Google is one of the world’s most popular search engines – if not the most popular search engine in the world.
While this makes it a valuable resource for regular users, it has also given Google the honor of being the most prominent marketing platform on the internet.
Achieving a higher rank on Google is not just about the prestige – it is about visibility. Pushing yourself to a higher Google ranking means that your business or website gets a lot more eyes pointed in its direction, increasing the number of potential customers and clients you can earn with even the most basic marketing techniques.
Of course, you can’t just rank higher on Google without some effort.
As one of the most notable platforms on the internet, there are a lot of people competing for the same benefits, and that can keep the odds stacked against you if you try to brute-force your way into higher Google rankings.
Instead, you need a ranking strategy. Google might be a massive platform reaching all corners of the internet, but it still has rules and algorithms that you can use to your own advantage.
Getting to higher Google rankings and appearing in more Google search results takes a lot of careful planning, but considering it has a whole industry built around it, it is far from impossible.
Table of Contents
- What are Google Rankings?
- What affects search results rankings?
- Ranking Higher on Google
- Choose The Right Keywords
- Take Link Building Opportunities
- Anchor Text
- Guest Blogging and Paid Links
- Internal Links
- Create Good Content
- Handle On-Site SEO
- How do you perform on-page optimization?
- Build Landing Web Pages
- Choosing The Right SEO Tools
- Other Factors For Ranking Success
- Local Search Results
- On-Page SEO for Mobile Devices
- Click-Through Rate and Bounce Rate
- Keyword Match Types
- What Next?
What are Google Rankings?
If you are not already familiar with Google search rankings, then it is important to understand where they come from and how they impact your website in the long term.
Your website’s Google search ranking dictates how high you appear in relevant search results, often on a per-term basis.
For example, if you have a high search ranking for terms related to your business, you are more likely to appear on the first page of results for searches using those terms.
This effectively means that you can increase the rank of individual web pages to make them more prominent for a particular keyword, allowing you to market to a certain audience by targeting terms that they might be looking up.
This is the foundation of Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Without SEO, it is practically impossible for any business to establish itself online, especially if it is a brand-new company with no previous ties to any major work or products.
What affects search results rankings?
Google evaluates web pages by taking each ranking factor into account. This includes things like:
- Overall quality.
- Loading times of web pages.
These are only a few of the ranking factors, but they are also the only ones that are easy to explain without jumping into a full breakdown of Google’s algorithm.
Remember that Google also changes its algorithm on a regular basis, usually to prevent exploitation. This means that some strategies will need to be adapted to suit the new situation on a fairly regular basis, meaning that you can’t just sit on one strategy forever.
Understanding how to rank higher on Google requires a lot of trial and error to get it right, and even the best marketers do not fully understand how it works.
Ranking Higher on Google
If you are looking to rank higher on Google, then you need to know the tools and strategies that you might have available. Remember, every site is different: what works for one website will not necessarily suit another, and you need to stay flexible.
Below is a breakdown of all the common ways that you can approach your search engine rankings, as well as some less-common strategies for getting yourself higher in Google’s ranking algorithm.
Choose The Right Keywords
SEO is dependent on keywords. A keyword is any term that you want to use to market yourself: when somebody looks that keyword or key phrase up, you want to appear in the search results.
This makes proper keyword research vital for your overall SEO efforts.
You need to think about the search intent of your target audience, the kind of terms that would relate to your business or services, and which target keyword you might want to focus on the most.
Keyword research can take many forms. A lot of businesses take an active role in keyword research by looking at how their competitors are ranking, while others ignore most higher-level keyword research and just use common sense to choose a target keyword list instead.
Proper keyword research is always worth it. Tools like Google Keyword Planner provide an easy way to narrow down a target keyword list without having to risk making as many mistakes. Without good keywords, it becomes much harder to market your site to the right places.
Link building is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal if you use it correctly.
Backlinks – links coming to your web page from other websites – can be extremely versatile and will contribute a lot towards your overall SEO goals.
Link building can take a lot of forms. You might decide to put guest content on another site or pay a blog to link back to you in existing content.
However you end up doing it, a good-quality link pointed at your website transfers some “page authority” and “domain authority” – a vague but useful ranking factor.
Google promotes pages that receive a lot of links to them, as long as those links come from good sites.
