Today’s blog post will be outlining the 12 most crucial elements you’ll need to consider to creating a lasting conversation with Google. You’ll want to apply these 12 tips to your site to rank higher up on Google, increase organic site traffic, and create authoritative, profitable content for your website to keep your visitors coming back.
Getting your website to the top of Google may seem like a daunting task.
Especially for small business owners or solopreneurs who need SEO help improving their website, but are simply not convinced to spend your hard-earned cash on a single marketing campaign. (Not at this time, anyway!)
Then, there’s your competition to worry about:
Everybody seems to be getting more done, posting more ads and making more sales while you’re secretly struggling to learn what “SEO” can really do for your business.
Money makes the world go round:
Not to mention, the corporate world’s got the capital to jazz up their websites and have premium agencies take care of all the grunt work for them. Boutique agencies are constantly badgering you about how they will provide you services “like no other”. Ugh!
The truth is, it doesn’t matter what industry you may be in.
Whether you’re an e-commerce online shop owner, a social media influencer, blogger, or an offline small business owner – you need to increase your site traffic. I mean, our ultimate goal here is to gain more traction to your site and generate new leads, right?
Searches on Google account for 79% of all search traffic worldwide. 95% of people only look at the first page of search results, and half of all of the clicks on that page are on the top three links. That’s a whole lot of traffic for those top three links.
First, I’d like to clear up some of the most common misconceptions about search engine ranking.
What is Search Engine Optimization and why do I keep hearing about it?
Put simply: SEO is what you do to your website to rank higher up on search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo search in order to generate organic visits to your website.
Oftentimes I've heard the following from small business owner friends and associates:
I don’t need to hire an SEO marketing specialist because I’m already the first Google search result for [my business’ name]”.
More traffic = more business. If your goal is to reach an engaging audience to generate new leads, you’ll have to reach an audience beyond the ones who are already searching for your business’ name into the search engines.
This is why your site traffic would plateau within the confinements of your immediate realm of clientele!
Despite not wanting to spend too much (or perhaps any) amount of money on digital marketing, you need to know best ways to rank higher on Google to get noticed. It really, really pays to know how to optimize Google correctly to be able to direct traffic to your site.
So, without further ado…
1. Choosing the Right Keywords to Peak Google’s Interest
Keywords are the terms that your prospective site visitors type into Google when they’re searching for something. If the site has the keyword and lots of other relevant keywords, the site ranks higher on Google.
Don’t be coy when it comes to keywords. It can be challenging to learn how to research and use keywords effectively, but it’s the lifeline of SEO.
As you can probably guess, the more keyword-rich your site, the more appealing it is to Google.
How to optimize keywords on your site
You need to learn about your target audience and the topics they are interested in. Find out their relevant keywords. Find out how much money these keywords make per click (this demonstrates the quality of the keyword). Finally, you need to look for how searched these terms are (the search volume) and any relevant trends.
For more details on these steps, check out Brian Dean’s Advanced Keyword Research Tutorial.
As well as using the techniques outlined in the video, there is a really handy tool available to help you find keywords to increase your traffic.
Google will penalize you for keyword stuffing.
Although you may create super valuable content for your audience, Google can still get mad at you for breaking the rules.
For instance, this could occur from hiring an inexperienced SEO content writer onto your team, who (outdated-ly) believes that “SEO” means a redundant repetition of keywords. This is called keyword stuffing.
Why do people make this mistake? It’s oftentimes in attempt to meet their client’s word count, yet accompanied by a lack of SEO knowledge, fails and gets marked up by Google for an irrelevant keyword penalty:
…the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Often these keywords appear in a list or group, or out of context (not as natural prose).
GOOGLE, “IRRELEVANT KEYWORDS”
Oftentimes, site owners appeal to their strikes, claiming whatever rule they broke was simply not by intent.
However, this is also why I’d recommend hiring for a writer whose research process includes all the ‘behind the scenes’ skills and ethics to help your site to succeed. To help you and your business stay on track, you’ll want somebody credible and reliable, who is up to date on all the trending news and policy updates on Google and its algorithms.
PRO TIP: Discover your keywords using this free keyword research tool
Keywords Everywhere is an extension for Chrome and Firefox which when you search in Google, will provide you with lists of related keywords and other common keywords.
