• Graciela Salazar

6 Ways to improve your website’s search ranking

Updated: Jun 30, 2018


Your website needs to be on the first page of Google’s search engine results page (SERP). Why? 90 percent of searchers look only at the sites listed on the first page. Worse yet, 61 percent of the clicks will go to one of the first three sites listed. If your page is in the 10th spot you can expect to get only 3 percent of the clicks.


How do you improve your website’s chances of getting to the top of that first page? You must first focus on your page content. If you offer relevant content that is exceptional, better than your competitors, then you stand a good chance of heading to the top. But, this won’t happen if you don’t meet Google’s minimum search engine optimization requirements (SEO). To be optimized means that your pages are formatted in a way that search engines understand and that people appreciate.


Here is a list of basic SEO improvements that should not be ignored:


1. Page load time – 3 seconds or less

People are impatient, and they will not wait for slow pages to load. Google knows this and will lower your ranking if your site is too slow. Pages on your site need to load in 3 seconds or less.


To determine a page’s load time, don’t use your watch. Instead use a free web service like webpagetest.org which provides detailed metrics that will help you troubleshoot problems.


Here are common reasons why a page might load slowly:


Images are too big

Big images take a lot of time to download. Check the sizes of the images you use on your pages. Is each image below 300KB? Or, are your images in the 1000’s. To minimize image size, you should match the dimensions of your images closely to the dimensions where the image will be used. Uploading an image that is 8.5 x 11 inches and displaying it in a 3 x 5 inch space is unnecessarily increasing page load time. Use picture editing software like Adobe Photoshop to make the image the right size. Strive to reduce the size even more by saving images at a lower quality/resolution. Don’t go so low the image looks awful , but go as low as possible. You’ll also want to compress images using a webservice like tinypng.com. Good compression won’t noticeably affect image quality but can reduce image sizes by as much as 70 percent.

To many server requests Most webpages are not a single file. Instead the page will reference many which might be spread across multiple web servers. Each one of those files must be downloaded to the user’s computer. This includes files such as image, JavaScript, fonts and cascading style sheets (CSS). Each file is requested independently which slows page load speed. The more files that are requested and the bigger those files, the slower your page will load. Go back to webpagetest.org and review the waterfall view of the files your site is loading. Anything that is not essential should be removed from your page. If you can’t remove it, then try combining like files together. For example, if your page requires five CSS files then combine the files together to minimize the number of server requests issued. Another tactic is to minify CSS and JavaScript files. When a file is minified all unnecessary characters are removed thus shirking the file size. Websites such as minifier.org will minify your files for free.

A slow website hosting service Low cost hosting plans often come with the hidden price of slow response times. Unfortunately there is little you can do about this except to move your site either from shared hosting to a virtual private server or to a better hosting service that offers better load times.

2. Are you mobile friendly?

Mobile searches make up more than 50 percent of web traffic and that percentage is expected to grow. Google now uses “mobile-first indexing” which means that your mobile site is used to establish the base line for site ranking – not your desktop site. The content of your mobile site needs to be at least as good as your desktop site. If you don’t have a mobile version of your website or your website is not responsive you need to work on fixing that now.

3. Show strong in the SERPS Each page of your website needs to have a unique and compelling meta title and meta description. These meta tags are not something that are visible on your webpage but are instead encoded on the page and used by Google. It is the meta title and description that are shown by Google to searchers in the SERP. Both your title and description should include your page’s focus keyword and should be persuasive enough to make someone want to click it. If your website appears in the SERPS and no one clicks it because of a horrible meta title or description, then Google will take note and penalize your ranking for poor click through rate (CTR).

You also need to be sure that your meta title and description fit the content of your page. If they don’t, and you lure a click to your page that person is likely to “pogo-stick” which means they will press the back button and move on to the next website. Google tracks pogo-sticking and if your visitors do a lot of it your page rank will suffer.

4. Don’t forget to use your keyword

Page content is often built around keywords or phrases. You need to be sure that they are used on your page in the right places. But, be careful of not overusing your keywords or you will be penalized for “keyword stuffing.”

Here are keyword placement best practices:

  • Make sure your page has exactly one H1 (heading tag) that includes your keyword.

  • Your page’s URL should include the keyword. If the URL has multiple words each word should be separated with a dash. Google can’t read words that are combined but it does understand words separated with dashes.

  • Your keyword should appear in your content near the top of the page.

  • Images should have special HTML markup called Alt tags. Alt tags are a written description of the image. Google uses Alt tags to understand what the image is about. Try to use your page’s keyword or related words in your image Alt tags.

5. Leverage latent semantic indexing (LSI) Google knows which words are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This is an indicator of quality content. Be sure that your page includes words that are related to your keyword. For example, if you have a page with the keyword “coffee”, Google would expect to find the words brand, gourmet, decaf, cup and so on.

To help you find these related words, do a Google search for your keyword and then scroll to the bottom of the page to see the list of “Search related to…” These are phrases Google thinks are related to your search term and you should try to weave them into your content. There are also dedicated tools online that can help you with LSI such as LSIgraph.com.

6. Include helpful links You should have a least two links to relevant outside resources (external links). To Google this indicates that you are a helpful resource rather than a pure advertisement. You should also include several links to pages on your own site (internal links). These internal links allow users to find additional helpful content on your own site and helps Google understand the relationships of your site’s content.


We hope you find the information provided here to be informative and helpful. If you have questions, please contact GS Digital Marketing and we will help you accomplish this and more! Together, we can be creative!


By Graciela Salazar

GS Digital Marketing is a creative digital marketing firm in the Rio Grande Valley specializing in social media, video and graphic design. We will find creative ways to reach your customers. To learn more, visit our website or contact us.


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We are a creative digital marketing firm in the Rio Grande Valley specializing in social media, video and graphic design. We will find creative and effective ways to reach your customers.