Every online business, blog, eCommerce site, landing page, etc., is looking for a way to get to the top of the search engine results pages, SERPs.
Research by Backlinko showed that websites that appear on the first page of the SERPs, receive 31.7% of all clicks, while those that appear on the second page, get a comparatively paltry 0.78% of clicks.
One of the major issues that businesses struggle with is how to get to the first page, if not the number one position, in the SERPs… And how to do so without getting penalized for violating Google’s SEO guidelines.
Well, to be honest, there is no magic wand that you can wave about and end up on the first page in an instant.
It takes a lot of dedication, creativity, persistence, and resourcefulness, and this will be compounded by the every-fluid nature of the Google Search Algorithm, which changes from time to time.
There are a number of ways in which you can go about getting your web venture to the first page of the SERPs.
This means going back to basics, so you know how to approach SEO in the right manner.
It means getting to know how to optimize your website for both human beings and the Google search engine crawlers.
This in-depth article will show you how to go about improving your ranking on Google, without being penalized for stepping outside the line.
Table Of Contents
#1: Understanding Google’s Search Engine Algorithms
#2: How to Analyze Your Current Search Engine Ranking
#3 How to Measure and Track Your Performance Analytics
#4 How To Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly
#5: Find Current Penalties and Fix Them
#6: Redo Your Keyword Research
#7: Polish Up Your On-Page SEO
#8: Create Content In The Proper Manner Using Keywords
#9: Learn To Create Links In The Proper Manner
#10: Embrace Social Media
#1: Understanding Google’s Search Engine Algorithms
Google makes changes to all its algorithms from time to time. They will make a major change, which they will announce, and then continue tweaking it as it is rolled out, which they do not necessarily let people know about.
According to Moz, Google can make anywhere between 500 and 600 algorithm changes every year. That is approximately one change per day.
How Google makes improvements to its search algorithm
SEO specialists are always on top of the changes which are announced, but nobody really knows what happens when the smaller changes are made – they just end up speculating, whenever they notice some odd happening on Google.
This is absolutely fair, from our point of view, since if everyone knew how to quickly get to the top position, then results would be chaotic.
Google would not be in existence and the search engines would turn into a never-ending war zone with results changing every few minutes.
Google would also fail in the mission to organize and serve up all information from all over the world in a useful and universally accessible manner.
You have to put in the work if you want to get to the top of the SERPs.
In keeping with this mission statement, Google has undergone a large number of algorithm updates since its inception, but the latter ones have been the most powerful.
- In April 2012, The Penguin Update was launched, and this was targeted at spammers and those who bought links.
- In August 2013, The Hummingbird Update came into being, and this was targeted at keyword stuffers, and it was able to reward content that used keywords in a contextual manner.
- In July 2014, The Pidgeon Update was born, and it started integrating other searches such as Google Maps, to rank businesses.
- In April 2015, The Mobile-Friendly Update was launched, and it favored websites that had a mobile version of the website ready, and heavily punished those that did not.
- In July 2019, The Mobile-First Update came up, and it started looking at all sites from a Mobile Device point of view. Sites that worked well on mobile devices (responsive sites) were favored.
- In December 2020, The Core Update was launched, and this favored great quality content and relevance.
- In June 2021, The Page Experience Update was launched, which affected the Core Web Vitals, News Alerts, and Organic Results.
Many other updates have been rolled out, with names such as Panda, BERT, and most recently The Google MUM update.
So just how should the average Joe figure out how to keep on top of these algorithm updates?
Well, if you want to go deeper into the history of the Algorithm updates, you can visit The Google Algorithm Change History, by Moz.
Google also has the same information on Google Webmaster Central.
There is so much more that goes into understanding Google’s Algorithm Updates, but what you need to know is that they are done to keep a level playing field, where those who put in the work, are rewarded for it.
So, are you ready to put in the work?
Let us move on and see just how you can get to the top of the SERPs, without incurring penalties from Google.
#2: How to Analyze Your Current Search Engine Ranking
Before you can even go about tweaking your site for a better ranking, you must know what your CURRENT is.
It does not matter whether you are just starting out or if your site has been in existence for a long time, the first thing you need to do is know where you currently stand.
