Yes, You Really Can Get Google Ranked as a SEO rookie!
You’ve got your website up and running, and now you’re wondering how to increase traffic to drive your business. What’s one of the best ways to do this? To get ranked on Google, of course.
Google is the world’s largest search engine with billions of searches worldwide every day, and it’s no surprise that getting to the first page of search results can dramatically increase your chances of having a successful website.
Notice we said the FIRST page…just showing up somewhere in Google’s SERPs (search engine results pages) won’t cut it.
After all, when was the last time you visited page 2 in your day-to-day searches?
I’m going to break down the basics of getting to the first page of Google results even if you’re starting from next to nothing. This may seem daunting, and it surely won’t happen overnight, but I’m here to tell you that it IS possible. You just have to do the work and be smart about it.
So, why is it so important to get ranked on Google, anyway? Some of these may seem obvious but realizing the importance of showing up on page one can be your motivation to keep working towards something that seems impossible at first.
These are all huge reasons to improve your SEO (search engine optimization). SEO is all about maximizing the number of visitors to your site by making it appear near the top of results returned by a search engine.
Why should you care about getting ranked on Google?
At the end of the day, each of the reasons below will directly or indirectly increase your ROI. That means more money in your pockets!
- Increase visibility and traffic to your website
- Generate more leads
- Increase engagement
- Increase industry authority
- Increase domain authority
In case you were wondering, domain authority is a search engine ranking score that shows how a website ranks on SERPs compared to other domains. The score ranges from 1 to 100, with 100 being the highest chance of appearing first in results pages. For example, the domain authority of walmart.com is 93:
You can analyze your own domain authority using a handy (and free!) tool called the Moz Link Explorer. This can give you detailed information about a particular site’s domain authority and help you understand why some sites rank better than others.
It’s pretty difficult to directly increase domain authority, so the best way to get your website’s score closer to 100 is to improve your overall SEO.
Now let’s consider what type of content can get you to the first page of Google. For any business, there are usually a few different types of content that are critical to your marketing and outreach.
But what should you focus on when you’re trying to improve your SEO?
Here are the types of content that are ranked on Google’s SERPs:
- Blog posts
- Web pages
- Google My Business listing (in local/maps section)
- Snippets of web content (in snippet boxes and in “people also ask” section)
Now you know why it’s so important to get ranked on Google and what type of content you should be devoting your time and effort to. You might be thinking, “okay, that’s all fine and dandy, but HOW do I do it?”
Patience, grasshopper. We’ll get there soon!
It may seem hopeless at first. How are you, a fairly new and unknown business owner, supposed to compete with big-time names with established web traffic? They’ve been around for years and hardly anyone knows you exist.
That’s okay. We’re here to show you how to work around these challenges and increase your SEO to drive your business.
It IS possible to get ranked on Google, and you could see your website on page #1 in a fairly short amount of time as long as you’re willing to do the necessary research and are clever about your content creation.
Here are the best ways for quickly improving your rankings on Google and the internet abroad:
#1 Smart Keyword Placement
Keywords should be easily found in several places on your web page:
- Title: this one may seem obvious, but making sure that your keywords are in your title is one of the biggest ways to help Google recognize your page as a potential search result.
- Page links: these should be clean and match the title of your page with dashes between words. Example: yourwebsite.com/how-to-get-ranked-on-google
- Meta descriptions: this is the little blurb that will show up below the title in Google search results. Create a short intro to your page including your keywords, and make sure it’s on-topic.
- Alt tags: these are text alternatives to images. Google can only “see” images if it has a text tag, so make sure your keywords are found here as well.
- Body of article: keywords should appear at least 4-5 more times throughout the article. Make sure you’re not forcing the placement of these keywords; Google’s ranking algorithm is smart enough to know when you’re “keyword stuffing,” and it will place you further down in results if you do this.
#2 Long-tail keywords and keyword research
Not only is the placement of your keywords important, but the length and specificity is, too.
Short and vague keywords aren’t going to get you anywhere, especially when you’re new and competing with well-established domains. These large competitors will undoubtedly fill page one for shorter, more generic searches.
That’s why YOU need to focus on long-tail keywords that are more detailed and get to the real point that people are searching for.
Keyword research is going to be what makes or breaks your success with getting your blog posts high in Google’s Rankings. Because your topic needs to be one that people are already in search of, it is critical that you understand exactly what keywords are most likely to get you ranked high in search results.
There are several great tools to assist you with keyword research, including SEMrush, LongTailPro, SERPWoo, and KWFinder Tool. Taking the time to properly research your long-tail keywords will pay off in the end, because it will help you understand what keywords are already too saturated and which ones give you an opportunity to show up on the first page of results.
A long-tail keyword is at least three words, and ideally even longer than that. Longer tails will get you ranked more quickly because they are clearer than ambiguous one- or two-word searches.
You simply can’t compete with big domains for short-tail keywords so your best bet of increasing your ranking is to include long-tail keywords.
After all, most Google searches ARE for long-tail keywords, because people are usually looking for pretty specific information and know that longer searches will get them closer to what they’re looking for. So don’t lose hope!
