My top tips to improve your Google ranking and help you generate more business.
Being on the first page of Google is essential to the growth of your business online, but thankfully, there’s plenty you can work on to improve your Google ranking.
If you want to save money on ad spend in the long-term, then SEO needs to be part of your strategy.
Doing SEO will bring you more converting leads too, as the first page of Google gets 95% of all search traffic and the highly coveted top spot will get at least a third of any clicks.
Google wants to provide the most relevant results to the user and give them the best user experience so that people will keep using their search services.
My search engine optimisation methods align with this philosophy and focus on what’s best for humans along with search algorithms.
For sure, it’s becoming harder and harder to improve your Google ranking as algorithms change all the time. But if you focus on the core (is it user-friendly and useful) then the rest will follow organically.
Here are my 15 essential SEO steps which, with a little patience and persistence, will get you to rank higher on Google and SERPS.
1) Page load speed
One of the most important factors is how long your page takes to load. The longer it takes, the more people will bounce off your site.
Your page speed also impacts whether your users will visit other pages. If your site loads in around 2 seconds, then you can expect to see an average of 9 pages viewed. But this will drop to just 3 pages if your site takes longer than 8 seconds.
What’s interesting is that if your site is too slow, then 80% won’t return. On the other hand, if it’s fast enough, then people will keep coming back.
Google is smart and will measure any negative interactions to rank your site accordingly. The more people who come back, the higher you will appear in searches.
I know you’ll probably be rattling to test your site speed now, so I’ve added some free tools at the end of this article to help you do this.
The free report will tell you if anything is slowing your site down, like image sizes and scripts, and give you some other feedback based on the other points I’m about to talk you through.
2) Optimise your site for other devices
What’s crazy about this is that 80% of the time, mobile searches showed different results to desktop searches.
This is down to a number of factors, but the biggest is because of Google Mobile First. This is a ranking factor that will predominantly use your mobile version for indexing.
If your site isn’t optimised for mobile and tablets, Google and Bing will bump you down their search ranking and you may not even show up at all.
3) Tailor SEO on each page
Every page you create is a chance for you to improve your Google ranking. Use the below SEO checklist to make sure pages are performing to their full potential.
Page title – should be optimised to include relevant keywords.
Keywords (main body) – Google Keyword Planner is a great tool for identifying the hottest keywords for each section of your website.
Meta descriptions – The short snippet of text that appears underneath each search result can grab your customer’s attention.
URL – URLs should be short, sensible and code-free.
For example, http://jacobdeen.com/index.php?page=SEO-services (unclean) becomeshttps://jacobdeen.com/services/ (clean).
Websites like WordPress let you update page URLs in just a couple of clicks.
SEO title – How your page title appears on search engine results pages (SERPs) and a vital part of effective keyword use.
Google only displays the first 50–60 characters of a title tag, so it’s important your title doesn’t exceed this.
Image alt tags – Every image, picture and graphic on your website should have optimised file size, alt tags and description. Once you do this, you’ll be surprised how fast your images will appear in Google Images.
4) Fix any broken links
There is nothing more off-putting for a user than getting a missing page 404-error.
Google feels the same about this and will think your site is old and not looked after – crushing your SEO score.
There are two types of links you need to check.
The first is internal links on your site. You may have moved pages, changed page names or accidentally deleted some pages that you thought were old but are actually still bringing in traffic.
The second is external links to ‘dead links’. Either change dead links or let the host site know. They might appreciate you telling them, so ask for a cheeky link back!
Links from other sites act like legalised SEO steroid juice and I’m about to tell you why.
5) Generate backlinks
Backlinks are the foundation of any SEO strategy. If Google sees more sites talking about you, then you will appear more authoritative, giving you a higher Domain Authority (DA). This is a major ranking score.
Backlinks are treated like votes of authenticity. The more you have, the higher you will rank.
But these votes are judged on quality, so if Huffington Post linked to you with their high Domain Authority, it will be worth more than Jo’s local Beauty Salon. Google also looks at how related the links are to your sector, so you should try and get backlinks from sites in your field of space.
So how does Google judge your Domain Authority?
Here are some of the factors Google considers when ranking your website:
1. The number of backlinks you have
2. The Domain Authority (DA) score of each linked site
3. How relevant the linking websites are to yours
4. The number of backlinks you’ve built over time (this has to be natural growth so don’t ever pay for a ton of links)
So, focus your SEO on these areas and you’ll soon improve your Google ranking.
If you don’t have any backlinks, here’s 50 free directory backlinks that you can sign-up to straight away.
Old techniques for creating backlinks, like forum marketing, wiki sites, and even guest blogging don’t work as fast and as well as they once did.
How to win is to build up natural diverse inbound backlinks through publishing high-quality content, which is actually my next point.
6) Publish high-quality content
You need to regularly update your website so Google knows you’re still active.
Search Engines like knowing that site visitors are on your page for longer, which is classed asdwell time.
One way to increase this is to generate longer, recent and relevant content that captivates users. This will also make website visitors want to come back to your site, helping to boost your ranking.
Start off with a gripping headline that makes them want to click on your content. Based on research, copy that is around 2,500 words seems to rank the highest in search engines.
A surprising ranking factor is getting your site bookmarked. Over half of us use Google Chrome as our preferred internet browser, and when we bookmark a site, Google ranks this favourably.
7) Layout and formatting
Formatting a page to look good gives a web visitor a better experience and, if you can help keep your traffic to site around for longer, it will improve your ranking. So, put serious thought into your web design.
