Let’s begin with the “Why” first. Each search engine is different in how it tackles indexing websites & ranking content for a keyword.
So how does Google rank websites?
- You’ve likely been told that ranking in Google isn’t easy.
- You’ve probably heard that Google’s algorithm relies on 200 + signals to help it determine how best to rank content for a keyword phrase.
- And, you’ve probably read a number of “top ten optimization tricks for Google” articles that disagree with each other.
It’s true, the exact signals that Google leverages to rank one website higher than another aren’t public knowledge. However, there are folks who carefully comb through Google’s patents and other documents. They seek to understand what may influence Google search ranking decisions. They then invest a lot of energy testing to see what SEO ranking factors truly influence how search results are ranked in Google.
Some of that knowledge about how to get ranked on Google leaks out to the public over time. Some of it is held back. (If you knew a secret that gave you an advantage, would you share it with your competitors?)
To complicate things, Google is developing and improving their Artificial Intelligence (AI). It will eventually make constant decisions on “what’s in and what’s out” with regard to Google first page ranking. Their goal is to move away from updates like Panda and toward a constant process of evolution guided by the AI.
The reason for this is simple. Google wants to ensure that when a list of websites are generated in response to a query, those websites offer genuine value to the searcher. (The industry term for this is SERPs or Search Engine Results Page.) Otherwise, Google knows it runs the risk of losing its position as the preeminent search engine. This, in turn, would negatively impact Google’s revenue. (Fewer eyeballs = fewer clicks on advertisements.)
To help train the AI, Google has human beings that are “teaching” it on how to choose which sites get ranked higher on Google. Those two hundred signals I mentioned before play a part in determining which sites show up for search queries for a given keyword. (Yes incorporating video on your site and leveraging YouTube helps too.) The human training of the Google AI helps to move beyond those signals.
Google accidentally had a public link to the training manual. It’s since been removed. I have a copy and I can tell you it’s more than 158 pages long and offers a fascinating look at what Google sees as the most important SEO ranking factors. (Because it is confidential, I can’t release it. Rest assured we’ve incorporated it’s concepts into our local SEO training & tools.)
It is impossible to cover all the ranking factors here. But I’ll share a conclusion I’ve come to that will make many folks in the SEO industry unhappy with me…
First, I want to share some other examples to set the stage…
What if I asked you how do I lose weight? What would your response be?
Regardless of the fads and all the books on the subject, the easiest answer that helps a high percentage of people is simply eat less and exercise more. Moderately overweight without other complications? This is the fastest formula to shed 10 pounds.
What if I asked you how do I become a more holy person? What would your response be?
It might begin with telling someone to invest more time reading holy books, praying & meditating. It might continue that they should live a life in accordance with their faith. For all the advice given on being a better Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, etc., these elements are at the core.
Yes, the precise mechanics for losing weight or becoming more holy can be quite detailed. But these serve as an example that most complex questions can be reduced to a couple of core rules or values that comprise the answer.
So with the stage set, Google seeks to include content in SERPs that meets a couple of core rules:
- Does the content add value to the Internet & local market? (Is the content worth reading, viewing, etc.)
- Does the content have an increasing amount of quality links pointing to it with corresponding quality traffic?
Yes, this is overly simplistic. Yet it is central to how Google functions. In fact, Google calls this EAT. It stands for “Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness”. This principle is key to the Google AI’s evaluation of content. For all the nuances that SEO experts talk about, these core elements are still hypercritical for the average website owner. Yes on-page and off-page elements are important to Google. Yes the “200 signals” of Google’s algorithm factor into the equation. Yes, you have to plan to appease the AI. But without the core of valuable content + quality links & traffic, all other methods for SEO are secondary. This is particularly true for local seo marketing. To achieve the best results in Google, plan to have a solid content marketing strategy.
Picture it this way. Let’s say you have a highly competitive search term with over 36,000,000 results in Google. Let’s say your website is fairly young, perhaps less than a year old. Paying attention to the content alone can help your site rank to within the first 10 pages of Google’s results. Backlinks can turbo-charge the ranking power and move you to the top 10 results in Google. As you build content that ranks, it becomes easier to rank for more competitive terms. This takes time. It also withstands the test whenever Google updates its search engine algorithm.
Sure, I know folks that can cause their sites to rank quickly in Google for competitive terms. It’s because they leverage techniques that Google would consider Black Hat. In most cases, the average person leveraging such techniques would likely cause their website to be penalized by Google. (Sort of like Myth Busters where they say “Don’t try this at home”. What BlackHat’s do shouldn’t be imitated.)
However, if you set out to master these two principles first, you’ll be miles ahead of your competition in Google search ranking. Then, by layering on the mechanics of on-page SEO and off-page content promotion, you can begin to increase ranking power. This will enhance your chances of your content being properly categorized & displayed within the top SERPs.
How to See Where You Rank in Google
You can certainly spend quite a bit of money on 3rd party tools to check page rank for various keywords. Typically they’ll range from $50 to more than $100 per month depending on how detailed their search ranking checker is. LiftDemand includes a robust ranking checker tool with its service. It helps answer the question “where does my website rank” with ease. We believe it is one of the best Google rankings checker available. Plus it also tracks rank stats for Yahoo and Bing. And it helps you see how you rank local. This is critical for tracking local seo strategy effectiveness. And as this is all included with LiftDemand, we help clients to save money in the process.
However, a rank check tool requires that you input the search terms you want monitor. So you still need to know how to find Google ranking details for your website. Specifically you want to know what search terms Google sees as relevant to your site.
Thankfully, Google offers its Webmasters tool that has a basic seo ranking checker built in. While it doesn’t track rank changes over time, it does give you specific keywords that Google is ranking you for. To start, go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/ and sign up for the service.
- Add a site to the Search Console and allow time for Google to collect data.
- Click on “View Details” next to the website “property” you are interested in.
- Click on the 2nd button in the listing “See top queries”
- At the top of the report select Clicks, Impressions, CTR, and Position
- In the report details click on the “Position” column
That’s it! You can easily see a specific search query and your position. Armed with this information you can input these terms into whatever rank tracking tool you leverage. This will help you track your keyword ranking in Google over time.
And here’s a nifty bonus. If you master the two core principles mentioned at the outset you’ll find each page of content will rank for more than the single keyword phrase. You’ll achieve higher rankings for many keyword concepts within each single piece of content! Hopefully this article has answered the question, “Where do I rank on Google“. But if you need more help, please click here to schedule a complimentary consult.