This is so that important resources will rank higher on average, but it also means that you can start ranking higher by using link building as a way to bolster your business’ SEO.
By gathering up your own link profile and using link-building effectively, you can improve your Google ranking position by having other sites link back to you.
If your site offers something worth linking to, like a list of important resources, you might even earn backlinks organically without asking for them.
Relevancy is vital across all areas of SEO, and that applies to links as well.
Links in content that is relevant to your own products or services will make a bigger impact than getting links in unrelated content.
Through anchor text, links gain additional context and SEO potential. The anchor text is whatever text the link is actually placed onto, which should usually be phrases including related keywords – or if you want to make things simple, your own business name.
Good anchor text will do more than just bolster your SEO. It also provides that link with more context and can make it flow with the text around it more naturally, allowing you to put links into a blog post without making it feel like an advertisement.
Even if you are offering services they want, nobody wants to know that they are being advertised to. The more obvious you make it, the more annoyed they could become, and obnoxious ads have been the killer of many small businesses.
Being careful with your anchor text and fitting the links perfectly into your SEO content can drive more traffic to your site since more people are likely to use the link out of curiosity. This organic traffic is always a nice benefit, even if it is not your main focus with SEO.
Placing paid links on other sites is one of the easiest ways to spread your business’ name around.
Paying for links can seem strange at first to people who are not antiquated with SEO, but the humble paid link is one of the foundations of all link-building actions within the SEO world.
Approaching another site gives you multiple options for paid links. You might pay to write your own article and post it on their site, or even pay them to write it.
In other cases, you can pay a site owner to replace a dead link with one to your own website or to retroactively add a link to your content in some of theirs.
This will never have a 100% success rate, and some site owners hate the idea of taking on paid links.
However, many others see it as an easy way to get some extra money without having to do much work, making it a quick and relatively cheap way of acquiring a new link.
Remember, you want a link from a good site, not just a random niche blog.
This means looking at the blog’s overall authority and relevance to your content, as well as the impact it will have on your SEO as a whole.
Paid links are a very effective tool and something that you should always consider if you are looking into your SEO options.
While free tools and non-paid link options can work, paid links are always going to be a reliable safety net that you can use as the core of your SEO efforts.
Many people do not realize how important internal links can be. While they are mainly used as a way to improve on-page SEO, on-page links can also serve as a useful navigation aid that can really make a difference in how search engines treat your site.
It is important to remember that search engines judge sites based on a range of factors, and that includes their overall quality and ease of use.
Having internal links to navigate around your site quickly can make users more comfortable getting between pages, which actually tends to improve your SEO.
If a user visits your site but can’t see any way to find the details or products they want, then they are likely to leave.
Even if your site matches search intent and has a high click-through rate, that all means nothing if a large portion of your users is simply leaving within one or two pages.
A good network of internal links makes navigation easier, ensuring that users can find the pages they want.
Create Good Content
While this might sound obvious at first, knowing how to create high-quality content is not easy.
Everybody wants their website to be higher-quality, but your own understanding of quality might not match up with search engines like Google.
Even massive brands like Apple have struggled in places due to not producing good enough content, and they are one of the dominant tech companies in the world.
Whether you are writing long-form content or something a lot shorter, quality is king. You want to write content that offers some value to your target audience.
Avoid copying anything from other sources directly, and be sure that your content actually reads well, even if it is just a one-shot article.
Formatting, wording choices, length, and the overall focus of the content are also important. If you write something disjointed that does not really have a clear point behind it, then your SEO will suffer if you try to incorporate that content into your overall strategy.
Google rewards effort and punishes attempts to cheat the system.
Once you have good content prepared, you can add “hidden” keywords to tie it into your SEO strategy.
The right keyword phrase integrated into the text, along with effective link-building strategies, allows for some major benefits when it comes to site SEO.
Content needs to be relevant. While this might sound obvious, especially since relevant links are so powerful in SEO, it is easy to overlook some details that might mess up your content’s overall power and effectiveness. Relevancy is a difficult thing to achieve if you are trying to vary your content.
For example, let us say you sell sports equipment.
While you can write a lot of articles about sports events that make it easy to promote your products, you might eventually try to branch out into other markets or want to promote a specific product or service.
If this happens, you need to find a way to keep the content relevant.
You can’t just put an advertising link to some sports gear into an article about cats and expect results – in fact, this can reduce your Google rankings for spam if Google deems it to be a problem. You need to match the search intent of your customers while still keeping links relevant.
