Google, the internet’s most ubiquitous search engine out there, keeps tabs on the various domains and applies a ranking to each of them. These rankings are used to filter out less useful and less reliable sites from view when using Google to search the internet. Many entrepreneurs seek to raise their rank so that their site more readily appears when potential customers search. Here’s how to check your website ranking on Google.
Google’s Ranking System Explained
Although it may seem obvious, Google’s ranking system is a way of essentially organizing the internet. When any given search is done by a Google user, Google uses complex algorithms to carefully curate what appears. These rankings are determined based on things that we are not directly told by Google, but which we can infer based on tests, and bits of information that Google has released.
The most basic of factors are technical factors. This includes things like page loading speed, its compatibility with mobile and desktop versions, and internal structure of your site. The internal structure refers to how many links within the page lead to other subpages within that site.
A more organized and neater site is ranked higher than less organized ones. At a technical level, Google cares about connection speed, compatibility with many devices, and internal structure.
The technical level is the most basic and easiest to understand. Beyond technicality though, Google also cares about relevance. Its algorithms determine this through keywords.
In any given site, its text is composed of words, and each individual word could itself be a keyword that Google scans for. If a person searches for “cooking,” Google will try to narrow down the results it presents to those that have “cooking” in them a lot.
This way, the person gets articles that are more strongly relevant to cooking. This gets more complicated as more and more keywords are introduced into the search.
A person might search “cooking recipes at home.” This new search contains four words, but Google’s algorithms are smart enough to weigh certain words more than others. The word “at” is a common English preposition, so the algorithm will likely ignore it.
Google will thus prioritize “cooking” “recipes” and “home” when displaying search results. The algorithm places importance on nouns especially over other words. These are the fundamentals of Google’s keyword search algorithms.
With that said, you may have already known this. Further complexity, however, is added in with personalized searches.
Personalized Searches and How to Circumvent Them
While you might think to check your search ranking by simply googling something relevant to your site, and seeing where you come up, this is not always reliable because of the nature of Google’s personalized search methods. Google collects data at a colossal level from everyone that uses its engine.
The things that you’ve searched, even if you’re not signed into a Google account, will influence what comes up in your search. Using some URL manipulation, you can figure out how to check your website ranking on Google without the interference of personalized searches.
Your first step is to open up an incognito Google browser and navigate to the Google search bar. It will most likely already be there, but just in case, head to “https://www.google.com/search.” From there, add to it “?q=_______” the blank spot is where your search goes.
It might be the name of your business, or something related to your business. After that, add on “&pws=0.” This will allow you to search for any given keyword or keywords, and turn off personalized searches.
If you’re using multiple keywords in a search, you can simply press the spacebar in the URL, but if you want to be proper, type in “ ” between your keywords to tell Google a space goes there.
An example of a search might be “https://www.google.com/search?q=google search&pws=0” Here, I’ve searched for the term “google search” and specified to turn off personalized searches. Give it a try yourself. The number of pages deep that your page appears after your search gives you a general idea about how well your page ranks with the specified keyword.
Some More Ways on How to Check your Website Ranking on Google
You can also check your ranking with Google by using third-party tools, but beware that some of these services come with a price. They generally are more reliable than manual searches, though. Some examples of third-party software for checking your rank are:
Among many others, these services are easy to find with a simple Google search. Along with that, Google itself offers analytic stats to its users that you can view using its own Google Search Console software. It’s fairly easy to set-up and to use, and also can be found with a quick Google search.
Now that you know how to check your website ranking on Google, you should also learn how to improve your ranking.
What Google Wants From You
As previously mentioned, Google wants a fast, multi-platform, and organized site. These three things are easy enough to figure out at a design level; ensure that you have smooth code for your site, make it compatible with all platforms, and use a variety of hyperlinks to create a network of related sites.
Google particularly likes to see hyperlinked subpages that all are related to each other via keywords. If your business is based around cooking, ensure that every subpage mentions cooking, and associated keywords.
Another thing Google cares about is your website’s authority. Authority refers to how many other sites have your site’s URL as a hyperlink in their own site. The more sites that link to your site, the higher your rank.
It’s similar to an academic paper being considered more successful if it has been referenced more. It is something of a “rich get richer” system, which can seem unfair, but there are yet more ways to increase your rank.
One thing you can try is reaching out to other entrepreneurs in your area of work, and asking them if they would be willing to mutually link each other’s sites on each other’s pages as a symbiotic relationship. Some people might bite, and you’ll have a few more links to your site, helping to build your authority.
