5 ways to get higher search rankings

5 Ways to Get Higher Search Rankings (that Won’t Break the Bank)

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Jay Dillon

Director of Strategy and Creative at Inbound Experts
Jay is a digital marketer and producer whose creative and technical skills have developed digital brand strategies and sales campaigns using a range of complex internet applications from stand-alone websites through to Facebook API integrations.
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With all the latest buzz about content marketing and how wonderful a way it is to earn higher rankings, it’s easy to forget about all the other tools that good SEOs and marketers have at their disposal.

Today the role of an SEO is about more than just creating quality content and building links. Yes, Google will always love and favour helpful quality content (so don’t stop creating it) but the intention of this article is to take a closer look at some of the lesser known tools that can help your site earn higher rankings for a minimal investment of time and money.

Back in the early days of SEO, “on-page SEO” was synonymous with keyword stuffing, hidden text, robotic sounding copy, and more shady short cuts, most of which are now being penalised by Google. But like everything else in the SEO world, thanks to Google’s ever more sophisticated algorithm, on-page SEO has undergone a renaissance. Today, the main goal of on-page SEO is three-fold:

1. Strategically embed keywords into your pages so Google can easily understand the topic of that page.

2. Create a site design and user experience that encourages people who find your site to stick to your site.

3. Post awesome content that gets people to share your site on social media and, more importantly, link to it from established sites.

With that in mind, now it’s time to present the less obvious yet significant tips to improve your rankings while keeping costs low.

1. SNIPPETS

Snippets are the few lines of text that appear under every search result as in the example below:

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 12.26.57 AM

Snippets are designed to give users a preview of what appears on the page and why it’s relevant to their search.

The first thing to do is to improve your search result snippets to ensure they align with the intent of the page. If Google understands the content on your pages then not only will it drive more traffic and better rankings, but “rich snippets” can also be created with detailed information intended to help users with specific queries. Here’s a comprehensive guide on creating rich snippets from Google.

Consider also changing the URL. Some studies have shown recently that URLs do in fact contribute to whether people choose to click on them. Keep in mind that it’s not just about making snippets compelling, but also about making whatever is on that snippet match what’s on the page that users get to. You want to prevent visitors from “pogo sticking”, which is when people just jump off the page. This can negatively impact your search ranking because search engines directly look at this “pogo jumping” behaviour when visitors click within your site but go back because they weren’t that interested. This makes search engines not want to rank you as highly because they’ve deemed your content is not relevant to those searches where people are pogo sticking. And worse, when people bounce, you don’t have an opportunity to convert those people into buyers or into potential sharers or linkers for your content.

2. IMPROVING THE CRAWL FRIENDLINESS & PAGES OF VALUE RATIO ON YOUR SITE

Cleaning up your site-map, getting rid of unnecessary pages, and organising your navigation in a user friendly manner all help improve crawl bandwidth and bring in significant increases in organic search traffic. Many sites have far too many pages, most of which serve no purpose and get little to no traffic. Clean these pages up and group content in a way that gives users a clearly defined structure that allows them to get to your deeper pages in the fewest amount of clicks.

Using a “silo structure” on your site also helps Google to understand how your content is related and for what topics your website is an authority.

3. SITE SPEED

Optimising speed is probably the simplest improvement you can make for your search rankings.

Bottom line: If you make your pages faster, you will be rewarded.

Google has confirmed that it uses a site’s loading time as a ranking factor. Although a slightly slow site won’t make or break your SEO campaign, it does makes a difference. And considering how competitive most keywords are nowadays, every little bit helps.

You can evaluate your site’s current loading speed using two free tools:

1. Google PageSpeed Insights: Gives information that you can use to significantly improve your site’s speed with changes to your HTML and images.

2. WebPageTest: Actually loads your page with a virtual browser. Also provides insights that you can apply right away.

*For WordPress users, there are several WP plugins, such as WP Smush It!W3 Total Cache, and the P3 plugin speed profiler that can also help you find ways to improve site speed.

4. LINK BUILDING

Leverage your network to help attract those links, shares, traffic, and endorsements. Some marketers have used this tactic to great effect. Whenever someone tells you that they love your business and think your service is amazing, reply with something like:

“Thank you so much. That means the world to us, and it would mean even more if you would tell someone about it. Would you consider mentioning us on your site or leaving us a review on our Google business page?”

It doesn’t matter if it’s a followed link or a no followed link because it’s about getting others to share your business. I remember seeing one woman’s email signature which simply read: “If I have ever been helpful to you, it would be awesome if you could share our website.” Obviously I don’t know what the conversion rate is like for her, but it doesn’t even matter if it’s 0.001%. It’s more links and shares than she would have got otherwise, which could be the difference between ranking above or below her competition in Google. What an easy, free and wonderful way to earn the kind of signals that will help you rank better.

If you’re not sure how to get started with link building in 2015, start here.

5. INCLUDE YOUR KEYWORD IN YOUR TITLE TAG (ONCE)

Your title tag is basically your page’s headline. It is by far the strongest signal you can send to Google about your page’s topic.

Ideally, you should work your keyword into a title that’s also compelling for readers (that way, you’ll get clicks from people who are browsing the search results).

For example, if you wanted to rank for “Surfing Lessons”, you could use compelling titles like:

  • Surfing Lessons: 5 Things You Need to Know Before You Do It
  • Why Surfing Lessons Should Be Your Next Outdoor Activity
  • 7 Ways to Save Money on Surfing Lessons This Summer

These describe what the page is about to humans and include your target keyword without looking spammy.

THE BOTTOM LINE ON QUICK SEO WINS

These tips and hundreds more like it are all in the realm of what modern SEOs still have to be doing in addition to the ever-growing list of new obligations such as the mobile-friendly site movement.

If marketing is important (and it is for almost all businesses) and we go about our work just “doing marketing,” forgetting that we have to deal with a medium that offers and requires very specific technicalities, then we are managing a limited marketing strategy.

Nowadays, most people forget these technical details thanks to the at times over-used “content is king” mantra. But these often overlooked tools are essential to make your site stand against the competitors’ site. A first step would be to follow the 5 simple tips given above.

Stay tuned for more articles keeping you up to date on the more intricate technical aspects of digital marketing.

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