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Google has created nearly 300 tools and products, and one of the most little-known is a website builder called “Google Sites.” The web application, found at sites.google.com, is part of the larger Google suite of content creation tools.
When compared with other content management systems (CMS) like WordPress and Wix, Google Sites has limited web design functionality, but this doesn’t mean it’s ineffective. Despite its limited features, new websites on this platform can compete on search engine results pages (SERPs) using Google Sites SEO (search engine optimization).
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What is Google Sites SEO?
Google Sites SEO is a digital marketing strategy used to make your Google Sites website more visible to search engine users. Improving your site with SEO can boost the ranking of your website on search engine results pages, and a higher ranking is correlated with more search traffic.
Since a third of global web traffic comes from search engines, even a small boost in ranking can mean significantly more traffic. A few popular SEO techniques that are effective for business websites include:
- Claiming a Google My Business page (great for small business SEO)
- Adding schema makeup to generate rich snippets
- Using HTML meta tags
- Creating custom domain names that are memorable
But these aren’t the only tactics Google Sites users can employ to improve their search engine rankings. In no particular order, here are 8 that are proven to drive search traffic from Google.
Submit an XML sitemap to Google
An XML sitemap acts as a blueprint of your website. When search engines have this blueprint, they can analyze and rank (a process known as crawling and indexing) content more accurately and efficiently. The indexing process is important because it determines which categories and search terms your content will show up for on results pages.
You can submit an XML sitemap to Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) so that crawlers have it for reference. This is also where you can check your indexing status and see areas of improvement.
Start with keyword research
Keyword research is how you decide what topics your content will focus on. During this process, you will research specific subjects in your niche. The goal will be to find terms related to your business that people are typing into search engines.
There are many free tools that help you find a search term or keyword phrase that will work well for your niche. The Moz Keyword Explorer and Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest research tools are two excellent options. Google Trends is another great resource you can use:
It can reveal interest in a search term by region, country, state, or worldwide. It can also show a keyword’s popularity over time and gives you suggestions for related topics.
Create valuable content
Quality content is one of the driving forces behind a well-executed SEO strategy. The more advanced Google gets, the better it is at evaluating the value of content to its visitors. So what makes content valuable?
Valuable content answers whatever search query it ranks for, a phenomenon known as “satisfying user intent.” To provide value, try and think of how you can expand on the current content for a subject.
Determine the best approach by researching top-ranking posts and seeing what format, information, and style is highly-valued for the topic. By adopting some of these elements and looking for ways to add unique elements of your own, you will show search engine crawlers how your content builds on the current selection.
Creating valuable content also means making it easy to consume. Here are several ways to improve readability and engagement:
- Use headers to break up sections
- Create infographics for social media
- Include FAQ sections
- Add a social sharing sidebar for Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
When you create a new page on your website, think of its goal and the user’s goal, and determine how you can create content to satisfy both.
Optimize the finer details of your content
When it comes to successful SEO techniques, the small details make a big impact. Here are some of the smaller SEO practices that can make a big impact on a larger scale:
- Tag images with alt text. Alt text describes images for people with visual impairments, and it also helps search engines understand and categorize your image.
- Write great meta titles and descriptions. Meta titles and meta descriptions are what make up your page’s search engine listing on SERPs. They have a major impact on whether or not someone clicks through to your page.
- Add internal links to posts: Internal links help visitors dive deeper into a specific topic, and they also help search engines crawl other pages on your site.
- Resize/Compress images to an optimal size: Resizing or compressing images is a way to make your images smaller to improve page speed without sacrificing image quality.
A successful SEO strategy improves the user experience and makes content easy to read and process. These simple actions can decrease your website’s load time, increase accessibility for visually-impaired users, and shorten the time it takes for crawlers to index your content.
Use the canonical tag for duplicate content
When a website has two or more unique URLs that contain similar information, search engine crawlers get confused and can’t properly index these pages. When this happens, the pages may end up hurting each other’s SEO by competing against each other on SERPs, or Google may take matters into their own hands and pick one of the group as the “canonical” (main) URL. And it may not be the one you want Google to index.
You can solve this problem and direct crawlers to the original or “master” copy of the content by creating a canonical URL. Idenfity the URL that you want to appear on the results pages and add a canonical tag to it so that crawlers know to index that version of your content and not the duplicate pages.
To search engines, nothing boosts credibility more than when other websites link to your content. These external page references, known as “backlinks,” demonstrate that your brand is a reputable source for whichever focus keyword or topic you’ve chosen.
You can build backlinks in many ways, including:
- Designing infographics for industry metrics/topics
- Actively posting and sharing on brand social media accounts
- Writing guest posts for other sites
- Creating unique content like videos or full-length guides on a subject
When it comes to generating backlinks, both quality and quantity are important. A backlink from a website like CNN will improve SEO more than one from an unknown blog.
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Design for mobile-friendliness
More than half of all web searches now come from mobile devices. More than an official ranking factor, mobile-friendliness is what Google has restructured their indexing process after. The search engine has committed to mobile-first indexing, meaning it will predominantly use the mobile version of your website for crawling and indexing.
Mobile-friendly websites are responsive, meaning they will adjust how content is displayed on desktops, cell phones, tablets, and other devices. They also may display images, animations, and the overall site layout differently so that the site isn’t too slow or cluttered for any screen size.
You can test your site using the Google Mobile-Friendly Test. It will score your website’s performance on mobile devices and give you recommendations for improvement.
Improve page speed
Users will abandon a website if it takes longer than a few moments to load. That’s why search engine algorithms consider page speed as a key ingredient of great content. Some easy ways to improve page speed include:
- Avoiding large image sizes
- Creating short homepages (especially for mobile devices)
- Choosing a simple web design template
- Using graphics and animations only when they add value.
You can use analytics software like Google PageSpeed Insights to view your page speed performance.
Simply enter your site’s URL and the tool will run diagnostics for both mobile and desktop versions of your website, giving you suggestions and uncovering opportunities for improvement.
Invest in SEO Tools
To succeed in SEO, you need the right tools. There are many free SEO tools available to help you with techniques like keyword research, content writing, HTML, and more. Some of the most popular SEO tools include:
- Google Search Console
- Google Analytics
- Neil Patel
- XML Sitemaps
- Backlink Checker
Search engine algorithms are constantly evolving, making SEO a constant process of analyzing, analyzing and optimizing. These tools make it easier to keep up with the latest techniques and methods for improving rankings and increasing traffic. With them, you can check site speed, analyze your backlinks, build sitemaps, learn how to write better content, and much more.
Get a complimentary Google Sites SEO audit
Anyone with a Google account can build their own website for free using Google Sites. While this CMS platform is simpler and more limited than most competitors, it is user-friendly and achieves its purpose of allowing users to publish websites quickly and easily. Combining the CMS with a Google Sites SEO strategy means improving the chances your site ranks better, earns more organic traffic, and your content is consumed.
Want to see how you’re doing with Google Sites SEO? Get an instant SEO audit below. Or, schedule a free consultation to see how intent SEO can boost search traffic revenue by 700%.