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How does keyword ranking on Google work?

It’s the million dollar question if you’re trying to reach an audience who searches online by using keywords to find information.

It’s not the only way to attract traffic to your website, but it remains a very viable method and worth knowing about.

It’s also easy to get it wrong.

The reason why is that the Internet been around for a while. 


There’s no way of removing  outdated information that’s still freely available. That means there’s always a chance you’re applying strategies that not only no longer work, but which could be actively working against you.

Get keyword ranking wrong and it could mean you end up being penalized by the mighty Google.

The last thing you want to do is waste all that hard work of yours.

I’m going to show you what every blogger must know about keyword ranking on Google, as it currently stands and give you 16 tips to improve your keyword search results.



Keyword ranking refers to the numerical position that Google and other search engines give to your pages and posts for keywords you’ve used in your content.

The number is determined by comparing what you’ve written with other content for the same keywords. The more relevant your content as determined by Google, the higher your ranking.

When someone types a keyword into a search bar, the closer your keyword ranking is to the #1 position in the search results, the better.

When people look at search results they very seldom go beyond the first page, which shows the top ten results. In fact, it’s said that most people don’t go past the top three links.

Here’s an example of the top three results for a keyword I searched. These are the listings that show up beneath any ads and extra information Google might display on the page.


How does google Work?

Of course, it’s in your best interests to ask how does Google work then?

Technically and on the surface, it’s not that difficult to understand.

Once you’ve written, optimized and published your post, it’s simply a matter of time before Google adds your article to its index.

Here’s how the process works in short:

The more important question is how does Google decide which pages are most relevant to show a user when a search term is searched?

This directly affects where they decide to place your post link in the results. If it’s on the first page then you’re smiling, not so if it’s on page 197!! surprised

Nobody knows for sure exactly how this is determined other than Google, but we do have an idea, gained from observing and studying search results over the years.

Google also releases notes each time a major change is made to their search algorithm. While you have to learn to read between the lines, that’s exactly what savvy marketers do and we can always learn from them.

What we do know for sure is that what worked in the distant past or in fact prior to Google’s last update, no longer does.

In the past, Google focused on your content to a large extent. If your keyword search term appeared a number of times in your post then that was an indication that your post was relevant.

They soon discovered that spammers were littering their content with keywords just so they could achieve a good keyword ranking.

When a keyword is abused in this way it leads to content which is not fit for humans to read.

Since Google’s first priority is its users, it wasn’t long before they made changes to the way in which they ranked key-worded content.

At its worst, overusing keywords is what is known as keyword stuffing, which means overusing the keyword so that the flow and meaning of the writing becomes distorted.

Here’s Google’s example:

While keyword stuffing was great for spammers for a while, it was not for humans looking for sensible information. 

Google has and continues to refine how it works to give the user a better experience.  Nowadays the emphasis is far less on what you’ve written and heavily biased towards how users respond to what you’ve written.

In fact, Google would be nothing without its users so they care about nothing more than keeping them happy.

Rather than follow your content, their search spiders now follow users to see what long tail keywords they are searching for and how happy are they if the land up on your page.

Search engines only find your content valuable when readers find it valuable.


How can you improve your keyword search results

The obvious answer to the question how can you improve your keyword search results is do whatever you can to impress readers. 

Be aware however that Google considers a lot of other factors too, like total back links, referring domains  and even website security, none of which I’m covering in this post. 

The reason I’m focusing on strategies to improve your website user experience is because these have been proven to be the most important. Keywords are no longer prioritized as they once were.

That’s not to say that using keywords in your content is redundant. They are part of a bigger picture however and you must be open to seeing all of it.

A keyword may still be be what brings a searcher to your site, but Google is more interested to see if you can keep the user there. 

In a study, SEMrush analyzed ranking factors  and confirmed that Google is all about providing users with the best experience possible.

Of the 17 factors analyzed, the use of keywords in posts came in at the bottom of the list.

The top four ranking factors are website visits, time on site, pages per session, and bounce rate, all of which relate to the  user’s experience.  

This translates into definite things you can do to give readers a better experience and at the same time improve your search rank.  Here are 16 ways to do this.

Click play for the video version. Text details follow. 


Create Engaging high quality content

#1 – Don’t look and sound like everybody else

Create compelling content that is flavored by your personality, opinions and unique insights. How can your content stand out? What value can you bring to the reader that nobody else is doing?

#2 – Give users what they expect 

When you do keyword research for blog posts, aim to use long tail keywords so you understand exactly what it is users want to know about and then give them what they expect. Use the keyword in your title, the first paragraph and a couple more times in your content but make sure your content makes sense and flows naturally. 

