Location matters just as much in SEO as it does in real estate. Findings from a 2013 study published on Search Engine Watch reveal that nearly 92% of Google search traffic goes to websites on the first page results, with the top three spots taking the bulk of it. More traffic translates to more potential conversions—be it sales, downloads, or signups—and therefore profits. In SEO, how high a website ranks on Google’s search results pages is the most important concern there is.
This begs the question: how can a website get to the top? Improving keyword rankings is the answer. Now, there are several ways to do this. Here are eight of them:
1. Check Your Starting Position
First things first: check your site’s Google ranking. There are several SEO marketing tools available online that you can use to check the keyword ranking for your website. Knowing where your website stands makes it easier to map out techniques that would be useful in improving your keyword position on the Search Engine Results Pages.
Take the time to check your site’s page load speed as well. Since 2010, Google has made site speed a ranking factor. Behind that is a practical consideration. If a website fails to load quickly enough, chances are the user would move on to a different tab or website.
It is also helpful to check for any active penalties your site may have incurred. It may be because of a few sketchy practices and links Google flagged. Knowing this from the start makes it a bit easy for you to diagnose the problem and solve it. Once you’ve got the penalties out of the way, your keyword position should rise up at a faster pace.
2. Use Keyword Variations
Go beyond using the typical keywords for your brand. Use a keyword checker to identify the phrases and words you want to boost. Now, go look for variations of these phrases, especially long-tail ones. Combine generic terms with exact matches of your keywords. Longer, more targeted keyword phrases are easier to work with because the competition is less fierce. Additionally, these long-tail keyword phrases tend to hit the shorter keywords, thus improving keyword positions for both.
Although it is important to put keywords in content, write each post with the focus on improving the reader’s experience. Google puts importance on content quality, which means every post should provide relevant information and not simply aim to rank high in search. Whenever you target certain keywords, make sure you do so in a natural, non-spammy way.
3. Capitalize on Rich Media
Google’s website indexing bots can only read text, but that doesn’t mean photos, videos, and other types of rich media are useless in SEO. Photos, for instance, have alt tags that can be modified to include keywords. It helps to make the image’s alt tag relevant to the post instead of uploading the file as “img001” or some other default name. Videos can be optimized in a similar fashion as well. Make use of tags and descriptions to give the bots text to index and insert keywords where applicable.
Rich media—videos, in particular—are useful in attracting your audience, given its nature of being easy to consume.
4. Repurpose Old Content
A blog post can become more than a blog post. It could be converted into a video, a PDF, and even a PowerPoint presentation. Afterwards, these can be distributed in different channels where they get linked to the original content. This is the practice of content repurposing. It is simple, it works, and it does not violate any of Google’s guidelines.
5. Perfect On-Page SEO
Besides the body of your content, there are other elements on a page that need to be looked at. These are on-page elements, such as H1 tags, page titles, and meta descriptions. These should mention the keyword you are targeting in a natural, unforced way. Keyword mentions in these areas do influence how Google ranks a particular website, so be sure to cover this.
6. Build Links
Google considers both internal links and backlinks important factors in the keyword rankings a site, which is why it is important to build these. Internal links are hyperlinks that connect to other pages on your website. For example, it could be a link to an old post or a service page referenced in a blog entry.
Backlinks, on the other hand, come from external websites. These hold more weight for Google and also harder to accrue. Websites usually gain backlinks when they produce content that is valuable enough for users on other sites to share or reference—like in social media, which is the next point.
7. Maximize Social Media
Although Google has state that social signals are not part of their search algorithm, Social media does have an effect on keyword rankings, albeit an indirect one. Social media users build links—and as mentioned earlier, links are significant. Shares, retweets, and reblogs create links that point back to the original source of the content. More importantly, this social media engagement generate more exposure for your content.
8. Track the Right Metrics
SEO is a numbers game. You have to track your progress to ensure you make the most of your efforts. It’s great to have a keyword rank checker, but that isn’t the only tool you should use. Organic traffic, bounce rate, and conversions are just a few metrics you have to pay attention to. There are dashboards that feature all these important data for your campaign.
In theory, whenever your keyword rankings go up, so does your traffic, your conversions, and your revenue. But remember that ranking on the first page of the SERPs alone is not enough. A comprehensive SEO strategy is necessary because there are several other SEO key performance indicators (KPIs) that also have to be observed and improved upon. It is only when all these bases are covered that a website can earn the top spot and gain great ROI at the same time.