Analyze Your Keyword Ranking
Ahrefs is a great free tool that you can use to check on the current keyword ranking of your site.
The tool will rank your website for certain keywords, and will also show you your performance against the performance of your top competitors.
This is a great way to tell just where you stand with respect to your competition.
They have three integrated tools that you can use:
- The Site Explorer – This shows you every keyword that is used on your website
- The Rank Tracker – Tracks the way keywords rank over time. The list has over 10,000 keywords.
- The Keywords Explorer – This gives you insightful data on the keywords used by the top-ranking pages in your niche.
Analyze Your Site Speed
The speed at which pages load on the Internet is an important ranking factor.
People do not want to wait for a long time to access a site once they click on the link.
Slow speeds cannot convert prospects into new customers or dedicated audiences, and Google does not want this, so site speed is very important.
Even if a site reduces the page load speed from one second to four seconds, then there will be a huge decrease in conversions.
When such a thing occurs, then the great on-page SEO, title tags, meta descriptions, and keywords all become useless. Google will punish you for slow loading speeds – PERIOD!
Given the fact that loading speeds will affect the way that Google ranks your website, then you MUST improve speeds, even if it is by a few seconds. There are many tools that you can use to test the speeds of your website.
Here are some of the top tools you can use:
When you test the speed of your website, the main thing you should be looking at is the Performance Grade.
If your site has a Performance Grade of 51 and above, then your speed is good, but if it is below 50, then you must look into ways to improve your page loading speeds.
You should also consider the Page Load Time – this should ideally be below 2 seconds. If your page takes 3 to 4 seconds to load, then you need to work on it to make it lighter.
For mobile devices, the speed should ideally be below one second.
Analyze Your Site Health
After you have gone through the process of checking the keyword ranking on the search engines, and the speed of the site, you must now look at the health of the site.
You may onetime notice a reduction of organic traffic, even if your traffic has been consistently high over a long time.
You might panic and think that Google has banned your site
Well, before you get too demoralized, there are a few tools that you can use to check on the health of your site.
One of the best that you can rely on is the MxToolBox Domain Health Report tool.
This is a tool that shows you the health of your site and covers five main issues:
- General Site Problems
- Mail Server
- Web Server
All you have to do is check the corresponding box, and you will see the warnings and errors found on your site. This will allow you to fix each of these issues, one at a time.
If a new Google Algorithm Update has found something on your site and decided to penalize you for it, then you can use the Website Penalty Indicator tool by FE International.
The results will be served up in the form of a graph, which will show you how your site traffic has been performing, after each of the Google Update rollouts.
This will let you know if a certain update has affected the performance of your website on the SERPs, and hence the drastic reduction in organic traffic volume.
If you want to check if Google has imposed a penalty on your website, go to Google Search Console, and then navigate to the “Security & Manual Actions” report. You will be able to see if Google has manually penalized your site.
The report is an indication that a human reviewer has looked at your site and found something that warranted a manual penalty. The report does not indicate if you have received a penalty brought about by the algorithm.
There are several ways in which you can fix issues that have brought about a manual penalty. Once you have identified and fixed the issues, you can then write to Google and submit a reconsideration request.
#3 How to Measure and Track Your Performance Analytics
Now it is time to check on the vital statistics – pun not intended – of your website.
This will allow you to see what other areas and factors of your website performance you need to change.
The following are the main metrics that you should pay attention to:
You have to see just how your visitors find your website on the SERPs.
In the past, organic search was the major contributor to traffic volumes for most businesses. Other non-organic methods such as paid adverts and social media came second.
The situation has reversed today, with paid ads and social media presence driving the most traffic to these businesses.
This will however depend on the niche in which you operate.
In order to find out how much organic traffic is coming to your website, then you need to go into your Google Analytics Account, and check on the report marked “Acquisition Channels”.
This will show you the sources of your organic traffic.
Organic Traffic Conversions
Apart from checking on your organic search volumes, you should also check on the best keywords that you use to bring in the most traffic.
Today, it is somewhat more difficult to determine this factor, but it is still important, and possible.
Use the Google Search Console, in order to see the number of clicks that you get for each keyword that you use.
Check on Transactional Keyword Ranking
One of the biggest mistakes that most people make when looking for keywords is not spending time looking for transactional keywords vis-à-vis informational keywords.