Make sure each of your individual web pages target a different set of keywords, too. You don’t want your own pages competing with each other!
#3 Blog Posts
Write blog posts often, and write well. You can’t just slap together a few hundred words and call it good – you need to write quality content to ensure that your page shows up higher in results pages.
Lengthy content (2,000+ words) is ideal, but it needs to be relevant to maintain its quality. Again, it’s important not to compete with your own pages or repeat the same thing within one blog post.
Fill your posts with varied content including images, examples, and step-by-step instructions. This not only keeps readers engaged and therefore increases time spent on the page, but it will give Google’s algorithms a range of snippets to choose from when compiling search results.
Clever titles, headlines and meta descriptions can increase your click-through-rate (CTR). This is the rate at which your posts are clicked and is expressed as the percentage of people who see your post (impressions) and actually click on it (clicks). This is calculated simply as total clicks divided by total impressions. A higher CTR means you have a more effective post!
Mix it up by using titles and headlines that make people stop and think. For example, if your blog post is about the best upper body workouts, your title could be something like “10 Upper Body Workouts for People Who Hate Exercising,” or maybe “These 5 Strange Moves Will Change Your Upper Body Routine Forever.”
Make sure you’re also covering a large number of topics and subtopics through your blog posts. A quick way to ensure you’re covering as many as possible is to scan the top existing results from your main topic.
Read through these top results for their subtopics, and write all of them down. Each of these may have, say, 3-5 subtopics. Once you’ve compiled a thorough list of subtopics and deleted any repeats, you’re ready to write a more inclusive article of your own, encompassing more information than any of the top results covered individually.
Don’t copy anybody’s work word-for-word (duh) unless you have specifically quoted or mentioned them. Even if your blog is based completely off of existing articles, it needs to be in your own words and ideally gives some new insight to existing information which inspired you.
If you DID mention someone specifically in your article or as a “further reading” link, make sure you tell them! A tweet to the original blogger, for example, can increase your own website’s traffic and help you get noticed by others in your industry.
One last thing to note about blog posts. If you don’t have the time or skills to write blog posts well and frequently, you may want to consider hiring someone who can. This can pay off in the long-run by improving your SEO and increasing paying-customer traffic to your site.
#4 Get Reviewed and Featured in Round-Ups
Another way to improve your visibility and get ranked higher in search results is to get public opinion by getting reviews and being featured in round-ups.
By offering your visitors the chance to rate and review your site, you are increasing your visibility to new customers. Not only does a high review score improve your online credibility, it also gives you ample opportunity to respond to customer queries where everyone else can see AND helps you make positive changes to your site or product.
If you are receiving online reviews, make sure you’re reading them! It’s also important to reply to those that are especially positive or negative. Replying to reviews helps people recognize that you’re a real person who is responsive to their audience’s needs.
Round-ups are articles that feature a collection of competing brands, products, companies, etc. They typically offer a short description and a review of each one, which readers use as a guide to make an ultimate purchasing decision.
If you can collect positive reviews and land on these round-up style posts, you can quickly increase your industry authority – for free.
#5 Strong Backlink Profile
A backlink (a.k.a. Inbound link or incoming link) is an incoming hyperlink from one web page to another one. When clicked, a backlink takes the user to another page either within the same domain (internal link) or to another website entirely (external link).
Your backlink profile is the accumulation of all of your backlinks, or a specific section of them such as all backlinks from a particular region.
Backlinks can be made of text OR a linked image, so keep that in mind when adding images to your posts and remember the importance of your alt tags’ relevance.
Having a large number of backlinks to your pages will help increase your ranking position and visibility in SERPs. A site with high domain authority likely has thousands of backlinks and they are probably from high-quality sites.
But how do you improve your backlink profile when it’s dependent upon OTHERS linking to your site? Well, there are a few ways to improve your chances of acquiring high-authority backlinks:
- Create infographics
- Search for roundups and ask to be featured
- Build on broken links: find a page that no longer exists which has many links to it, make a page covering similar information, and then suggest replacing the broken link with your own
- Submit to web directories like Google MyBusiness, Yelp, Foursquare, and BOTW
- Write high-quality content to improve credibility over time
- Mention other authors within your industry: there’s a good chance they will eventually link to you, too
#6 Local SEO
Use location to your advantage. If you’re a local business, your website should clearly indicate your city or geographic area.
This should be found at least in your contact page, but also within other web pages like your home/intro as well as supplementary blog posts and articles.
No need to give the worldwide web your home address or other personally-identifying information, but providing at least your city or metro area will help Google provide location-specific results to people nearby.
Even if people don’t include your location in their search, Google will still provide geographically relevant results based on a searcher’s IP address.
If that’s not smart searching on Google’s part, we don’t know what is. Take advantage of this feature by clearly stating your location in several places throughout your website.
#7 Formatting for Success
Did you know that mobile-friendly sites are most likely to appear on the first page of Google results?
That’s because a majority of searches are now performed from people’s cell phones, and Google doesn’t want to embarrass itself by providing results that aren’t mobile-friendly.
When you’re formatting your website, even if you think it will mostly be accessed from people’s desktop or laptop computers, make sure to create it as a “responsive” site.