This tool will tell you the cost per click (CPC), how competitive the word is, and the search volume. Search volume is less important than you might think (although you obviously want terms that people are searching for).
The optimal recipe for good keyword optimization is: a mix of low, medium and high competition keywords and high CPC.
2. Best way to Avoid Google Telling You: “You Are the Weakest Link”
Google loves pages with links. But you have to do it right. Don’t go crazy with adding links. Just like seasoning, it’s about the right amount. Link back to other pages on your site. (This has the added bonus of helping your less popular content too).
It’s also important to use keywords in your URLS, including inbound and internal links. For more info on how to do this, check out this useful post from Search Engine Journal:
Also, include links to authority sites, such as Forbes for instance. This makes your site more legit in the eyes of Google, pushing you higher up the page rankings.
3. Everybody Seems to be a “Content Creator” These Days
What type of content are you creating?
I want to argue that anyone who creates content online is a publisher. You’re a publisher because you’re publishing content. Sure, you’re a ‘content creator’ because you’re publishing creative content, but the term itself is so vague that almost nothing irks me more than to see “content creators” promoting filler substance over and over again.
By the same token, it annoys me to see quality content getting swept under the rug simply because the general population gets so overwhelmed by all of the content creators marketing filler content, they succumb to it!
But it’s not your fault. (Nor is it your audience’s.)
“Content creators” are a dime a dozen these days, but the world wide web does run on a first-come, first-served basis. Instant gratification is, well, gratifying. Information gets recycled but it is true that it’s a dog eat dog world on the web.
Hence, you’ll have to ask (and answer) yourself, honestly: are you creating content that is actually valuable to your audience, or are you pushing out content because that’s what you see your competitors doing? Your online business is your platform and yours only. Own it.Don’t be afraid to spend time actually strategizing for results to the content you publish online. Authenticity always wins.
“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.”
How to Evaluate Whether Your Content is Profitable
How do you know if it’s worthwhile to your desired audience? How do you increase the profit of the content you are creating?
If you want to inject true value into your content, I challenge you to write a 2,500 word essay on the type of work you are publishing online. (If you can’t write a 2,500 word article explicating the causes and cures of your content, as well as the value it provides to the general masses, I could.)
But honestly, if you’re constantly pushing out content that anybody else could just do a quick Google search on, they’ll probably find an article that’s way more well-written because that publication has spent time or money on the material they are putting out on the web!
PRO TIP: Pepper your content with some interesting and relevant images
Variety is the spice of life. And that goes for your content too. Users enjoy images which accompany text. And if the users like it, Google likes it. (And make sure you tag them with relevant keywords and keyword alternatives.)
Google also loves other types of content, such as embedded YouTube videos and mp3 files. Include these on your page.
PRO TIP: If you ever reference or make use of someone else’s content:
Make sure you cite the original copyright owner. Incorporate external links to where the author may be found and maybe send a message to let them know where they can see their work displayed on your web content.
4. Slow & Steady wins the race? Not when it comes to your site’s page load time.
Keep your page load time to a minimum. Like, as low as feasible.
Google will appreciate it.
One of the measures that Google uses to decide where to rank your site is how long users spend on your pages. The full duration that Google Analytics (and the juicy content you really want to get out of Analytics here) is called your bounce rate %.
This is dictated by the user’s total duration of time spent on your site; the full experience. Analytics begins to log the user’s activity on your website from the moment they enter through your landing page and until they click off to exit your website.
The Rocket Blog explains it better than anyone else can (according to Google, anyway, since they’re the top search result):
As a rule of thumb, a bounce rate in the range of 26 to 40 percent is excellent. 41 to 55 percent is roughly average. 56 to 70 percent is higher than average, but may not be cause for alarm depending on the website. Anything over 70 percent is disappointing for everything outside of blogs, news, events, etc.
If your page takes too long to load, users get impatient and leave the site. Not only does Google not want this, you don’t either!
PRO TIP: Want to know how to make your web pages load faster?
If you’re using WordPress, check out this handy guide from elephate.com on how to decrease page speed online:
For a more in-depth look, and for non-WordPress sites, check out this guide from crazyegg.com on increasing your page loading speed:
5. Don’t just splash on cute filters to make a pretty Instagram feed.
Own your tribe.
Literally anybody can curate an artistic Insta-feed through presets and pretty filters.
You have to establish yourself or your business as an authoritative avenue through your social media presence.
