There’s a multitude of details about how to rank higher in search engines. There are probably thousands of different ranking factors and we can’t pretend to know all of them.
But with SEO, it’s not really how much you need to know that makes getting a higher search engine ranking challenging – it’s how fast the rules for ranking at the top of organic search changes. These rules change whenever Google chooses to improve the quality of their search results.
In addition, there are now many different meanings of a “higher search engine ranking.” Gone are the days when ranking on the first page of Google was simple and clear cut. Nowadays it’s much harder, and there are more ways that it can be done. For instance, there are many SERP (search engine result page) features from Google that are stealing the limelight away from organic search:
- local packs – aka the Map Pack, it shows the local businesses related to your search query.
- Knowledge panels – these show an overview of information related to a particular topic, and points to other additional links.
- Featured snippets – the summary of an answer to a user’s query.
All these take away searchers attention from organic listings.
And what are organic listings? They’re search results that appear in SERPS because of their relevance to your search terms.
It’s critical that you track your rankings when you see any of these features. This is because they might show up with your keyword’s searches and steal your traffic!
Now, don’t worry; we aren’t going to give you a list of a million different things that you’ll never remember to implement. What you need is a simple guide that will take you through just about everything you need to know to rank higher on Google.
So let’s get started.
- Authority Content
Authoritative content along with quality links are extremely important for getting on Google’s radar. Google tries to give their users the best, most useful and relevant content. Your content should capture the attention of readers and deliver real value.
There are many different ways you can define authority content. However, the main way is simply by who is writing the article. Is the writer an authority figure in the online world? If so then Google will likely automatically let the content rank higher because it will automatically be seen as more credible.
However, the content must still be high quality – if it isn’t, then over time people will be frustrated with it, and Google will realize that your content isn’t good enough to rank on the first page.
But if your content is good, then it will automatically get shared more if it was written by someone with authority.
- Keyword Usage
Keywords are the best way to show Google the relevance of your content, and thus rank higher for your keyword. For SEO purposes, they are more important than videos and images because Google can’t easily decode those. They can’t be easily counted, so they may not actually get treated as content on the page.
When it comes to keywords, you simply won’t get ranked if your keyword isn’t relevant to your page’s content.
When trying to show Google the relevance of your content, it’s best not to spam (use) the same keyword too many times on the same page. Instead, try to consciously substitute other related keywords that are similar and semantically connected. These are called LSI keywords, and there are online tools to help you think of some.
- Keyword Research
Before you can come up with keywords, you have to do keyword research. Keyword research allows you to find the words people are searching for that solves real problems. For example, “kitchen sink repair in Atlanta Georgia” is an example of a long tail keyword. A long tail keyword is the longer version of a normal keyword. In this case, the shorter keyword is “kitchen sink repair.”
One of the goals of your business should be to find these keywords that people are searching. People often used long tail keywords when they are searching because they want to find an answer to their specific problem. Your content should be aimed at solving the readers’ problems.
As we mentioned in the previous section, you should have a set of primary and secondary (LSI) keywords. The intent behind these keywords should be the same, that way your content is focused.
- Dwell Time
How long a visitor stays on your site is also a SEO ranking factor that will help your page rank higher.
To improve this metric, the first question you should ask when creating new content is: how can we prevent the searcher from pressing the back button? The best way to prevent that is to demonstrate your immense knowledge of your product and business.
You can do this through blogs, calculators, quizzes, images, charts, graphs, and more. The more engaging content a reader has to look at, the longer they will remain on your site. Thus the stronger and more valuable your site looks to Google.
- Relevant Content
You won’t get a higher search engine ranking if your keyword isn’t relevant to your page’s content. Content management systems can make it much easier for you to organize your content publishing schedule around your target keywords.
And sometimes, publishing more content isn’t what it’s all about. Sometimes, it’s better to focus on optimizing what you already have.
The importance of this factor is on par with content if you want to rank higher. After all, it’s no coincidence that the top sites in Google have more links than everyone else. According to Brian Dean of backlincko, backlinks correlate to better SEO ranking more than any other factor.
But still, black hat tactics won’t help. They could actually earn you a penalty. High quality links are still essential if you want to rank higher in Google.
Google has just gotten better at recognizing high quality links.
Here are the steps to utilizing backlinks effectively:
- Take care of the on page optimization of your website
- Focus on high quality link building
- Leverage content
Methods for leveraging content include:
- Guest posting
- Earning mentions
- Influencer marketing
- Link reclamation
7. Anchor Text Optimization
Anchor text refers to the phrase connected to the link.
The general rule of thumb with anchor texts is to make them relevant to the content on your page and the page you are linking them to. Again, like with keyword optimization, the key is relevancy. Relevancy will leave the users satisfied as well as the Google web crawlers.
