If your first answer to this is “I don’t know”, then chances are your website is not Google optimised – and that’s bad news for your business.
If everything looks right with your website but you’re not getting the results you want, it might be because you haven’t considered what’s going on behind the scenes. Thankfully, there are tried-and-tested methods for getting around this.
How Google ‘sees’ your website
Your website rankings are at the mercy of Google’s search ‘algorithm’ – which in simple terms means the way it calculates your website’s quality.
Google can ‘see’ pretty much anything a user can see, but it can also see a lot of the fancy stuff that goes on in the background. If that stuff isn’t taken care of properly, even a website with great content can struggle to rise up Google’s search rankings.
The way Google assesses your website’s quality can be boiled down to four key categories:
- Relevancy to the search term
- How useful is the page?
With all this in mind, it’s easy to see how you could go wrong without even realising.
But Google changes its mind a lot…
Like a picky eater, Google frequently changes its mind about what it considers ‘good’ and ‘bad’. These algorithm changes can, and do, spell disaster for website owners who didn’t prepare.
Fail to keep up with Google’s algorithm changes, and you’ll probably find your website starts falling down the rankings, and you’ll struggle to make gains on the other search terms you want to improve.
In practical terms this means your website traffic could drop considerably if you aren’t prepared for the changes.
Understanding bounce rates
Google can see when people use its search to find your website, and it also has a pretty good idea how long it takes them to leave. If your user leaves without doing much, that’s known as a ‘bounce’.
A high ‘bounce rate’ (the percentage of people who bounce from a page) is a signal to Google that your website isn’t relevant – and you’re likely to drop down the rankings as a result.
This is why it’s so important to ensure that your page is a) relevant to the searches it’s showing up for, and b) useful once the user arrives.
For example, if your webpage ranks well on searches for “accountancy services”, but the page doesn’t give your users an easy way to find out your prices, they are likely to ‘bounce’. This tells Google your page might not be very useful. Meanwhile, your competitor who includes their prices on their website is showing Google they’re the right page for your search.
Creating a plan of action
The key to getting around Google’s many quirks is having a plan. This plan will need to consider all the different things that can cause problems with your site ranking.
Companies like Higher Ground User Experience Agency can help you put together a plan that takes into consideration everything from quality of content to page load speed, and identifying where your website might be losing customers and signalling to Google that something’s not quite right.
The plan will often include installing tools such as Google Analytics, which can give you all kinds of insights into what your users are doing when they hit your site. It’ll also show you key differences in behaviour between users from different channels, such as organic search, paid ads and social media. This data can be invaluable in helping you fine-tune your website for better performance.
Find out more about Bounce rate and the User Experience here.