Why ranking is so important
At the end of the day, your website is likely working well when it generates great leads for your sales team. But the question that you may be wondering next is probably, “Does it matter where those leads to the site come from, like PPC, organic, social, paid social, direct traffic, or email?”
If we’re talking the most cost-effective and efficient way to bring in new leads, organic search holds the most promise.
Organic search allows you to be seen by people who don’t know you exist yet but are looking for the solution or service you offer – and it doesn’t require an ad budget to do so! The determinant of whether organic search will work for you comes down to ranking well on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Let’s dive into some of the main factors at play for why you might not be on the first page of Google already — and explain what you can do to get there.
How to Get Your Website To Ranked Up on Google?
You want your website to rank on the first page (which typically has 10 website listings). Depending on your business, you will need to employ search engine optimization and SEO strategies to improve your ranking.
1. Help Google find your content
The first step to getting your site on Google is to be sure that Google can find it. The best way to do that is to submit a sitemap.
A sitemap is a file where you provide information about the pages, videos, and other files on your site, and the relationships between them. Search engines like Google read this file to more intelligently crawl your site. A sitemap tells Google which pages and files you think are important in your site, and also provides valuable information about these files: for example, for pages, when the page was last updated, how often the page is changed, and any alternate language versions of a page.
- A sitemap video entry can specify the video running time, category, and age-appropriateness rating.
- A sitemap image entry can include the image subject matter, type, and license.
Google also finds pages through links from other pages. Promote your site and encourage people to discover your site.
If you are using Wordpress and wondering what an XML sitemap actually looks like? Here’s what our WordPress sitemap looks like.
To create an XML sitemap with Yoast SEO plugin, you don’t actually need to do anything beyond installing and activating the plugin. By default, Yoast SEO creates a sitemap at:
Google Search Console
It is also very important to know about Google Search Console. It is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site's presence in Google Search results. You don't have to sign up for Search Console to be included in Google Search results, but Search Console helps you understand and improve how Google sees your site.
Once sitemap is created, make sure to submit the same in Google Search Console. If your site’s pages are properly linked, Google can usually discover most of your site. Even so, a sitemap can improve the crawling of larger or more complex sites, or more specialized files. Learn more about how to build and submit a sitemap.
2. Tell Google which pages shouldn't be crawled
For non-sensitive information, block unwanted crawling by using robots.txt
robots.txt file tells search engines whether they can access and therefore crawl parts of your site. This file, which must be named "robots.txt", is placed in the root directory of your site. It is possible that pages blocked by robots.txt can still be crawled, so for sensitive pages you should use a more secure method.
Sample robots.txt on Wordpress site would read like below:
User-Agent: * Allow: /wp-content/uploads/ Disallow: /wp-content/plugins/ Disallow: /wp-admin/ Disallow: /readme.html Disallow: /refer/
For more information on robots.txt, we suggest our readers to go through this Webmaster Help Center guide on using robots.txt files.
If you are using Wordpress, install plugins Yoast SEO. Upon installation you can create (and later edit) your robots.txt file right from Yoast’s interface. Before you can access it, though, you need to enable Yoast SEO’s advanced features by going to SEO → Tools and click on File editor
And once you click that button, you’ll be able to edit the contents of your
robots.txt file directly from the same interface:
Once you are ready with your robots.txt file:
For sensitive information, use more secure methods
Robots.txt is not an appropriate or effective way of blocking sensitive or confidential material. It only instructs well-behaved crawlers that the pages are not for them, but it does not prevent your server from delivering those pages to a browser that requests them.
Tip: Don't let your internal search result pages be crawled by Google. Users dislike clicking a search engine result only to land on another search result page on your site.
3. Improve your website speed
Google has indicated site speed (and as a result, page speed) is one of the signals used by its algorithm to rank pages. And research has shown that Google might be specifically measuring time to first byte as when it considers page speed. In addition, a slow page speed means that search engines can crawl fewer pages using their allocated crawl budget, and this could negatively affect your indexation.
