SEO ‘Hacks’ Are Dead. We’ve Outlined The Right Way To Rank On Google
These are the SEO Basics You Need to Know To Rank Higher and Faster On Google
So you want to rank higher on Google?
You’ve seen what SEO can do for other websites and businesses. It’s one of the most popular marketing tactics today, particularly as more businesses and customers move online.
Maybe you know someone who’s killing it with SEO, and you want to know the secrets to their success.
Or perhaps you’ve tried a few tactics to rank higher on Google, but you can’t seem to get any traction.
Wherever you’re at with SEO, it can be tempting to look for shortcuts and ‘hacks’ to get your website to the top of Google.
We get it – when you’re wearing multiple hats as a business owner and constantly running to reach next quarter’s sales and marketing targets, why not shoot for the quicker wins?
The first thing you need to know about SEO is that it’s not something that can be done cheap, fast, or easily. Trust us when we say, you don’t want to work with anyone who tells you otherwise.
Trying to game the Google algorithm with outdated tactics like keyword stuffing will hurt, not help your ranking.
And just like any other part of your business, if you’re going to invest time and money in doing something, focus on doing it properly.
So, what’s the best way to improve your Google search ranking in 2022?
In this article, we’ll cover the fundamentals of SEO and our tried-and-true steps to start building up your website’s rankings on Google.
The basics of SEO: What it is and how to do it well if you want to rank higher and fast on Google
First and foremost, let’s define what SEO really means.
SEO is the organic process of improving your website’s visibility on Google.
This is achieved through a range of best practices and tactics to increase your rankings for certain keywords and phrases that your ideal customers are searching for on Google.
The key phrase here is organic. SEO isn’t something that can be “bought” (unless paid Google ads is what you’re after), and it can take anywhere from six months to a couple of years to see results.
SEO should, therefore, be considered a long-term investment that forms just one part of your business’ broader marketing strategy.
If it’s done alone with the expectation that it’ll drive overnight leads, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
However, if SEO is done properly and consistently from the start, the return on investment can be profound.
To create a sound SEO strategy that drives consistent website traffic and enquiries for your business, you also need to understand how Google’s search algorithm works.
For the uninitiated, the algorithm can seem like a mysterious black box that favours some businesses while booting others to the back pages of Google search results.
Despite what you may have heard, you don’t need a software engineering degree to understand how Google works and how to incorporate it into your marketing strategy.
Google’s algorithm is focussed on a very simple goal: to solve people’s problems by serving them the most useful and relevant information available online.
Put another way, it’s a tool that is designed to automatically sort the masses of online content that is uploaded everyday into an easy-to-navigate library.
So how does Google do this, exactly?
According to Backlinko, there are more than 200 factors that Google’s algorithm looks at when ranking a website.
While no one can definitively say which factors are the most important, the most significant areas of focus for SEO in 2022 are:
- Content relevance and quality. Creating content that matches your target audience’s search queries and intent and provides value (not keyword-stuffed filler for search engine bots) is key.
- User experience. You should make it as easy as possible for people to find information on your website.
This means creating a website that loads fast, is easy to navigate, and is accessible for people of different abilities and on various devices. If you’re in the rebuilding process, ask your website design company to create a plan for how users should flow through the website.
- Digital PR and link building. Simply publishing content isn’t enough.
You need to promote it to get the ball rolling with traffic, reshares, and backlinks to your content from other trusted sites (which can make your website also look like an authoritative source by association).
But, we hear you ask, “What if the algorithm changes? Will I lose the rankings I worked so hard for?”
As long as you stay focussed on offering the best experience possible for your users, the impact on your rankings will be little to none.
If you’ve invested in building up your site’s quality, trustworthiness, and accessibility, you won’t need to worry about chasing new short-term tactics to game the system.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive into the steps you can take to start optimising your site and improving your rankings.
Step 1: Review your website’s technical SEO
The first and most basic SEO task to complete is making sure your website is in good shape to be discovered, indexed, and ranked by Google.
To do a thorough review of what needs to be fixed, improved, or added to your site, here are a few website auditing tools and techniques we recommend:
Look your website up by typing “site:yourdomain.com” into the Google search bar.
This will show you how your site is currently being indexed, if any pages are missing, or if any content you’d rather have hidden is being displayed.
Check your Google Search Console for any errors and page experience insights.
Don’t have Google Analytics or Google Search Console set up for your site yet?
Read how to set them up here and here – both are crucial to tracking and analysing your website’s performance, rankings, and overall health.
Once these tools are up and running, login to Google Search Console and click on the sidebar.
You can check for indexing errors by going to Index > Coverage; get recommendations on how to improve your website’s mobile experience in Enhancements > Mobile Usability; or, if you haven’t yet, you can submit your website’s sitemap for indexing under Index > Sitemaps.
For small to medium-sized websites, it can take a few days to around two weeks for content to be indexed by Google.
Optimise your website for local SEO.
If you don’t have a Google My Business profile already, set one up now. This is essentially a free business listing that displays your business’ name, location, opening hours, contact information, and website.