This means crafting content that can actually hold links properly without losing relevancy.
For example, you might create a blog post about more general clothing options and promote some of your sports clothing partway through, or write articles about health that involve a small section about playing sports.
You do not need to craft an entire piece of high-quality content about whatever specific thing you are promoting, but it needs to have some relevancy.
Relevant content will not only appear higher in the organic search results you are targeting, but it will draw in more visitors with an actual interest in what you are offering them.
This is the biggest reason to focus on relevancy at all costs: the more relevant you are, the more customers you will draw in.
If you rely on irrelevant terms, you are going to get plenty of visitors who simply do not want what you are offering them. These are people that you can’t market to, and spending time and money trying to pursue them will only make your job harder.
Handle On-Site SEO
On-site work involves making changes to your site rather than having outside SEO changes done that impact your site indirectly.
One of the most common ranking factors for search engines is how optimized and well-designed the target site is, and that means that cleaning up your own web page can make a big difference.
For example, cleaning up code to make landing pages load faster can make a huge difference. These technical SEO changes can improve your overall ranking within Google’s algorithm, even if all you are doing is making your own website run better.
This also has the added benefit of making your site better for visitors to use, something that is always valuable.
Beyond that, on-site SEO has the additional advantage of being quite varied.
There are a lot of ways to improve your site, from making images smaller so that they load faster to completely overhauling your navigational sidebar designs.
These are small details, but they make big differences in how your site is used – and how search engines handle it.
In most cases, you want to focus on things like bounce rates and customer retention. If your site can’t actually retain search traffic for very long, search engines might penalize you.
You want to improve your site enough to make it fully usable, especially on mobile device platforms. A lot of companies forget how important mobile sites can be.
Remember that a site is only worth promoting if somebody can actually use it. Even if your SEO is good, you will struggle to get many customers if nobody can actually make a purchase on your website easily.
On-page SEO should not just be about the technical side of the work but the actual user experience as well.
How do you perform on-page optimization?
On-page SEO can seem complex, but it is really just about cleaning up the site that already exists.
A good example of on-page optimization is reducing the file sizes of media used on that page or tidying up code so that there is no delay in the page loading.
Most customers will only wait a maximum of two or three seconds of loading time before they try another site, and that reflects terribly on your Google ranking.
Google might not know that it is your site’s loading speed causing the problem, but from their perspective, customers are visiting your site only to leave very shortly after.
To Google and similar search platforms, this appears in the same way that a relevancy issue does.
Google will penalize any site that is drawing in customers who leave almost instantly since it is a clear indicator that the site is either marketing to the wrong audience or is completely unusable to most of its visitors.
Tidy up code, change the layout of content-heavy pages, reduce file sizes, improve navigation, promote important products more clearly, and make sure that visitors can use your site as intended.
Be sure to test it across multiple screen sizes and device types if possible, too – many people miss mobile tests in their technical SEO work, and mobile is a huge market.
On-page SEO and optimization can take many forms, and there is not a perfect way to approach it.
The best option is to look at your site and find the parts that are causing the most problems, whether those are technical issues or just problems with the design. Even redesigning your site to look more professional can be a kind of on-page SEO.
Metadata often goes overlooked and unused, but it is a very effective tool to rely on.
Both meta title tags and a meta description are shown in search platform results when that particular page appears, and that gives you a lot of flexibility in how you use them.
You can use metadata as either a marketing tool or a way to clarify the contents of your page – ideally, both at once.
This allows visitors to see a snapshot of what you offer before they click, which can sometimes be the difference between capturing or losing some potential customers.
Thanks to this, you can also treat it as a way of preventing irrelevant traffic.
Instead of visiting only to leave on the first page, they see customers who are not interested in your services will be more likely to move on without clicking, reducing your bounce rate.
This also serves another role – SEO. Your metadata is part of the way that Google handles SEO, and that means using relevant keywords in your meta description can actually benefit you from an SEO standpoint.
Choosing this kind of relevant information can be a great way to boost your own SEO statistics without having to make major changes to the page itself.
A lot of site owners do not even consider adding metadata at first, but it is one of the biggest mistakes you can make – the auto-generated alternatives on most search platforms just are not good enough.
Remember that title tags do not just need to be the title of the page itself.
