When it comes to ranking on google there are only 2 things that you need to do for your website to rank well.
- Help Google to understand what your site is about
- Show Google that your site is a high-quality source for information
That’s it! Seriously. If you do these two things better than your competitors you’ll outrank them all the way up to the number one spot. Easy peasy right? Well not quite, SEO companies exist because just doing these two things can be much more complicated than they sound. We’ve put this blog post together to help you dig into each of these concepts and figure out the finer details of how to rank well on Google.
Helping Google Understand What Your Site is About
By far, this is the easier of the two concepts. Back in the day before everyone and their mom had a website and a blog, this was pretty much all you needed to do to rank well. A little stuffing of some keywords, and a well-structured page, and Bob was your uncle! Nowadays, you’re likely not even getting on to the third page. That being said, it’s still very important because without it how else would Google understanding what your content is about? So how do you help Google understand what keywords you want to rank for?
This is what most people think of when they think of SEO. On-page optimization is the process of optimizing your content for certain keywords. Things like adding your keyword to the page URL, the page title, a few times throughout the text, and adding keywords in image alt tags and names all help Google to better understand the purpose of your content.
Tools like Yoast for WordPress, Moz OnPage Grader, and SEM Rush content tool can all be excellent sources for checking to make sure you’re squeezing every bit of SEO juice into your content that you can.
Page structure is another biggie and goes hand in hand with the on-page optimization. Making sure that you’re using an efficient HTML structure, using structured data where appropriate, and even having a page that is easy for users to navigate, all help you to rank on Google (though the ease of navigation is more important for showing you’re a high-quality source.)
Internal linking is very important for helping Google to understand the flow of your content and which pages on your site should be ranking for which keywords. Take this post for example, in case you hadn’t guessed by now our focus keyword is “How to rank on Google” but you’ll notice we’ve used the phrase on-page optimization quite a few times too. If we had a dedicated page talking just about on-page optimization we would want a link (or 2) where we make sure to use the exact keyword in the anchor text. This page will be coming soon 😉
This serves 2 purposes. First, it makes it clear to Google that even though we’re talking about on-page optimization in this post, our other post is a better source of information for this keyword. Second, and more importantly, any authority that this page starts to build for that keyword will be passed over to our other page. This stops them compete against each other in the search results.
A good internal linking structure not only helps to keep your website organized and easy to navigate but it also helps make sure that any authority that you gain for different keywords is passed to the relevant page.
Show Google Your Site is a High-Quality Source for Information
Once Google understands what your site is about, the next thing they want to know is how valuable your visitors are finding your content. This is where traditional SEO and many other digital marketing disciplines start to become intertwined.
Even before visitors hit your site Google is evaluating how valuable users find your content by how many people are clicking on your search result. This means getting your meta title and meta description in order. This is where SEO and copywriting intermingle.
A great meta title should include your focus keyword at the start but the rest of the title and description should have a singular focus. Drive the user to click. Some basic principles like piquing the user’s interest, offering them something valuable, and answering the question they are asking can greatly help to improve your CTR and ranking position.
So you scored the click and the user lands on your page. Except it takes 8 seconds to load, they get tired of waiting and bounce before they even see your content. Google has been placing more and more stock in performant websites over the last few years (so much so that it’s now part of Google Search Console). This is one of the number 1 factors that we see holding people back from ranking well in google. Even if everything else is spot on a slow website will kill your rankings, and worse yet it if your whole site loads slowly it kills your rankings across all keywords.
Your page needs to load in under 3 seconds if you want to be competitive for high-value keywords. It’s as simple as that. The problem that many people run into is that you need to be a fairly experienced developer to pull this off properly. If you’re nervous about getting into the inner workings of your site then hire a trusted experienced developer who can do it for you or get in touch with us and we’ll let you know exactly what needs to be done.
How long someone stays on your page is another important ranking factor for proving your site’s worth. Stickiness as we call it is actually measured by Google as dwell time.
Dwell time is not technically how long someone stays on your page but the time between return visits to the search results page. Say your third in the rankings and a user clicks on the first result and stays for 2 minutes, they go back to Google then click the second result and stay for 1 minute, they then come to your page and stay for 8+ minutes, or better yet don’t return to google at all. This signals to Google that the person likely found your page to contain content that the user found valuable in answering the question they were asking.
Improving your page stickiness is a little bit more challenging as it comes down to one thing. Create great content that answers the question your user is asking. There really are no shortcuts here. Learning a lot about the topic you’re going to write on and learning to deliver it in an engaging way are your keys to success.
Credibility has been a huge factor since search engines started to evolve away from purely keyword-based rankings. What credibility really comes down to is how many other pages that Google deems to be of high-value link back to your site.
The important thing to keep in mind here is that link building is supposed to build credibility. Using link farms, paying for links or doing anything that Google deems even slightly underhanded here is a sure-fire way to hurt yourself and your rankings in the long run. Google has the smartest minds working on the smartest algorithms to catch people out on this. If you think you can beat them you’re a braver person than I.
There is only 1 method that we use for link building and it’s slow, and it’s tedious but it works. Direct outreach. We find websites that are ranking well for keywords similar to those we are using and we reach out and explain how we feel a specific article would further benefit the users of their site. Sometimes it works, a lot of the time it doesn’t work but if you play the game of numbers, and your content is good enough it’s a winning strategy.
Implementing These Changes to Rank Better on Google
We’ve all done it, we go out read a bunch of articles, start down a path and then we get sidetracked by something else that comes along that is more important but we implore you, don’t do this with your SEO. SEO is a long term strategy, you won’t immediately see results (except maybe on performance improvements) but if you stick with it the long term benefit can’t be beaten.
We designed this page as a quick reference guide for the steps you need to take to help your site rank well. you can start to implement many of these changes right away but we’ll be adding more in-depth articles on each of these specific points over the coming months so make sure you subscribe to our email list to stay up to date with all of our latest posts!