Quality Website Checklist – Improve Google Website Ranking

ByDr.-Ing. Erik Neitzel
Quality Website Checklist – Improve Google Website Ranking

Optimizing the ranking of your website is the modern form of free advertising. However, if you want to improve your Google ranking, some points are relevant, which we concisely summarize in this article.

What influences your ranking on Google?

The current Google algorithm is subject to constant change. Every day, Google observes how users react to the websites that they find in the results of Google search. If a page is left by 90% of the visitors after the first call, this is a signal for a low quality of the website for this search term.

In such a case, the Google algorithm already provides that the page automatically receives a lower ranking. But precisely this automatism does not always correspond to the preferences of the users. In this respect, you should always ask yourself one fundamental question when improving your own rankings on Google:

“What makes a good website for me?”

The answers you find yourself to this question are exactly the criteria that influence the ranking of your own website on Google. It’s just part of how the search engine works. We can distinguish between three basic groups of criteria:

  1. Criteria that can be influenced on your own website (so-called on-page optimization).
  2. Criteria that can be influenced outside of your own website (so-called off-page optimization).
  3. Criteria that you cannot influence yourself.

Let us now talk in more detail about these three groups of criteria.

Which factors can you influence on your own website?

Especially with this first question, it is always worthwhile to return to the original question. You should always think about what you as a user perceive as a high-quality site and what not. For this purpose, we have worked out the following checklist, which you can go through chronologically and consider for yourself whether and how much you have taken each point to heart.

Legal necessities

In Germany, for example, a website has to meet certain legal requirements. This includes:

  • A proper imprint stating the operator of the site and the person responsible for the content.
  • A data protection declaration, the details of which should match the technical conditions of the website.
  • A contact page that is not explicitly required by law, but would be visited by different people in case of doubt.

Your search engine ranking will not increase if this minimum content is not present on your page.

Clean content structure and usability

In addition to legal criteria, it is immediately clear that you want to be able to find your way around a website as a visitor. This means that you as a visitor definitely value the following points:

  • A main menu that leads you to the legal links (see above) and the main topics of the website.
  • A mobile menu that also offers you these points from your smartphone and tablet.
  • A category view of the articles in your blog or other content that you as a visitor can understand.
  • A depth of content in your articles that prove your expertise.
  • A solid link between your content, which can provide further information to the visitor.
  • A certain attention to detail, which proves that you are diligent in developing your website.
  • A user-friendly interface that offers sufficient color contrast, sufficient spacing between the buttons, the option of having image content read out (keyword ALT tag), etc.

You as a visitor value all of these values, especially as a user with certain restrictions such as partial blindness. For this reason, Google checks these criteria very carefully and is very effective today.

Clean technical structure, performance and security

Just as a visitor wants to understand the website, the machine also wants to be able to understand the structure of your page. Here again, various points are relevant:

  • A neat structure, ideally documented in the form of an XML-based sitemap that can be submitted to the Google Search Console.
  • As few or no errors as possible in the layout of the HTML and CSS instructions. Content management systems are useful for this, but a repeated web audit is essential due to the increasing complexity of modern websites.
  • As little technical overhead as possible, i.e. no unnecessary instructions, breaks, unnecessary files or unnecessarily large images.
  • The fastest possible web servers that are not used by a double-digit number of other customers.
  • The highest possible security standards, for example in the form of an SSL-encrypted website.

If you want to check whether you are keeping overhead or using a particularly slow web server, you can use our performance checker.

Speed and data protection are of increasing importance

In the age of both smartphones and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), performance and security optimization is playing an increasing role. Just as a data protection declaration is now mandatory for every website in terms of content and law, it should also be in your interest to optimize your site in the direction of protecting against excessive loading times and the spying of personal data by third parties.

This is not only to be understood as search engine optimization for the purposes of online marketing. It’s also important not to alienate your visitors. Nobody likes a slow website. Nobody wants to place an order on an insecure connection. It is therefore entirely in the interest of your business purpose, but above all in the sense of your responsibility to build a trustworthy and high quality website.

Which factors can you influence outside of your own website?

You can influence all of the aforementioned points directly on your website and noticeably influence your ranking. But Google still attaches great importance to a relationship of trust between your website and the rest of the World Wide Web. This indirectly measures the relevance of your page on a thematic level.

Google Website Ranking

The idea here is that if a high-trust website links you directly (or indirectly through just one other page), you appear more trustworthy to Google than a page that is linked further away from high-trust websites in its link in the chain.

This may seem bizarre at first, as you have little control over whether you are linked from a page that someone has defined as very trustworthy. But you can remind yourself here that ultimately every website on the Internet is connected to every other. It’s always just a question of how much distance there is between you and a very trustworthy website.

Targeted but conscientious backlink building

This is where the topic of backlink building comes into play. For example, you can ask if you can write a guest article for pages with a lot of traffic. On the other hand, you should definitely not offer someone money to link you. Not only is this unscrupulous, but Google can sometimes see through it very well.

Spread your content on social networks

Spread your content on social networks. Here’s where lots of SEO’s got it wrong. A definite signal that Google uses is the amount of traffic your website generates from certain sources. If there is a huge traffic stream coming from various social sites, it benefits your SEO efforts in the long term. Don’t expect short term effects, though.

You can have an effect here by:

  • Make article divisible (pay attention to the data protection conformity of some plugins)
  • Make pictures divisible (the same applies here)
  • Have profiles on all popular social networks that bear your branding and on which your articles are shared
  • Set up Facebook groups in which the lively exchange possible about your articles takes place

Which factors cannot be influenced?

As you can see, there are quite a few things you can do to improve your search engine rankings. But of course, Google also uses other criteria for the ranking that you unfortunately cannot influence.

Examples for this are:

  • the age of your domain (older pages that have been continuously supplied with content are preferred by Google, even if they violate the other criteria a little more than newer websites)
  • the SEO effort that the competition puts into their own websites (whoever uses a whole team of performance engineers and backlink architects will be more successful than you as an individual)
  • The moodiness of the people who are active in your market (whether and who shares your articles is often difficult to understand and is not subject to any robust rules)

Just be aware of these factors, accept them and put your energy into the other points that you can very well influence. From there, let go and see what happens to your rankings.

Why does it make sense to check your own keywords regularly?

As always, the premise of monitoring is the last one. As part of a holistic SEO optimization, you should always check whether and how well your website is ranking for certain search terms. An SEO ranking check serves as the basis for assessing whether you have already invested enough energy in the points that have been collected on this page.

Since there is hardly a tool in the German-speaking region that meets the German and European data protection requirements and at the same time offers a price that is affordable for individuals and small businesses, we have written our own ranking checker tool for this purpose. We hope it will serve you well.

Dr.-Ing. Erik Neitzel