We all know that the only place for our websites to be is in the top 5 of any search for us to see any kind of return on investment. According to a 3 year old study byAdvanced Web Rankings 67% of all clicks go to the top 5 returned results with a huge 95% of all clicks going to results displayed on the first page. (Brafton.com)
It’s imperative that your results are on that first page but…. how to get them there?
We’ve drawn up 21 ways, means and methods that will improve a search engine ranking.
Will it reach the coveted top spot? We cannot guarantee that due to the fact that we don’t know your page, don’t know the content or what else you’ve got going on – but they certainly are NOT going to harm your hopes.
Way 1. Install Google Search Console and Google Analytics
Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) is a free online SEO tool for website owners to track both the indexing and the crawling stats from Googlebot while also providing statistics to help optimize a website for higher SERPs visibility (i.e. higher rankings).
Although you now have access to those stats, what you also need is a tool that will help you analyze the 3 main metrics:
- Unbiased search engine rankings to see if you’re moving in the right direction over time
- Organic traffic from search engines
- Website conversions from that search engine traffic
You will get those with Google Analytics
Way 2. Install and submit an XML Sitemap
Sitemaps are protocols that allow search engines to find all of your webpages that they might otherwise miss when indexing.
The best ways to use Sitemaps are:
- Be consistent — if you have blocked the page with robots.txt or by meta robots “noindex,” then don’t have in your XML sitemap.
- Use sitemaps as sleuthing tools to discover and eliminate indexation problems, and only allow Google to index the pages you know they are going to want to index.
- If you’ve got a big site, use dynamic XML sitemaps — don’t try to manually keep all this in sync between robots.txt, meta robots, and the XML sitemaps.
Way 3. Use HTML Header tags
Is it worth using all the Header tags available from H1 through to H6?
John Mueller of Google is quoted as saying: “We do use H tags to understand the structure of the text on a page better”
They’re also useful for those visitors who skim your page as well laid out, properly headed text allows them to understand what your page is about without having to read every word
Way 4. Use Title Tags
The title tag is important for search engine results because it is the first ‘thing’ the crawler bots ‘see’ when they visit your page.
To get the best out of it you need to follow these 5 pointers:
- Be Accurate
- Don’t target too many keywords per title 1 or 2 is enough
- Optimize for length (max of 70 characters (includes spaces))
- Placement and order of keywords is important. Put them first so they are within the 70 charcater limit
- Enticement. These are written not just for crawlbots but for readers too.
Which title tag would you click on:
Ski Equipment | Bob’s Skis
Skis and Accessories | 25% Off Sale | Bob’s Skis
Make your title tags work for you
Way 5. Mobile Setup
Ensure your website is set up for smartphone usage. Studies have shown that people browse on their phones before making a decision on their desktops. You’re missing out on those initial contacts if you’re not set up for mobile:
- Optimize your site for touchscreens – ensuring images are swipable etc.
- Compress images, CSS and HTML – faster the loading speed the better
- Font size – small fonts are no good – why have our visitors strain to see?
- Blogging platforms have access to different ‘themes’ – make sure yours is responsive
- Install and activate Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) – Google loves AMP!
Way 6. Page Loading Speed
50% of internet users expect a webpage to load in under 2 seconds, if it takes over 3 seconds to load up then 40% of them move on.
To increase your site’s loading speed try these methods:
- Resize your images
- Use Content Delivery Networks
- Remove unnecessary plugins/code
- Enable browser caching
- Select a better hosting company
Way 8. Contact Us page
Although having a Contact Us page in itself doesn’t improve your SEO ‘score’. It does improve the user’s experience of your site, which means that they are more likely to return to you at a later date. Those later visits are noted by Google Analytics and thus get fed into Google’s overall appreciation of your site. Which can’t be bad.
Way 1. Keyword Research
This is a massive subject matter and will be the subject of a later post but as a quick ‘checklist’:
- Define your seed keywords
- Use them to generate your keyword list. A list per seed keyword
- Use your Google Search Console and Google Analytics to understand your keyword metrics
- Group your keyword list into groups – semantically linked
- Prioritize – use the ‘low hanging fruit’ method to help choose which keywords to focus on
Way 2. Write and Right Copy
Writing copy is going to be a large undertaking for you. Gone are the days when 2-300 words will be enough to attract the attention of search engines. These days, they are looking for webpages that answer people’s questions totally. Thus ‘long form’ content (2000 words plus) is the key to attracting search engines. Long form content also gives the search engines more fuel to work with and you could find your site ranking for keywoords that you hadn’t thought of.
