Content. If you're wondering how to improve the Google ranking of your website, it's your content you need to be looking at first of all.
Okay, I admit saying it is easier than doing it. Because you might have a whole lot of content on your website already. But:
Your content really is your foundation for everything else you want your website to do for you.
Do you use all the right keywords in all the right places? Do you write for your reader – not just for search engines? Are your alt-tags, metadata and links up to snuff?
Let's find out.
First of all though, a major disclaimer and warning:
Increasing your Google ranking will not happen instantly
You will not immediately see massive changes in the amount of organic traffic your website is generating. You will not suddenly be flying high in the top three Search Engine Results Page spots.
Any content writing agency which promises an “instant” fix is probably not being truthful with you.
That's just the way the Internet and search engines (currently) work.
That said, there are plenty of fairly simple things you can do to increase your SEO ranking for free.
First of all, let's start with something really basic:
What is web content?
“Content” simply refers to all of the words on your website. Well, you also have video content, visual content, audio content and so on. But for the purposes of this article, we're talking about all the words on:
Your home page and service pages
Landing pages for your advertising
Your blog and in all your blog posts
You need to make sure that all of those words in all of those places are good ones. I mean, I suppose “good” is in the eye of the beholder. Or, more accurately, in the eye of Google.
But for both our and Google's purposes:
1) Make sure your content is relevant (to your human audience)
Who are you writing this blog post for? Who are the words on the pages of your website for?
Google and other search engines, sure. But who is actually going to read them?
You are aiming at an audience of some subset of humans somewhere. Preferably, ones who may eventually want to buy goods and/or services from you.
For instance, this article is roughly aimed at “people who want their website to get them more customers and need to know how to get a better Google ranking to do it”. It aims to give them (by which I mean you) some basic knowledge as to how to go about doing this.
Always, always write for the human eye.
If you already know this, well done.
But you might be surprised how easy it is to get this vital fact lost amongst the trees when you're trying to remember all of the other things you need to do with your content to get a better SEO ranking.
2) Show Google how relevant your content is (with SEO)
Okay, you've made sure that your content is pleasant to read, that it gives your visitors the information they want and maybe guides them into the decision to buy from you.
It's no good, however, having the most perfect, gently customer-focused yet persuasive content in the world if no-one ever gets to see it.
I saw some truly horrifying statistics the other day. They claimed that:
There are over 1.5 billion websites online
Somewhere in the region of 90% of them will never be visited
That's quite some field we're playing in here! Don't get disheartened though.
There are plenty of things you can do to wave your flag in the direction of any search engines which might be listening:
Choose your keywords well and use them wisely: do some simple keyword research and see what people are searching for when it comes to businesses like yours. Don't forget to learn what long-tail keywords are and use them in your copy. You should also teach yourself what semantic keywords are and add them in all the right places.
Write copy that's the “correct” length: there isn't one perfect word count for a page or article, though you can take steps to work out what your ideal blog post length is. In general, there's plenty of research which shows that at the moment, broadly speaking, longer is better for most SEO purposes.
You can also link to your content with social media and paid advertising methods like Google Ads and Bing Ads.
Yet it's smart SEO practices which will stand you in the best stead over time. Plus, they cost you a whole lot less than giving a search engine actual cash every single time someone clicks on the link to your page, regardless of whether they actually buy from you or not.
3) Write more content (and release it regularly)
Given that longer content is often better, you won't be shocked to discover that more content is better as far as your SEO ranking is concerned.
Regularly releasing content is vital if you want to work out how to get a better Google ranking. It's the reason why blog and content writing services are so popular. Not every business owner can spend a solid portion of one day every week writing a blog post.
How often you should blog is a topic which could take up an entire blog post in itself (and, look, it did!). But you probably won't be going too far wrong if you aim for once per week.
Your relevancy (i.e. how likely it is that your Google ranking will be high for any given search) is in large part based on how regularly updated your content is.
Or whether, in Google's eyes, your website is a dead fish.
4) Check the content of your metadata, links and alt-tags
Hold your horses there, technical jargon-boy! Things got serious of all a sudden.
From “what is content” to metadata and alt-tags in the space of a thousand words. Honestly, you can't get the staff...
These three content-related jobs sound like they could be hugely complicated. Spoilers:
They're not, really. Below are the basics of what you need to do.
Lots of the same lessons of writing for your reader and using smart keywords which we talked about above also apply to your metadata. You should check the following bits of metadata on each of your pages for relevancy:
Meta titles: these are your tab titles and also the title in blue in your Google search result.
Meta descriptions: they're the words written in grey in your search result. When Google deigns to use them, that is. Sometimes it will make up its own. Just in case, having persuasive ones which encourage people to click on your link is really important.
When was the last time you checked whether all of your links worked the way which they're supposed to?
That's only mildly relevant from a Google search result perspective. But I do find broken links super annoying. Just like lots of typos. Grrrr typos.
But anyway! As well as checking that your links work, you should also make sure that they are themselves either the same as the keywords you used in the target page, or something like them. How else will your reader and any search engine know what that link leads to?
Check back through this article, spot the links and – hopefully – you should have some clue as to what you'll get by clicking on them even before you do. Highlighting “click here”, for instance, has no value if you're trying to rank higher on Google.
Alt is short for “alternative”, as in the alternative textual descriptions of your visual media. Got a video or an image there?
Make sure you've added a textual alt-tag which explains what it is.
5) Remember - it's mobile first now (and speed counts)
Google now prioritises mobile-friendly websites before others. Why?
Well, if you check your Google Analytics, you'll probably see that a huge percentage of the people who visited your site recently used a mobile device to do so.
The first and simplest thing you need to do to deal with this is make sure that users can quickly succeed in doing what they set out to do when they first entered your website.
Because on a mobile, people don't have even the patience levels they do on a laptop or desktop.
You should also check your loading times. Images and video content can slow this down.
Google now uses your loading speed as a ranking factor too.
6) Check your content (and check it again)
Google's requirements aren't stagnant. One of their founders recently said that they “change something every day.”
Making life fun for business owners around the world.
On top of this (and more pleasantly), whether you're a professional freelance content writer and you enjoy it – or you only write your one blog post per week because, gosh darn it, you know you have to – you're going to get better over time.
I sometimes have a writing style revelation and then instantly hate any examples of my work from as little as an hour ago. Picture that plus winding back the clock to when you first clicked your website live...
Ooof. The humanity! You'll probably want to be sitting down for that one.
Regularly checking and reading your current content has a key part to play in your overall content quality and hygiene.
How to improve your Google ranking for free (but maybe not easy)
There's one really important thing to grasp when it comes to how to rank higher on Google in 2019 and, most likely, on into the future:
You're playing the long game.
That's not to say that now isn't a good time to get started. Your content can help your site stand out from the crowd. It can attract new customers and new site visitors. It can persuade them to buy from you too. All you need to do is give it a little TLC.
Struggling with how to improve your Google ranking? Ask a question below and I'll answer!