You can do a lot of creative things with even a few extra words in the title tags or another phrase in the description, especially when combined with your existing link-building efforts.
Build Landing Web Pages
As always, content plays a huge role in your SEO, and that includes on-page work.
This does not necessarily mean long-form content like blog posts – you just want to make sure that the content people see on the first page they visit matches the related searches that brought them there.
Creating dedicated landing pages for specific related keywords and audiences can be an effective way to do this.
For example, instead of just having product pages, you could have a central landing page for a particular product type.
When people search for something, they tend to click the first link they see – at least, the first one that matches their intentions and expectations.
This means that you want to present them with a page that fits that search intent and a landing page is almost always your best option.
Landing pages allow you to direct specific results to particular places on your own site.
You can promote relevant products there while ignoring ones that are not related to the search that brought them there, and you can tailor the entire space to appeal to whatever target audience you are aiming for most.
Choosing The Right SEO Tools
SEO is a huge field that covers all kinds of different projects and tasks, meaning that there is not a single unified way to approach it.
This also counts for the tools – with so many different SEO tools out there, it can be almost impossible to know what you should be looking for.
While SEO can be complex, it is a lot easier if you break it down into different kinds of work.
Many tools are only designed for one general purpose, and the few that overlap into multiple roles can still be useful at SEO of any scale.
If you are operating on Google, then Google Analytics is the place to go for any analytical data.
This can give you a full breakdown of everything you might need to know regarding how people are using your site, which can be important for judging if your link-building efforts are working.
This is also an effective way to figure out what kind of organic traffic you are drawing in, your overall performance, and potential areas for improvement or change.
Having a good handle on your incoming search traffic can make a big difference.
Setting up a Google Analytics account is not hard. Once you have one, you can get instant access to all important Google Analytics services, letting you get started right away.
Keyword research tools are some of the most important you can have when it comes to any SEO.
Being able to look at the way that organic traffic has found competitor sites allows you to pick out keywords worth targeting.
A good keyword research tool is any tool that allows you to export data and make easy comparisons.
Third-party options can be just as useful as the official Google Keyword Planner, but all you need is something that can use the Google search algorithm to find new, powerful keywords worth using.
Remember: keyword research is about finding a keyword phrase with a good balance of search volume and cost.
Any tool that makes that comparison easy is a worthwhile addition to your SEO toolkit.
There are not really any specific tools for building links, but you can rely on certain online tools that allow you to locate broken links worth re-using.
Finding a broken link on a site gives you the perfect opportunity to use it for your own.
If you approach the site owner and let them know that the link is broken, you might be able to pay for a replacement that points to your own site.
Naturally, you want to choose a relevant link, just like in any other situation. Doing this can give you easy access to a new burst of SEO strength that you otherwise would not be able to get hold of.
One of the most powerful tools you can use for on-page SEO is Google Search Console.
Not only does Google Search Console show you all of your site errors and flaws, but it allows you to get a full overview of your site’s SEO performance in a unique way.
While it can take some time to set up and learn Google Search Console, it is also a very effective tool when used in the right situations.
It does not directly overlap with most dedicated SEO tools, meaning that it should not get in your way.
Remember that Google Search Console is still a more in-depth tool that might take a while to get used to.
Not every feature will be immediately useful, and smaller sites may only need some of the options on offer, meaning that it is a tool that can grow in scope alongside your business.
Other Factors For Ranking Success
Ranking higher on Google is a very complex task that can be different for every single company.
While the basic idea behind trying to rank higher will always be the same, there are a lot of different ways to approach the problem, depending on your situation.
Understanding some of the lesser-considered factors behind your success (or failure) can make a big difference. The more prepared you are, the better.
Local Search Results
A local search is any search done to specifically target a local area around the user’s location. This usually involves terms like “near me” or “in (location).”
A local search is much more specific than any other kind since it only covers a small area. Depending on the exact terms used, this could be anything from an entire state to a single small town.
Local searches are interesting because targeting them is a good option for some businesses and not others. They are a powerful SEO option that has to be used very carefully if you want to see success.
If you are a business that offers any kind of walk-in options or in-building services, then attracting local organic traffic can be extremely important.
However, for online-only businesses or companies that deliver across entire states, this distinction becomes far less important. If you can serve the entire US, then you are technically a local option to any US citizen.
