Ranking at the top of Google is every website owner’s dream, but it’s also easier said than done.
Improving a website’s Google rankings takes time and effort. The steps outlined in this guide will help you rank higher in Google, but only if you carry them all out and then keep repeating them.
How to rank higher in Google
- Research the right keywords
- Create high-quality content
- Share your content
- Connect with influencers in your niche
- Generate press coverage for your business
- Use internal linking
- Work on local SEO (if appropriate)
- Get to grips with schema markup
- Keep an eye on technical SEO
- Monitor your results
- Keep repeating these steps
Research the right keywords
Keywords help Google understand what your webpages are about. When someone types a search query into Google, it will display a selection of results that it thinks are a good match for that query.
Relevant content that contains relevant keywords is one of the main ways Google decides if a webpage is a good match for a particular search query.
How can you identify the right keywords? By using a keyword research tool. There are plenty of tools out there, and GoDaddy’s Search Engine Optimization tool includes a keyword research feature, so find one that suits your needs and budget.
Keywords should be relevant to your website, have a decent number of monthly searches and be something that you can realistically rank well for.
If a keyword doesn’t meet these three criteria then there’s no point in optimizing a webpage to rank for it.
You can learn more about researching website keywords in this guide.
Understand search intent
Researching keywords isn’t enough, you also need to understand the intent people have when they search using those keywords.
That’s because Google also tries to understand the intent behind a particular search so it can offer searches the most relevant results.
Search intent is commonly divided into four categories:
- Informational – Looking for information (Eg “Today’s weather”).
- Navigational – Looking to visit a certain website or page (Eg “GoDaddy login”).
- Commercial – Researching information relating to a purchase they intent to make soon (Eg “Best walking shoes”.
- Transactional – Looking to make a purchase (Eg “buy a domain name”).
Because Google always tries to match its results to a searcher’s intent, you need to make sure your content also matches up with that intent.
For example, there’s no point in writing a blog post with the title “GoDaddy login” in an attempt to target that keyword, because Google will want to prioritise pages that actually let people login to GoDaddy.
Understanding search intent when you’re just starting out can be tricky. When you’re trying to work out which keywords you should target, check the existing results and see what kinds of pages Google is including. That should help you understand the intent behind a particular search phrase.
You can learn more about understanding search intent in this guide.
Create high-quality content
High-quality content that includes relevant keywords and matches up to the search intent relating to those keywords is the basic requirement for ranking higher in Google.
Without it, you’re unlikely to rank well in any search engine.
This high-quality content can be anything from product pages to blog posts. It all depends on what kind of site you’re running.
If you’re selling products or services, you should focus on ensuring the content on these pages is of the highest quality before you do anything else.
You need to include keywords and full, accurate descriptions of your product/service, high-quality product photos, reviews and/or testimonials.
These elements will help with SEO and also encourage people to buy your product/service. You can read more about creating content products pages here.
Once you’ve optimized your product/services pages (or if your site doesn’t have them) you can focus on other types of content.
This could include blog posts, infographics, video content, interactive tools and more.
If you’re a business website, the idea will be to find commercial intent keyword that are related to the things you sell and create content based around those (you’ll probably also want to tackle some informational keywords). This gives you a better of chance of being found by people who are searching for a business like yours.
For blogs and other types of website that aren’t directly selling products/services, you’ll probably want to focus on a mix of informational intent and commercial intent keywords, depending on the nature of the content you intend to produce.
Creating high-quality content takes time and effort. You can learn more about it in this guide.
Share your content
Sharing and promoting your content is a must if you want to attract attention to it. Sharing it on social media is a good starting point.
But the more people that see your content, the more chance there is of it attracting links and links are another crucial element of getting your website to rank higher on Google.
Put simply, the more links a page has the more likely Google is to view it as useful, trustworthy content and, therefore, the more likely it is to rank well in Google.
Content promotion with the aim of attracting links is a huge topic. You can learn more about it in this guide.
Connect with influencers in your niche
Connecting with influencers in your niche will help you promote you content, increasing your chances of getting links (they may also link to your content themselves if they have a website of their own.)
Aim to connect with people who already have the attention of the audience you’re looking to reach. You can learn more about influencer marketing in this guide.
Generate press coverage for your business
Anything that gets your business out there will increase the chances of you getting a link. If you’ve created a newsworthy piece of content (eg a survey relating to your niche) then approach relevant news sources to cover it.
The press coverage in itself will be useful for your business, but there’s also a chance you’ll get a link to the content you’re promoting and/or your homepage.
Read this guide to learn more about getting press coverage for your business.
Use internal linking
So far, we’ve talked about attracting links from other websites, but the links that exist between pages on your website are also important.
Internal linking is most important to help users make their way around your website, so first of all you should make sure that your navigation is logical and works properly.
However, internal linking can also help you rank higher in Google and other search engines.
For example, if you were selling widgets and you decided to write a blog post about “Why buying a widget will make your life better” then obviously you’d want to link to your widget product page so people can buy one after reading the post. But that link could also boost your SEO.
