How to Improve Your Google Rankings (Without Getting Penalized)
As per the latest statistics, the top five organic results account for 67.60% of clicks in Google.
Keeping these statistics in mind, one can easily conclude that top Google rankings can help you attain success in your online business.
Owing to this reason, business owners are constantly searching for ways to improve their Google rankings without getting penalized.
The truth is, there is no one magic button that can help you directly jump to the top of the SERPs. However, there are certain steps you can take to achieve this. It requires dedication, creativity, and persistence to improve your Google ranking, especially because of the dynamic nature of the Google algorithm.
If you too are wondering how to rank high on Google without getting penalized by the algorithm, read on.
1. Learn About the Google Algorithm
As we already know, Google constantly introduces changes to its algorithm. Most of these modifications are not publicly announced, but if you spend time in the inner circle of search engine experts, you’ll be able to figure those out!
Here are some major algorithm updates that you should know about:
- Core Update (May 2022): This algorithm update led to noticeable ranking fluctuations.
- Page Experience Update (June 2021): This update affected News alerts, Core Web Vitals, and organic results.
- Core Update (December 2020): This update laid focus on content relevance and quality.
- Mobile-first update (July 2019): Googlebot prioritizes websites that work well on mobile phones.
- Mobile-friendly update (April 2015): Favoring sites that have mobile-friendly versions.
- Pigeon (July 2014): This update worked at the integration of local search results such as Google Maps.
- Hummingbird (August 2013): Focussed on understanding the intent and context behind the search of the user instead of just taking into account the literal words they typed.
- Penguin (April 2012): Targeted spammers and sites that purchase unnatural links to increase their rankings.
Of course, there were other updates too. To learn about all the updates in detail, check out Google Webmaster Central.
2. Assess Your Current Google Ranking
In order to improve your Google ranking, it is essential for you to know where you currently stand. Luckily, there are several tools to help in this regard.
A. Use Ubersuggest to Know Your Website’s Keyword Rank
If you have been targeting certain keywords in your page content, visit Ubersuggest so that you can assess your rank.
Firstly, you need to log in. Then, click on the “Traffic Overview” located under the competitor report. As a next step, enter your domain. Now, you can view the list of SEO keywords you rank for, an overview of your SEO keywords ranking, and the top pages.
Scroll further down to see the “SEO Keywords” chart, which lets you know where you rank for main keywords.
B. Check Your Site Speed
Site speed is an important Google ranking factor. If your site loads slowly, you have a significantly lower chance of a high search position. It will impact your ability to convert too. According to the latest statistics, for every 100ms improvement in load time, Walmart witnessed a 1% increase in revenue. So, it is easy to spot the difference a change in load time can create.
To improve your Google rankings, it is vital to check your site speed. Run your own website speed test by using tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom Website Speed Test, and WebPageTest to find out.
C. Check the Overall Health of Your Website
It is crucial to check the health of your site before you begin optimizing.
Have you seen a sudden decrease in organic traffic after years or even months of consistency?
Do you think Google has banned or de-indexed your site?
Thankfully, there are a lot of tools that can help you answer these questions.
For instance, use the MxToolBox Domain Health Report tool to check for major problems in five categories: blacklist, DNS, mail server, general site problems, and web server. You can work towards fixing them from thereon.
Tip: To know whether you have been penalized by a major algorithm update, try out FE International’s Website Penalty Indicator tool.
When you enter the necessary details, such as your domain and database, a graph appears showing your website traffic in relation to major update rollouts.
If you want to check for a Google penalty, you can try Google Search Console. Log in and search for the “Security & Manual Actions” report. It will tell you if Google has taken manual action against your website.
Note: The report is only shown if a human reviewer has determined that your website breaks the quality guidelines of Google. It doesn’t tell you if a change in Google Algorithm has penalized your website.
In case you have a manual penalty, fix the problem and submit a reconsideration request to Google.
3. Assess Vital SEO Metrics
Now it is time to track and measure some of the most important metrics so that you know the areas that need improvement.
A. Organic Traffic
To know how many visitors land on your website, log in to your Google Analytics account. Then, check the acquisition channels report.
B. Organic Traffic Conversions
You must focus on the keywords that bring traffic to your website. Take the help of Google Search Console for the same. It shows the number of clicks you get for certain keywords in organic search results.
4. Ensure Your Website Is Mobile-Friendly
Your website must be mobile-friendly and prepared for a mobile-first Google.
Mobile devices account for about half of website traffic around the world. So, if you want a higher ranking, ensure your website performs well on mobile devices.
In January 2017, The Google Webmaster Blog stated:
“Starting today, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as high.”
In 2020, Google began sorting websites by mobile device friendliness (mobile-first indexing). In case your site is difficult to navigate, it will severely affect your rankings.
Fortunately, you can determine if your website is mobile-friendly by taking Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
All you need to do is enter your URL and click on “RUN TEST.”
The result states a “yes or no.” You even get a list of page loading problems. This way, you can take care of these issues and make sure your mobile website runs in a smooth manner.
How to make your Site Mobile-Friendly?
Here’s what you can do to make your website mobile-friendly:
- If your site is built on a famous CMS platform, such as Wix or WordPress, most of the themes are mobile-friendly. You may have to update your website to the most recent version to benefit from these features.