The reason is simple.
Transactional keywords are the ones that drive revenue generation – Period!
Apart from improving your ranking on the search engine, you also want to generate more revenue.
This is the reason why you must spend time looking for transactional keywords as opposed to informational keywords.
If you concentrate mainly on informational keywords, you will still improve your ranking on the SERPs, but it will be challenging to convert visitors into buying customers.
You need keywords that can even make people buy products and services right from social media posts.
Let’s take a look at an example.
Consider the following keywords:
- Free ways to make money online
- Use home remedies for glowing skin
- Install WordPress for free
- Get a free eBook
- Top 10 free webmaster resources
With these keywords, you will definitely get a lot of organic traffic. However, the people who visit your pages are looking for FREE stuff, and are not in a buying mood.
This means that they are not willing to purchase, even if you have a paid option at the bottom of your list of free resources.
Now, take a look at the following keywords:
- Best Glowing Skin Products
- Best Web Hosts
- Make Money Online
The people who click on your link are not necessarily looking for FREE stuff and will be more open to responding to a well-written sales pitch.
Companies that are primarily eCommerce stores know that transactional keywords drive revenue.
Some of these include:
Click to Tweet: when looking at keywords to improve your website ranking, make sure that you use these keywords in the On-Page SEO as well as the metadescription.
Track Your Metrics Using An SEO Dashboard
You should always set up a dashboard through which you can track the metrics that we have talked about above.
You can easily set one up in Google Analytics
If you want to spend a little more money and get a premium (paid) dashboard, then there are several tools that you can get.
If you do not have a budget for this, Google Analytics is your best option.
You can even get better results when you connect your Google Search Console and Google Analytics accounts.
#4 How To Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly
Today, over 50% of all the traffic that a website gets comes from mobile devices.
Therefore, if you want to rank well on the SERPs, then you need to make sure that your website is mobile-friendly.
Google did not mince their words in 2017 when they said that those who mobile-friendly web pages will be ranked higher within the SERPs.
This was so that people may get access to information even when they are on the move and not necessarily in front of a desktop computer or laptop.
Then in 2020, Google went further and started the “mobile-first indexing” method, where google began looking at websites as a mobile devices.
This meant that sites that could easily be navigated on mobile screens got higher rankings.
Today, most web development tools allow you to create mobile responsive websites very easily.
If you used plain HTML code to design your website, then you could test how it performs using the Google Mobile-Friendly Test.
All you have to do is enter your URL and then hit the “RUN TEST” button.
You will then be presented with a clear YES or No answer.
If there are issues on your website that make it hard to navigate on a mobile device, then you will see the issues listed so you can fix them.
Some of the page loading issues that will be listed include redirection Errors and pages that did not serve up the Robots.txt file, which basically allows the Googlebot to crawl through your web content.
Way to Improve Site’s Your Mobile Performance
You must make it a priority to fix issues related to the responsiveness and navigation of your site on mobile devices.
However, if you are using some of the CMS systems such as Wix or WordPress, then the themes offered are already mobile-friendly.
All you have to do is to add your content and the formatting is done for you.
Apart from the navigation of the site, you must make sure that the form fields and CTAs are large enough to allow interaction on smaller mobile screens.
You should remove popups from your site since these are quite difficult to close on a mobile device.
They are not only cumbersome on mobile devices but also annoy users a lot.
Consider Local and Mobile SEO
Mobile SEO and Local SEO have a strong relationship with one another. Google tends to favor local search, which allows it to connect people to stores and outlets that are within their location.
You must always make sure that you have a Google My Business profile and that it is filled with as much up-to-date information as possible.
If someone is within your area and is looking for products or services that you provide, then they will find you ranked in the top position on the SERPs, if your site is optimized both for mobile and local search.
Make sure that your business information is updated on other sites such as Facebook, Yelp, Better Business Bureau, and any other local business listings.
#5: Find Current Penalties and Fix Them
At this point, you now have a better understanding of your ranking on the SERPs and have set up the important metrics that you should track.
It is now time for you to look at your site, find any penalties that you may have incurred, and fix them.
This is really important; you cannot go on promoting your site and building links, yet the site is unhealthy and has penalties.