Creating a profile makes it easier for local customers to find you on Google Search and Maps (and hopefully get in touch!)
If you’re about to begin the process of developing a new website internally or with a website design company, make sure you highlight any future plans as well as your current objectives. If the website is going to change in any shape or form, it could change the technical requirements and these should be considered at this stage of the process.
Step 2: Conduct keyword research.
Now that your website’s technical SEO has been sorted, it’s time to create your keyword strategy – which keywords you’ll want your business to rank for.
Identify topics that are relevant for your business and build lists of keywords for each.
Think about what products and services your business offers. What kind of topics do they relate to, and what keywords and queries would your ideal customers be typing into Google to learn more about them?
To speed up the research process, we recommend using some free, automated, data-backed keyword research tools like AnswerThePublic and UberSuggest.
These are great for generating content ideas, and display data about search volume (how many searches a keyword gets on average) and competition (how difficult it is to rank for a keyword).
Other tactics to find valuable keywords for your business is to check what keywords you and your top competitors are already ranking highly on.
Simply type in a domain UberSuggest’s ‘Domain Overview’ tool to get this data.
If you’re already ranking highly for certain keywords that make sense for your business – great! Jot them down and hone in on them.
If you spot other keywords your direct competitors rank highly for, this indicates that it’s also possible for you to rank for them as well and beat them, assuming you’d have a similar-sized SEO budget.
Filter your lists of keywords to find your top keywords.
To make the most of your SEO investment, you need to prioritise keywords that have the most potential for you to rank and generate business for you.
Most keyword research tools allow you to filter keywords by volume, competition, and Cost Per Click (if you plan to run paid campaigns targeting certain keywords), so you can filter keyword data before exporting it into a list.
Paid keyword research tools such as SEMRush can also automatically analyse the ‘intent’ of keywords for you – that is, whether the searcher is just looking for information to educate themselves, or if they’re ready to buy something.
You should also mix up your keyword strategy with some long-tail keywords, or keywords that are more specific and niche in nature.
While long-tail keywords may not attract nearly as much search volume as your priority keywords, they are easier to rank for and tend to attract prospects who are more likely to convert.
Our approach to finding the best keywords to rank for? We look for keywords that have high volume, low competition, and a medium-high buyer intent.
Step 3: Improve your on-page SEO.
‘On-page SEO’ is where we start optimising all the content on your web pages.
In addition to weaving keywords throughout content, you also need to check how easy to use and accessible your site is.
If people are getting lost in a cluttered website design and leaving after failing to find what they were looking for, your website won’t rank well due to poor usability and lack of engagement.
To truly succeed in SEO, you need to keep your customers front of mind: How can you provide them the most value through your content, while providing them the best experience possible on your website that will keep them coming back?
Let’s start by doing a quick user experience review:
Run your website through a speed testing tool.
Google’s PageSpeed Insights is another great tool for checking page speed and improvements.
Review your Google Analytics data.
If you’ve had Google Analytics set up for a while now, there may be enough data for you to have a poke around and see how users are behaving on your site.
See how long people spend on your site and whether they’re engaging with the content on key pages through Behavior > Site Content.
‘Bounce Rate’ shows what percentage of people leave your site without interacting with a specific page.
If your bounce rate looks high, this can be a sign that your website is taking too long to load, the content doesn’t capture their attention or speak to their needs, or other issues worth looking into.
Consider UX best practices in your web and content design.
Your website’s design doesn’t just influence your visitor’s decision-making and experience of your brand, it also impacts how Google ranks you in search results.
Make your pages easy to navigate and visually scan by adding clear, descriptive headings; breaking up text with bullet points, white space, or other types of content like visuals and videos that boost engagement; and placing clear CTAs throughout to up conversions.
Want more actionable UX design tips to improve your website experience? We made a list of 20 easy-to-implement UX design changes you can apply now to start moving the needle.
Optimise your web pages and content with keywords.
There are various sections in a web page where keywords should be placed for maximum impact.
These include the page’s Title Tag, Meta Description, Heading (or ‘H1’ element, as it’s called in the website’s backend code), Sub-Headings (H2s and H3s), CTA Buttons, Page URL, and body text.
Try to place keywords as close to the front of these sections as possible (known as ‘front-loading’ keywords) and make use of related keywords and synonyms, as it makes it easier for Google to scan your content and verify that it’s relevant to a search.
Install a SEO plugin to manage some of the on page updates
If your websites is based on a wordpress web design, you can implement plugins like Yoast or All in One SEO. These will allow you to make changes to the meta information and provide overall on page feedback so that updates are made easier.
Step 4: Create high quality content that aligns with your SEO goals and customer journey
We’ve finally arrived at the content creation process – exciting for some, dreaded by many, but it doesn’t have to be hard!
While it’s great to have a keyword-optimised site, you still need a mechanism to drive traffic to it.
More than half of today’s consumers do online research before making a purchase decision, so besides boosting your rankings, content helps to capture and convert more prospects at various stages of their buying journey.