Page speed is very important to user experience. Pages with a longer load time tend to have higher bounce rates and lower average time on page. Longer load times have also been shown to negatively affect conversions.
Use Google PageSpeed Insights and test your website's Page Speed. PageSpeed Insights (PSI) reports on the performance of a page on both mobile and desktop devices, and provides suggestions on how that page may be improved.
Once you receive the test results from Google PSI, perform the following actions:
- Compress images and text
- Streamline page content by making sure they are relevant
- Audit the plug-ins on your site and get rid of unused ones
- Evaluate your website host
4. Find keywords that aren’t overly competitive
We suggest you use Google’s free Keyword Planner to figure this out.
This keyword research tool lets you gauge the popularity of particular search terms, as well as the level of competition you face by using them.
Highly competitive keywords can have tens of thousands of websites fighting over them, so you are less likely to wind up on page one of Google if you pick these.
You can use Keyword Planner to accomplish the following tasks:
- Research keywords.
- Get historical statistics and traffic forecasts
It's important to keep in mind that while Keyword Planner can provide some great keyword ideas and traffic forecasts, campaign performance depends on a variety of factors. For example, your bid, budget, product, and customer behavior in your industry can all influence the success of your campaigns.
Tip: As you use Keyword Planner, remember to keep our tips for building the best keyword list in mind.
5. Make your site mobile-friendly
The world is mobile today. Most people are searching on Google using a mobile device. The desktop version of a site might be difficult to view and use on a mobile device. As a result, having a mobile ready site is critical to your online presence.
Google has announced that starting from July 1, 2019 mobile-first indexing will be enabled by default for all new, previously unknown to Google Search, websites. This means if your site is mobile friendly it has priority over desktop site version of your site.
You can continue to check for mobile-first indexing of your website by using the URL Inspection Tool in Search Console. By looking at a URL on your website there, you'll quickly see how it was last crawled and indexed.
If you are using Wordpress, chose a theme that supports mobile and tablet along with desktop. Select Theme -> Customize and at the bottom left you would see the icons as shown below:
Understand the difference between devices
- Smartphone - In this document, "mobile" or “mobile devices" refers to smartphones, such as devices running Android, iPhone, or Windows Phone. Mobile browsers are similar to desktop browsers in that they can render a broad set of the HTML5 specification, although their screen size is smaller and in almost all cases their default orientation is vertical.
- Tablet - Google consider tablets as devices in their own class, so when we speak of mobile devices, we generally do not include tablets in the definition. Tablets tend to have larger screens, which means that, unless you offer tablet-optimized content, you can assume that users expect to see your site as it would look on a desktop browser rather than on a smartphone browser.
- Feature phones - On these phones, browsers lack the capability to render normal desktop web pages coded using standard HTML. This includes browsers that render only cHTML (iMode), WML, XHTML-MP, etc.
Google's recommendations are geared toward smartphones, but Google also encourage multimedia and feature phones site owners to follow the same advice where they feel appropriate.
6. Help Google (and users) understand your content
When Googlebot crawls a page, it should see the page the same way an average user does. Some of the best practices and suggestions about contents:
Accurately describe the page's content
Choose a title that reads naturally and effectively communicates the topic of the page's content. The title for your homepage can list the name of your website/business and could include other bits of important information like the physical location of the business or maybe a few of its main focuses or offerings.
- Choosing a title that has no relation to the content on the page.
- Using default or vague titles like "Untitled" or "New Page 1".
Create unique titles for each page
Each page on your site should ideally have a unique title, which helps Google know how the page is distinct from the others on your site.
- Using a single title across all of your site's pages or a large group of pages.
Use brief, but descriptive titles
Titles can be both short and informative. If the title is too long or otherwise deemed less relevant, Google may show only a portion of it or one that's automatically generated in the search result. Google may also show different titles depending on the user's query or device used for searching.
- Using extremely lengthy titles that are unhelpful to users.
