Who do you turn to when you’ve got a question? A friend? A colleague? You turn to Google of course! Google is the most visited website in the world, with 112.9 billion monthly visits in March 2023. In second place is YouTube with 94.8 billion visits, and in third place is Facebook, receiving 13.8 billion visits in the same period.
Google has become part of our life: many of us turn to Google multiple times per day. When a user is searching on Google, the latest data shows that the top-ranking organic result is ten times more likely to be clicked than the 10th result, and just 0.63% of users click to the second page of search results. Organic rankings matter for business success.
So how can your website rank higher on Google in 2023? In this post, we’ll outline the top-ranking factors and how you can optimise your website for them. You’ll learn how to:
- Understand Google’s E-E-A-T concept
- Target the right keywords
- Perfect your on-page SEO
- Create valuable content
- Don’t ignore search intent
- Build backlinks
- Check your technical SEO
Understand Google’s E-E-A-T concept
Google’s E-E-A-T concept stands for experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. According to Google’s Search Quality standards, you must demonstrate E-E-A-T in your content to rank. In life, we trust people and businesses who have experience, are experts in their field, and hold authority on a subject. Through this, we feel secure that we’re receiving accurate information.
Google want us to feel the same about the content delivered on the search engine results page (SERP). In essence, be honest, show that you’re human and that you care about the users of your site. Many of the strategies in this article can help demonstrate E-E-A-T.
Target the Right Keywords
Before you can rank on Google, you need to choose the keywords you’re going to target and build content around. Sure, you want to appear for the search terms your potential customers are typing into Google, but there are a few factors to consider first.
Using Google Keyword Planner (or other keyword research tools), you’ll be able to identify the average monthly search volume for your keyword, historical volume change, and the level of competition. You can also discover related keywords and their data. You’re looking for keywords that aren’t too broad, are relevant to your business, have good search volume, and have low competition.
From your first single keyword, you can grow a group of related long-tail keywords that encompass the many different search terms your potential customers are using when searching. Using multiple keywords focused around one theme (instead of a single keyword) provides more opportunities for your page to rank.
Perfect Your On-Page SEO
If you want to rank on Google, on-page search engine optimisation (SEO) is the best place to start. On-page SEO includes optimising every element that lives ‘on’ your website pages, such as the content, images, target keyword placement, keyword frequency, title tags, meta descriptions, URL, links and more.
Some on-page SEO best practice tactics include:
- Use your target keyword at least once in the first 100 words on your page
- Add H1 and H2 title tags to your titles and subtitles, and frontload your title tag with the target keyword
- Write a compelling meta description containing your keyword
- Add internal links to the page from other pages on your website using keyword-rich anchor text
- Name all images with a descriptive filename and alt text
Create Valuable Content
While optimal keywords and on-page SEO contribute to your rank on Google, the most important ranking factor is high-quality, valuable content. When wanting to rank for a keyword, check out what is currently ranking and ask “how is my content better?” Your content needs to be the most valuable result for the keyword. Here’s how:
- Provide ‘complete’ information. Studies have shown that longer content (1,800 words plus) ranks better in Google. It’s not the word count that’s important here, it’s the ‘completeness’ of the information. ‘Complete’ content answers the user’s search query, offers supporting evidence and statistics, and is authoritative. The end goal is a satisfied user.
- Use visual content, such as charts, infographics and videos to encourage other sites to link to it. Remember, Google offers images and video search results, not just text results.
Don’t Ignore Search Intent
So you’ve conducted some keyword research, decided on a topic and started writing valuable content. But do you really understand what people are searching for when they type that keyword? This is known as search intent. Do they want a long list of detailed techniques or a basic summary with real-life examples? After analysing and indexing thousands of pages, Google serves the pages that are the most relevant to what people are searching for.
One method to discover the search intent is to look at what is currently ranking on Google. If your content is missing the key elements that people want, it’s time to rework it so it delivers.
Backlinks were part of Google’s original algorithm, Page Rank, developed in 1998. Even after thousands of changes to the algorithm, backlinks are still a key ranking factor in 2023. A backlink is simply a link to your page from another website. Think of backlinks as “votes” – the more votes your page has, the more credible and valuable the page is, and the higher it ranks on Google.
But how do you get these prized backlinks? Consider how many blog posts, videos and social media posts are published every day. WordPress reports that 70 million new posts are produced each month! With this much competition, how will anyone see your content in order to link to it?
That’s where you need to put in the legwork. Earning links can be arduous and time-consuming, but the payoff is in the ranking. There are hundreds of link-building techniques. Here are a few to get you started:
- Link Round Ups: Pitch your content to Link Round Ups in your industry. A Link Round Up is a weekly or monthly blog post that includes a list of new content to check out.
- Resource Pages: Like Link Round Ups, Resource Pages contain links to additional content on that topic. Pitch your content to the Resource Page owner to appear on their page.
- Broken Link Building: Find a broken link on a website you’re hoping for a link from. Contact the website owner to inform them of the broken link and offer your content as a replacement.
- Podcasts: Feature as a guest on podcasts to gain backlinks from the podcast host.
Check Your Technical SEO
Your high-quality content won’t reach anyone if your technical SEO doesn’t meet the current standards. In April 2023, Google announced that site security, page speed, mobile optimised and page experience are now retired from the ranking systems list. While they’re no longer officially used to inform ranking, they still contribute to your website’s overall success by providing a positive user experience that makes visitors more likely to return.
Check these items off the list below to ensure Google can easily find, crawl and index your website correctly:
- Site Security: Ensure your website’s domain starts with “https”. If your domain only has “http”, then it’s not as secure as it could be. Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (https) uses an encrypted connection to transfer data from your server to a browser, protected by a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate to protect data from being stolen. Google also give preference to websites with https.
- Page Speed: Landing on a page that’s slow to load is an instant turn-off. It’s going to result in a high bounce rate and a penalty from Google. Check your page speed with ‘Google PageSpeed Insights’ or ‘GTmetrix’. Alternatively, a web developer can help you with this.
- Mobile Optimised: It’s vital your website is 100% optimised for mobile devices. As of March 2023, almost 60% of website traffic comes from mobile devices. Since the announcement of ‘Mobile-First-Indexing’ in 2019, Google primarily uses the mobile version of your site for indexing and ranking (rather than the desktop). A simple way to check if your site is optimised for mobile is to enter your URL into Google’s ‘Mobile Friendly Test’ tool. Additionally, you should always test your site on an actual mobile device too.
- Site Structure & Internal Links: An organised site structure makes it easy for Google to crawl, understand and index the content on your website. All pages of your site should be accessible in three clicks or less from the homepage. Internal links make up the site structure and can have a big impact on your ranking performance. Internal links include the primary navigation menu, footer links, sidebar links and in-text links with keyword-rich anchor text. The more links you provide, the easier it is for Google and users to navigate your site.
Ready to rank?
Remember, SEO is a long-term strategy that aims to improve your Google ranking over time. If you work at optimising your website using our top-ranking factors, you’ll start to see organic growth on your website. Lastly, you need to keep your content fresh to keep it relevant. This requires regular updates to content, links and resulting traffic.
If SEO and ranking on Google feel out-of-reach, don’t stress. We get that it’s complex and we’re here if you need to vent! Contact NOUS and we can help get your SEO strategy underway.