One of the common reasons people hire me to write content is because they want to improve their ranking in Google. Businesses want to show up organically and expand their reach by showing up at the top of search results. With tons of content out there about SEO, much of it can be contradicting and confusing. There are many factors that play both small and large roles in determining a site’s search ranking.
What Google looks for in a site changes every year, so it can be hard to keep track of. The major takeaway in 2017 is to optimize for user experiences. We’re no longer directly trying to please search engines. We’re trying to please real human users, which will, in turn, be rewarded by search engines.
Here are some SEO tips you can use to rank higher in Google:
Make sure your design not only works on mobile devices but looks good too. If your website is old-school, consider redesigning and switching to a responsive theme. Since more and more traffic is coming from phones and tablets, optimizing for these devices is becoming increasingly important.
Quick Load Times
Google looks at how fast your site loads. The quicker the better, especially on mobile devices. A quick way to test your load speed is to use Pingdom. This site will not only calculate your load time but will also give you a grade which compares your speed to average website load times. Since it tests your site from different cities, it’s best to click “Test Now” a couple of times to get an accurate idea. If your load time is slow and you’re using WordPress, try downloading a cache plugin.
Great Content for Great Links
When you have great content, people will naturally link to you and use your content as a reference. This gets you backlinks, which is a factor that determines search engine ranking.
People used to keyword stuff their pages in an attempt to rank for that keyword. The old theory: the more keywords the better. Now, Google is smarter and can analyze the meaning of the content, even if you don’t use a keyword 10 times. For example, if you’re writing content on “how to make the best cup of tea,” you don’t have to use the phrase “how to make the best cup of tea” 10 times. Google will also pick up other related phrases such as “great cup of tea” and “how to make tea” or “5 steps to make tasty tea.” Google knows synonymous words and phrases that are related to your topic.
If someone Googled “How to make tea” here are the results that would show up, all with different titles and various keyword phrases:
Another keyword tip:
Try to rank for keywords that are less competitive. Ideally, you should use Google’s Keyword Planner and simple Google searches to determine a long-tail keyword that is searched frequently but doesn’t have a hundred million results.
Successful Low Competition Keyword= Searched frequently (find out using Keyword Planner) + Fewer hits (find out by doing a regular Google search).
For example, imagine that you own a tea website and you’re writing blog posts for SEO purposes. If you try to rank for the keyword “tea,” it’s going to be very difficult and likely unsuccessful. However, you’re much more likely to get organic traffic if you try to rank for a long-tail keyword. The more you refine a topic and narrow focus, the less competition there will be. Here’s an example:
In the last example, depending on the article you write, you have a decent chance of ranking for the long-tail keyword “How to make sweet iced green tea,” because there’s less competition. However, that will obviously be searched much less frequently than other keywords. The good thing is that with this long phrase, it’s also possible to rank for “How to make sweet tea,” or “How to make green iced tea.” Whichever keyword you choose, remember that a keyword in 2016 should be more of a keyword PHRASE than just a single word.
Think about it: Is someone going to just type “tea” into Google and find what they’re looking for? No, they will directly search what they want the answer for such as “How to make iced green tea.”
Last keyword tip:
Want to see what keywords you’re currently ranking for or want to see if your SEO efforts are working? Enter your URL into SEMrush.com.
Longer, Quality Posts Outrank
Quality or Quantity? Both!
Google shows favor to longer content, and long doesn’t mean a 500-word article anymore. The top-ranking content in Google is around 1000 words and above. If you’re blogging for SEO, comprehensive and thorough content should be your aim. The days of article spinning or getting cheap content written on content mills are over. Google not only wants original content but also wants quality.
Simply put, if your content is of value to your readers, it will be of value to search engines. Instead of looking at blogging as self-serving, think about how you can serve your readers. Think about common questions people in your niche might have and answer them thoroughly. For more tips, you can check out Authority Hacker’s SEO copywriting guide here.
Easy to Read
So we’ve already established that Google is favoring longer content; however, that doesn’t mean that you should just upload text as one big, long blurb. Google likes:
- Headings (h1 tags)
- Bullet points (li tags)
- Unique images
This makes content easier for the reader to digest. Remember: Google is all about user experience. If a reader likes your content and likes your site, your bounce rate will be lower, which will also help with SEO. It sends the message to Google that your site is of quality.
There is some controversy whether domain age plays a factor in Google’s search rankings. However, many website owners report that once their website ages, they see a spike in users and attribute it to their sudden heightened search ranking. Many people believe that age plays a role in SEO, even if just a small one. And it makes sense, right? If your website has been around for three years, you’re less likely to be a spam website. It’s likely that you still exist because you’re serious about your content.
A huge reason for growth based on age could be because the longer your site has been around, the more content it’s likely to have, which obviously helps in terms of SEO.