- Stuffing unneeded keywords in your title tags.
Use heading tags to emphasize important text
Since heading tags typically make text contained in them larger than normal text on the page, this is a visual cue to users that this text is important and could help them understand something about the type of content underneath the heading text. Multiple heading sizes used in order create a hierarchical structure for your content, making it easier for users to navigate through your blog.
Imagine you're writing an outline
Similar to writing an outline for a large paper, put some thought into what the main points and sub-points of the content on the page will be and decide where to use heading tags appropriately.
- Placing text in heading tags that wouldn't be helpful in defining the structure of the page.
- Erratically moving from one heading tag size to another.
Use headings sparingly across the page
Use heading tags where it makes sense. Too many heading tags on a page can make it hard for users to scan the content and determine where one topic ends and another begins.
- Excessive use of heading tags on a page.
- Very long headings.
- Using heading tags only for styling text and not presenting structure.
7. Optimize your content
Make your site interesting and useful
Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed here. Users know good content when they see it and will likely want to direct other users to it. This could be through blog posts, social media services, email, forums, or other means.
Organic or word-of-mouth buzz is what helps build your site's reputation with both users and Google, and it rarely comes without quality content.
Consider creating a new, useful service that no other site offers. You could also write an original piece of research, break an exciting news story, or leverage your unique user base. Other sites may lack the resources or expertise to do these things.
Write easy-to-read text
Users enjoy content that is well written and easy to follow.
- Writing sloppy text with many spelling and grammatical mistakes.
- Awkward or poorly written content.
- Embedding text in images and videos for textual content: users may want to copy and paste the text and search engines can't read it.
Organize your topics clearly
It's always beneficial to organize your content so that visitors have a good sense of where one content topic begins and another ends. Breaking your content up into logical chunks or divisions helps users find the content they want faster.
- Dumping large amounts of text on varying topics onto a page without paragraph, subheading, or layout separation.
Create fresh, unique content
New content will not only keep your existing visitor base coming back, but also bring in new visitors.
- Rehashing (or even copying) existing content that will bring little extra value to users.
- Having duplicate or near-duplicate versions of your content across your site.
Optimize content for your users, not search engines
Designing your site around your visitors' needs while making sure your site is easily accessible to search engines usually produces positive results.
- Inserting numerous unnecessary keywords aimed at search engines but are annoying or nonsensical to users.
- Having blocks of text like "frequent misspellings used to reach this page" that add little value for users.
- Deceptively hiding text from users, but displaying it to search engines.
Avoid distracting advertisements
Google expects advertisements to be visible. However, you should not let the advertisements distract users or prevent them from consuming the site content. For example, advertisements, supplement contents, or interstitial pages (pages displayed before or after the content you are expecting) that make it difficult to use the website. Learn more about this topic.
- Putting distracting advertisements on your pages.
Write good link text
Link text is the visible text inside a link. This text tells users and Google something about the page you're linking to. Links on your page may be internal—pointing to other pages on your site—or external—leading to content on other sites. In either of these cases, the better your anchor text is, the easier it is for users to navigate and for Google to understand what the page you're linking to is about.
Choose descriptive text
The anchor text you use for a link should provide at least a basic idea of what the page linked to is about.
- Writing generic anchor text like "page", "article", or "click here".
- Using text that is off-topic or has no relation to the content of the page linked to.
- Using the page's URL as the anchor text in most cases, although there are certainly legitimate uses of this, such as promoting or referencing a new website's address.
Write concise text
Aim for short but descriptive text-usually a few words or a short phrase.
- Writing long anchor text, such as a lengthy sentence or short paragraph of text.
Format links so they're easy to spot
Make it easy for users to distinguish between regular text and the anchor text of your links. Your content becomes less useful if users miss the links or accidentally click them.
Think about anchor text for internal links too
You may usually think about linking in terms of pointing to outside websites, but paying more attention to the anchor text used for internal links can help users and Google navigate your site better.
