I’ll be straight with you – getting higher on Google (aka SEO) is not easy. That’s why SEO agencies have to charge thousands per month to give results. If your SEO agency isn’t charging thousands per month, honestly – they’re highly unlikely to be doing the right things. If you’re suddenly wondering why we don’t charge thousands per month – we would if you asked us to implement everything. But I wanted to create an option for smaller businesses to get ahead with their online presence – so I developed weekly training and content marketing consultancy instead. Learning how to rank higher on Google can take a long time, and you have to keep up with the latest trends as things can change – fast.
Although it takes a long time, it can also bring your business huge long term growth in leads and sales – if you do it right. You can imagine – there’s thousands of people searching for your products and services every month. You just need to tap into that market the right way.
I thought I’d go over some of the biggest lessons you’ll need to learn if you want to know how to rank higher on Google. There are 200 total ranking factors Google uses to determine where to place your website in search results – but don’t panic, they don’t all carry equal weight. Here are the top 5 things you need to learn if you want to rank higher in Google.
How to rank higher on Google Lesson 1: Write Better, Longer Content
Your content is crucial when it comes to ranking well in search engines.
Don’t expect for a page with just 200 words on it to rank well for anything. The truth is, Google is in the business of answering people’s questions. And they way to answer them better than any other search engine.
To rank higher in Google – you need to give the best answer.
And the truth is, “long form content” (text that is about 2000 words+) is proven to get a boost in rankings. Before you say “but I’m not a writer” or “there’s no way I can write 2000 words about my services” – don’t panic. There’s many methods you can use to create the best content possible – and no one expects you to crank out 2000 words a day.
But if you’re serious about learning how to rank higher on Google – you need to start writing, or get someone in your team to write for your website.
When you’re thinking about writing lot’s of content, you don’t want it to be aimless rubbish just written for Google though. The best content will answer your customers questions so well that it will get shared on social media and be seen as more trustworthy to Google – and therefore you’ll rank higher. By answering their questions well enough, you also get a secondary boost in sales – because customers will trust your opinion more.
Focus on writing genuinely useful articles aimed at answering your customers questions – and you’ll be ahead of a lot of people online already.
How to rank higher on Google Lesson 2: Focus on Keywords Properly
When you look into Google rankings & SEO in general you’ll hear a lot about keywords and keyword research. This part is very important; but don’t panic if you’re not good at online research. There’s plenty of tools out there that can help make it a lot easier for you.
It’s vital that you do some keyword research so you know what to optimise your website for. For example, you might think optimising for “dog groomer Washington” is a good keyword for your site. But, it could well be that people aren’t using ‘Washington’ in searches as much as they are using city names, like “Seattle”.
People use different terminology depending on their level of knowledge of your industry too.
For example, they may be much more likely to search for a dog groomer than a dog stylist, even if that’s what you preferred to be known as. It’s important that you do your research so you can optimise for the right keyword that will drive a lot of genuine customers to your website.
It can mean the difference between getting 10-20 people to your website per month to thousands per month.
You can try out Google’s free keyword tool ‘Google Adwords Keyword Planner’ to easily get an idea of profitable search terms (AKA keywords) you might want to rank higher for. Google gives you an average number of searches per month, as well as an idea of competition for that keyword.
But be wary of the competition shown – the competition level shown is referring to the number of people using PPC advertising (sponsored Google ads that appear in search results) rather than the competitiveness for ranking organically for that keyword. Organic search results are the natural search results; and the competition can be very different.
I really like to use SEMrush to find out the organic competition for a keyword; as a guide, anything above about 60 is going to be fairly hard to rank for.
Once you know which keyword you’d like to learn how to rank higher on Google for you can begin to focus the content on your website around it. If there’s a particular search term you’d like to rank well for that best describes your products or services – make sure you edit your home page content and mention that phrase a few times within the content.
To find out how to best optimise your content for a certain keyword, join our email list and you’ll get a completely free pdf guide that will walk you through exactly how to do it. It’s pretty important if you’re serious about learning how to rank higher on Google.
How to rank higher on Google Lesson 3: Don’t Write For Search Engines – Write For People & Edit For Google
It’s a really bad idea to write lot’s of text and jam it full of keywords in hopes that it will attract search engines.
This is a tactic we call ‘keyword stuffing’ and it’s a black hat SEO technique. Using black hat SEO techniques of any kind can (and most likely eventually will) get you penalised by Google – which means you will not only drop in the rankings, but it can permanently damage your website’s reputation with Google – so if you start to do the right things later, it’s like working from square minus ten, instead of a square one.
What you want to do is focus on writing genuinely great content – how tos, tips and tricks, detailed answer articles, entertaining content – whatever will work best in your industry – and then later edit it to feature your keyword in the right places. Drop it into a few headings if you can, and sprinkle it into your content – I wouldn’t recommend much more than 2% of your text be keywords, but more than 0.5% if you can manage it naturally.
Google reads more than your main content when it’s deciding where to rank you in it’s search results.
It reads your urls and meta descriptions too.