Before we go into fixing penalties, we shall look at the main things that could be contributing to the penalties.
- Bad Link Building
There have been a lot of changes where link building is concerned.
Having bad links on your site will lead to Google penalizing your website.
This is why you must pay a lot of attention to the way you create links on your website.
Follow this simple process to find and remove bad links on your site.
Step 1 – Analyze your links
You must first look at the inbound links leading to your site.
Several tools can help you in this process:
- Moz Link Explorer
When you are analyzing the quality of the backlinks to your website, there are certain elements that you must always pay attention to. These are:
- Unique Active Backlinks
This is an indicator of all the backlinks that are directly or indirectly associated with your Google ranking.
They are assigned the term “Unique” to show that they come from several different IP addresses.
This is a great way to find natural links that lead back to your website.
The links shown are only those that have been indexed by Google within the last 90 days.
- Nofollow links
IN 2005, Google introduced the rel= “nofollow” tag. It was designed to halt spam blog comments from artificially pumping up rankings on the search engines.
When Google rolled out the Penguin update, way back in 2013, it was now necessary to diversify the links coming back to your website.
Matt Cutts went ahead and clarified that you were required to have a mix of dofollow links, which are the ones that Google upholds when ranking your site, and nofollow links, which were to be ignored since they had no ranking value.
You must be able to know the industry that you are working in. At times, you may be working in the blogging industry, but upon analyzing your links, your website ends up being classified as a media company, since most of the backlinks come from media companies.
When you know your industry, you will be able to seek out links within the same industry, leading to your site. This will improve your backlink profile within the search engine algorithm.
Link Influence Score
This is an indicator of how links leading your website, influence the rankings of linked pages.
If the link influence score is high, then the better the ranking will be.
Most popular websites will have a link influence score of above 90%, and any links you get from these sites will be a huge boon to your website.
You should also check your site and see what your score is.
Anchor text refers to any link that is added to contextual text on a web page and links directly to your website.
The Google Penguin update made it impossible for website owners to artificially manipulate search results by using the exact anchor text.
To avoid getting any penalties, make sure that you use different anchor text formats and wording.
In summation, you must always check the links that point to your website. Keep those that are good, and work hard to remove those that are harmful.
Some harmful links include the following.
- Links coming from PRO or PR-n/a websites
- Links that are mainly sitewide
- Links that are coming from domains that have little or no traffic
- Links that are pointing from websites that belong to the same IP class address
There are several free tools that you can use to find and remove harmful links.
When you come across links that are harmful to your ranking on the search engines, export them to a list that you can refer to and remember at a later date.
Polish Up Your Link Profile
After identifying the unhealthy backlinks, it is now time to clean up your link profile.
There are 2 major ways to go about this:
Request for Manual Link Removal
Use the list of unhealthy or unnatural links that you exported from your analysis above, and then write to the site owners and ask them to remove all links leading to your website.
You may ask the website owner to completely delete the link, or add a nofollow tag to the link.
If you gave your link-building tasks to a third party, then you should write to the company or person who added the link and ask for its removal.
You must be sure that you have the proper communication with the website owner or third party since they might think that you are a spammer and completely ignore your communication.
Use the Disavow Links Tool, by Google
If contacting the website owner or third party to remove the link does not work, then you have no other recourse but to use the Disavow Links Tool, provided by Google.
It is best to follow the two steps, as they are laid out.
You can find the Disavow Links Tool within Google Search Console.
Log into Google Search Console and see your full list of sites.
Go to the site where you want to disavow links.
You will find a warning, telling you that you should only click on the “Disavow Links” button only if you believe the links on the site are harmful to your ranking or are of low quality.
Since you already have a list of the links, which you had exported earlier, go ahead and upload the file, and then click on “Done”.
Google, just like you, does not have the authority to manually remove the links from the websites found on your uploaded list.
However, they will be able to stop any of the link value that is coming from the links found in your list.
Differentiate the Distribution of Anchor Text
Anchor text is a double-edged sword.
On one hand, it can play a huge role in upgrading your link profile, and on the other hand, it can completely extinguish it.
If you want to have a healthy link profile, then you have to have diversity in the distribution of anchor text links.