- Using excessively keyword-filled or lengthy anchor text just for search engines.
- Creating unnecessary links that don’t help with the user’s navigation of the site.
8. Promote your website
While most of the links to your site will be added gradually, as people discover your content through search or other ways and link to it, Google understands that you'd like to let others know about the hard work you've put into your content. Effectively promoting your new content will lead to faster discovery by those who are interested in the same subject.
A blog post on your own site letting your visitor base know that you added something new is a great way to get the word out about new content or services. Other webmasters who follow your site or RSS feed could pick the story up as well.
Putting effort into the offline promotion of your company or site can also be rewarding. For example, if you have a business site, make sure its URL is listed on your business cards, letterhead, posters, etc. You could also send out recurring newsletters to clients through the mail letting them know about new content on the company's website.
Use Social Media to Promote Your Blog
In the fast-paced social media age, you would better tap on the tremendous opportunity and wide audience available to promote your blog site.
- Get on Twitter. Start following my like minded people on Twitter. And if it’s not already on your blog, add the “tweet” button to all of your blog posts.
- Start a Facebook page for your blog. This is a great, additional subscription option for heavy Facebook users, and it can be a means of expanding your platform.
- Regularly share your content on Facebook. There are some great tools to help make this easier for you. Encourage your readers to do the same by adding a Facebook “like” or “share” button.
- Ask others to promote your blog via social bookmarking sites, such as DIGG, Stumbleupon, Reddit, and others.
- Implement social sharing tools on your website. Tools like Flare, Specificfeeds, which allows you to combine sharing options via Twitter, Facebook, email, and social bookmarking sites into one tool.
9. Analyze your search performance and user behavior
Analyzing your search performance
Major search engines, including Google, provide free tools for webmasters to analyze their performance in their search engine. For Google, that tool is Search Console.
Search Console provides two important categories of information: Can Google find my content? How am I performing in Google Search results?
Using Search Console won't help your site get preferential treatment; however, it can help you identify issues that, if addressed, can help your site perform better in search results.
With the service, webmasters can:
- See which parts of a site Googlebot had problems crawling
- Test and submit sitemaps
- Analyze or generate robots.txt files
- Remove URLs already crawled by Googlebot
- Specify your preferred domain
- Identify issues with title and description meta tags
- Understand the top searches used to reach a site
- Get a glimpse at how Googlebot sees pages
- Receive notifications of quality guidelines violations and request a site reconsideration
Analyzing user behavior on your site
If you've improved the crawling and indexing of your site using Google Search Console or other services, you're probably curious about the traffic coming to your site. Web analytics programs like Google Analytics are a valuable source of insight for this. You can use these to:
- Get insight into how users reach and behave on your site
- Discover the most popular content on your site
- Measure the impact of optimizations you make to your site, for example, did changing those title and description meta tags improve traffic from search engines?
For advanced users, the information an analytics package provides, combined with data from your server log files, can provide even more comprehensive information about how visitors are interacting with your documents (such as additional keywords that searchers might use to find your site).
10. Optimize your old posts
As a blogger, creating new content is a never-ending task. Without new content, your traffic would taper off and your blog would stop growing.
But did you know your blog has a treasure trove of content already available to help you grow your blog?
- Fix any errors in your post
- Review & update the content
- Add internal links
- It’s a good idea to also update the multimedia, not just the content
- Review your call to action
- Republish and promote your updated post
Bonus tip: SEO Maintenance
Once you’ve optimized your website to get to that crucial first page of Google, you can’t stop, SEO always needs to be managed.
As soon as you’ve climbed to page one ranking, your competitors will be after you with their own SEO strategies, seeking to knock you off the top.
Or customers might start searching with different keywords.
The bottom line: Your website will need continual SEO review to maintain your search engine ranking.
It’s very important for bloggers and author, and owners, with WordPress, Squarespace and Wix sites, to learn about SEO, and improve their online presence. In fact, 65% of readers across the world access the mobile web each day, and that number is on the rise.