- Don’t use pop-ups that just won’t close.
- Ensure form fields and CTAs use huge, easy-to-tap buttons.
Note: These days, designers can build a mobile-friendly, professional, niche-based website for you if you don’t have one. But there is one thing you should know – they will take several days to build it.
Here’s a solution for this- use DashClicks’ Site tool and create a mobile-friendly, custom-branded agency website in just a few seconds. Pretty cool, right?
Listen Up: Mobile and local search share a strong connection. Google caters to hyper-local search, connecting brands and customers in the smoothest and fastest manner.
Therefore, ensure your Google My Business profile is fully updated and comprehensive.
For a person searching in your area, these profiles can serve as a deciding factor. Claim and update your business listing if you haven’t already. Ensure you do the same for other local listing sites as well.
5. Look For Current Penalties and Fix Them
A Google penalty can be devastating for your website. To improve your Google rankings, you need to diagnose current penalties and rectify them.
We have already discussed some ways in which Google can penalize you. Some other common practices penalized by Google include:
- Keyword stuffing or hidden text
- Hacked website
- Sneaky redirects
- Cloaking (full version of content is accessible to Google, but users get access to only partial content)
- User-generated spam
Note: You also risk a penalty if your website features less-than-valuable and thin content.
6. Do Keyword Research
If you want to get a lot of traffic and improve your website ranking, you should focus on using keywords relevant to your business.
Conduct keyword research and make a list of the best keywords to optimize your website. Do not forget to look for long-tail keywords, as they are used more often to search on Google.
Tip: To find long-tail keywords, you can use some tools such as keywordtool.io and Ubersuggest.
Refer to our Keyword Research for SEO Guide to find the right keywords to use in the content of your website.
7. Improve Google Rankings With On-Page SEO
After you determine which keywords you want to target to maximize your performance, you are now in the position to make meaningful on-page SEO changes.
How to perfect your on-page SEO to improve your Google rankings? Let’s take a deeper look:
A. Featured Snippets
Featured snippets are short excerpts from a webpage that show up in search results of Google in order to quickly answer a question by the user. It is a great way to push your result to the top of the first page.
Here’s how to target them:
Brainstorm and think of a question about your industry that searchers are frequently typing into Google. Then, figure out a way to incorporate the answer to it into your website’s featured snippets.
B. Optimize Title Tags
Ensure all of your title tags are unique, descriptive, and cater to your targeted keywords. Do not use the same title tags repeatedly.
Some title tag optimization tips you should know are:
- Title tags can make-or-break traffic as well as conversions. So, put your potential visitors before Google.
- Use dashes ( – ) and pipes ( | ) between terms
- If you are an e-commerce company, you can use this format for title tags – [Product’s Name] – [Product’s Category] | [Brand Name]
8. Create Top-Notch Content
When you write amazing content, you provide real value to your site visitors.
When Google sees a large amount of valuable content which is neither filled with keyword stuffing nor spammy, it takes notice. Hence, you should definitely focus on creating top-notch content to boost your Google rankings.
9. Get Backlinks the Right Way
To determine the worth of your website, Google looks to other websites. When you list your website in spammy directory websites or pay for backlinks, you play with fire. Untrustworthy and spammy backlinks can lead to a Google penalty. It is something that’s just not worth it.
Instead of getting poor-quality backlinks, you must work towards earning high-quality alternatives. This way, you get to improve your website ranking.
High-quality links come from authority websites that have earned respect in Google’s eyes over time.
To get these links, you can do guest posting and then get an authority link back to your website.
Tip: To find blogs and websites to guest post for, search for your keywords or industry topics along with a phrase such as “Submit a Guest Post” and “Write For Us.”
Once you know a few blogs to submit a guest post to, you still have one more step to take. You want to see if writing the guest blog is even worth the effort.
For doing this, check the Domain Authority of the site by using a tool called Open Site Explorer.
A high domain authority is ideal, so consider websites that have a number at least larger than 30.
10. Be Active on Social Media
Search engines such as Google try to take into account as much information available about you as possible when deciding whether to rank you. Social media is great in this regard. It helps search engines determine where they should place you if an individual searches for a topic that falls in your niche.
Search engines consider these questions specifically:
- How updated are your social media accounts?
- How active are your social media accounts?
- How many times does your site’s content get shared on social media platforms?
Also, as per the latest social media statistics, 4.59 billion people use social media around the world. This means, if you leverage social media, it can bring huge traffic to your site, and in turn, increase your search ranking.
After all is said and done, ensure you cover the following in order to improve your Google rankings:
- Dedicate time to entirely understanding your target audience and their needs.
- Conduct research for long-tail keywords and create useful content to solve their problems and make them return for more.
- Keep producing valuable content and promote it in every way you can.
Bottom line, to improve your Google rankings without getting penalized, you need to create valuable content, presented in a helpful manner. Also, keep in mind the things Google can penalize you for, such as bad linking practices, over-optimization, and duplicate content.
Also remember, it can take up to 6 months for your content to show up in the search results.
Now that you know how to rank higher on google without getting penalized, which of the above-mentioned ways you are going to start with first? Do let us know in the comments!