Google recently updated their advice on how to rank better in the search engines by saying:
“In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.”
The advice used to be:
“In general, wemasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.”
What does this mean? In a nutshell: If you want your site to rank well you should focus on improving your site rather than generating lots of inbound links.
10 Ways to Improve Your Google Rankings
Rand Fishkin, well-respected SEO specialist and founder of Moz, says you can achieve this through the following ways:
- Make the page more relevant
- Make the page higher quality
- Make the page more well-cited
- Make the page more accessible
- Make the page’s listing in the search results more compelling
- Make the site the page is hosting on more relevant
- Make the site the page is hosted on higher quality
- Make the site the page is hosted on more well-cited
- Make the site the page is hosted on more accessible
- Make the site the page is hosted on a more recognizable and compelling brand
This list isn’t the kind where you can pick-and-choose which one or ones you want to do.
You should view Rand’s suggestions as a checklist of what you must do to improve your SEO. The best advice is to go down the list and tick off each point. And then go back to the beginning and start again because a site optimization is never-ending work.
You Can Do This
Is your head spinning looking at this list?
Are you unsure of how to go about doing any of these things?
I’m here to help.
The first thing to do is realize that this list can be broken down into three major categories:
Page-specific work (numbers 1-5)
Site-wide work (numbers 6-9)
Branding work (number 10)
Breaking the list into categories can make the work seem much less intimidating to someone who isn’t strongly familiar with SEO.
That doesn’t mean the work is any easier though. SEO is a very technical form of marketing which means there is on-page and coding work that has to be completed for the best results.
If you do not have at least a basic working knowledge of HTML, it would be best for you to skip the rest of this post and give an SEO specialist a call.
Our number is 801-214-1531 (there’s my plug-of-the-month).
Everyone else, read on…
Page-Specific SEO Work
Rand suggests to improve a page’s rankings we should focus on making the page: more relevant, higher quality, well-cited, accessible and ensure the site-listings are compelling.
To make your page more relevant you should:
- Pick a keyword/phrase that you want to focus on for the page
- Optimize the URL structure to include that keyword/phrase
- Use that keyword in header tags when appropriate
- Use the keyword in the copy where appropriate
- Add images to your page and make sure they are named using your keyword
- Add alt tags to the images that use the keyword
- Ensure your meta title and description uses the keyword
To make your page higher quality you should:
- Avoid keyword stuffing aka “writing for search engines”
- Focus on writing high quality content that readers will find interesting, helpful, and engaging.
- Include helpful images, graphs, charts, etc. to interest readers. People are visual! Don’t forget that.
- Make sure the design of the page reflects your brand standards
- Avoid spammy words, phrases and other negative attributes. This is usually very obvious to the common reader.
To make your site well-cited you should:
- Attract organic inbound links through high quality content
- Reach out to the press and related industry blogs to mention your company. This could be through product reviews, mentions, guest posts, etc.
- Ask low quality, low PR sites to remove their links to your site (if there are any).
- If you’re a local business, you need your business to be listed in respected directories like Google+, Yelp! and TripAdvisor and many niche directories.
- Use social media sites to attract traffic/social signals to your page
To make your site more accessible you should:
- Ensure your website is accessible to people with disabilities
- Include ALT text on all of your images
- Make sure it is easy to get to the page through your website’s navigation
To make the site listing more compelling you should:
- Write a descriptive title using your keyword
- Write a helpful description that uses your keyword
- Make sure the description accurately reflects the information on the page
- Have a marketer/copywriter look over the description to see if it can be made more exciting while retaining clarity
Site-Wide SEO Work:
The second aspect to improving your site’s ranking in the search engines deals with site-wide SEO work.
According to Rand we should focus on much of the same things we focused on with pages by making the site: more relevant, higher quality, well-cited and accessible.
The way to do this is to go through your website and optimize it page by page using the tips above.
As always you should have a strong focus on:
- Writing high-quality content
- Including images and other things that make copy more appealing
- Never keyword stuffing a page
- Making each page relevant to the focused keyword
- Including alt text on images
- Adhering to all accessibility standards
- Writing compelling, clear meta titles and descriptions
- Ensuring navigation is easy to use
Basically, if you focus on very high-quality content and all usability standards and then promote that high quality content, you should see increased traffic and rankings.
The final tip Rand provides for increasing Google rankings is: make the site the page is hosted on a more recognizable and compelling brand.
In fact, branding touches all aspects of this checklist, but is most heavily focused on in this last tip.
The most important thing to remember here is that high-quality content matters but some people judge a book by its cover, which means design can be equally as important.
Make sure that your site is well-branded and doesn’t appear to be spammy. You can absolutely build trust through design and you should. High-quality websites prefer linking to sites that sound AND look credible.
Are you having any trouble with SEO?
Let us know in the comments below and we’d be happy to help!
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