Topping the Google charts

Google has updated its page ranking system and now aims to penalise poor quality sites by demoting them. Your site rarely appears on the first page of results, let alone in the top five listings. What can you do to improve your showing?


The good and the bad

Behind the scenes, the world’s most popular search engine uses special processes, so-called algorithms, to decide the order in which to list results of all the searches it performs. It concentrates on placing what it considers good websites at the top.

But in early 2017 it launched a new algorithm which more aggressively aims to penalise websites it thinks are poor by demoting them. Naturally, you’ll want to ensure yours doesn’t fall into this category.

The naughty list

Google makes a big play of what it calls the “user experience”. At the top of its list of things that can ruin this are irrelevant pop-ups and ads. This will push your website down the rankings. While reports indicate that Google’s updated algorithm isn’t being very effective so far, there’s little doubt it will become more adept in time.

Tip. Consider removing pop-ups and ads which aren’t connected with the main purpose of your site.

Results need more than good design

A beautifully designed website won’t matter much when it comes to Google’s rating. Better results rely on content which is as relevant as possible. If you’re selling goods or services it should refer to these frequently without making the text difficult to follow, and where feasible use synonyms as well. Avoid commonplace terms like “cheap” or “low price”.

Your site should stand out from the crowd. Use text that is unique or at least not run-of-the-mill, For example, if you sell widgets you could say, “experts in widget sales since 1985” .

Tip. A presence on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter will also help your ranking.

SEO science

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is now a big industry. There are apps you can buy to help you optimise your website’s visibility in online searches (see The next step ) and SEO consultants who can do the same job for you.

Optimisation is a moving target so don’t assume that spending several hundreds or thousands of pounds as a one off will get your business on the leader board permanently.

Trap. Sites that compete with yours might also use SEO apps or consultants. So unless you’re prepared to commit to using and paying for SEO over the medium or long term it might not be worth bothering with. It depends on how long you want or think you need to rank highly.

Take your pick

To explore the possibility of using an SEO consultant, you’ll want to spend your money wisely. Picking a consultant who’s right for your business isn’t as simple as seeing who comes top using a Google search (see The next step ).


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