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How to Improve Your Google Ranking

Link-Assistant.Com | Posted in category Google Search Engine Optimization

Part I: Enhancing Your Search Listing

improve-google-rankings

Hitting Google's front page makes an SEO happy as a boy who just got the latest video game for Christmas. And the #1 Google ranking is truly the holy grail of the SEO world. Grab it, and there you get your everlasting flow of free traffic, loyal customers and through-the-roof sales. Nothing left to wish. Nothing to strive for, right?

Wrong. I mean come on. Top Google ranking? We can do better than that! Much better in fact. Here are at least 3 things (more to come in part II) you can do today to build on your SEO success.

And You know what? It doesn't really matter whether you rank #1 or #12, on Google, Yahoo!, or Bing. You can still use these tips to squeeze more out of your organic listing.


1. Improving Your Organic Click-Through-Rate

You don't necessarily need to increase your ranking to get more traffic. You can always get more clicks by simply putting out a more compelling, more engaging listing. Even when you rank #1 there's still a lot you can gain by making your website stand out.

A bit of basics first. So, your search listing is made up of 3 core elements:

  1. The title
  2. Text description (snippet)
  3. The URL of the webpage
Search Listing Structure

Search Listing Structure

There may be additional elements like sitelinks, but we'll talk about them later. The above three elements pretty much determine how many searchers will click your link. The difference they can make is HUGE.

Here's a quick example. How do you like this listing of Bing?

bing-search-listing-fail

Bing's Search Listing on Google for 'search engine'

This is what happens when you don't take the time to write a Meta description. Sure we've all heard that Google and Yahoo! no longer use Meta description in their rankings algorithms (that's official, you guys). But that doesn't mean you should abandon this page element. If you don't write your Meta description yourself, Google will do it for you. It will randomly take text samples from your web page and pile them together.

In Bing's case there wasn't plenty of text for Google to choose from, so they ended up with this thing above. Soon the guys at Bing noticed how miserable their listing looked so they added a Meta description:

bing-new-search-listing

Bing's Search Listing with Meta Description

Looks much better, don't you think?

You have a lot of control over your search listing: you choose the page URL, the Title and the Meta description. There's plenty of good advice out there on writing engaging titles and descriptions, so I won't go there. A couple of tips though:

  • The title and URL have a significant impact on your rankings. If you rank pretty high (say in top 10) don't mess with your page's title and URL much. At least keep the keywords intact (you do have your keywords in the title and URL, right?)
  • Like I said, the Meta description has no effect on your rankings so you can experiment with it all you want without putting your rank at risk.
  • Google likes highlighting the keywords from the user's query in the text snippet. When it doesn't find them in your Meta description, it will go and search the rest of your webpage making its own snippet. So, make sure you have your major keywords in your Meta description.
  • Sometimes Google takes site's description from Open Directory (DMOZ) instead of using your Meta Description. You can tell Google (and other search engines) not to do this by adding the following Meta tag:
  • <meta name="robots" content="NOODP">

  • Check the other listings on the page and see how you can make yours stand out from the crowd.

If you get it right you will end up getting more search traffic from your 3rd but great listing than the top two guys.


2. Double Indented Results

What can be better than a top Google listing? Come on, this one's easy. Two top listings of course 😉

double-search-results

Double Indented Results

A double listing gives you a number of benefits:

  • It makes your listing stand out
  • You get twice the real estate of a single listing on the page
  • You push one competitor off the page
  • Since you got double results the searchers think you're somehow special and click through to your site

How to get double search result for your site?

The answer is simple - you need to promote 2 pages of your website for the same keyword. When the two pages get to rank on the same results page they will be joined into one double listing. If you have more pages that rank well for the keyword you will also receive a "Show more results from..." link like the one in the above screenshot.

If you feel that a double listing is not enough you can always go and promote more pages to get 3 or even 4 results combined.

3. Getting Additional Links (Sitelinks)

Sitelinks (or quicklinks) are additional links to other pages of the site that Google shows below the site's search listing.

Sitelinks (aka quicklinks)

Sitelinks (aka Quicklinks)

The main purpose of these links is to help the searcher quickly get to the relevant page of your site. Alongside with that they also make your listing stand out and increase both your CTR (Click-Through-Rate) and conversions, because the searcher can better match the landing page to her needs.

How to Get Sitelinks

Sure sitelinks are one cool enhancement of your search listing. Now the question is how do you get them?

Google (and other search engines for this matter) don't disclose how they determine when to display sitelinks. There are a number of factors suggested by testing and common sense that give us some clues as to what triggers sitelinks:

  • You need to rank in top 5 (the higher the better)
  • You need to have additional pages that are relevant to the keyword
  • You need to have clean navigation structure (preferably text links)
  • You need to trigger at least 3 sitelinks for them to appear in search results

Optimizing Sitelinks

You can't tell Google what sitelinks to use for your site. You can't edit them either. But you can block specific sitelinks and Google will remove them from the search results. Why would you want to do this? There can be several cases when you don't want a sitelink:

  • The sitelink leads to an irrelevant page you don't want to send the traffic to
  • The sitelink has an irrelevant name (Google picks them automatically so this does happen)
  • One sitelink blocks another, more important one from showing up

You can check your sitelinks in your Google Webmaster Tools account under Dashboard > Site Configuration > Sitelinks

Optimizing Sitelinks

Optimizing Sitelinks

There you'll see all the sitelinks generated for your site with a 'block' button next to each one. Google doesn't show more than 8 sitelinks and if you have more you can handpick which ones to use in your search listing, and block all the rest.

Suppose you have 9 sitelinks and Google shows a sitelink to your about page but doesn't display the one that leads to order/download/subscribe page. You can block the sitelink to the about page and it should be replaced with the more important one (you can always unblock it if you change your mind).

Show time

There seems to be enough said already. It's time for action now. Take a look at how your search listing appears for your most important keywords and find ways to improve on it. Feel free to share your experience in the comments. Know of another way to enhance a search listing? We'd love to hear that. The commentator to get the highest number of thumbs up for his comment gets a Pro license for one of our SEO tools of choice.

Soon we'll publish Part II of this post, where we'll tell you how you can dominate the front page of Google. Subscribe to our RSS feed to get this post into your favourite reader as soon as it goes live.



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