Search engine optimization (SEO) is not a trend, and it will not phase out over time. SEO is also a great way to improve your website’s ranking on Google if that isn’t enough for you. SEO is something your website must focus on now and in the future. You can easily keep tabs on your SEO strategy by checking your traffic and search rankings regularly.
A website’s rank on Google is essential for all businesses. With that in mind, every move you make needs to work towards improving your website rankings. Sound SEO practices increase your site’s visibility, increases inbound traffic, and improves your chances of converting visitors into customers. Furthermore, SEO affects brand awareness. It also establishes both a website’s authority and trustworthiness.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but well-known brands typically occupy the top slots in search results. However, these search results are fluid, not fixed. That being said, don’t shy away from working to improve your website rankings. This is the right guide for you if you own a small business and establish your online presence. One key takeaway is that you’ll learn how adjusting to Google’s algorithm changes will help get your site noticed.
Lastly, you can rest assured that you can alter the SERPs in your favor by incorporating the best strategies & learning how to bring your website the virtual attention it deserves via SEO.
Find the right keywords
Identifying the right mix of keywords is critical for SEO. However, like every other digital marketing aspect, the tides are constantly shifting in terms of how keywords operate.
Back in the day, you could get away with targeting particular keywords to improve your website rankings. However, in the competitive modern online market, you seriously need to think outside the box. One such way to gain an edge on your competition is to win the long-tail keyword battle. If you’re serious about winning the keyword battle, you have to work long and hard to stay on top.
Goodbye short-tail keywords
Let’s be real here; short-tail keywords are hard to rank and outdated. There are two significant downsides to short-tail keywords: they’re highly competitive and overly vague.
If you use the term “sports equipment” for your online sports equipment store, searchers will find their way to established brands like Dick’s and Dunham’s instead of your online shop. This is primarily because short-tail keywords are broad and not specific.
Furthermore, when you search “sports equipment” on Google, the SERP will yield a wide range of results that are not explicitly related to sports – Target, Lowes, and Kohls, to name a few.
Hello Long-tail keywords (they’ll improve your website rankings!)
Long-tail keywords immediately impact SERPs. Some research suggests that upwards of 70% of online searches are made using long-tail keywords. In short, customers will find your website on SERPs when your keywords match what they’re looking for.
Long-tail keywords are also more successful in relating to search intent. Furthermore, they are 2.5x more efficient in terms of conversion rates. For instance, “baseball sports equipment” or best sports equipment stores in Detroit” clearly state what the searcher seeks. Long-tail keyphrases are a great way to improve your website rankings. They’re also a great way to attract visitors who are more likely to purchase your services or products. Through transitioning from short-tail keywords to long-tail keyphrases, you are all but eliminating the ambiguity of the above “sports equipment” example.
Target your ideal keywords to improve your website rankings
You now know that incorporating long-tail key phrases is vital for your business. However, how do you know if you’ve selected the right ones?
The answer is simple: research, research, and you guessed it, research!
You’ll want to start off with a basic brainstorm session and write down an extensive list of possible options. You literally want to write down anything that comes to mind. However, make sure it all revolves nicely around what you have to offer.
Next, put Google to work for you. Type in all of the keyphrases you’ve compiled within the search engine and see what it spits out. Doing so provides you with insights as to what your competition is up to currently.
You can also use one of the many keyword research tools that are available these days. One of my personal favorites is Neil Patel’s UberSuggest. These tools help identify viable keywords and also provide some degree of insight as to where they will fall on SERPs.
Once you complete your research, it’s time to narrow the list down. The best tip here is to avoid high-ranking keywords that established brands have a monopoly on in the SERPs. You want to aim for those keyphrases that will help you stand out from the crowd. With that in mind, use some that rank slightly lower, but don’t go too low. Going too low will have a negative impact on your overall visibility.
For instance, instead of going for a basic term like “divorce”, aim for more specific keywords like “separation”, “annulment”, or “divorce papers.”
Keyword visibility is a great way to improve your website rankings
Search engine algorithms seek out the frequency of your keywords on your website, in the title, and in the metadata. So, the keyword for which you’re looking to rank should appear in all of those. However, never stuff your content with your target keywords – everything needs to occur in moderation.