When you are diversifying this distribution, here are some links types that you should consider:
Are you using anchor text that matches the keyword that you are using? For example, if you are targeting blogging tools, are you using anchor text that says “blogging tools”?
Does your anchor text have the keyword phrase in it? For example, “how to find the best blogging tools”.
Are you using your brand name as anchor text? For example, SEOWebFirm best blogging tools.
Are you using your brand name to combine your anchor text with a target keyword? For example, how to start using SEOWebFirm content marketing tools.
Let us look at another example to illustrate this distribution better:
Imagine that you are a firm that is selling branded pigtails for hair, and your domain name is brandedpigtails.com, what is the best way to distribute your anchor text?
Suppose you want to have three different anchor text links from a particular site, then the best link profile that you should have would be:
- Anchor text 1 – brandedpigtails.com site – target page: homepage
- Anchor text 2 – branded pigtails reviews online – target page: a page where you have written a review about the branded pigtails.
- Anchor text 3 – www.brandedpigtails.com reviews – target page: your store
Don’t Over-Optimize your Website
When you go overboard and use too many anchor texts, this will be deemed as over-optimization and this will earn you a penalty from Google.
According to Geoff Kenyon, these are the best percentages that you should have:
- Exact – 18%
- Phrase – 16%
- Brand – 31%
- URL – 18%
- Other – 17%
In order to avoid using anchor text to over-optimize your website, here are two things that you should keep in mind:
Minimize the use of Keyword-Tich Anchor Text
If you want to use Anchor text to connect to internal pages covering a certain topic, such as “content marketing strategies”, then do not use the same keyword phrase within your anchor text.
You should instead use something like, “get to know more about content marketing strategies”.
You may also use a generic phrase, plus the keyword.
Remember, the more variety you have the better it is.
Do not Use Irrelevant Links
If you are a blogger, writing about how to train your dog, then why would you have an anchor text link that talks about training a marathon runner?
This is done by people who are looking for a higher link count, and does not offer any value to your website; This will definitely earn you a penalty from Google.
#6: Redo Your Keyword Research
Once you have removed all unhealthy links from your website, you should now dig into adequately improving your on-page SEO.
The basic and essential feature of a powerful inbound marketing strategy is proper keyword research.
If you don’t know how to go about this, then you will not advance your ranking in any meaningful way.
Get to know How Your Audience Finds Your Site
In order to be effective in your keyword use, you just know the kind of keywords that your potential visitors use when trying to find sites within your niche.
Here is how it works:
Using a keyword research tool, enter the keyword that you want to research, and then click on search
You may also go ahead and click on “Keyword Ideas” to get suggestions from the tool.
Now review the keywords and pay attention to the Search Volume Per Month.
Now you may be wondering how this will help you, so let me explain:
- Bu conducting proper keyword research, you are getting a deeper insight into your potential visitors.
- You get to know about the kind of information that they are looking for.
- You get to know how they want that information served up to them.
Imagine that there is someone who is looking for “screenwriting for beginners”.
This already tells you that the person is looking to start a career in screenwriting, and therefore wants content that will help him or her start out.
With this knowledge, you can format headlines and content that will rank highly for the keyword phrase, “screenwriting for beginners”.
You should also try and find out the customer lifecycle and buyer persona of your target visitors. This way, you will know what motivates them.
After that, you will be able to provide relevant, information-rich content that will resonate well with them.
This will, in turn, improve your ranking on the search engines.
You can use Alexa, in order to find out more about the demographics of your target audience or visitors.
Do not forget what we had talked about earlier about the use of transactional and informational keywords. Doing proper keyword research will allow you to know whether your target audience is looking for information, or they want to buy your product or service right away.
Knowing what they are looking for is knowing what their intent is.
Remember that keywords such as “free screenwriting” are informational keywords. On the other hand, keywords such as “free screenwriting courses” are transactional keywords.
In order to improve your ranking on Google, you must have a mix of informational and transactional keywords on your website.
Your main task is to inform, educate, build interest and inspire your target audience before you can recommend your products or services.
You can use informational keywords in content that is aimed at building an email list or nurturing your existing subscribers before you make them an offer.
You should also include questions and long-tail keywords.
Long-tail keywords are very important, thanks to the adoption of voice search, and BERT, not to mention the latest Google MUM update.
