A recent poll held on the Purple Giraffe LinkedIn page asked the question “what keeps you awake at night?”
The number one result? How to rank higher on Google.
Here’s all the results:
- 36% – How to rank higher on Google
- 27% – How to get more customer leads
- 18% – Increasing engagement on social
- 18% – Inconsistent branding
As you can see, the number one thing that keeps respondents awake at night, with 36% of responses, was “How to rank higher on Google”.
This blog will detail a selection of tips and tricks to help your business rank higher on Google. Honestly, ranking on Google is a bit like the saying “how long is a piece of string” – there are so many variables that can affect your ranking. Equally algorithms continually change, so you can’t just set and forget – it’s a constant battle.
Generally, however, if your business is not on the first page of Google results today, you are not found. It is important to note that a higher Google ranking doesn’t happen overnight. It is a product of many aspects and an ongoing commitment by your business to adopt the techniques outlined in this blog.
To rank higher on Google, your business will need to master several different online components, including, but not limited to:
- Search Engine Optimisation,
- Google Page Management,
- Social Media Management.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO isn’t something you do once on your website and then move onto something else. It’s not a fad that is going to phase out soon, it is something that needs to be continually addressed and updated.
If you haven’t focused on your SEO until now, it can all seem a little overwhelming. But if you start with just a few of the suggestions below and then move onto the next, you will soon master it.
SEO is critical for businesses today, as it is the main mechanism to help a business to be discovered online.
SEO approaches can be divided into two different categories: on-page, and off-page. Both are critical to the success of an SEO strategy and your search ranking. Search engines evaluate your site compared to other websites when deciding on ranking hierarchy.
Put succinctly, on-page SEO looks at what your website is about. Off-page SEO looks at how authoritative and popular your site is. What your website ranks for is largely determined by on-page factors, while how your page ranks in search results is largely determined by off-page factors.
On-page SEO is one of the fastest ways to improve your Google rankings, mainly because you can optimise your page in about two to three minutes and start to see a ranking boost as search engines reassess your page.
Below is a list of good on-page SEO practises for you to consider:
Properly format your page
Your website needs to stand out in a very crowded market – but don’t underestimate the value of your website being neat, clear, organised, and uncluttered. Consider things like your font size and type, ensuring they are appropriate for your audience. Use coloured text, bold font, and italics sparingly. Heading, bullet points, and check lists make it easy for visitors to quickly review content.
Use short URLs for your pages, with targeted key words within the URL.
Title tag is the HTML element used to specify the title of a webpage. Their primary role is to tell visitors and search engines what they can expect from the webpage. Google (and other search engines) look at your title to make sense of your page. Typically, the title tag is the first thing a potential website visitor will take notice of when searching the web. So, it is important that you make a positive first impression.
Using Heading 1 and Heading 2 tags are important. Not only do headings make your content easier for the reader to digest, it makes it easier for search engines go decipher as well. Heading tags are also a great way to show the structure of your content and emphasise your key points.
Depending on your business, people don’t generally have time these days to read content that is difficult to understand and technical in nature. Equally, if you want people to visit your site and to spend time on it, write content that can be easily understood. Some handy tools to help you write content that is easy to digest are available at readable.com or grammarly.com.
In 2010, Google announced that page speed would affect ranking, as page speed is directly related to user experience. The faster the page load, the better the user experience. Studies of users’ behaviour shows the faster your page loads, the more likely users are to remain on your website and have a positive experience.
Internal links are hyperlinks that point the user to the same content within your existing website. Internal links are essential as they help establish a website’s architecture. Google uses internal links to discover new content.
Also, referred to as outbound links, external links will send your reader from your website to another website. Commonly, external links are used to verify facts or simply point people towards further resources.
Google’s archived About page states “PageRank works by counting the number and quality of links to a page to determine a rough estimate of how important the website is. The underlying assumption is that more important websites are likely to receive more links from other websites”.
A cache is a snapshot of a web page that Google creates and stores after they have indexed a page. When pages are indexed, they are categorised and then filed within Google’s indexers. This way Google does not actively search through millions of web pages every time a page is called up.