It is also worth noting that you should most certainly include your keyword in your URL, page title, headings and subheadings, meta description, and the intro paragraph. This provides a painfully clear signal to the search engines as to what your page is about.
Quality content is essential
It should go without saying that there is no substitute for quality content when it comes to improving how your website ranks. No matter how much effort you put into perfecting your technical SEO, there is no rival to top-tier content.
Content is exactly what your audience craves. If you can craft content that answers their queries, Google will most certainly recognize it. This will earn you points for providing a positive user experience and enhance your website’s usability.
Furthermore, quality content establishes authority, expertise, and relevance. All of these characteristics are held in high regard by search engines. If users start bookmarking your website in Chrome, this signals to Google that your site is relevant and your rankings will go up.
You can dominate the content field by:
- updating it on a regular basis
- meeting your audience’s expectations
- steering clear of mistakes
- incorporating valuable links
- targeting meaningful keywords
Keyword research also suggests that effective content contains roughly 2,000 – 2,500 words. This range ensures that the content provides enough detail and keeps the reader engaged, yet doesn’t take too long to read.
It is also worth noting that dwell time – or the time people spend on your website – is also an important factor that impacts your rankings.
The importance of metadata
Think of metadata as the means through which you make your first impression. You always want to make a positive first impression in real life, right? So why not do the same in the digital world!
Your meta title should be to the point and descriptive enough to draw your audience in to take a closer look. It also needs to provide an accurate portrayal of what you are offering. While your meta title should include keywords, it shouldn’t just be a string of pure keywords.
Next is your meta description, which is a window screen of sorts for your website. It catches people’s attention and makes it irresistible to click on your page. Make sure to include active verbs in your meta description to improve your website’s rankings. Terms like “buy”, “download”, and “subscribe” clue the reader into your base intentions and are helpful in increasing the frequency of conversions on your website.
You also want to pay attention to the length of your meta description. The ideal length is roughly 160 characters, especially if you are just getting started. However, some high ranking websites are given up to 320 characters in certain cases.
Focus on link building
Both external and internal links have a large impact on how your website ranks in the SERPs. Links not only improve your rating, but they also return the favor for the page to which you linked out.
Make the most of outbound links and link to high authority sites to boost your rankings. Outbound links give relevance, interest, and in-depth knowledge to the reader. This, in turn, just about guarantees a positive user experience.
Furthermore, you can get notifications about when your site is mentioned elsewhere by setting up Google Alerts. In the event that your site is mentioned but a link is not provided, you can contact the owner and ask them to include one.
Backlinks also have a significant impact on Google rankings. Incoming links to your website increase traffic and also improve your ranking.
Don’t fall for black hat backlinks
There’s no getting around it, backlinks are wicked useful. However, there are certain practices to be mindful of…
- Whatever you do, do not risk your search engine ranking by purchasing links. Google has made it painfully clear that taking part in a link scheme is considered a violation and will negatively impact your website’s rankings. However, there are plenty of white hat link building techniques that will only help improve your website rankings!
- Spammy backlinks have the potential to harm your rankings. While you do want lots of referral traffic, it is important that said referrals come from valid sources. You should definitely avoid and remove backlinks from spammy blog comments, sites with illegal content, so-called ‘link farms’, or any other trashy website. If your site relies heavily on these trashy backlinks, Google’s algorithm will take action against you and lower your ranking. You should learn how to identify bad backlinks and how to avoid them altogether.
- Keep a close eye on broken links. They destroy both your user experience and SEO rankings. The presence of a “404 Page Not Found” error implies that your site is outdated and/or neglected. There are an array of tools out there to help you locate and fix broken links throughout your website. A few of my favorites include Google Webmaster Tool and W3C Link Checker.
Improve page load speed
The speed at which your website loads plays a role in the ranking algorithms.
Users will likely leave your website if they have to wait too long for a page to load. Most would agree that any load time longer than three seconds is sub-par. A long load time hurts your dwell time, decreases your return visitor rate, and reduces the number of clicks. All of these negative factors will destroy your SEO rankings.
