How to improve your search ranking
If no one can find you, how can you expect to increase your customer base? With 68% of internet experiences starting with a search engine (ie a Google search), it's vital to optimise your website so that a search engine will favour it. Especially since there’s over 1 trillion searches happening every month!
The most pertinent reason why search engine rankings are so important is the online traffic they generate. The first position (the top search result to be displayed) gets the majority of the web traffic at 33%. Meanwhile, the second position will get approximately 15% of the traffic share, and the third position will get around 9%. The drop in traffic share percentage gets bigger as you get lower in search ranking positions. As a general rule of thumb, the first page search results will take a minimum of 75% of all clicks to be generated from the search.
Basically, to get any significant amount of website traffic, you need to be ranking on search engines. Although, simply ranking won’t cut it anymore, you also need to be ranking highly. Search engines are an extremely competitive landscape which is why we’ve laid out how to start improving your search rankings below.
If you want a person to be aware of or understand something, you need to communicate it to them. Search engines are exactly the same: they need you to communicate to them what your website is all about. Search engines are scanning your website for keywords that match what someone has entered into their search, so it’s important to disperse keywords that are relevant to your content across your website.
Now, it’s not as easy as just picking any keyword that you personally think fits. Keyword research is necessary to find the language your target marketing is using in their searches.
You can start by listing out a bunch of topical, relevant keywords that you associate with your business. As a digital marketing agency, we might look at ‘digital marketing’, ‘inbound marketing’, and ‘email marketing’ as an example. Once you have this list of topics, you can use tools like MOZ Keyword Explorer or SEMrush to discover each topic’s search volume. The search volume allows you to see how many searches are occurring each month for these phrases.
With these topics identified, you can start searching for keywords that fit under these umbrella topics. For example, looking at our ‘Digital marketing’ topic, we could list the following keywords: ‘digital marketing services’, ‘what is digital marketing’, ‘who needs digital marketing’, ‘digital marketing software’, and more. Basically, you’re wanting to replicate what your target marketing will be typing into a search engine when they conduct a search. Repeat this process for each of your topics.
It’s also good practice to use software like Google Analytics or HubSpot’s Traffic Analytics tool to review which keywords you’re already getting found with. Make sure to incorporate these into your keyword strategy going forward.
It’s important to remember that you, as an expert in your field, most likely use phrases or terms that a potential customer won't know or use when they are searching - or they may only use certain phrases. Because of this, it’s important to target the words prospects are likely to use, as well as different variations of the same words.
For example: Your prefabricated home company knows that it doesn’t build relocatable houses, but could someone in the early stages of research think they’re the same thing?
Also, think of negative keywords - words that could be used that mean completely the wrong thing and would deliver terrible leads to your business. Negative keywords, when used in Google Advertising, allow you to exclude specific words from your paid campaigns in order to stop your ad from appearing. If you’re selling a product or service, you may want to use ‘free’ as a negative keyword. This would mean people searching for a free version of your product would be excluded from the search since they’re not willing to pay for what you have to offer.
Create content targeting those keywords
One way to target keywords is to create blog content surrounding your chosen topics. A blog enables you to target keywords with ease while providing readers with valuable and in-depth information related to their search query. A blog that targets keywords will convey to search engines that you have an extensive knowledge of this subject which, in turn, will help your search ranking.
Blogs are important to supporting SEO but so too is your on-page content. It’s important to naturally disperse keywords throughout your entire website. This could be in your product or service descriptions, on your home page, or on the alt-text of your images. At every opportunity you can, you want to use your keywords. Just be careful not to over-do it, it needs to sound and feel natural to drop in a keyword - don’t force it.
Factor in keyword placement
Where you place your keywords is very important. Search algorithms (the things that crawl websites and decide whether to display them on a search results page) look at specific sections of a website page to quickly determine what the focus of the page is about.
Placing important keywords in the following places can increase your authority on that keyword:
- Page title
- Meta description
- H1 and H2 tags
- Alt text of images
But don't get greedy, try to only focus on 3 related keywords per page. This doesn’t mean you’re tied down to merely three specific words to repeat throughout an entire webpage. Search engines are smarter than you think and can understand synonyms and similar phrases. In fact, you actually should use keyword variations so that website visitors and search engines don’t feel like you’re spamming them with a certain keyword. Using synonyms can make keyword placement more subtle and feel more natural.
Website speed and mobile responsiveness
Outside of keywords, your website will also be ranked based on how quickly it loads. If your website has even a 1 second delay in load time, you will have 11% fewer page views, and a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction. So, how do you increase your site speed?
Choosing a performance-optimised hosting solution is a great first step. It’s often the more expensive option, but it will provide you with a quality website that’s designed for speed. Also, you can compress all of the images on your site. This means decreasing the file size of images - the smaller the file, the faster it will load. Compressing images is as easy as dragging and dropping the image into an application like TinyPNG.
While we’re talking about file size, an important one to consider is videos. Videos can be a great way to convey your company’s USPs as well as showcase client testimonials. However, videos are often very large file sizes and can be very slow to load. Get around this by using an external hosting site for your videos (such as Vidyard, YouTube, or Vimeo) and then embed them onto your website pages. Embedding videos saves space and results in faster load times.
Mobile responsiveness is another key contributor to search rankings. Google priortises mobile page speed as a core metric in determining search ranking. This means when Google is looking at your website, it will read your mobile site first. So if your site isn’t optimised for mobile, your rankings will be negatively impacted. Since Google searches contribute to 94% of all organic search traffic, you want to impress this influential search engine. That means opting for a mobile-first or responsive website design. You can easily figure out if your website is mobile-friendly or not with Google’s search console. Simply enter your website’s URL into the console and Google will let you know if your website meets its standard of mobile-friendliness.
With SEO, some of your success will come from trial and error. Do your best to start with, and then see what gets you better results over time. Once you see improvements, or declining performance, analyse what caused that and either replicate or troubleshoot accordingly.
Another thing to ensure is that you regularly research changing topics and trends. Google can suddenly announce that it's penalising websites because of something that used to be a recommendation. If you're responsible for your website's ranking make sure you stay ahead of the game.
Search engine optimisation isn't a fire and forget activity. Without constant refinement and development your competitors will overtake you and you'll slip down the rankings. For more detailed ways to improve your SEO download our free guide.
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