#3 – Link to other valuable content 

Include links, both to other related posts and pages of your own, as well as to other authority websites and top level blogs. This provides users with more complete information which makes their experience more meaningful.

#4 – Make sure that links are not broken

There’s nothing worse than clicking on a link that doesn’t work or which comes up with a 404error page. Check your links and fix broken ones to improve the user experience. Use either of these to check your links –  BrokenLinkCheck or DeadLinkChecker

#5 – Add video to hold the user’s attention 

Adding a video may attract and keep users who prefer watching videos to reading text. It also provides a different type of media to your blog post which can keep readers engaged.


Make Your posts visually appealing

#6 – Break content up into short paragraphs

People are far more likely to stay reading your post if the content can be consumed quickly, in bite sized chunks, rather than being confronted by walls of ongoing text. Paragraphs should be no longer than four lines long. 

#7 – Use H1 and H2 heading tags to create subtitles 

Breaking your content up with different sized headings keeps your writing organized and easier for people to see at a glance what you are covering and if it’s what they want to know about.

#8 – Use suitable images to illustrate your points

Adding images to illustrate your points makes your content interesting and easier for users to follow. Don’t add any image just for the sake of it. Make sure they add to the content in some way. Also don’t use the same images everybody else is using.


Make Your Website user-friendly

#9 – Don’t allow pop ups to appear too soon

Readers come to your website to read the content they’re expecting to read. Don’t put a barrier like a pop up request to join your email list between them and the content before they’ve even had a chance to start reading. It’s all in the timing.

#10 – Make it easy for readers to get around

Use a clear menu navigational system that makes logical sense so users. A reader must always know how to get around and access what interests them. Getting around your website may make sense to you but how about to others?



 #11 – Keep your website Uncluttered

Cluttered websites especially with too many advertisements could make readers feel ambushed or worse still lead them away from your website. This may be worth it if you’re an affiliate and they make a purchase but not otherwise.

#12 – Optimize for mobile and tablets

More and more people read web pages on their phones and tablets. Make sure that your website is optimized for easy access on all devices.


Improve your website’s speed


#13 – make sure your pages load quickly

If readers have to wait ages for your page to load there’s every chance they will click away to find what they’re looking for, elsewhere.

#14 – optimize images size

A critical factor when it comes to the speed of your website, is the size of your images. Ensure images are compressed so they are not too large which will slow the load time of your pages. There are many online tools that can help with this such as TinyPNG which will compress both PNG and JPEG images.

#15 – remove gimmicks 

Unless something is absolutely critical to the function of your website give it a miss. Having widgets on your site that take a long time to load will slow the overall speed of your site down especially of they have to load on every page.

#16 – remove UNNECESSARY plugins

As with widgets, certain plugins and too many plugins can slow your site’s load times. Unless a plugin is critical for the functioning of your website, remove it.


keyword ranking on google – wrap up

Knowing how to improve your keyword ranking on Google is important. Knowing what not to do to prevent being penalized by Google, critical.

What’s one thing you can do today to improve the user’s experience on your website?

Got Questions? Something to say? Leave a comment. Let’s chat



  1. Chad

    Hello Mark,

    Great article and really helpful to give people who are new to blogging some very good advice and pointers. It is interesting how you described the differences in how Goggle does its ranking today verses 2010. 

    We really have to stay up with the times because a lot of my SEO training was from 2007 and that just does not apply in the same way as it did back then.

    Making the website work fast and go to the right page is very important to me; because when I am looking for something online, that is what I want as a user, and it just makes sense to optimize my site to respond the same way.

    • Mark Baker

      Hi Chad 

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. 

      I agree with you I also want whatever I am searching for online to appear as fast as possible.  If I have to wait too long I also click away.

      I like how you base your own site’s optimization around whats important to you as a user. That makes a lot of sense since we are all users as well. 

      I feel the same way about pop ups. Personally, nothing annoys me more than a pop up interrupting me before I’ve had chance to start reading. For that reason it just goes against the grain for me to even have one on my site, despite hearing that they are effective.


  2. Paul

    This is a really good article on keywords. At the moment I am really struggling to get indexed and I know I haven’t taken enough time when I initially wrote my content, It’s time for me to go back and this list gives me an awesome guideline to follow. I really need to start with the basics and I thank you for  this article coming along right now


    • Mark Baker

      Hi Paul

      Great to hear this post has urged you to make some changes to your content. I think the journey you describe is what happens to everybody. You just have to get started somewhere and then change and improve as you go. 

      The challenge when one starts is that you know you have to get a lot of content out there so sometimes you are more quantity than quality focused. I don’t think it’s all bad though since the more you write the better you get at writing. 🙂


  3. Tom

    Hi there Mark,

    I like your site, well laid out and very easy to follow.