However, don’t write copy for the search engines, your audience aren’t machines. Write as you, as you speak and your readers will be appreciative.
Way 3. Use ALT tags
ALT or ALternative Text is a way of making images readable by screen readers (software used by visually impaired/blind users). Google rates them highly both as a description of the image and also as a way of determining the surrounding text.
All of your images should have ALT text describing each image for both user experience and SEO purposes.
Way 4. Meta Descriptions
Should be a maximum of 300 characters (according to MOZ.com). Your description should answer 2 questions:
- “What is my post offering?”
- “Why should my visitor read this?”
Write it with personality, not a string of keywords. You’re writing to get a searcher to click on your listing, not writing to get to #1 – 5 positions.
Your website’s meta description is, essentially, an ad in the SERPs, so put a call-to-action in it.
Aim to beat those pesky Adword ads above you. If your description is more inviting than the ads then you stand a good chance of grabbing some traffic that was bound for them.
You’re ranking because of your quality content – make sure your description is of an equal or higher quality. i.e. no typos!
Way 5. Use of Media
Human beings are visual animals so include different media options within your content. Images, videos, gifs, audio are all options to explore. Just make them relevant and ensure they are properly tagged and the ALT text is as descriptive as possible.
Way 5. Outbound or Broken Links
Ensure that the links in your post are up-to-date and point to the correct information. Broken links spoilt the user’s experience, leading to them leaving your site – which will be picked up by Google. Check our ‘Helpful Tools’ section for help with these.
Way 6. Readability
Write your content in your own voice. Don’t try and be someone you’re not as you won’t be able to keep it up. Remeber, you’re writing for us humans, not machines so don’t stuff in keywords where they really don’t fit. Always read your content before posting to check for typos, proper citations etc.
Way 7. Duplicate Content
According to Google’s latest ‘opinion’ duplicated content won’t be penalized, it just filters it out. However, Google does reward unique content.
Sitemaps are the best ‘technical’ method for reducing duplication.
Your SERPs position isn’t affected by the amount of duplicate content on your site but by the sheer lack of positive signals, such as comments and/or social media comments that duplicate content makes.
Way 8. Updating
Always keep your information up-to-date. Google likes a blog that is refreshed and updated. If you change your text too much, make sure that any outbound links are updated as well, to reflect your new content.
Way 1. Social Media
When you create content that is commented on in social media then you’ll discover that other website owners will link to you – because of your content. When they create that social signal, the search engines will discover that link, thus improving your SERPs result.
Use online tools to discover your competitors’ social strengths and improve yours to their level and above.
Way 2. Monitoring
Using your Google Search Console, Google Analytics and the tools below, you can monitor your rankings and make improvements where suggested.
Way 3. Outsourcing
You get what you pay for in terms of outsourcing. If you cut corners on expense then you’re more likely to leave yourself open to your outsources skimping on their input. Bad or broken links, rapid ‘likes’ growth, poorly written content can and will all have an impact on your ranking
Way 4. Simplicity
Keep it simple and you, your visitors and the search engine bots will have an easier time with your site; improving your input, the user’s experience and the searchbots’ ability to index your whole site.
Way 5. Spam
Just don’t do it – it isn’t worth it
http://www.browseo.net/ – this tool takes your website and strips out any code, returning to you exactly what the crawlbots ‘see’ thus allowing you to make improvements. It is free to use
http://www.screamingfrog.co.uk – this tool crawls your site and mainly searches for broken links and duplicate content – there is a free and a paid version
https://gtmetrix.com/ – this website is a site speed analyzer and offers ideas on improving it. There is a paid, professional packaged but the main site usage is free
http://tools.seobook.com/ – offers a range of free tools to improve your site’s SEO performance
http://www.websiteresponsivetest.com – checks your website for responsive design
Well, there you are; 21 different methods (with a touch of overlap on some of them) that will improve a search engine ranking. For me, I am going to concentrate on keywords, meta descriptions, ALT text and wriitng the right content.
Thank you for reading