Are you the ‘sh*t shop’ on the internet high street? How Google Ranks you.

Imagine you’re staying in a hotel in an unfamiliar town, and your friend calls you, knowing that you’re away. They happen to be in the same town and suggest going out for drinks together. You agree to find a suitable place and promise to call them back.

Knowing nothing about the town or its bars, you decide to take a stroll down the main street, hoping to find a good recommendation. As you walk, you come across two bars that catch your attention.

The first bar appears run-down and neglected. Its broken and dirty windows, crooked walls, and closed-door make you question if it’s even open. Curiosity gets the better of you, and you peer through the window, only to find a gloomy interior with cobwebs covering the bar counter and an “out of order” sign on the restroom door. There’s an unfriendly-looking person leaning on the bar, looking bored. Just outside, you notice a pile of rubbish bags on the street.

Meanwhile, you hear laughter and merriment coming from across the road. As you turn to look, you see the second bar brightly lit, with an open door and a welcoming sign displaying the names of the owners. The bar is bustling with happy customers, and there’s a beautiful outdoor seating area adorned with colourful flower boxes. Peeking through the window, you see the bar staff actively serving customers and engaging in friendly conversations.

When you call your friend back, which bar would you recommend?

This is similar to the decision Google has to make when deciding which websites to recommend when you type something into the search engine.

In this analogy, Google plays the role of the person trying to find the best bar for your friend (the user) to visit. Just as you evaluated the bars based on their appearance, cleanliness, and customer experience, Google assesses websites using various criteria to determine their quality and relevance to a user’s search query.

When you search for something on Google, it scours the web to find websites that are most likely to provide the information or service you’re seeking. Google takes into account factors such as the relevance of the website’s content to your search terms, the overall quality and credibility of the website, the user experience it offers, and other technical aspects like site speed and mobile-friendliness.

Similar to how you judged the first bar negatively due to its broken windows, untidy surroundings, and lack of customer engagement, Google may perceive a poorly designed website, outdated content, or a lack of user-friendly features as indicators of a lower-quality website.

On the other hand, just as you were drawn to the second bar with its welcoming atmosphere, active customer interaction, and appealing aesthetics, Google favours websites that provide valuable and up-to-date information, have an intuitive design, offer a positive user experience, and are actively maintained.

Therefore, the analogy highlights the importance of website owners (like the bar owners) investing in their “shop window” (the website) and prioritizing a positive customer experience.

By doing so, website owners increase their chances of being ranked higher in Google’s search results, thus attracting more visitors and potential customers.

Want to try to improve your chances of ranking?  Follow these steps to improve your chances with your own website:

  1. Optimise your website’s content: Ensure that your website’s content is relevant, informative, and well-written. Use keywords that are related to your business or topic naturally throughout your content, but not too many.  Always remember it’s actually for your ideal client to read.  Do not ‘write for Google’.
  2. Improve your website’s loading speed: A slow-loading website can discourage visitors and negatively impact your rankings.  Research using a content delivery network (CDN) to speed up your website.  Ask your website host about this.
  3. Make your website mobile-friendly: More and more people access the internet using mobile devices, so it’s crucial to have a website that is mobile-responsive. This means that your website should adapt and display properly on different screen sizes and devices.
  4. Focus on creating quality content that others would want to link to naturally, and consider reaching out to relevant websites for potential partnerships or guest blogging opportunities.
  5. Use descriptive meta tags: Meta tags provide information about your web pages to search engines. Pay attention to your page titles (title tags) and descriptions (meta descriptions). Write compelling and accurate descriptions that entice users to click on your website in search results.  Plugins like Yoast SEO or RankMath are free and can provide you with an easy place to add these descriptions without using code.
  6. Enhance user experience: Make sure your website is easy to navigate and intuitive. Improve the overall design, ensure clear and readable fonts, and use appropriate formatting.
  7. Create clear calls-to-action (CTAs) to guide users and make it easy for them to find the information they need.  It is preferable to give them something in return for taking the action.
  8. Regularly update and add new content: Keep your website fresh and up-to-date by regularly publishing new, relevant content. This can be in the form of blog posts, articles, videos, or any other content type that aligns with your website’s purpose. Fresh content shows Google that your website is active and provides value to users.
  9. Leverage social media: Establish a presence on social media platforms relevant to your target audience. Share your website’s content, engage with your audience, and encourage social sharing. This can help increase visibility and attract more visitors to your website.

Remember, search engine optimisation (SEO) is a continuous process, and it takes time to see results.

Focus on providing value to your website visitors, following best practices, and adapting to changes in the digital landscape. With consistent effort and improvement, you can enhance your website’s chances of ranking well on Google.

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