One way to ensure a fast load speed is to do your due diligence when selecting a hosting provider. Opting for a free hosting provider may seem like a great idea at first. However, this choice typically takes a toll on the load speed of your website. On the contrary, paying for hosting can bring about long-term benefits.
Don’t forget to conduct adequate research before selecting a hosting provider. It’s vital that you search for available options on your own since you are the only one who can make the right choice for your website.
Furthermore, it is essential that you optimize your images, limit your use of plugins, and minimize redirects throughout your website.
Improve your website rankings with effective page structure
An easy-to-navigate website layout impacts your ranking on SERPs. Google keeps track of user engagement in terms of the following:
- How efficiently users find what they need
- How quickly they click away
- Whether they go to multiple pages
- Whether they visit multiple times
There are countless other factors that impact your SERP rankings, but these four are a great starting point.
Your website must be user friendly. This means including a well-designed ‘Contact Us’ page and a comprehensive FAQ page. A strong ‘Contact Us’ page instills trust in website visitors and can also lead to potential business opportunities. An extensive FAQ page shouldn’t fall to the wayside either as people typically search for answers to their queries. In all honesty, I cannot think of a better place to find answers to questions than an effective FAQ page! Both methods will essentially reel in more traffic and increase your website’s dwell time.
Make the most of multimedia
Incorporating multimedia on your site is a great way to dominate the algorithms that measure the quality of a website’s content. Furthermore, the inclusion of multimedia has shown to increase conversion rates!
Graphics, images, audio, slideshows, and especially videos are visually appealing, stimulating, and engaging. They are more likely to inspire visitors to remember your website and take the action(s) you want them to take. However, it is important to remember that media files take a toll on your page load speed. So before you upload any media, make sure to optimize it by using a file optimizer and compression tool.
Expand to social media
Did you know that Facebook shares, Tweets, Pinterest pins, and other social media data influence SEO rankings? If not, you do now!
Make sure your site includes social sharing buttons. Doing so will help people share your content, which will only positively affect the overall user experience. This, in turn, will help you rank higher on Google.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram are the modern-day equivalent of word-of-mouth advertising. They increase brand awareness by getting people to talk about you and share your page.
Social media also affects purchasing behaviors. People often buy directly through these channels or the social posts themselves influence the decision to buy.
Optimize for mobile devices to improve your website rankings
Some time ago, Google started to prioritize websites that are optimized for mobile devices by ranking them higher. Since Google is using a mobile-first index, you best make sure that your website is mobile-friendly. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise since the vast majority of web searches are done on mobile devices.
When developing a mobile-friendly website, make sure to keep the goals of your visitors in mind. They should be able to browse through your content with little to no effort and loading time is another key factor to keep in mind. Furthermore, the overall layout of the site needs to enable them to find the products and services they desire with relative ease.
Master the art of readability
There’s no getting around it. There is a direct correlation between a website’s readability factor and both overall user experience and satisfaction. With that in mind, it is vital to ensure your online audience is able to navigate your content with ease.
One way to increase overall user experience and satisfaction is to format your website for easy skimming. Doing so allows visitors to find what they are looking for as quickly as possible. Make sure to use headings, bookmarks, bullet points, and short paragraphs to make the most of your content.
A massive block of text is flat out intimidating and discourages visitors from further exploring your website. You can use any one of an array of tools to gauge your content’s readability including:
- The Readability Test Tool
- Readability statistics in Microsoft Word
- Yoast (aka my personal favorite!)
Closing thoughts on how to improve your website rankings
In summary, SEO is a proven tactic that helps improve your website rankings in the SERPs. The higher you rank, the more exposure and promotion your business garners.
However, it is important to remember that certain websites require different SEO strategies. This is an extreme case, but what the heck. If you operate an adult website, for instance, it’s going to be a lot harder to rank in Google than non-adult websites. In this case, you’ll need to employ and rely on adult website SEO.
I’m hopeful that you found the above tips helpful and that you can improve your website’s rankings with them. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. The same holds true for SERP rankings…it takes time. However, you can rest assured that positive results are just about guaranteed if you follow the above advice.