Get To Know the Keywords Your Competitors Use
If your competition is running way ahead of you on the google rankings, then it is time for you to find out which keywords they are using in their content.
If for one reason or another, the Google Search Spiders are favoring them, then it is your duty to find out why, and then try to emulate their strategies.
Make use of the Google Keyword Planner when trying to research your competitors’ keyword strategies. It gives an accurate estimation of the target keywords that your competition uses.
If you are trying to write for social media marketing strategies, then you might try and see the keywords used by SocialMediaExaminer.com
Go to the keyword research tool that you are using, and instead of adding the keywords that you want to use, add the URL of your competitor.
Go ahead and start the search.
Now look for where the keywords found on the page are listed, and these will be the target keywords that you should use in your content.
Apart from the keywords used by our competition, you should also pay attention to:
Volume – the number of times the keyword has been used within the last month.
Position – At what ranking position is the URL placed within the SERPs.
Estimated Visits – The estimated volume of traffic that the site gets from that particular keyword.
For example, if your competitor ranks at position 1 for the keyword “screenwriting tips” and at that position, they manage to get 645 visitors per month for that keyword, then you know that if you succeed in overtaking them then you should be getting the same, if not a higher, volume of visitors.
This is a trick that works for all niches. It can work wonders when you are trying to find hidden keywords, which will boost your overall ranking on the SERPs.
Improve Low-Ranking Keywords
If your website is listed on the second page of the SERPs, then what can you do to get it listed on the first page?
This is the time that you should use the skyscraper technique, popularized by Backlinko’s Brian Dean.
Take one of your best-performing articles, and then improve it. Thereafter, promote it everywhere. For Brian, this led to an increase of 457% of organic traffic for his site.
Here are the steps that you should use in order to use the skyscraper technique:
- Perform in-depth research on your topic, including research studies.
- Take note of the keywords to use. We have talked about this in the sections above.
- Go ahead and write a highly-informative post. The post should be longer, deeply accurate, and should be actionable.
- Link to bogs and other sites that have a high authority rating.
- Take time to create powerful and clickable headlines.
When it comes to headlines, consider the following:
If your first headline looks like:
- Screenwriting Guide For Beginners
You should alter it as follows:
- The Ultimate Screenwriting Guide for Absolute Beginners
- An In-Depth Guide on Screenwriting
- Top [Number] of Ways To Revolutionize Your Screenwriting Today
If you have mentioned some authority blogs within your content, you may contact the owners and ask them to read it. They might find the content exceptional and create a high-authority backlink to your site.
Employ Keyword Analysis to Boost Your Content
Now, here is one thing that you must always keep in your mind; there is no best ratio on the number of keywords that you use in your content.
That said, you need to know the right keywords in order to better target your audience.
This is where keyword analysis comes in.
According to WordStream, Keyword analysis is the foundation and starting point for every search-based marketing campaign. When you understand the kind of queries that highly motivated visitors use on the search engines, then you will be able to customize your content in order to improve conversion.
If you do not know the keywords or queries that your target audience uses, then it will be a challenge to improve your ranking on the search engines, and by extension, your conversion rates.
You already know how to do the keyword research, which by the way, is the easy part.
The challenging part is knowing which of these keywords are bringing in organic traffic.
Ever since Google rolled out the “Not Provided” update, it has been difficult to get to know these keywords.
The trick is to know to unlock the “Not Provided” keywords, which will help you get some crucial data.
Today, it is quite challenging to get the exact view of which terms bring in the highest organic traffic.
The things that you need to do is pay attention to:
- Popular Keywords
- The terms that your rank for
- The questions asked in the “People also ask” section.
Now go ahead and use the information to write your content, making sure that it matches the user intent.
This will improve the on-page SEO of your pages and by extension, the ranking of those pages on the SERPs.
Next, you need to know how you will place the target keywords within your titles and content.
Using the keywords in our example above, you may be writing an article on “screenwriting for beginners”. Here are some great titles that you can use.
- The Top 10 Best Screenwriting Tips for Beginners
- Top Screenwriting Courses for Absolute Beginners
- Screenwriting for Newbies – The Ultimate Guide
After you have created the title, you can now start your introduction in any of the following ways:
The market is filled with screenwriting courses, but it is difficult to decide which is the best for you. Read this guide from the start to the end, and you will understand which screenwriting courses are affordable and reliable.