By the time you’ve reached this step, your keyword plan should be chock-full of content ideas – but if you’re still stumped, try bringing it back to the customer.
Who are they, what are their goals, pain points, and questions that we can answer with our content?
With this in mind, here are our tips for creating content that ranks highly and converts more:
Focus on quality, not quantity.
Yes, you may have heard from innumerable marketing gurus how you should aim to produce x amount of content in a specific timeframe, but when it comes down to it, the aim should be on creating content that is:
> Unique, original, and valuable for your customer
> Easy to digest
> Builds trust in your brand
> Tied to your SEO and marketing strategies
Obviously, this takes time to create – so take it!
Sure, churning out seven sh*tty social media posts a week will make you look active online, but one good, quality article that continues to get shares and backlinks will drive much more traffic, rankings, and business for you over time.
So, what does a ‘quality’ piece of content actually look like and how does one create it?
We previously worked with a small business client to help expand their content and SEO strategy. As part of this project, we helped them put together this article that now generates over 6000 qualified visitors a year to their website.
As you may have guessed, great content focuses on what people want to read about, not what your business wants to say.
By zeroing in on the profile of the customer that our client wanted to talk to, our SEO team found that one of their top online searches is for the “best 4wd tracks in WA”.
So, we created content targeted to that high-traffic query to educate these customers and provide as much value as possible.
Not only does this single article generate thousands of visitors a year to their website, it continues to generate direct sales for their business today.
Optimise your content for conversions.
You’ve put all this effort in to bring in traffic, so don’t let them slip away without knowing what to do next!
Depending on what stage a prospect is at on their buying journey, your content should be optimised for a certain conversion, whether it’s grabbing an email address in exchange for a helpful eBook or submitting their details for a service quote.
Your content upgrades can form part of your conversion rate optimisation strategy and help support the overall returns of your marketing efforts. If you’re working with a CRO agency, have them review the content for opportunities to drive more conversions.
Step 5: Set up a Digital PR and link building campaign
Like we said before – posting content isn’t enough. The next step is promoting your content so that people can see it and start sharing and linking back to it.
That’s the crux of link building, which is a strategy for getting other trusted sites and people to link back to your website.
Remember, Google considers each link back to your site as another indication of how authoritative (and high up in rankings) your website should be.
A common way to build links is to ‘pitch’ your content to big-time journalists, bloggers, and owners of trusted websites and ask them to drop a link to your website.
The SEO team at Invicta curates research about the audiences and their motivators. They’ll then create content that serves this need to go out and pitch to websites that would want to host it. If you want to rank faster on Google, you will need to focus your attention on genuine PR building activities.
Another easy way to build links is to internally link to your own content throughout your website.
Say you’re writing an article this month about the ‘home building process’ – why not link back to a previously-posted and helpful article you wrote about ‘questions to ask home builders’?
Step 6: Track your search rankings and improve.
Now that your SEO-Content machine is nicely chugging along, you need to start collecting data on how it’s all tracking so that you can clearly see what’s working and what needs improvement.
For example, did you know that Google rewards ‘fresh’ content more?
If you look back at your existing and top performing content, you can boost their traffic and rankings even more by updating outdated statistics and expanding sections with more helpful information.
Besides Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and all the other keyword research tools we mentioned previously, there are a whole range of premium and custom tools you can use to monitor your SEO performance.
As you track your progression, you’ll discover new content topic and audience types that you can build on. This will give you fresh direction to continue expanding your strategy and compound your way to search traffic success.
Do remember, though, that it takes time for results to start showing, just as it takes time for new or updated content and pages to be crawled, indexed, and ranked again by Google.
Can you pay Google to rank higher?
The short answer. No.
Earning a position in the search engine results pages (SERPs) is a process of doing exactly that – earning it.
However, in our experience across the large group of websites we’ve ranked for Invicta clients, a higher traffic website has a greater likelihood of ranking in a shorter period of time.
So although, and we say this very strictly, paying for Google Ads will not drive higher SEO rankings, there is a possibility that large budget advertisers have an edge in having their websites crawled faster and content ranked quicker than may be possible by the smaller counterparts.
If you’re wondering how to get your website higher on Google, in a shorter period of time, there may be a number of ways to do this:
- A Google Ads strategy can be combined with a well designed SEO campaign to accelerate the results generated by leveraging long tail phrase placements and the optimising for behaviours through the larger traffic volume.
- You could engage paid PR and media placement opportunities to promote newsworthy facts about your business and this contribute to building your domain authority at faster speeds.
- Maximise the content quality and volume to overcome the challenge of trying to rank a lower authority website.
Choosing an SEO agency partner to maintain rankings
If this is your first foray into the world of digital marketing, we get how overwhelming this whole SEO thing is.
In between your day-to-day job and the noise of the online marketing world, it can be hard to find the time and required expertise to properly execute an SEO strategy.
Whether you’re just starting to build up your website’s presence, or you’re looking to take your current rankings to the next level, our SEO agency can help you create a bespoke, holistic strategy for your business.
If you’d like to book in a consultation with our team, get in touch with us today.