Search ranking is something that every business struggles with as they build brand awareness and dominance over the industry. You may be the best at what you do, you may have an amazing website, but without search ranking, your customers will never find your website or products online. So what do you do when your website isn’t showing up in the top options or even on the first page? We can help.
The following is a comprehensive beginner’s guide to mastering your search ranking. The following seven strategies include dozens of individual tactics you can use to boost your search ranking and earn a new wave of online customer activity.
1) SEO Your Website Content
It is always necessary to start with SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, a general term that has come to specifically mean how you arrange the words on your website for a best-response from search engine crawlers. Google’s algorithms today are increasingly focused on natural, organic, and informative content that ultimately provides readers with answers to their searched questions.
This means the old methods of keyword-stuffing SEO are gone and it’s time for some flowing, information-packed content. This goes for every single page on your website, not just the blog.
- Organic Easy to Read
- Stay away from stilted phrases and SEO-specific content. Instead, write organically as though you were giving a friendly explanation to a customer or even a family member. Maintain a middle-school reading level so the content is easy to skim or dive into for all website visitors.
- Natural Use of Keywords and Phrases
- Keywords are important, and so are long-tail keyword phrases that relate to your services, products, or common customer concerns. Instead of “finding a place” for keywords (aka: keyword stuffing), find ways to write that naturally include your keywords instead. This will lead to using the same concept-words in multiple wordings and phrases, which is great for organic SEO.
- All the Useful Information
- Include useful information and organize it in a way that’s easy to read. The more actual answers and info are in your content, the more useful it will be to customers and to your search ranking.
2) Make Use of Your Images
Your images are a search ranking gold mine. Mobile-first design loves images. Readers love images. Search engine crawlers love pages with diverse media and content-types. Plus, each images is a smorgasbord of metadata to manipulate for SEO purposes.
- SEO Filename and Alt-Tag
- When you name your image, don’t just name it “product_1a.png” Instead, give it a descriptive SEO-useful name like “Red Shade Lamp” This will show up in search results and increase your page searchability. Do the same with alt-text.
- Optimize Size and Load
- Make sure your images load quickly. Do this by compressing them, using a better file type, and prioritizing load. Use the type of image that comes in blurry first instead of loading all at once.
- Host Your Own Images
- Instead of linking to images you found online, save and host every image on your website server. Not only is this better for page load, it also means that when others want to use your images, they link to your site and increase your link networking, which we’ll cover next.
- Use Original Images
- Original images are also great for SEO because they are unique (not everyone else’s stock photos). They will both draw more clicks and others will want to link to them.
3) Link Networking
Link networking is essential for SEM (Search engine marketing) but is not exactly SEO, which relates to content-writing. Link networking shows that your website both provides connection to high-authority and useful websites, and that your website is worth linking to by others.
A well-networked site is viewed a more “relevant” by search engines, so your search ranking increases if your website is part of a healthy network of linking.
- Embed Valuable External Links
- Choose valuable links to things like studies, infographics, and thought-leadership articles from high-authority sites. An authority site is one that is safe, respected, and popular. Authority sites to link to usually show up in the first 5 search results.
- Do not embed non-valuable links. Only link to things your readers will really want to see in context with the page.
- Create Content Worth Linking To
- The best way to get organic links back to your website from the outside is to make content worth linking to. Make infographics, host your own studies, share useful industry charts, host a good FAQ, and write thought-leadership content.
- Share Via Social Media
- Share links to your site via social media, then use campaign tactics to encourage others to share those posts and links. If one of your website links becomes part of a social media meme or just a conversation, you are more likely to increase your link networking and get more clicks.
- Helpful Internal Linking
- Last but not least, build a strong internal linking network. Link to other internal pages when it’s useful to the reader or natural in the UI. Make it easy to navigate from one section of the website to another, between related products, or through a collection of related blogs.
4) Optimize for Mobile Users
Google recently switched its search ranking criteria to mobile-first prioritization. What this means is that websites that work well on mobile devices are considered more important and have a higher search ranking. Your website needs to do more than simply appear on a mobile phone: it needs to look great, flow smoothly, adapt to screen size, and all the widgets need to work in a mobile context.