    There are a lot of good points that you raise. However, the great feature I liked; was how much detail you have provided about using “keywords” and how valuable they are if used correctly.

    Further you have highlighted why the overuse of “keywords” will harm your ranking in Google.

    For instance “Custom Cigar Humidors”. Now that is a classic example of overusing keywords.

    I also liked all the snap shots using google and how valuable “keywords” are used correctly.

    Very well constructed site.


    • Mark Baker

      Hi there Tom

      Thanks so much for the comment and positive feedback. It is much appreciated. 

      Keywords definitely are useful if used correctly. In the past they had priority status with Google whereas now the user experience is regarded as more important. That does not mean that keywords are not important, just not as important as the once were. 


  4. Jermy

    Hi, A big round of applause to you this is amazing article about keyword ranking on Google. .Thanks for pointing out the do’s and don’ts. 

    I can get ranked on Bing but been having a bit of a hard time getting ranked on Google.  I realize why now. My keywords are fine but I guess Google hasn’t been amazed by the response of readers.  

    Your article has helped me a lot and I know it will help others I will put these strong  tips into practice for better ranking. Thank you. Great article.

    • Mark Baker

      Hi Jermy

      Hey thanks for the kind words about this post. It’s much appreciated. 

      Working with keywords on Google is not as easy as it used to be but the good thing is that the way Google assesses content nowadays is far better for all of us in the long run. 

      It means there is a better quality of blog post being created generally. As long as we create good content there is every chance people will like what we write which means we will get a pleasing keyword ranking.


  5. j52powell


    Thanks a lot.  Your explanation of key words is clear and enlightening.  The 16 tips are well worth examining.  I am a blogger and was previously aware of most of them, but you filled them out with your explanations.  It is very tedious to check dozens of posts for broken links and the two sites you show to check for them will come in very handy. 

    I’ll check back again for any more nuggets I can glean.

    Best regards,


    • Mark Baker

      Hi Joe

      Thanks for the visit and feedback. It’s much appreciated. 

      Checking on links is a tedious but necessary job as you say. Pleased to hear the link checker websites will come in handy. Anything that makes our jobs easier is worth passing on I believe. 


  6. Strahinja

    Hello Mark and thank you for another amazing article. It was really a nice read. Thorough and precise. 

    Keywords are something most bloggers must learn to master in order to improve their performance. Ranking on Google is not easy, no matter what we know or think about that.

    Many people still try to rank up their content like its 2010. Spam keywords and get ranked. You said it very well  – this will not do the trick anymore. Google nowadays prefers clear, well written articles with a lot of words. 

    In other words –  one strong post is favored over more smaller posts.



    • Mark Baker

      Hi Strahinja

      Hey, nice to see you back! 🙂

      Without a doubt, working on producing amazing content must be the serious blogger’s priority. It’s also something that can’t be rushed. 

      No matter how perfect you think your content is at the time, six months later you will not think that same way about that same content. We simply get better with time so we have to work away at it for as long as it takes before we start to feel like we are making headway.


  7. ValerieJoy

    I enjoyed reading your explanation of what keyword ranking is and I definitely agree that in some niches, there is significantly too much out-of-date information published on the web.  Unfortunately, people with little understanding of how Google ranks content, can easily fall into unpleasant traps, or even scams. 

    I well remember those days of 2010 and earlier when learning about online marketing, and how we were taught to include  keywords, at least one or more, in every sentence of a post.  Now called keyword stuffing, as you mention.

    And those broken links, a great warning, as they happen when we have no idea of how they happened. Consequently we are not aware until we search our site to see the health of our links.

    I absolutely agree with your comment about pop ups.  They have their place, but if used incorrectly they’ll cause the reader to leave a website.  Pop ups are not my favourite thing.

    And it is certainly true that if content on a site does not please readers, then Google will not be interested.  Hence a publication lost in the wilderness!

    I enjoyed reading your post. I believe that anyone in the process of learning how to become a successful blogger should follow each one of the 16 tips you have so clearly provided.

    • Mark Baker

      Hi Val

      Great to have you visit and leave a comment – thank you!

      Like you, I also remember the days when keywords were used very differently to today. I am sure you will agree with me when I say that anybody wanting to work online must ensure the training they get is up to date and trusted.  

      Not only do you need great initial training but ongoing training. There is no such thing as not keeping up with changes since things are continually changing. 

      This is one of the reasons I so appreciate the Wealthy Affiliate programs  since they are continually being updated so unless you’re hiding under a rock you’ll always be able to stay informed about changes and what’s new in the industry. 

