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How to get higher rankings in Google is the first thing most people ask.
When it comes down to it, there are truly three driving factors that encompass the 80/20 rule when it comes to SEO:
When you really master these three topics, your website will flourish when it comes to driving organic users from the SERPs.
Sure, there’s technical SEO that plays a role on much larger websites and eCommerce stores.
Yes, there’s also Local SEO that can play a large role in driving traffic.
But when it comes down to the core, SEO is about mastering these three items for the biggest effect.
Let’s assume you already have a website up and running with some solid links, some good content and you’ve dabbled a bit improving your on-page SEO (or maybe not).
What can you do today for big ranking increases in the smallest amount of time?
These five tactics can be implemented today for the biggest traffic gains possible for your website.
Having strong on-page SEO goes a long way in helping your pages rank in Google.
If you’re looking really improve your position in the SERPs, this is the key starting point to do so.
How do we determine which pages to work with first, when considering on-page SEO improvements?
You’re going to want to head on over to ol’ trusty Ahrefs and plug-in your domain name into the search bar.
Once you’ve done that, click on “Organic Keywords” from the left-hand menu, and then add a filter as follows:
Now we have a full list of keywords we’re ranking for, that are in positions 8-20 in Google, with a minimum search volume of 100 per month.
Take note of which keywords are your target keywords (if you don’t know this already), and compile a list of pages to start with optimizing.
If you’re on WordPress, Yoast SEO does a pretty decent job of guiding you along the way in terms of recommending on-page ranking factors to keep in mind for each page and post.
In order to optimize for on-page SEO, you’re going to want to look at the following factors:
Title tags are super important in the world of SEO, as they both give a high-level overview of what your actual page is about, and they’re also one of the first items a user sees in the search results.
There are two main concepts you want to follow when creating a title tag:
Using modifiers like “best”, “new”, “guide”, “2020”, “checklist” and so-forth will help you to rank for additional relevant keywords, driving more organic traffic to the page.
Again, the meta descriptions along with the URL and Title tag are what users see first when they find your result in the SERPs.
You’re going to want to have a great, unique title tag for each page you’d like to rank as it helps to increase CTR, also pushing your post further up in the rankings.
When creating your metadata, you want to include the actual main keyword here as well.
A simple template for creating your meta descriptions is as follows:
[content overview]. Read on to learn how to get [benefit] from this [content description]
A complete beginners guide to on-page SEO. Read on now to learn how to get high rankings in 2020 with this expert guide.
Google reserves the right to add their own meta for your pages, but generally, when you define meta descriptions it will get picked up and used accordingly.
Meta descriptions normally become truncated after 155-160 characters, so it’s best to stay under this limit so the full description is displayed in the SERPs.
We will cover CTR increases later through title and meta, but you should first and foremost ensure your meta copy is compelling, mentions your keyword and includes a CTA.
Your h1 header should always be the first thing a user sees at the top of your page.
The h1 header should also include your main keyword. You want to use the h1 header only once per page.
From there on, when creating new sections of content, you’ll use the h2 header.
Any sub-sections fall under h3, and so on.
By adding headers, you break your content into sections that make it easier for both Google and readers to digest.
The first paragraph of your content is normally going to determine whether your users stick around, or not.
Hence the word “sticky”.
You want both a compelling intro paragraph that summarizes your post, and also keeps the user engaged and ready to move through your content.
You also want to ensure you use your main keyword naturally within the first paragraph of your content.
Users will stick around when there’s a great user experience.
If a user loads up a blog post and the first thing they see is no content, they’re more likely to bounce and leave your website.
You want to limit the whitespace above-the-fold as much as possible, and serve the user content as soon as possible to engage and start reading.
Your main keyword should appear in your content 2-3 times.
You also want to ensure you’re incorporating both supporting keywords, and variations of your main keyword to pick up additional rankings.
Supporting keywords should come from the research of what similar queries are related to your topic, and what topics should be included in your actual content to answer a user’s query.
With Ahrefs, you can take a deeper dive into researching relevant keywords that will work with your content.
You also want to take a look at other top-ranking pages to get ideas and keywords that you should also be covering.
One last place to look is always the bottom of Google, as here you’ll find similar search queries related to your query:
These won’t always be fully relevant, but oftentimes, you’ll come across some great suggestions.
Adding alt tags to your images with your main keyword will make those images eligible to rank in Google Images.
You’ll want to drop in your keyword in the alt tag, where relevant, 1-2 times per page.
Google prefers sites with fewer pages and great content.
For larger websites with a ton of pages indexed in Google, this can have a HUGE impact on your rankings.
With Google having to crawl fewer pages on your site, this eats up less bandwidth of the crawl budget and keeps the search engine gods happy.
From experience, in 90%+ of cases, you can find content for most websites that has no purpose of being indexed in Google.
Most sites have a ton of more content indexed in Google then they’d ever imagined.
To get started, type site:yourdomain.com into Google.
Underneath of the search bar, you’ll see the total number of results indexed in Google for this nationalgeographic.com: 114,000 total pages.
I’m willing to bet there’s a ton of content on Nat Geo’s site that can be pruned from Google’s index.