- Responsive Web Design
- Responsive web design is a when a website adapts naturally to the screen size for any viewing device or browser. This can be done with modular, responsive page elements and/or presenting a different layout based on known screen sizes. The first option is generally considered better.
- Mobile-Friendly Graphics
- Your images and your page designs need to be mobile-friendly. “Heavy” images that have large files and load slowly might not load at all on a mobile device or with mobile-speed internet. Make sure every image and graphic design is smooth on a phone.
- Widgets that Translate
- If you have web widgets like a live chat bubble or helpful interactive web tools, it is vital that these also work in the mobile design. Not all widgets are responsive, make sure that yours are.
- Have a Mobile App
- If you don’t already have a mobile app, design one. Make something unique and useful or simply mirror your website.
5) Write and Host Great Content
You can’t write about page search without talking about content, but we’ll be brief. No doubt you’ve heard a lot of the following content-writing SEO advice before, but we could hardly call this a beginner’s guide without at least touching on the basics of what is now (in 2020) considered optimal content writing tactics.
- Fill Out Your Service Pages
- Do not leave your service or product pages as stub-articles. A few brief words is no longer enough. Concentrate the most important information in bullet-points or similarly readable format at the top, then fill out the rest with details FAQ answers, and helpful info on policies.
- Host Useful, Linkable, and Printable Resources
- Remember the link network tip on linkable content? Keep doing that. Focus your content creation not just on what your audience wants to read, but what your audience, business contemporaries, and B2B potential partners might want to link.
- Answer Questions Directly
- You know those quick-answer widgets at the top of every Google search? You could be featured there by posing and answering questions that people search for. Include both the question in quotes and the answer in your content for best results.
- Update Your Blog Weekly
- Don’t let your blog stagnate. Keep updating regularly, as search engines prioritize websites that are recently relevant and updated.
- Write In-Depth, Interesting, and Informative Articles
- Make sure your content digs beneath the surface. Use your industry expertise to provide long-form (1500+ words) articles that are packed with really useful and interesting information.
- Use Wheel-and-Spoke or Pillar Blog Models
- Make pillar or wheel-and-spoke pages that touch on a lot of topics, then write smaller articles that branch off, going into depth on each individual subject.
- Format, Format, Format
- Lastly, make sure each of your content page, blog or business, is well-formatted. Use your header tags (2 and below). Use bullet-points and quotes. Break up paragraphs to less than 10 sentences each.
6) Master Your Metadata
As we finish up, one of the last things to look into is your metadata. Metadata is data and text that doesn’t show to the customer, but helps to define your page for developers and for web crawlers.
- Page Title Tag
- The title of your page appears in the tab at the top of user browsers. It also helps to define the page purpose and content. Be sure to write a clear, descriptive, and SEO title tag for each page.
- Page Description Tag
- Page description not only contains some SEO information, it may also display as your search-result summary.
- Linking Correctly
- Some links should change your current page, some should open a new tab, and some should be marked as no-follow. Know your link tags and use them wisely.
- Image Metadata
- We mentioned image metadata earlier, now is the time to make sure you haven’t missed any.
7) Make Sure It All Works
Finally, you’re ready for the testing phase. Testing ensures that your search ranking isn’t damaged by things like slow-loading pages and broken links.
- Optimize Page Load
- Take the necessary steps to speed up your page load. Even a few milliseconds could make the difference in ranking above your competition.
- Check for Broken Links
- Make sure every link in your site, internal and external, goes where it’s supposed to with minimal redirects.
- Repair Any Offset Graphics
- Sometimes, your page templates don’t always translate right into uniquely designed pages or in combination with floating web assets. Make sure everything looks right on every page in every screen resolution.
- Test Your Widgets
- Test every interactive widget and web tool to ensure it works correctly with fast and slow internet from multiple devices.
- Test on Multiple Devices
- Use real and simulated devices to test your mobile-readiness.
Ready to rock your SEO and jump to the top of the search rankings? We can help. Contact us today for the implementation needed to turn these tips into reality for your website.