Common misconception: having a high following count on social media makes you powerful. It’s NOT enough.
Indeed, you’ve got a wide range of audience going on. But what are they doing for you, besides consuming the content you create? Turn those consumers into customers.
How will you convert them into interactive members of your tribe that will become customers for your business?
Content that performs better on social media will indirectly affect Google rankings as it will increase the backlinks to your site from elsewhere on the web. Google loves those backlinks.
PRO TIP: Add social media buttons onto your site so that your readers can easily share your content.
6. Incorporate keywords into your header and meta tags.
Your header tags are your website and pages’ titles and subtitles. Namely, the largest text that stands out on the page. Your meta description is the short summary you see under your website headline title. For example:
Search engines show the meta description in search results mostly when the searched-for phrase is within the description, so optimizing the meta description is crucial for on-page SEO.
Make them interesting to keep your readers interested. And strategically including keywords in them will keep Google interested too.
7. Ain’t nobody got time to get trolled by your broken links.
Like I said, links can help improve your rating. However, if your links are broken, that’s annoying as f for your users. Nobody likes to click and go nowhere.
Surprise, surprise – broken links get the thumbs down from Google.
PRO TIP: You can check the status of your links using the tool Screaming Frog.
This tool does a bunch of other cool SEO stuff, such as checking your page for duplicate content (Google doesn’t like to be told twice).
8. Don’t go overkill on SEO at the expense of user experience.
You can use every trick in the SEO book to get more traffic to your site. But if your site doesn’t provide enough value to your users, this will be detrimental in the long-term. Remember why you want to increase traffic to your site.
You might get a load of visitors to your site, but if your site is annoying or lacks value, they won’t come back. Longevity is the key here.
9. If you don’t have time to do SEO yourself, hire an SEO specialist.
If you have the capital, another thing that you can do is hire an SEO specialist.
This can come at all different prices, so if you want to learn more about hiring an SEM guru who actually knows what they’re doing, check out my article: How Much Should I Pay for Professional SEO Services and Web Content Writing.
10. Size may not matter, but length certainly does.
Research shows that longer content tends to perform better. It makes sense, because people will stay on your page longer to read the content.
I’m talking about long form blog posts and comprehensive pages that tell your users exactly who you are, what you do and most importantly, how you will bring value to your reader.
Just make sure that your content is valuable and formatted in a way that’s easy to read. You don’t want to put your users off with a giant stream of never-ending text.
PRO TIP: Your readers will be happy to read long content as long as they feel that they are reading lots of small chunks.
11. Make sure your content is top-notch: All killer, no filler!
I know, I know – take a shot every time you hear the words “killer content” in digital marketing, amiright?
When it comes to your web content, it’s important that you’re actually providing quality and value to your user.
Google doesn’t know whether your content is actually good or not, but users do. Analytics captures your user activity. So in essence, Google will find out, and you will be rewarded for the good that you do provide for your audience.
If your content doesn’t provide them with value, they aren’t going to hang around. (Even if it’s all glitz & glammed up. Sorry.)
And as we know, Google wants your users to hang around.
12. Find the Fun in Formatting
Readability is one of the most important things when it comes to creating valuable web content. No one likes to go on a website only to find that it is messy and disorganized.
Show your users you actually care about the presentation of your website.
Make sure your font and colors make the page easy to read.
PRO TIP: Create smaller paragraphs by breaking up chunks of text with line breaks.
Don’t patronize your reader but use short sentences in straightforward English. People like to be able to read online content quickly and easily.
If it’s easy to read, your users are going to stick around. (OK, Google loves this, we get it).
Speaking of content – let me do some Google whispering for yours
If all of this seems overwhelming to you, that’s because it is.
But it’s understandable! As a start-up or small business owner, you’re most anxious about overspending because you’re not sure what the return on your marketing expenses will be. No one can guarantee your site’s maximized potential because the combinations of possibilities on the web are literally endless.
However, I do know that budget can be tight and time is of the essence.
I get it, because these will be some of your biggest concerns as a business owner no matter how long your business has been running. But if your business has just launched, or is about to – the one thing I can guarantee you is that you have enough on your plate to worry about. You need all the hours you can in a day to take care of the more important things.
So, let me take some of the weight off your shoulders by taking care of the most important thing: creating SEO rich content that is going to help you increase the traffic to your site.