One of the great mysteries in online marketing is how Google and other search engines rank websites. All that’s known is that it’s a complex algorithm. Every business is fighting for a spot at the top, so implementing smart search engine optimization (SEO) techniques is vital to your website’s success.
It might surprise you to learn that the majority of your traffic comes from search engines. Don’t believe me? Look at your Google Analytics account. Click on referrals and chances are you’ll see that Google is one of the top search engines sending new people to your website.
Here are 25 ways you can bump up your website’s ranking and solidify your position high up on the search engine results.
Watch Your Words
The words on your website show your audience and search engines what you’re all about. These words must describe your business and match what people are searching for.
At the same time, your content must sound natural. Search engines are skilled at picking out websites that are stuffed with keywords just so that they can rank high.
Here’s how your words impact your rankings on search engines.
- Keyword Research. Chances are you’ve heard that you need to use keywords throughout your website. Keywords are the terms that people type into the search engine to pull up relevant webpages. The first step toward writing the right words on your website is to find what keywords your audience is using to find businesses like yours. This video has some helpful tips for how to research these words.
- Headline. Your headline is the first thing your visitors see. That’s why Google places significant emphasis on this part of your website. Make sure you’ve included a keyword to strengthen your page or post.
- Introduction. Just after the headline is your introduction. Again, it’s one of the first things visitors read so search engines place tremendous weight on this area of your content. Include a keyword in the first 100 words to boost your rankings.
- HTML Tags. Web readers are lazy. Breaking up your content into bite size sections makes it easier to scan. In those sections, you’ll want to use smaller headings. Write the copy for each of these headings in Headline 2 (in HTML it’s written like this: <h2>) or Headline 3 tags.
Once you have the first draft of your pages written, go through and look at your content with a new pair of eyes. Is your content helpful? Is your content meaningful? Does the context make sense?
Here are some specific items to look for when analyzing the answers to these questions.
- Numbers. Now I’m going to contradict myself a little bit. Up until this point, I’ve encouraged you to add keywords into your content. While that’s important, it’s equally crucial that you don’t overdo it. When your content is written, go through and make sure you haven’t stuffed your copy with keywords.
- Context. Google is like a thesaurus. It can see through various meanings and variations of words. Make sure that you don’t overuse contextual phrases too. If you do use them, make them sound natural.
- Do You Have Enough? Length of content is important. Most pages that rank high on Google have well over 1,000 words. Don’t be afraid to add content to boost your rankings.
- Too Little. Although you don’t need every page to have over 1,000 words, you should be exceptionally careful about adding pages with far too few words. The thinner the content, the more likely Google is to think you’re trying to stuff some keywords together without adding any value to their customer, the searcher.
- Duplications. Duplicate content will do some serious damage to your website. Never, ever, ever copy and paste someone else’s words. Write your content in your voice with your expertise.
Search engines are not just reading the content on your webpages. They’re also looking at the web address, or URL, of each page.
Create a strong, search engine friendly URL with these tips.
- Add Some Numbers. If you’re writing a blog post, you want your article to appear in Google News. To get included, you need to have a URL that has a three-digit number. Google gives some examples of what your URLs must look like here.
- Include a Few Keywords. Adding keywords to your URL helps define what your page is about to Google. Add in your focus keyword to the URL to boost your ranking.
- Follow the K.I.S.S. Rule. Don’t overcomplicate your URL. The shorter and easier it is, the clearer it will be for Google.
Once your content and URL are optimized, it’s time to start building your internal and external links.
Internal links are perhaps the easiest to build. These are the ones that link from one page on your website to another. A few of the top SEO tips for this include:
- Linking to Past Blog Posts. If you riff off an old blog post, link to it. Your reader will appreciate being able to dig in deeper to your topic and Google will appreciate knowing what the page you’re linking to is all about.
- Linking to Related Blog Posts. Chances are you write in-depth about a variety of topics. If your audience finds one thing interesting, they might find another similar topic interesting too. Link to related posts for Google’s sake and for the sake of your audience.
- Using Smart Anchor Text. When linking, use a keyword to jump from one page to another. This will show the search engines exactly what is being talked about on the next page.
You’ll also want to get links from other websites. This is known as an external link or a backlink. Note that the website providing you a backlink must have a strong PageRank. Without it, the search engines might see you as “gaming the system” with a link from a low-quality resource. This could do more harm than good.
Here are a few ways that you can build your external links from high-quality pages.
- Start Writing Other Places. Most blog authors understand the importance of link building. That’s why they offer one or two backlinks to your website in exchange for a high quality article. Remember to use the right anchor text when deciding where to put your backlink.
- Get Others to Write About You. You don’t have to be the one telling the story. Let others tell your story and link to your website by providing something interesting to talk about. Spark a healthy debate. Write about something controversial. Get people talking about you by standing out as an authority in your field.
- Review Other Blogs on Your Blog. Use your blog to write about the great work that others are doing in your industry. Link back to their blog posts or webpages and then let them know. Send a quick email telling the blogger where they can find a reference to their blog. Chances are, they’ll link back to your post on their website and share your post with their followers.
- Keep Your Name Consistent. Do you shorten up your business name? Don’t – at least not on search engines. If you’re linking from one blog post back to your website, use your full business name. Keep that full name consistent throughout the web.
Spice up your content with pictures and videos. Multimedia is interesting to your audience and to search engines – as long as it’s done right.
Here are a few tips to help you optimize your videos and images.
- Take Advantage of Alt Tags. When you upload an image, there is a spot where you can put in alternative text to display if your image does not load. Search engines cannot see your image but they can see this text. Insert a keyword that describes the image to help with your rankings.
- File Names Matter Too. Just like alt tags must be descriptive, your file name should be too. Describe your image in the file name using keywords to help it rank better in Google’s image search.
- Size Matters. When it comes to image sizes in search engines, size matters. Make the dimensions of your images as big as reasonably possible. Then, make the file size as small as possible. Compressed images rank the best.
- Don’t Take Stock. Whenever possible, use your own pictures. Stock photos tend to rank poorly in search engines because they are overused and non-descript. If you can use your own pictures, it’s encouraged.
- Add Audio and Video. Videos and podcasts are also smart additions to your page. Search engines like depth to your content. Audio and visual elements on your page answer that need. Make sure that they don’t take too long to load or you could get punished.
Speed Things Up
Do you want to speed things up with your search engine rankings? Then speed up the load time of your website. If your pages take too long to load, search engines will see them as spammy and low quality. Here’s how to make sure your pages aren’t overloaded so that they can pull up quickly.
SEO isn’t a straightforward process. There are many elements that impact how your webpages are indexed and shown by Google and other search engines.
Want to build your inbound marketing efforts? SEO is the first place to start. For tips on what to do once people arrive on your pages, download “How to Run an Inbound Marketing Campaign” and enhance your money making capacity on the web.
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