80% of buyers do research before they make a purchase decision. The research can be asking a friend or consultant but most likely a Google search.
Many of our clients ask this question, how can I rank higher on Google? That’s exactly what we are here to clarify. There are many ranking factors that big search engines like Google use. So, the aim of anyone who wants to rank higher is to find out what these are and align your website as required.
Why It’s Good To Rank Higher
Why should you care anyway? Good businesses would want to know where their clients are coming from. Hence questions like ‘where did you find out about us?’ are very common questions. Imagine you have a client saying I found you on Google? Wouldn’t that be good? Don’t you wish there were more such referrals to your business by Google?
Somehow people trust Google and they tend to transfer that trust to anyone that is referred to by Google. It’s like if Google thinks you are great, you must be. So, ranking high on Google not only drives potential clients to you, it sends very warm leads to your websites.
After hearing an advert on the Radio, people tend to search those companies or products on Google to learn more about them. Sadly, most of the radio, newspaper and TV adverts are not backed with good Google rankings. This means that ranking higher on Google can increase your ROI for other advertising and marketing efforts.
Here are the steps that you need to take to rank higher on Google.
1. Keyword Research.
Keywords (also called search phrases or key phrases) are those words typed into the search box by Google users. The research exercise involves the following:
- Finding out the keywords that can bring business to you. This is done by considering your business services and or products. This would generally give you an idea of which keywords you may need to rank for.
- Traffic levels of the keywords. This answers the question, is this word searched at all? If yes, how many times in a month? The best will be to target keywords with high traffic.
- Language, naming, and branding. There is a gap that is closed during keyword research. Marketers love to brand their services so that they may stand out from their competition. However, when the potential client is searching on Google, they are likely to use everyday language than that branded name. At keyword research, the goal is to make sure that we are aware of how our clients search for what we offer. This makes it easier for the potential clients to find us.
Keyword research is an important step in your efforts to rank on Google. Do you want to rank high? For which words? For many companies that have a unique name, they are number one for their brand name but nothing else. The ideal thing is to be found on Google about what you do and offer rather than your brand only.
2. Targeted Content Creation.
Now that you are sure what you want to rank high for on Google. It’s time to create content around those keywords. Here is the lesson here. Google ranks pages based on something called Page Authority. It’s a number between zero and hundred. The higher it is the better.
Page authority is calculated using some complex formulas. Simply put it determines whether you know what you are talking about well enough for Google to refer people to you concerning that subject.
If you sell shoes, what else can you do to show that you know about shoes except to write more about them? So, your website content is analyzed to see the subject that you are an authority in, your ranking will be higher in the areas where you are an authority.
Content here refers to blog posts, website pages, images and videos on the website. All these must be convincing to Google that you are an authority on your subject.
3. Titles and Descriptions.
The title here is the heading of your website pages and blog posts. These needs to be about the keywords that you want to rank for. A good example is a website called Single Grain (singlegrain.com). When you see their title, it’s descriptive of their services and they show the company’s name clearly on the home page but not in the title.
Why is this good? Due to the introduction of browser tabs, people rarely see the page titles. Titles are for Search Engines mostly.
To able to control your page/post title, I recommend Yoast SEO Plugin for all those using WordPress. It does the job beautifully and effectively.
4. Images and Alt tags.
Google has a dedicated search function for images. If you have images about your business, products and services you have a chance to appear on the image search results. This is very important if you are selling physical goods like shoes. It’s likely that a person will be interested and likely going to click on the image with the exact type of shoes they are looking for.
Unfortunately, many images on some websites are not described well for search engines to know their context. Images need to have meaningful names, descriptive titles and alt tags. This is super easy to implement if you are using WordPress or any other CMS but you will need a web developer if your website is hard coded.
Having well labeled and described images will make your website rank high in image searches and increase keyword density in your pages.
When you are adding images to the media library in WordPress, make sure you fill the image title and the image alt spaces on the form.
Periodically Google revisits every listed website to update itself on the changes you could have made. During this process called crawling, the spider will follow every link on the website hoping to reach every page.
Some websites will not allow the spider access to all pages, meaning those pages will not be listed in Google’s index. That’s not good for anyone. Here are the common causes of crawling errors:
- Login restricted areas
- Poor navigation (orphaned pages)
- Coding errors
A page which is not indexed cannot be ranked. Making sure your website can be crawled successfully is an important step towards ranking high in Google.
You can learn more about how to monitor the crawling issues on your website on Google Search Console or you may fill this form and we will send you back a comprehensive report.
6. Sitemaps and Indexes.
A site map is a model of a website’s content designed to help both users and search engines navigate the site.
Creating a sitemap is a simple process and it ensures that the search engines go through all of your website. Getting a sitemap is one method to make sure that all the pages including orphaned pages are indexed by Google.
The best thing to do with sitemaps is to make sure that they are automatically created and updated. If you are using WordPress (or any other CMS, most should have such an extension) there are plugins that do that. I recommend Yoast SEO Plugin.
7. Submit Sitemaps
8. Get Links From Other Reputable Websites
There is accreditation on the internet. When I link to another website referring them as experts in something, I will be passing them some accreditation.
What does this mean? If you are very good at what you do but no one is willing to refer to you, the credit will not flow your way.
To rank higher on Google you will need to have another relevant website linking to you. As a website developer, I need links from designers, tech news, reviews, local directories and maybe web hosting websites. Such links will pass me much accreditation value and my website will rank higher.
To get links, you need to create compelling content on your website. This is one of the reasons why blogging is very important. You can be penalized by Google for buying links from another website for the sake of having many links. That should be avoided at all costs as well as getting links from suspicious websites. More on link building can be learned here.
9. Tracking And Analysis
The online world has no one-solution-fix-all problems type of thing. Everything must be measured, tracked and analyzed for improvement purposes. What was working for us years ago, may no longer be working and we need to be able to tell and adjust.
For continuous tracking, I recommend Google Analytics which is a free tool. With Google Analytics, more than enough information can be gathered. The information includes visitor demographics, time spent on different web pages, actions taken on the pages, visitors locations and so much more.
In many cases, websites are created based on the preferences of the owners and that’s okay for start. As time goes, there is a need to monitor the user’s reaction to the website and adjust.
10. Learn And Iterate
As the information is gathered and recorded, learning and iterating the whole process starts. For example, we chose the keyword ‘web design’ as our main keyword for this website. After collecting much information on search behavior and tendencies, we learned that term is used by people who really know what they want. The rest of people who are new to this would you use ‘create a website’ or build a website’ as search terms.
Using the above example, there is need to keep monitoring your rankings, traffic, conversions etc. Without doing this the efforts we put on the website may be hurting and not helping the performance of the website.
1. You May Need Help With Some Of The Steps
I have included links to where more information is available on some of the points that need action. It’s important to make sure that all of these things are in place for the results to show. You may also contact us and we will be able to help you with any of these steps.
2. It’s A Long Game
Rankings can change in a short while depending on what we are trying to rank for but generally, it takes time. The time can be three to six months for significant changes to be noticed.
However, in some cases, it can be as short as one week. This depends on the competition for the keywords we are targeting.
3. You Need A Strategy And A Plan
There is a need for a clear plan and strategy which includes the keywords being targeted and the actions to be taken until results are achieved. Without that, the efforts may not as fruitful as they can be.
It’s not good enough to start something, benefiting and learning from it is best thing that can happen to you. Keep watching this website to learn more on SEO and other related topics.