      I agree I am not a fan of pop ups despite the supposed reports that they are effective. I always wonder if that’s because people simply fill in their details to get rid of them. If so, hardly a qualified lead. 😏 


  8. INI

    Hello there, 

    I really enjoyed reading your post. I am also a blogger as well and I have learnt a lot from your post.

    I have been focusing on keywords primarily and not on user experience or engagement on my site. Thanks to your post I have a different mindset now. 

    Also I have now seen the importance of adding links and videos. I usually make do with pictures but now that I have seen how useful they can be, I will be adding them moving forward. 

    Thanks again for a great post keep up the good work!  

    • Mark Baker

      Thanks for stopping by and for leaving your feedback.Great to hear that you have leaned a couple of things too. 

      Sometimes we just get so busy with doing what we are doing that we forget about what’s most important i.e. that our sites are first and foremost for readers and everything we do should be geared to keeping them happy since that’s what keeps Google happy and that makes us smile! 🙂 


  9. jessie palaypay

    In regards to pop ups, do you prefer to have them at the end of your content or would having it in the middle of the article work as well? 

    Also, I thought that google is moving away from back links at some point in the future and just ranking websites based on the quality of the content.

    • Mark Baker

      Hi Jessie

      I think having a pop up either in the middle or at the end would work well since then you’ve given the reader a chance to see if they like your content. 

      Personally I never opt in to any website that does not give me a chance to see if I want to be there in the first place. I’m sure this is the case for many readers.

      Regarding back links – The SEMRush study puts total back links to your site as being the sixth most important factor of 17 factors analyzed.

      At this stage, I still believe back links are important to consider because they give Google a clear idea about how good your blog is in terms of quality and relevance. 

      The links you get and how good they are matter though. The main reason why bloggers don’t get them is because they don’t produce content their audience wants and they don’t promote their content consistently. 

      Thanks for the good questions.


  10. Jeffrey Kent

    Hi Mark!

    Wow, your website is very impressive! It is exceptionally professional and I love the color scheme and graphics. What WordPress theme are you using? 

    Offering the free 7 essentials checklist is a great idea. The topic is obviously very relevant to all bloggers and all of us at WA. Your 16 tips is a great summary of much of the training provided on level 2 “Building Your Own Traffic Producing Website”. 

    The additional information you provided about how Google works was fascinating as well. I now understand why keyword stuffing is frowned upon and ineffective. I found the link you added to SEMrush informative and plan to check out this site further. 

    The whole process of website ranking seems like a vicious circle; your rank depends partially on the number of web site visits, but one of the only ways to increase your visits is to rank higher. It seems to me that it all boils down content, just as Kyle is always stressing in his videos. 

    I think you have an amazing future as a blogger. Keep up your hard work!


    • Mark Baker

      Hey Jeffrey!

      Thank you for your kind words and positive feedback my friend. It’s critical our blogs appeal to users since they are the ones it’s all intended for so I was very happy to read your positive comments.

      I use the Divi theme from Elegant themes. My preference is for the design to be clean with the ability to showcase a brand and Divi has been useful in helping me achieve that so far.

      Great to hear that you found the information about how Google works useful too. There’s no point in wasting time on strategies unless they work so I reckon it’s important to let people know what works and what doesn’t as I discover this myself.

      Approaching ranking needs to be done from all angles but it definitely starts with creating amazing content and lots of it. This must definitely be the priority. Everything else after that. 

      Thanks again for your encouraging words Jeff. Hope to see you here again sometime soon.


  11. Sujandar Mahesan

    I have recently read few articles on your website and each and every article has been really informative and essential for me. I am following your articles as a guide. This post talks about Keyword ranking which plays an important role in ranking.

    These 16 tips were easy to understand and read. Thank you so much for sharing this article.

    • Mark Baker

      Hi Sujandar

      Great to have you visit and leave a comment. Thank you. 

      I’m really pleased to hear that the articles I’ve written so far have been informative and useful for you. Don’t hesitate to let me know if there are some specific areas that I may be able to cover in posts in the future. 

      Until then, wishing you all the best, and hope to see you around here again soon.


  12. Clement

    Thank you very much for this highly resourceful post, I find it really amazing and very helpful. I am a young and aspiring blogger and am just trying to learn the basics of blogging. Thanks for providing great insight into how keywords can help rank on Google. I will bookmark this post and read it all over again.

    • Mark Baker

      You are very welcome and thanks for leaving a comment here.

      In the beginning, blogging can seem quite overwhelming, and is no doubt about it it does take work, but it’s the most wonderful way to connect with people and earn money online. 

      Wishing you all the best for the future, and hope to see you around you again sometime soon.



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