You can focus on less popular keywords. This might seem counterintuitive but consider this. If a searcher is looking for the keyword “cooking,” it’s very unlikely that your site will appear unless you are already an established site.
If someone were to search for “Zucchini recipes” and you happen to have a page about zucchini recipes, you’re more likely to be on the front page compared to with a more popular keyword. Even though zucchinis are less commonly searched than cooking in general, you’re better off being front page for something than the tenth page for a popular word. Be sure as well to insert your keywords into strategic places like the title and headers of your page.
Maintaining Content Quality
While the idea of keywords and techniques to improve your ranking are tempting to focus on, don’t forget that Google also keeps track of how much quality your content has. If your site seems to be composed of more keywords than actual content, your rank will heavily drop. Remember that your site’s focus is also to provide quality content to its readers and viewers. Ultimately, your business’s success hinges on the quality of its product or service, not on its manipulation of the search engine. Just because you know how to check your website ranking on Google doesn’t mean you are guaranteed success and notice.
If you are going to strategically place keywords in your webpage, and mutually link to other web pages, make sure it does not compromise your own content and its quality.
Having a strong command of the language in which you’re writing your site is paramount in maintaining your content quality. Understand that you are writing for people and not for an engine, even though the engine is also reading it. Google’s algorithm can read like a human, and will notice discrepancies in quality.
Building an Internal Structure in your Site
With quality on the mind, remember that organization is deeply important for maintaining an easy to navigate, and high-ranking site. A site’s URL should be easy to read, without pointless characters, if it can be avoided. A site should have a home page that links to subpages with relevant and high-quality content.
Relevance is judged by the usage of consistent keywords, and quality is judged based on how “human” and fluent the text is. Overt keyword spamming will be easily caught by Google’s algorithms and, quite honestly, by your readers as well.
Think of your site’s structure like a web. A web doesn’t have very many end-points, and it links to itself in a structured and patterned way. Your homepage should be the center, and it should link out into, let’s say, five subpages.
Each of these pages is the first layer of the web. Within one of those subpages might be two or three more subpages. These pages can link to others on the same layer, but not on layers above or below it. If your page is about “Mexican Food” you might have three subpages: tacos, churros, and salsa.
Within the taco page, you might have soft shells and hard shells. Whether you know anything about Mexican food or not, the structure is already well organized and patterned. From soft shells, a person can get to hard shells, but they shouldn’t be able to hop over to churros without going back to the homepage. This way, information appears well-structured to both Google and your readers.
Choosing the Right Keywords
Choosing a good set of keywords is important for keeping a strong main idea in your writing both for the reader and for the algorithm. Your readers probably don’t know how to check your website ranking on Google anyway, so they won’t care if your keywords are perfectly picked.
This means you can take liberties with your keywords and avoid spamming them too much. Also, keep in mind the search patterns of a person. Many people on Google search using full sentences, but that doesn’t mean that a full sentence should be the entire keyword.
In any given search, the most important parts are the nouns. These are words that are persons, places, things, or ideas. These words most strongly define, in Google’s eyes, what the searcher is actually looking for.
Most importantly, though, pick keywords that you can fit into your site fluently. You don’t want Google to spot your overuse of keywords, and you especially don’t want your readers to see it. Disingenuous writing can turn even the most interested reader away.
Building Connections With Others
Creating a network of fellow entrepreneurs that can help bring authority to your site is important as well. Although they might seem like competitors, for now, you both can share the market and hope to mutually gain until perhaps the day you become rivals.
Besides the algorithmic benefit of authority, it also looks good to your readers, who will trust a site that has friendly relations with other sites. An isolated site looks shady and sub-par.
The connections you build with fellow entrepreneurs are also beneficial for all the regular reasons of business: building connections and relationships, sharing ideas, and learning from your competitors.
Using the Engine to your Advantage Without Compromising
Knowing how to check your website ranking on Google is important for creating a symbiotic relationship between appeasing Google’s desires and your reader’s desires. Balancing a well-made site with an optimized site for search engines is important for a growing business on its path to recognition.
You may not see your efforts paying off right away, and you may feel discouraged by seeing your competitors having more success than you. Don’t let this bother you. Google’s trends are changing constantly, and you may have to adapt your keyword selection and site organization to adapt to newly emerging trends.
Stay true to your brand, and practice good business alongside your Google rank, and you will see results.