Type any term into Google’s search bar and hit enter. Let’s say you searched “outsourced marketing”. After Google returns the search results, you’ll see a series of titles and meta descriptions that look something like this:
When Google perceives that your website has relevance and authority to the search request, it will index your site more often. You can often check this frequency using your Google Cache.
Optimise your images
What does it mean to optimise images? It’s about reducing your image file size as much as possible without sacrificing quality so that your page load times remain low. It’s also about image SEO by getting them to rank on Google and other image search engines. You can do this by having descriptive filenames and include alt text.
Optimise your voice search
More and more people are using voice search to find the information they require. Ensure your business ranks on voice search by incorporating voice search phrases into your website content. It can help to use full sentences in a natural and conversational style rather using single key words.
Long form Content
Google loves long form content. Long-form content can make your business look more like an authority in your field. So, it’s important to develop and updated regular content on your website. This can be done through blogs or news updates.
Use of video
Video is quickly becoming one of the most important forms of content marketing and its presence could make or break your optimisation efforts. One of the main reasons video is becoming the go-to form for content delivery is because it works well at delivering large amounts of information in a short and concise manner. It seems that Google also loves video content as well, especially long form video content.
All your contact information should be clear and in plain sight for people to find on your website. Ensure people can click on your phone number to automatically dial your business – same goes for your email address. Make sure your address is accurate and consistently represented in all online channels. This further reaffirms the validity and authority of your business to Google.
Optimise your site for mobile devices
You would think that we wouldn’t need to specify this requirement, however, there are a number of businesses whose websites are still not optimised for mobile devices – plenty of them! There’s no way to sugar coat this – if your website isn’t optimised, it will definitely hinder the user experience and will adversely affect your page ranking. There is no getting around it – optimise your website for mobile devices now.
A website is not a set and forget tool for your business. It requires continuous improvement and updates. Your page’s user experience should constantly be reviewed and updated to improve visual readability, images, headings, broken links, and updated content.
Google My Business Page Management
Firstly, does your business own its Google My Business Page? If it doesn’t, take ownership of it today, or set one up if you don’t have one already. Depending on your industry type, the vast majority – up to 80% of consumers – are searching on local search engines like Google Maps to identify businesses in their local area.
With more and more people using their smartphones to search for businesses near, them it is critical that your business shows up in relevant local searches. So be sure your business is listed not only on Google My Business, but also in local directories such as:
There are many, many more directories too – just search “free business listings”.
Ensure that your Google My Business page is up to date each day. Be sure your page includes:
- A completed Google business profile,
- A local phone number (do not use a tracking phone number),
- Up to date opening hours according to changing environments,
- An accurate position locator so people can find you,
- An optimised description with key words – but don’t make it too obvious,
- Categories describing your business,
- Relevant photos.
Don’t forget to also:
- Consolidate duplicate listings,
- Post regular content – we recommend at least one post per week,
- Encourage testimonials,
- Embed Google Maps on your website.
Essentially, your Google Page should be considered as important as any of your social media pages.
Social Media Management
Social media is important to help boost SEO in many ways and while SEO and Social Media are different, they help each other. Social media is built for mass sharing and that is how social media affects SEO, because this sharing adds up to more visibility of your content. As we’ve discovered, links on social media to your content are important for SEO, so a high share rate is likely to help boost your search ranking. It may be true to say, that it is the links shared on social media pages that support SEO more than social media itself.
The advantage of social media SEO is that businesses can promote their content directly to followers. Every business and website needs to be active on social media. It’s through social media your consumers will have the ability to directly interact with your brand. Social media can and should act as a funnel to share links to your website, effectively driving traffic to your online shop being your website. From an SEO point of view, it is these links and perceived increased relevance of your page that will support higher ranking on Google.
As you can see, ranking higher on Google is a complex web of tasks that can take time, energy, and effort, however the results are immensely rewarding. Our suggestion is to tackle one aspect at a time and continually grow your content and activities over time. Of course, the team at Purple Giraffe are more than happy to help.