Use clear fonts and paragraph styles, cut down on long words and big sentences. Use images in-between large blocks of text and break-up large articles with headings – making sure to tag subtitles with heading tags.
In fact, Google ranks keywords in headings more heavily, which will give your SEO score another quick boost.
Using H1s, H2s and other headings properly will help you improve your google ranking.
If you use a CMS like WordPress, it’s quite easy to add in some interactive features like sidebars, pop-downs, modal windows and structured grids to keep your audience engaged for longer.
8) Use outbound links
Google builds its rankings based on trust and authority.
If you link out to other high authority sites then you will earn more SEO points from Google and actually keep users around for longer, as they will look further into your content and trust it.
It’s good practice to link to well-respected sites if you have used their stats or infographics.
Try to keep a good balance of the number of links you use, you don’t want links in every sentence. And be sure of where you’re linking to – you don’t want to lose your web visitors altogether or link to a spammy malware site.
9) Get reviews
Reviews and testimonials play a huge role in helping you climb online, and you should actively encourage your customers to leave reviews.
Reviews are the ‘social proof’ of your services and affect how credible Google deems you to be, which influences the search engine ranking it gives you.
Platforms like Google, Facebook and TripAdvisor have gamified reviews, awarding and unlocking different levels for users – so it’s important you embrace this culture. The more positive reviews you receive, the quicker and higher you’ll climb.
We’ve noticed in some map searches, Google prioritises results based on the number of reviews and how recent they were. If you’ve noticed this, let me know in the comments.
10) Register your business
If you’re already registered on Google My Business, then when was the last time you updated it?
There’s plenty you can refresh on there, including posting updates and photos. You should treat it like one of your Social Media platforms and even reply to any of your reviews that you get.
Getting yourself on directories and optimised on Google My Business is so important if you want to be found by voice searches. In 2020, ComScore predicts that 50% of all searches will be made by voice.
I find this incredible and it’s something we all need to consider, so make sure you use keywords correctly and that your content answers some of the questions your audience might be asking.
11) Contact information
We talked before how Google likes it when you are trustworthy and making sure you have a contact page with all your contact details on, adds to this trust.
Having a phone number in the navigation bar increases your trustworthiness too and is proven to generate more inbound enquiries. We leave our contact details in the footer on every page, just to add even more assurance.
If you have a number on display, then you can make it mobile friendly so when it’s clicked, it will pull that number straight into the call screen.
12) Use keywords
Keywords play a massive role in letting search engines know what your website is talking about.
They can be a mix of products, location and special services to help you show up is relevant Google searches.
Your keywords can differ on each page, so you need to make sure they are in the landing page, title tag, meta description, headline tag and even within the content of your page.
Don’t pack your copy with the same keywords in an unnatural way. Google will know you are doing this and, like a strict school teacher, will mark you down for trying to cheat.
But keyword density is important, so including important keywords in your copy numerous times will help.
Just make sure to do it in a creative way that doesn’t sound repetitive but is relevant – like the way we’ve used ‘keywords’ 6 times in the last few sentences.
It’s hard ranking for a keyword straight away, especially in a competitive industry. Instead, use long-tail keywords, which are three or four-word phrases that people may use to search for relevant services.
If you sell paper, try going for a string like ‘best paper for printing’.
13) Social shares
Most people don’t think that SEO and Social Media go together, but the truth is that they are very mutually beneficial.
Social sharing acts as content promotion of your blogs, podcasts or services.
The more people are talking about you online, the more likely others will come from social media to your website.
This will generate sales and traffic that will help increase your rankings. So, you should always encourage people to share your articles.
Think about the next time you create an article, go find an influencer then ask them for a quote. Include that in your content and make it a great piece.
Now message that influencer and show them your content piece, they are most likely to share it on social media, which in turn will bring in more traffic and quite often some all-important backlinks.
14) Sitemap and structure
It’s crucial your website has a ‘crawlable structure’ so that search engines can gather information about your services.
Internal links act as a map of your site and help search engine spiders to navigate their way around it. You should also be creating a sitemap and submitting this to Google so they can index your site faster.
For users, the golden rule is to make sure any piece of content is no more than 3 clicks (or touches) away.
When visitors can’t find what they are looking for quickly, they are more likely to leave and never come back, reducing the dwell time on your site.
Having a well-thought-out website is important, especially when 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with one that’s poorly designed.
15) Free SEO tools
Start with our free website report tool that will give you an instant SEO report on some of the points we’ve talked about above.
We’ll also email this straight to your inbox so you’ve got a copy to refer to later.
Check your website SEO score
Just enter your website URL and email address for a free performance check on your website with actions you can take away to rank better on Google.
Did you know that Google also gives you a free tool to rank higher on Google?
It’s called Google Search Console and breaks down your rankings, the keywords that your pages are getting traffic for and the ranking page position of each of your pages.
There’s also another tool from Google called Google Trends. This breaks down your keyword traffic from web images, news and what’s climbing in popularity.
If you want to find out your top traffic driving keywords, then use the Hoth’s ranking checker.
Getting ranked on the first page of Google is possible.
If you concentrate on the points I’ve talked through, you will soon improve your Google ranking and start climbing other search engine results pages too.
Making drastic changes to your site overnight won’t get you to the number one spot the next day, but over the months with hard work, you’ll soon be making your way to the top.
Just use the free tools to monitor your progress and see what’s working for you.
If you need help implementing your SEO strategy or producing quality content that people will link to don’t hesitate to get in touch.