High ranks on Google are in demand. No wonder there are lots of theories around this topic. In this post I’ll give you an introduction to search engine optimization (in other words how to rank high on Google). I’ll include tactics for you to apply right now. Some you should use and some you shouldn’t use. Spoken in SEO words: ‘whitehat’ and ‘blackhat’.
How To Rank High On Google – The Basics
SEO is divided into two categories:
Both are important. But for different things. What do I mean?
Onpage is the foundation of search engine optimization. You need to have your website clearly structured and well coded for Google to be able to read and comprehend it. If you fail at this you will likely not be able to rank for the keywords you desire.
Speaking of which. Keywords are the words Google Users type into the Google search bar to search for an article or website. So if I’m looking for new shoes I might type in the following keywords.
- Buy Shoes New York
The Long Tail
When we talk about keywords, there is the common phrase “long tail” which floats around the web. While it’s not clearly defined, keywords that consists of at least two words are called long tail keywords. Long tails have the advantage of less competing websites for the particular phrase. And you can focus through long tails on your target audience. For example imagine you are a Web Agency and you want to make your website visible to people searching for new custom websites. You may try to rank now for the keyword ‘website‘. What will happen?
You will get many clicks (if you rank high enough) because many people are searching for the term website. However out of 1.000 visitors probably only 1 will truly search for an agency to build them a website. Others may search for a free website builder or for a do it yourself tutorial.
However if you rank for the keyword “Web Agency” you may only get 10 visitors but they are really looking for your offering and for 1 you may be the right fit. And if you even extend your keyword further like “Web Agency NY” you may get only 5 visitors but 2 may hire you.
To conclude: With long tail keywords you focus on a more specific search term. Therefore you also get more specific visitors to your website. Additionally the competition for long tail keywords is always less than for normal keywords.
To tell Google that you want to rank for a keyword you need to include it at important points. Best Practices:
- First you should use your Keyword in your site title.
- Add it also to your url (‘permalink’) – but don’t let your url get too long
- Add your Keyword to headlines on the page – most importantly in your H1 headline
- Add it in your h2, h3 and other headlines too but with a couple more words attached
- Use your keyword in your site’s text
- Use your keyword in your images’ ‘alt’ tags
However don’t overdo it! Google doesn’t want well optimized websites. Google wants websites that are fitting for the Google user’s search request. So use above tactics to let Google know what your site is about but then focus on providing as much value for your visitors as possible. I believe Google also measures how long people stay on your site. Out of this number it concludes how well your site is fitting your visitor’s search request.
99% of times you can’t get your website to #1 in Google just with Onpage measures.
Now we are talking. Offpage is the thing that gets you to the front page of Google (if Onpage is done right). Offpage includes every activity you do to make your site more popular.
One important Offpage aspect is your ‘Page Rank‘ (from Larry Page, one of the Google founders). The Page Rank measures how many links point to your site. And how important and “on topic” these links are. What do I mean?
Importance Of Links
Google ranks sites based on their importance. The most weighted factor for it is the Page Rank (< it may be named differently in the future though). So if a website with a high Page Rank links to your site the link is more important than from a website which was created an hour ago.
Google also likes links more that are on topic. So for example if your website is about “shoes in NY” and Nike links to your website (because they think you are awesome) the link is far more important than if Microsoft links to your website.
So to get ranked further you need websites to link to your site. The easiest way is to setup social media profiles and link to your website. This should probably always be your first step. But then it gets tricky.
Remember Google wants the best results for it’s search engine users. So Google hates websites that try to game the ranking (with so called ‘Blackhat’ tactics). Blackhat tactics include hosting some websites just for the sake of pointing to your own website. I recommend to stay away from blackhat if you just created a project you love and want to keep it going for many years. On the other hand blackhat SEO experts can generate good numbers with their tactics, while being always on the run. But if you don’t want to choose “gambling with Google” as your profession you should stay away.
More accepted ways for link building are guest blog entries, posting in comment sections (although these links don’t weight much) and just writing awesome articles and asking others to share if they like them.
You have now the tools to optimize your website for Google and you know how to rank better.
This topic grew really big in the past (as Google constantly changes) and therefore there is a lot more in depth material on this topic. However if you remember above steps you are on your way to the front page!
Create your website and spread the word!