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Google SEO Guide

As Google makes up around 75 percent of search engine queries, it remains one of the most important search engines through which to pursue SEO. Understanding the foundations of Google SEO can help website owners increase organic traffic, as well as search engine rankings for relevant keywords. And while Google’s underlying system for ranking websites might seem similar to the rest, there are some key differences with Google that set it apart from search engines like Yahoo and Bing.

With StatCounter, you’ll have all the tools to measure the effectiveness of SEO on your website. Further, with StatCounter Insights, we strive to provide the in-depth information and resources necessary to thrive on competitive search engines like Google. This guide intends to look into SEO as it pertains to Google, and how website owners can make the most of their online presence to ultimately improve organic traffic and rankings within Google’s search results.

Why Your Website Needs SEO

Before search engines and the internet dominated, small businesses often had to cough up a great deal of money for traditional advertising, like newspaper and television ads. Search engines, especially Google, have made it easier for these businesses to market their products and services to local residents and national consumers alike for a more friendly cost.

Organic search, for example, is free, although it does take a lot of work to get your website ranking for relevant keywords. Many small businesses have taken to hiring an SEO company or SEO consultant to help improve their website’s SEO strategy and improve their online visibility.

You can, however, purchase ad space at the top of Google search results for targeted keywords. This can be incredibly costly, though, and often times organic search will have a higher return on investment, even if you choose to hire an SEO company. Regardless of whether you perform SEO on your own or hire a company, implementing SEO for your business’s website can be extremely beneficial. Seeing as how many consumers use the web to find information, services, and products, having a strong and visible website is crucial.

Why Optimize for Google

Google is by far the most used search engine worldwide. In fact, Google typically controls about 70% of the search engine market share at any given time. This makes optimizing your site for Google imperative to a sound SEO strategy.

Google’s search algorithm is constantly being updated to improve the user experience in search results. If you choose to do your SEO strategy on your own, you will want to continue to do your own research to determine if some strategies have fallen out of favor with the search engine behemoth. Otherwise, you run the risk of having your website penalized by Google, which could hurt your keyword rankings. Regardless, optimizing your website for Google should always be a major aspect of your SEO strategy. Put simply, a large portion of web users turn to Google for their searching needs. In focusing on ranking in Google search results, you’ll improve the visibility of your site within Google, and ultimately acquire more traffic.

By The Numbers

To gain better insight as to why Google SEO is so worthwhile, and essential to the visibility of your website, take a look at the Google usage statistics we’ve provided below:

  • Over 60,000 search queries are entered on Google every second
  • As of 2016, 2 trillion searches are performed on Google annually
  • Each month, over 1 billion unique searchers use Google
  • Over 60 trillion webpages have been indexed on Google
Note: Statistics provided by Internet Live Stats

Google SEO: Key Ranking Factors

When it comes to ranking in Google’s search results, there’s a few specific factors that heavily impact your chances of such. For starters, keyword research and the use of those terms in site wide content is absolutely essential. Aside from keyword-based content, however, you can and should also use your keywords for what’s referred to as onsite (or on page) optimization. This involves placing keywords and descriptive text in title tags, meta descriptions, image alt text, and page headings across your website.

Finally, to rank competitively on Google, you need backlinks! In fact, any SEO expert will tell you a website will have almost no chance of ranking without backlinks. Backlinks, also known as inbound links, are links from other websites that direct traffic to your own site. For instance, if another website mentions your business on one of their pages, and adds a link to your website on that page, you will have a acquired a backlink. These show Google and other search engines how strong your website is in terms of page and domain authority, and therefore directly affect your chances of ranking within search results.

By The Numbers

To get a full understanding of how important backlinks are to your SEO strategy and search engine rankings, consider these quick stats from Moz:

  • 99.2% of all top 50 search results (for any term) had at least one inbound link for the website.
  • 77.8% of the top search results, in terms of individual pages, also had at least one backlink for any ranking page.
Note: Statistics provided by Moz

Staying on Top of SEO Trends

As mentioned before, Google’s algorithm is constantly changing. Because of this, some SEO strategies that worked well in the early days of search engines have become bad practice. PageRank, for example, was the main ranking factor in the early days of SEO, however, this was easily manipulated with link farms and other black hat SEO practices.

To combat strategies like these, Google has released several algorithm updates that have penalized many sites. Google’s Panda update has penalized spammy backlinks, like the ones from link farms, to dissuade website owners from participating in these backlinking strategies.

More recently, Google began penalizing websites that were not mobile friendly, or at least mobile responsive. This is because as more people buy smartphones, the percentage of mobile searches has increased. Seeing as Google takes user experience seriously, the search engine wants to serve up website’s that are accessible on mobile browsers.

Strategies for Google SEO

SEO encompasses an array of strategies, all of which should be executed to receive the most growth in your website’s organic traffic and Google rankings. Some of the best Google SEO strategies are as follow:

  • Authentic Link Building: As mentioned, obtaining quality inbound links (backlinks) for your website is crucial if you want to build your credibility in the eyes of Google. While it's possible to buy backlinks, many of them are illegitimate, and are nowadays penalized by Google. So creating opportunities for real, authentic backlinks is key.
  • Structure Content Around Realistic Keywords: To drive more traffic to your site, structure on-site content around commonly searched keywords. Again, Google will penalize your website if you try to exploit keywords, but writing real and engaging content around these key phrases will help bring in more traffic. In short, avoid writing content for the sake of ranking for a keyword. Consider what type of content would best suit that keyword, as well as user intent.
  • User Experience Comes First: When it comes to Google SEO, it’s the user experience that matters more than anything else. Google’s search ranking algorithms are constantly evolving to bring users closer to the content they’re really searching for, so pursuing SEO with the user in mind is your best bet.
  • Mobile Friendliness Matters: More recently, Google has taken to penalizing websites that aren’t mobile-friendly. More users are searching from mobile phones than ever before, so it’s important to maintain a website that looks good and functions well from a mobile browser. Not only will it affect your ranking in Google, but it will also affect your website’s traffic accordingly.

Measure Your Google SEO Efforts with StatCounter Insights

In essence, ranking in Google’s search results comes down to site content, backlinks, and user experience. Backlinks provide your website with more authority, which helps improve rankings, while strong content and a user-friendly website will help acquire more traffic and keep visitors on site for longer. As you begin working on these Google SEO tactics, however, you’ll want to monitor the effects of your strategy to ensure your practices are performing as intended.

With StatCounter, you can track the progress you have made on your website through our Google SEO Guide to ensure your website is competitive online. In utilizing our detailed metrics, you’ll be able to determine how users are interacting on your site, which you can then use to improve specific areas on site and stick with strategies that are working.

If you have questions or comments, you can contact StatCounter member support by completing the form below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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