Make sure your internal links use appropriate anchor text (anchor text is the text you click on to visit a link) which tells people where they’ll end up if they click it and is related to the keywords you’re trying to rank the linked page for.
For example, in our widget blog post the anchor text might be “buy a life-changing widget” now.
See if you can spot the internal links in this article. You can learn more about internal links in this guide.
Work on local SEO (if appropriate)
So far, we’ve covered general SEO. But if your business operates in a fixed local area or has physical premises that people visit, you’ll also want to work on local SEO.
The aim of local SEO is to get your business to appear when people make searches life “café near me” or “plumber in Ealing”.
It’s similar to “normal” SEO, but does have some significant differences. The first thing you need to do if you want to rank higher in Google’s local search results is create a Google My Business page.
You can learn more about getting to grips with local SEO in this guide.
Get to grips with schema markup
Okay, now we’re starting to get a bit more technical. Put simply, schema markup helps Google (and other search engines) understand the content of a webpage.
Not only that, it also allows Google to include “rich snippets” in its search results. These rich snippets often help sites boost the number of clicks they get from Google.
Using schema markup doesn’t seem to boost a site’s search rankings in and of itself. However, the opportunity to get more clicks once you are ranking well means it can be a good idea to include it as part of your SEO process.
To get to grips with schema markup, you’ll need to be confident with basic HTML. You can learn more about schema markup, how it works and how to implement it here.
Keep an eye on technical SEO
For large, complex sites technical SEO is a huge undertaking and can mean the difference between ranking well in Google and ranking on the second page (or not at all).
If you’re running a smaller website (especially one powered by WordPress or a modern website builder like the one offered by GoDaddy) then you’ve got less to worry about.
However, you’ll still need to keep an eye on some important issues.
Setting up Google Search Console
Google Search Console will provide you with information about the health of your site from an SEO point of view, so it’s important to set it up.
This should be logical and descriptive. For example, if your homepage is example.com and you sell widgets then your product page will likely be example.com/widgets. If you’re selling significantly different types of widgets, then you might have pages called example.com/widgets/widgetypea and example.com/widgets/widgetstypeb
You can learn more about URL structure here.
A sitemap helps Google understand your site its pages. This removes the possibility of your site (or a page) not ranking in Google because it doesn’t know it exists.
If you’re using WordPress, it may be that your site has already created a sitemap for you. Other website builder solutions may also do this. You can learn more about creating a sitemap here.
You might think that example.com/ and example.com are the same page. But search engines treat them as two separate pages. (The same goes for www.example.com and example.com.)
Google is now pretty good at ignoring one of the duplicate pages and concentrating on the other, but these duplicate URLs can still cause SEO issues.
To avoid this, you should choose one way of displaying your URLs and stick to it by redirecting (see below) the other versions.
These redirects are fairly easy to implement, but can need a bit of technical knowledge. Your web host may be able to help you.
Redirects and deleted pages
Just deleting a webpage is bad for SEO and it’s bad for user experience. If someone click on a link to a page that’s been deleted, they’ll see an error message. Plus, the SEO value of links to that page will be lost.
Instead of deleting pages, you should redirect them instead. If someone clicks a link to a page that’s been redirected, they’ll be redirected to the page you want them to visit instead. Redirects don’t pass on all the SEO value of links, so try to avoid using them where possible.
For example, if you launch a new, improved widget that replaces the widgets you’ve been selling in the past, it’s probably not a good idea to redirect example.com/widget to example.com/newwidgets because you could just update the content on example.com/widget
However, if you were to stop selling a certain type of widget you’d probably want to redirect that product page to the product category page. So you’d redirect example.com/widgetypec to example.com/widget.
You can learn more about redirects and how to implement them in this guide.
Monitor your results
Trying to rank higher in Google is one thing, but if you don’t monitor the results of your SEO efforts you won’t know if they’re paying off.
Make sure that any SEO tool you use for keyword research comes with a rank tracking feature to help you monitor your SEO results.
You should also use Google Analytics to track increases in traffic and page value from your SEO efforts.
Keep repeating these steps
Following all these steps once will probably lead to a small SEO boost. But if you’re serious about ranking higher in Google then you need to keep working on these steps.
There will always be new keywords to target and new links to be won. Your competitors in the search result will be out there targeting them, so you need to as well.
Bonus tip: Consider using Google Ads
SEO is a great way of attracting more website visitors, but it takes time to see results. Google Ads can be used as a “shortcut” to get to the top of Google results.
However, any pay per click ad campaign can be expensive, especially if you’re not targeting the right keywords or competition is fierce.
Don’t start a Google Ads campaign just because you want to see your site appear above the “normal” search results.
Do start a Google Ads campaign if you’re willing to plan it out and spend time monitoring it for the best results. You could also hire an agency to tackle PPC for you.
You can learn more about Google Ads in this guide.
Search engine optimization can seem complex, but if you break it down into smaller step you’re more likely to get results.
Start by identifying your top priority keywords and optimize your site for these. Then you can start targeting your secondary keywords.
Don’t give up if you don’t see results within the first couple of months, keep going. However, if you’re not seeing any improvements after about six months then you may need to reconsider your strategy.