Having a good ranking on Google and appearing on their first page of search results is the holy grail for any business. Why? Because according to research, 90% of search traffic never goes beyond page one of results.
A lot of the time in business, more money will buy you more clout when it comes to your marketing efforts, but that’s not the case when it comes to ranking on Google. Time and a well-defined strategy, on the other hand, will boost your position on the search engine’s results pages - and the best news is you won’t have to spend a penny.
Sound too good to be true? Then follow our 10-step guide to improving your rankings and see for yourself.
A website packed with high-quality content is key to improving your search rank and incoming traffic. When deciding who ranks where, Google uses tools called crawling and indexing, whereby they go through the content on your website and gather information about each page before entering it into their index. It’s this index which is used to determine your ranking.
So, if your website’s content isn’t optimised for SEO, you’ll ultimately miss out. Here are a few tips to help gives search engines (and searchers) what they want. Make sure your copy’s:
Tip: For a more in-depth guide into SEO and how it can help your business head here.
The experience you provide your users while using your site will directly influence your ranking, and that’s because research shows the top four ranking factors are 1) time on website 2) pages-per-session 3) site visits, and 4) bounce rate - all of which tie into the user experience.
In order to make your site as user-friendly as possible it needs to be:
Nail these three factors and you’ll enjoy more visitors who’ll spend more time on your website, visit more pages and ultimately boost your ranking.
As of July 2018, Google introduced mobile page speed as a ranking factor. Why? Because at the end of the day how fast a website functions impacts the user experience - in fact, over half of website visits get abandoned if a page takes more than three seconds to load.
Clearly then, you need to ensure your website is as fast as it can be by running regular speed and performance checks. Doing so will boost your traffic and the user experience, and research shows you’ll get 70% longer average visits and a 35% lower bounce rate if you get it right.
Links from other websites to yours are one of the most important ranking factors on Google because they demonstrate your site’s authority as a source of information. Basically, get backlinks from high-authority domains and you’ll be onto a winner.
However, you need to tread carefully when it comes to this one because backlinks from ‘spammy’, low-authority sites tend to cause more harm than good. Ever heard the phrase ‘guilty by association’? That’s essentially how backlinks work for your ranking, so only aim for top-notch links.
On the subject of links, those within your website need to be working well too. There’s nothing worse than navigating within a site and being faced with a ‘404 error’ message, meaning you can’t access the page you were after.
Did you know? 73% of users would leave a website and not return if they’re faced with a 404 page?
So, to boost your traffic, authority, user experience and ultimately ranking, ensure all the links throughout your site are in working order. If you don’t feel qualified to do this yourself (let’s face it, we’re not all tech whizzes), you can use tools like BrokenLinkChecker to do the legwork for you.
There’s a strong correlation between your H1 and H2 header tags and your search ranking, and that’s because they make your site easier to navigate and the content within it more readable. They’re also a useful way to structure your site and put emphasis on the key points within each page.
Your H1 tag usually introduces the topic of a page, whereas H2 tags describe the key information you’ll be covering. If you think of your tags like a book - H1 would be the title and H2 would be the chapters.
We’ve already discussed the importance of your website’s loading speed, and crucial to this is optimising the images within each page. So, ensure all your site’s images a) are compressed, b) include alt text and c) have descriptive filenames. Each of these makes it easier for Google to identify the images on your pages while ensuring they don’t take an age to load.
You know when you enter a question into Google and it shows you a snippet of relevant information answering your question in a box at the top? That’s position zero, and getting your content into that snippet is going to drive tonnes more traffic to your site while bolstering your brand’s credibility and visibility.
To boost your chances of scoring that elusive spot, think of common questions relating to your industry and cover your website with pages that answer them. If you’re not sure where to start, you could do a keyword search and create content relating to the results. Or, if you have a search function on your site, use Google Analytics to uncover the most common search terms and create relevant copy from there.
While it might seem like a fairly modern and niche facility (but then again who can believe the Millenium was 20 years ago?), according to experts half of all searches will be done via voice by 2020.
So, to get in on that action, you need to make sure these voice searches still find your business and to do that you need to incorporate likely voice search words and phrases into your website’s content - i.e. use complete sentences posed in a natural, conversational style.
Last but by no means least, you want to boost the chances of your business being discovered in local searches - after all, more and more people are looking for businesses ‘near me’ on their smartphones.
If you haven’t already, a great place to start is by claiming your Google My Business listing and within this, you can create Google Posts - small social media like snippets of information and updates about things like your daily specials, upcoming offers, events, etc.
Other things you can do to optimise your business ranking in local searches include getting yourself in business directories, asking your customers to write online reviews, and ensuring your site’s content references your location.
Follow these 10 steps and the traffic should follow, then the next step is to ensure that traffic turns into sales and profits - check out our article on ‘is your business’ website performing’ for lots more hands-on help.
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