You also want to optimize the anchor text to maximize the value of your links.
Be sure to optimize for anchor text types such as:
- branded text
- topic related phrases
- naked URLs
There’s no one size fits all solution to this – your best bet is to see what your competition is doing on this front. A competitive research analysis is perfect for this.
- User Experience
Making sure visitors to your site have a quality user experience will help your site rank higher on the search engines. It shows that all the elements that create a positive user experience are there and providing the visitor with the information they are searching for.
-Page loading speed: 40% of web visitors will leave a site that takes longer than three seconds to load
-Mobile friendliness: mobile first indexing and Google AMP (the accelerated mobile pages project) shows that mobile is a high priority for Google. The mobile first indexing means that Google started prioritizing site rankings based on your visitors’ mobile experience and not their desktop one as Google had historically done before. Conforming to mobile prioritization is easy with a simple mobile friendly test.
-Internal link structure: be sure to optimize it. When it’s optimized, visitors can see more of your site. It also helps web crawlers discover more index-able content.
-SSL/TLS certificate: Google has said before that HTTPS is a ranking signal. Besides that, it also makes visitors feel more comfortable because it assures data security.
-Click through rate (CTR): this means the number of people who click your link versus the number of times the link appeared.
You can improve CTR by optimizing your page titles and Meta descriptions. A Meta description is a summary of your page’s content.
And you can also improve CTR by including knowledge graph panels and rich snippets. Rich snippets describe structured data markup that site owners can add to their HTML, which allows search engines to better understand the information on the page. Rich snippets and schema markup will greatly enhance your content.
Schema markup – a form of microdata taken from schema.com that once added to a webpage creates a rich snippet automatically.
Rich snippets and knowledge graph panels have been shown to increase CTR by 30%. This has been shown through various case studies in the US and abroad.
Normal snippet vs. Rich snippet
This will impact your ranking because the more people click your link, the higher it will rank, according to past Google Representatives.
- Social Signals
There are so many social signals that are potential ranking factors, but we all need to start somewhere. The following are the ones most worth your time and consideration.
On websites, these are likes, shares, comments, etc. These things help users decide the value of content and if others think it is valuable too. As a result this information increases the content’s potential to be shared.
Social signals also come in the form of links. Google crawlers use Facebook and Twitter links like they are regular backlinks for signaling purposes. But by themselves they aren’t necessarily considered as ranking factors. Rather, they instead show relevancy and help Google to discover index-able content.
- Crawlable URL For Google
You want Google robots to come to our page. You want Google to understand your content, your visuals, your video, embedded code, or anything else on your page so that they will put it into their web index. This is the key if you want to rank higher in search engines.
- Investigate The SERPs
Check out the search engine result pages (SERPS) to see what Google finds relevant to the search.
You are trying to figure out what is the relevance of your keyword searches. This is to figure out the content requirements.
And by looking at the other webpages ranking on the SERPs, you can find missing pieces of information that no one else has filled. Fill in the gaps with your creative content and take over that ranking position for your keyword.
- Good Meta Descriptions and Title Tags
Often Meta descriptions are factored into SEO rankings. The same thing goes for title tags. Sometimes it doesn’t seem this way, but Google still does this. Sometimes Google may truncate the URL, but it’s still used in the snippet as well as other elements.
The snippet is crucial to your SEO efforts because it determines how your result is displayed in the search engine. This determines whether people want to click yours or someone else’s link.
The key to making your snippet the best is to do keyword research and come up with relevant keywords for your snippet.
- Optimize Website Speed to Rank Higher
Speed is hugely important – it’s a ranking signal and a UX factor.
To fit in with these speedy sites, Google expects your site to load in under three seconds.
You can take Google’s page speed test to see what your page speed is. Here is an example of Magento’s speed for mobile usage. The test will also show your site’s speed for desktop.
- Voice Search
According to a Google’s Behshad Behzadi, voice search is growing faster than type search. 55% of teens and 40% of adults use voice search daily.
The main difference with voice search queries and typed queries is that voice queries sound more natural and conversational. This will require a whole different approach to keyword research and optimization.
- We Can’t Stress Relevance Enough
With Rankbrain from Google, it has gotten better than ever at looking for similarities and shared features between the top search results. These things can become query specific ranking signals in of themselves.
And then, look at the fact that it has become more difficult over time to convince Google that you have good content if you actually don’t.
We just barely scratched the surface of the world of SEO ranking tips. But if you want to rank higher on Google, then you can’t go wrong following these tips. Consider also hiring an SEO professional to help you rank higher in the search engines. Their expertise in this quickly changing field will be invaluable.