A responsive site is one that has been designed to respond, or adapt, based on the type of device from which it’s being viewed. For example, it knows automatically to show the mobile format for someone visiting the site from a mobile device like a cell phone or tablet.
This may not seem like a big deal, but people don’t have a lot of patience when it comes to pesky interfaces – no matter how good the actual content is. If the page is hard to navigate from certain devices, chances are that visitors will become impatient and leave in search of a site with a more user-friendly format.
Your website should be clean and appealing, with easy navigation and easy answers to users’ immediate questions.
CTAs (Calls to Action) will also help people move through your site with meaning and increase the amount of time spent on the site. Google recognizes returning users and the time spent on your site and will rank you higher in its results!
#8 Create a Google MyBusiness Listing
Getting listed as an official business on Google is FREE and can help improve your credibility and visibility. Both Google Search and Google Maps will pull results from its directory of business listings, so why not add your name to the list?
Be sure to follow all necessary steps of claiming and verifying your listing. There are a few steps involved, but this is for good reason. If it was as simple as typing in your name and hitting “add,” Google would be overrun with illegitimate businesses and it would serve you no purpose in terms of SEO.
Once you’ve verified your business, make the most of your listing! To optimize your Google MyBusiness listing, follow these guidelines:
- Complete every section
- Keep your name consistent
- Keep contact and location information up-to-date
- Get Google reviews (and respond to them)
- Add photos
You can also add your business to other trusted online directories like Yelp. In particular, Yelp is highly trusted by Google and therefore your verification on Yelp can directly improve your ranking in Google results.
Other large directories include Yahoo, BOTW (Best of the Web), Bing Places, and Foursquare.
#9 Use Google Ads
Also known as AdWords, Google Ads is a paid option that will ensure your site shows up at the top of Google results.
Keep in mind that paying more does NOT equal higher ranking. AdWords uses PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, which means that you only pay for the ads which people are actually clicking. Google compares all ads competing for specific keywords, taking into account those sites’ relevancy, budget, and other factors.
Because you’re paying for these ads, it’s important that you’re showing up only when it matters. Here are a few key tips to ensure your success with AdWords.
Write competitive ad copy. Once again, the importance of high-quality content cannot be understated! If you write content that people can understand and relate to, your chances of appearing high in search results improve drastically.
Take advantage of ad extensions, which are additional pieces of information about your business like a phone number or a link to a specific page on your site. Ad extensions are free and you’ll be charged the usual rates for any clicks you get to the ad extension. Below is a great example of ad extensions on this top search result for “yoga mat”:
The small blue links below the blurb (PRO Series Collection, eKO Collection, etc.) are all additional links that can increase the chance of a searcher clicking on one of these links, therefore improving the CTR of this particular ad.
Another tool that can help you be successful with AdWords is known as A/B testing. Also known as split testing or bucket testing, A/B testing compares two versions of the same webpage or app against each other in order to determine which one is better.
It’s basically an experiment in which two versions are shown to users randomly, and over time an analysis is compiled. Data like time spent on the site and number of items in a user’s cart can be used to determine which version of your website is most likely to convert visitors into paying customers.
If you haven’t heard of it before, now’s the time to learn about negative keywords. These are searches you want to specifically exclude for your ads. Choosing which keywords NOT to target can be just as important as the ones you do want. You’re paying every time someone clicks on your ad, so make sure you’re not appearing in searches that aren’t relevant!
Let’s say you’re selling new and used vinyl musical records. Some negative keywords for this topic would include “vinyl flooring” and “vinyl plastic” because, while they do mention vinyl, they are not at all relevant to your business.
You don’t want to appear in search results for these negative keywords because someone who searches for “vinyl flooring” and clicks on your ad (perhaps because they didn’t really read the title or just because it was high in results) is not very likely to end up buying your vinyl records.
Improved targeting by using negative keywords will help put your ad in front of only the people who are actually interested, which will increase your ROI over time.
Once you’ve got your AdWords in place and have made sure to note important negative keywords, you should keep a close eye on your campaign metrics. Google has an excellent set of data tools to break down user response to your ads.
Realizing which ads are more successful than others (and WHY) can help you make smarter ad decisions in the future!
#10 Indexing, Fetch, and Crawling
This last step is absolutely critical.
For Google to include your pages in its search results, you have to request indexing. What’s the point of working so hard to create quality content if you won’t even show up in Google’s SERPs?
Google Indexing is basically the process of adding your web pages to its own search results. This is no guarantee that the page will be high in results, but simply that it will be somewhere in Google results pages.
To request indexing, log on to your Google Search Console then go to “Crawl” – “Fetch as Google.” Enter the URL to your desired page and click “Fetch.” Once Google has located or “fetched” this URL, you’ll see a button giving you the option to “Request Indexing.” Click on this button and confirm that you want to index only the specified URL.
It’s that easy! Google will begin “crawling” your page for titles, keywords, images, external links, and other important components. You should see a status of indexing, whether it is in progress or complete.
Now you just have to wait for indexing to finish. Once complete, your page is officially ready to be ranked. It’s up to you to get ranked HIGH in the results!