Want to rank higher on Google? Stop competing against yourself
The SEO game is one with many competitors, so best not to make yourself into one too. Jim Stewart explains how to ensure your website’s pages aren’t competing against each other.
If you and a friend are chased by a bear, you don’t need to outrun the bear, you just need to outrun your friend. In this case, the bear is Google and your friends are actually your business competition.
As individuals, we all compete against others and ourselves every day. Studies have shown that human beings have an instinctively competitive drive. This drive is echoed by Google, an organisation largely defined by competition.
The best way to get noticed by Google is to make sure your own web pages aren’t competing against each other. You can improve your site ranking by focusing on internal site pages and implementing strategies to minimise these pages competing against one another.
This will save you time and potentially yield more return for your business. Internal competition between pages should be avoided because it can result in the swapping of result pages for a particular search term or pages being omitted entirely by Google because they seem too similar.
More targeted homepages, for example, often rank better in Google than more generic homepages. Once Google has selected the most relevant pages of your website for a particular search term, they are combined with the relevant pages from different domains to produce search engine results.
One simple way to uncover internal competition is to use a ‘site:’ search.
This means searching ‘site:https://www.your-domain.com’ in Google, which will generate a list of your site’s indexed pages. This is a useful tool to ensure consistency between Google’s index and your site map, which allows you to remove any old or unwanted pages from appearing in the Google search.
As such, it can reveal duplication issues that may need to be resolved. When using this function to track internal competition, businesses can add keywords and phrases to the end of their ‘site:’ search.
Google will then return every page within your site that mentions or is related to that appended keyword. This search tool allows businesses to cut the slack from their sites through consolidation and is an easy starting point for deeper analysis.
Google’s PageRank algorithm is another useful tool to review your website’s performance, which is similar to a ‘vote’ or comparison with all other pages on the internet about a page’s importance. While it is not public, this is used by Google to show a page’s relevance and evaluates the quality and quantity of links to a webpage and is displayed as a number from zero to ten in the Google toolbar in your browser.
This score is based on how many other websites link to your site and the PageRank of those sites that link to you. One way to improve your PageRank is to build a website with quality content and good internal links.
By improving your inbound links on the homepage or elsewhere on your site, your authority will increase because these links act as third-party indicators to Google that your site has priority. Internal links create a hierarchy of information.
What aspects need to be seen first and where do we want these to lead? For example, when adding a new blog post, look out for opportunities to link relevant content on your site to the new post. You could also do a content audit to identify popular pages and insert links on those pages to other relevant content.
We know the more you minimise internal conflict between the homepage and internal pages, the more you increase your chance of better ranking. However, businesses should also take time to review well-ranking external competitors for examples of high-performing site pages.
Things to consider here are: quick loading times, mobile optimisation, reducing meta-descriptions to improve SEO and having appropriate security in place.
Tips to curb the problem
Keep in mind that Google takes into account headings, page titles, images, meta descriptions and body copy when ranking your web pages. Here are some practical tips to fix the problem of duplication:
- If you have multiple pages ranking for a particular keyword, it could be because one or more of those elements Google uses to rank your site has actually been optimised for it. Remove instances of the keyword from the pages that shouldn’t be ranking to give authority back to the page that should.
- Make sure your homepage only focuses on the most important keywords. It’s simple, move the content of your most important internal site page to the homepage. Another solution is to merge site pages together when content for a similar topic is split over multiple pages. Or to add links from the homepage to other site pages directly.
A simple reorganisation of the contents of your website will mean better Google rankings for your business. After all, you are never going to outrun a bear. But, if you take control and get yourself organised, you can be sure your own performance is top-notch.
Jim Stewart is CEO at StewArt Media
Image credit: Ioulia Bolchakova