You can easily give your content a little SEO boost by making sure you write a unique meta description and include your keywords, as well as if you remember to include your keywords in your url. If you run your website through WordPress, you can easily use a free plugin like Yoast to guide you on your keyword content and it also allows you to easily edit your meta description within your article or page editor.
Quick tip – urls don’t include spaces.
When you enter in your keywords, enter in a dash wherever there should be a space as Google will be able to read these as spaces.
How to rank higher on Google Lesson 4: Get Social & Share
Researching, writing and editing great content – believe it or not – is only half the battle. Who said ranking higher on Google was going to be easy? After all, if it was, you’d be there already.
Now comes the harder part – getting that content shared.
Google uses social sharing of pages on your website as a ‘ranking signal’ (just like the length of your content, the keywords used, your meta description and url etc). So when people share your interesting articles on social media you get two bonuses in one – you get your website exposed to all of their friends and followers AND you get a boost in your search ranking!
The tough part is getting people to want to share your content. There are different habits you should take with different platforms, simply because audiences act differently in each place.
Wherever you choose to share your content, the following are general social media best practice guidelines:
- Share new articles on your own business profiles – if you don’t, how else will people find them?
- Give as much as you get – if you’re willing to tweet other businesses content, they’re much more likely to retweet and share yours
- Put your audience first – don’t spam rubbish to your social media followers. Send out stuff you think they’ll actually like – whether funny, controversial, moving, helpful – as long as it fits in with your company brand – go for it. Give them a reason to want to follow you more. Don’t give them a reason to hit ‘unlike’.
- Find super relevant groups – whether it’s a Twitter chat or a Facebook group, there’s one out there for your business. Find one that’s really relevant and get involved in conversations there. Post out your new articles to these people and ask for feedback. If they’re in your industry or have a similar interest, you’re much more likely to gain some fans talking to these people directly than when you simply spam out your own articles all day.
- Be social – it’s one of the biggest mistakes I see businesses making on social media. Not actually being social. Get involved in conversations, be helpful to people and they’ll want to be helpful back. Social media is all about networking and making connections – don’t just blast out your content and ignore the conversation. Get involved and you’re much more likely to reap the rewards.
How to rank higher on Google Lesson 5: Earn Decent Backlinks
The biggest lesson when learning how to rank higher on Google? Backlinks.
Backlinks are the number one factor that affects your ranking on Google.
Before you backtrack decide not to focus on anything else – read on.
Backlinks are links pointing to your website from another website. Obviously, there’s the traditional ones pointing from your social media accounts and directories you’ve entered yourself into – if you haven’t done this, please do. But after that point – how do you get backlinks? And does it matter where they’re coming from?
Firstly, gaining good backlinks, slowly, shows Google that you are a trustworthy website. And this will result in better rankings. There’s a reason why I say good backlink as opposed to just backlink – not all links are created equally.
When it comes to SEO, Google gives website’s it trusts a higher rank than those it doesn’t. A website gains ‘trust’ through a number of factors, including domain age, other links pointing to it, good content etc. The level of trust results in a ‘Domain Authority’ number. The higher the domain authority, the more effective a link from that website will be.
I like to use the Mozbar to check domain authority. It’s free and super simple to use. Install and go – just check out the DA number.
If you grow your own domain authority, you’re much more likely to rank well for your keyword terms. You do have to have that content there in the first place in order to rank well for those terms though.
Getting good backlinks involves having good content. Good website’s don’t link to other website’s for no reason.
You need to give them a reason to link to you.
Here’s a few ways you can do that:
- PR – getting involved in PR can gain you some great backlinks – and decent exposure. If you can get yourself into a story from a news website, even locally, they usually have good domain authority – so it’s a great place to start.
- Original Data – people and businesses love data that backs up their theories – if you have original data or maybe an intern you can get on the case, it’s always a great idea to publish this – if it’s interesting enough you should get plenty of backlinks from decent websites.
- Entertaining Articles – people love to be entertained – and if you have something funny to watch or read, they’re more likely to link to it.
- Interesting Articles – interesting articles, especially ones that feature a new or controversial take on things are a good way of gaining good backlinks. People who may have opposing views, or the same as you, are likely to link to you as a reference in their own articles. As long as it’s on topic for your business and brand, go for it.
- Guest Posting – As you can imagine, there’s plenty of businesses out there that don’t have a lot of time to write content for their websites. If there’s a business with a fairly good domain authority, 25+, in your industry or similar, offering to write an article for them can be a great way to earn a decent backlink. Just make sure to request that they add your link after your author name if they’d like to publish it – and even better, if you can reference your website or a previous article you wrote on your website within the content, it can be an even bigger boost for SEO.
- Featuring A Good Interviewee – If you can get an interview from someone in your industry, or a similar business, you could gain some serious backlinks and shares on social media. Plus, they’re likely to link back to the article you feature them in from their own website.
Check out this article for a full guide on gaining backlinks for your website.
I hope this has begun your journey to learning how to rank higher on Google. If you implement some of what you’ve learned here, you’ll already be ahead of a lot of the trickster “SEO agencies” out there.
Honestly, there are lots of tactics you can try out there – but ultimately, these 5 lessons are the most important when you’re learning how to rank higher on Google. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments – and if you need any help ranking your business website on Google, please contact us here.