You’re going to want to prune any content from your website that falls under the following categories:
Pruning these types of content should be done on an on-going basis, as these pages can quickly add up.
Jot it down on your to-do list every few months to review, and see how you can improve.
CTR is your click-through rate, which comes from the simple equation of clicks ÷ impressions = CTR.
CTR plays an important role for two key reasons:
For that reason, focusing on CTR is a win-win.
If you can improve CTR for your pages, you’re going to drive more traffic and rank higher.
One quick way to start with taking a look at which pages need a little love when it comes to improving the meta and title for a higher CTR starts within Google Search Console.
Click on the Performance tab on the left-hand menu, and then filter data from the past 3 months. You’ll also want to click on the Average CTR box to show CTR data for each page.
Scroll down the page, and you’ll see listed all queries that are driving traffic to your website from organic search:
Sort the CTR column in descending order by clicking on it, and you’ll now have a list of pages by top impressions.
This is your base starting point for finding pages with a low CTR.
You’ll need to eyeball this a bit, and comb through the data as not all search queries will always be relevant, but if you have a good idea of your main keywords you’d like to rank for this will be a great starting point.
Look for hyper-targeted queries that have very low CTRs, and these are a great starting point for your meta description and title optimizations.
An additional way you can make your key service and product pages stand out, among others, is by marking up your content with rich snippets to make pages stand out to searchers.
Rich snippets provide the user with more information, including reviews, price, votes among many other avaliable snippets, dependant on your page type.
Independent of page position, which one of the following results stands out to you at first glance?
If you’re looking for review rich snippet, I’d recommend working with a third-party review collection software as it makes the entire process much easier, as they’ll provide you the code to embed widgets on-site that already have rich snippet functionality embedded.
I’m working with GatherUp to collect third-party reviews and highly recommend their service all around.
Using Google’s guidelines, you can markup your review content and other content to be eligible for rich snippets.
For testing purposes, check out Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to check your mark-up has been successfully implemented.
There are two ways you can test your site’s overall speed:
Using these two tools, you can get both insights on the overall page loading time to full load, as well as opportunities to improve upon these suggestions.
Overall, you’re going to want to make sure you’re covering a few bases here when it comes to optimizing for speed:
Site speed averages based on industry, but generally you’re going to want to ensure your site load time is under 7 seconds maximum on both mobile and desktop.
We won’t get too into the actual technical aspect here for solving speed issues, as this varies greatly based on your site build.
Nonetheless, if you find an opportunity from GPSI, you can run a query in Google along with your codebase or CMS, and you’ll get some results to start tidying up your site’s speed.
Content is the jet engine fuel that your website runs from.
Think about it – how do you rank in Google?
You build content, and Google crawls that and indexes it based on its own algorithm.
The best content in the eyes of Google is ranked accordingly, and the majority of the clicks go to content on the first page.
How can you rank in Google without building content that is better than what already exsits?
The simple answer (in most cases) is that you can’t.
If you want to build content, you need a strategy and you need to understand what exact type of content and how to structure that content to ensure success.
You also need to understand Google’s search intent for what content it likes for specific queries, and what type of content it will show.
If you don’t follow those guidelines, in most cases, you’ll be wasting your content if you’re planning on getting that content to rank organically.
Therefore, we need to have a full-proof content strategy here that focuses on hitting the following areas:
With all of these points in check, you’re going to be driving organic traffic in no time.
This one has been tacked on at the end, even if it’s one of the biggest ranking factors when it comes to performing well in organic search.
Well, link building is an exhaustive effort that takes time, money and resources to do right.
Link building is not something you can do in a one week period, and be done with it.
Authoritative links acquired in a natural way take a ton of prospecting, outreach and grinding to acquire – plus, in many cases, guest post content.
Whatever you do, do not jump on Fiverr or UpWork and hire out someone for $100 to build 20 links to your site. You’re going to waste your time and money getting low-quality spam links that you’re going to have to manually disavow later.
If you’re hiring an outsourced, qualified white hat link builder, you’ll be looking to spend at least a few thousand dollars per month, depending on the quality and amount of links.
Paying for quality sponsored posts also costs a hefty penny, starting normally around $500 and up per link placement.
Not only do you need to consider links themselves, but you also should consider at what velocity you should be building links.
To which pages you should build links, and which needs links the most.
What type of anchor text (if possible) should be used from the linking domain.
There’s a lot of factors that go into link building, and therefore you need an expert’s eyes on the process to ensure results.
As the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
Can links have a huge impact on your rankings? Yes.
Does a ton of time go into the link building process for quality links? Yes.
If you plan on hiring someone to either prospect link opportunities, or to outright build links to your site, in no case whatsoever should you skimp on costs.
If you want high-quality links built, it’s going to take time, money, and a highly-qualified link builder to achieve results.
So, although link-building isn’t something that’s fast, it does have a huge impact on rankings and has made its way on to this list.
Founder of Rock The Rankings, an SEO partner that helps B2B SaaS brands crush their organic growth goals. An avid fan of tennis, and growing micro-SaaS businesses on the weekend.
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