a quick fix to link building, as it needs planning at the core of a business strategy but there is often a lot that can be added online that represents what a business is doing, it is just that it may not be made apparent on online channels.
What to do
Here are some ways to improve and update your website’s content to reflect Google’s E-A-T algorithms. Add content to the site written by legitimate experts in their field, who are part of your business and name them on each page or article, and link to bio page about them if possible.
Your website’s content should include:
- A thorough about page, with details of any awards, reviews, partners, events attended, staff and their experience.
- An easy to find contact page.
- References and external links to industry sources, where relevant.
- Author bylines on every article.
- As mentioned above, Google now focus on off-site factors to determine you for expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness, so with that in mind:
- Try and get other websites to cite your content. They don’t need to be links (although it helps), it could be an interview, a comment in a new website, a guest blog on another site, a review or bio.
- Your site needs to be focused on a particular topic, which yours is and all your content is relevant. Therefore, remove irrelevant content and keep new content highly relevant and ensure any older content is kept up to date and is factually correct.
- Look to improve incoming links by finding sites that will link to you. Addressing the points above will naturally make your site more authoritative and, in turn, give you a higher chance of being linked to.
Google has also offered the following list of questions to consider when evaluating your content:
- Does the content provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?
- Does the content provide a substantial, complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
- Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
- If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid simply copying or rewriting those sources and instead provide substantial additional value and originality?
- Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?
- Does the headline and/or page title avoid being exaggerating or shocking in nature?
- Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
- Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopaedia or book?
The other thing to remember is that your website and its content is only being compared to your competitors who are ranking for similar phrases to you. You are solely competing with these sites and not with every other website out there. This means that when you address the points above, evaluating how well your competitors do will give you a good indication of what is needed to surpass them.
James is a web consultant who specialises in online marketing strategy, user experience and search engine optimisation. He owns Unstuck Design, a creative design studio dedicated to creating websites and brand identities within the health food industry.