It’s a busy world out there in the digital universe – just look at the latest Web Server Survey reporting over a billion websites on the web right now. And when you think about how many web pages there are and blog posts being pumped out on the daily, the figure on web pages out there will be entering the Dr. Evil kind of terms.
That’s a LOT of content, and a lot of pages Google has to crawl through to index and rank. Hence why there is a system to it. It’s the most relevant and optimised pages that are going to make the top results.
The good news is that Google and its clever bots are always checking for updated content, to see if something else is going to come along and answer a query or question better. That means SEO is not dead! And there’s more to it than just making sure you have a few keywords on the page; here’s our key guide on how to rank higher on Google.
Checking your ranking on Google
Before we get into it, we need to ask, how often are you actually checking your rankings on Google – for both your commercial and editorial (blog) pages? Are you hitting the publish button and just hoping for the best? The more you get into the habit of checking if your pages rank, the more insight and understanding you’ll develop in how Google decides on positions. You’ll see what Google likes, the kind of content it shows to match search queries (search intent), and what kind of content works well for competitors.
Thankfully, there are many SEO tools out there to help you measure your pages’ rankings, like Moz and Ahrefs. You can also use Google Search Console and Google Analytics to see what pages are showing up for certain search terms and gaining impressions and clicks. Reviewing this data can help you with optimising and planning out content ideas.
Some SEO basics
Now for some SEO basics. Each page you create should be tailored to a focused keyword you want it to rank for. The job is to make the page super easy for Google to read and for it to work out what search terms it should show the page for. That means doing some keyword research (again using SEO tools), to find what people are searching for and what keywords have high search volumes – relating to your sector, products, services, and brand.
From this data, you can plan your pages around targeted keywords, making sure you get the keyword in the meta title, meta description, URL, in any of the image alt texts on the page, and in the content itself, of course. But, don’t go crazy. Oh no. Google has honed in on the skill of sniffing out spammy-looking content, so leave out the keyword stuffing.
For instance, maybe you’re an amazing restaurant up North that has won awards for making the best pizza in Manchester. Well, a good idea is to get your site more visibility for that keyword ‘best pizza in Manchester’… Who doesn’t want to know this? And with a monthly search volume of 100 for this keyword, many do!
Your meta title, meta description and URL (slug) should include the keyword. Then it’s a case of breaking up your text into readable sections with headers, again getting that keyword in a header and the main content naturally. Use images in the post to get your keyword in their alt texts too, but remember alt texts are there to describe images for blind people.
Ranking factors for Google
But, it’s not all about making sure your targeted keywords are in all the right places and a job well done. Google has hundreds of ranking factors, which can explain why you may create a perfectly designed page with a good targeted keyword count to find it’s not on page one, or if you find it drops a few places. Another website might just be ticking off more ranking factors than you. Here’s a list of other key ranking factors:
- Domain authority and referring domains: A page on an authoritative domain can significantly improve the chance of a higher ranking than one on a domain with weak or lacking authority
- Total number of backlinks: The higher the backlink count, the higher the ranking
- Organic click-through-rate: Google loves a high CTR. Pages that get higher click-through-rates stand a much better chance of being boosted on SERPs for a particular keyword
- Dwell time: Google is curious about how long users spend on a page from its search results, aka ‘dwell time’. Naturally, if people are spending longer on your pages, Google picks up on this and likes it because your content is keeping people engaged, so it must be of value!
- Mobile usability: Since Google’s mobile-first update, and the launch of Core Web Vitals as ranking signals, the search engine takes into account site UX and mobile-friendliness. If your mobile site isn’t compatible, easy to navigate, or is simply annoying for users, expect this to begin impacting your technical SEO
- Content quality: Keywords, context and relevance all helps Google determine what your page’s topic is. The better your content is with feeding Google relevant keywords, LSI keywords (Latent Semantic Indexing), images with alt attributes, and readable elements, the higher chance of higher rankings
- On-page SEO: Tying in with good content, as mentioned, your title tags, meta descriptions, images and words on any page have all got to be optimised and monitored
Linking to rank higher
When thinking of an SEO strategy, you need to think internal and external, and this relates to linking. A key factor to rankability is how many backlinks you have to the page and where they are coming from. This is how digital PR and content marketing come into play too. Externally speaking, if you can get links to your page from sites with great DA (domain authority, i.e. very trustworthy) and from pages relevant to yours, then Google takes notice and sees your content/page as trustworthy too.
There are also better ways to do your internal linking to help with your SEO, which many businesses forget about. If you have a page that is on the topic you’re referring to in another page, get it linked using a good anchor text (don’t use ‘click here’, use the page’s targeted keyword). Google sees every link and crawls around to check for relevancy, it loves when you do internal linking.
The ‘skyscraper technique’ is where you find opportunities to produce and deliver better content – by building onto what’s already out there. You then contact sites that are linking to the content you can improve on, asking them to link to your page instead because yours is better and more current – make sure to be friendly. For instance, there may be a few sites linking to a report on a topic you can cover that’s from a few years ago. You can create a better and more up-to-date one and kindly share it to the publications so you can get backlinks. Or, it may be that you know you have a better blog post than what others are linking to.
Optimising never stops
As you review the rankings for your pages, there’ll always be room for improvement, and when you’re seeing new results pop up on SERPs, this will keep you on your toes. If a page has dropped in ranking, that’s when you can look at what’s come in and why Google has placed it above you. Has it got a lot of backlinks? Your SEO tools can help you out again here. Is it better designed? Is the website’s health better overall? Or maybe there’s better content and more of it. You can use this information to work out how to optimise and to help boost the ranking.
As you can see, in the SEO world, it’s always evolving and patience is key. If you need help figuring out how to rank higher on Google, The Audit Lab knows a thing or two about doing just that – it’s what we do. Get in touch to learn about our case studies, and how we can help improve your SEO tenfold.
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