On-Page SEO for Mobile Devices
One of the biggest mistakes you can make with a site is not to optimize it for mobile devices.
The mobile market forms a huge portion of all organic traffic, and mobile users contribute heavily to the search volume of most common keywords.
However, very few people are going to try switching to a new device if your site does not work on their phones first. It only takes one feature breaking for them to give up on you completely.
You can get around this in multiple ways. Creating responsive sites that operate across all platforms and screen sizes well can work, but it requires a lot of time and effort to achieve.
The other popular option is to construct a new site that is meant specifically for mobile devices.
There are ways to ensure that all mobile search traffic is directed there automatically from mobile search results, ensuring that they get the website that is designed to run properly on mobile phones.
Click-Through Rate and Bounce Rate
It is important to remember that your click-through rate and bounce rate are independent, and finding a good balance of both is important.
If you funnel everybody into your site regardless of relevance, then a lot of people are going to be clicking through to your web pages. However, many of them will simply leave, especially if you did not explicitly tell them what your site is for.
On the other hand, it is rare to completely eliminate your bounce rate. You can’t capture everybody with your first impressions, and some organic traffic may be accidental.
Trying to minimize bounce rate can also see you driving away genuine customers by hyper-focusing your SEO and marketing content.
Keyword Match Types
There are three kinds of keyword match types worth considering.
A broad match means that your keywords will be triggered by vaguely similar terms, even if the exact phrase does not appear. For example, “sports shoes” might trigger your brand-name shoe keywords.
Phrase match means that the keyword appears in the search term. For example, “phone case” would trigger for “blue phone case” but not “phone blue case.”
An exact match means an exact keyword use. This is the most specific option you have available.
While not as important for SEO compared to paid ads, a negative keyword is any keyword that needs to be excluded from the results your pages will appear for.
For example, if you chose the keyword “blue” as a negative, then “phone case” would appear while “blue phone case” would not.
Keyword-based intent is just the intent behind the user’s searches. This can be important for certain contexts – for example, not everybody searches for a product by name with the intent to buy it.
A common example is when somebody uses the word “article” at the end of a search entry. “Bed” will bring up products, whereas “bed article” will bring up written pieces about beds.
Testing with Search Engines
You can always test to see how well you stack up against competitors using your own initiative. Searching up the same terms that your customers would can give you a good understanding of what to expect from them.
Search engines make a great tool for seeing what you rank for, so do not hesitate to experiment around with long-tail keywords or highly specific terms that you might want to rank for.
Searching these terms up yourself can be a good way to test what comes up in the results, allowing you to get an idea of how many other companies target them.
Search Engine Consistency
Remember that Google displays results differently from other search engines, as do sub-platforms like Google Maps.
All of these platforms use different algorithms, impacting everything from the effectiveness of your title tag to the value of referring domains pointing at your site.
If you are planning to market yourself across multiple platforms, you need to operate under the assumption that Google results are going to be different from other search engines. The same basic strategies might work but in vastly different ways.
That being said, it can sometimes be a good idea to branch out to other platforms as your business grows.
Some search platforms have a strong grip on particular demographics, and even if they have less market share overall, that tends to mean less competition.
SEO is a very complex field with a lot of different things going on inside it, and that makes it one of the more difficult kinds of marketing to manage if you do everything at once.
Take your time and approach your SEO marketing at your own pace. Every business is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to solving your SEO needs, so you need to take the process one step at a time.
Think about your own business needs and the strategies required to achieve them.
Not all SEO techniques are going to be quite as valuable as others, and that is something you need to figure out at your own pace if you want to push your business to greater success.
Search engines are only a part of the marketing world, but they are a major part. You can’t ignore them, even if your business operates mostly offline, so you need to find ways to make them work for you.
If you have a general idea of how you want to try ranking higher for Google, then it is important to take some time and plan things out before you act.
SEO is always a good starting point for any business that wants to grow, but it needs to be done well. Bad SEO can linger for a while, and it might stunt your business’ growth until you can fix it.
Take everything into account, from your chosen title tag to your company’s business hours. You never know what might help when you are trying to advertise yourself through SEO.
Kasra Dash is a Scottish entrepreneur, Kasra Primarily focuses on SEO & digital marketing for companies in the UK he enjoys brining positive ROI’s for business owners with his marketing expertise.
Kasra is also an investor in Searcharoo.