Alternatively, you can also start your introduction by posing a question to the reader:
Are you looking for the best screenwriting course to kickstart your career? This article will not only tell you about the screenwriting courses, but also how to use what you find in the courses to improve your writing, and also practical tips on how you can get a discount for purchasing the right course.
In this second example, the keyword has been placed in the first sentence without making it sound like spam. It is contextual.
Make sure that all your keywords read naturally, in a contextual manner, whenever you use them. Them. Do NOT TRY to force them into your sentences, because they will sound unnatural.
#7: Polish Up Your On-Page SEO
At this point, you should have a list of keywords to target, or those you should already be using, to improve your overall ranking.
You are now ready to make fruitful changes to your on-page SEO.
Now let us look at the key consideration you should make going forward.
Create Optimized Title Tags
Title tags play a huge role in determining the performance of your site.
Ensure that your title tags are unique, descriptive, and contain the keyword you are targeting.
You should avoid using the same title tags and keywords every time.
This will help you diversify your potential, without having to destroy your efforts.
Let us say that you have an eCommerce website.
You should have a formula for your product page titles, such as:
[Product’s Name] – [Product’s Category] | [Brand Name]
A good example would be:
Jim’s Leather Polish – Shoe Polish | Jim’s Shoe Care
Now, here are some other ways to optimize your title tags:
Employ pipes (|) and dashes (-) between the terms to improve the use of keywords
DO NOT use ALL CAPS in your titles. They are an eyesore.
Make sure that you do not use the default website title tags such as “Home” or “Product Page”.
These make the Google algorithms think that your site has duplicate content.
Similarly, they are ambiguous to users who may be looking for certain information.
Make sure that you use the most important, unique keywords at the start of your title.
Make sure that you do no stuff keywords.
The value of your content increases considerably when you use relevant, contextual, and natural-sounding keywords in your content. You should avoid forced and mechanical keywords phrases.
Always think of your potential visitors, before you think about the search algorithms.
The tags in your title could make or break your traffic volume and conversions.
Google, by default, only shows the first 60 characters on the SERPs pages. However, they will not cut it short if they feel that a longer title aptly suits the content of the page.
The snippet shown in the SERPs results can be dynamic, based on the search query a user inputs.
Therefore, being more descriptive in your title may work better for you, instead of using a short title.
Also, remember that desktop snippets will be limited by the pixel width of the screen; mobile devices will display longer titles if the need arises.
Metadescriptions have a small, perhaps negligible, effect on your ranking. However, they do play an important part in helping to craft your search snippet; this adds the uniqueness factor that might earn you more traffic.
With a unique snippet, you are able to improve the click-through rate (CTR), that you get from the SERPs.
Make Use Of Schema Markup (Structured Data Markup)
You can think of using Schema Markup as a way of adding “Labels” to the content within your web pages.
This will serve the purpose of telling Google the meaning of your content.
Let’s take a look at an example:
If you use your name in an article, then Google will display your name in a SERP result.
However, If you use the proper Schema around your name, by adding it to the HTML code of the page, then you are essentially telling Google that you are the author of the content and not just another word, that is in the middle of other words it may not understand.
Schema markup plays the role of helping Google understand your content and goes ahead to improve the conversion rates from the SERPs.
Schema plays the role of serving up information to your target audience in an organized and aesthetically pleasing way.
There are several schema tags that you can use to highlight and identify types of information displayed in the SERPs, such as:
- Book Reviews
- Local Business
- TV Episodes
- TV Episodes with ratings
- Software apps
You can use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper, in order to employ the best Schema Markup on your web pages, which will in turn help you get to the featured snippets section.
Make use of Featured Snippets
You will find featured snippets on desktop searches, but they are mainly used to serve up information on mobile devices.
In the united states, featured snippets are highly sought after when it comes to SEO.
The best aspect of featured snippets is that they get you to the first position, even if you are not in that position in the traditional SERPs. This coveted position is also known as “Position Zero”
This is definitely a great way to get to the number one position, especially on searches done on mobile devices.
The best way to target this position is to think of the most common question that people ask on Google, and then try to answer that question in your content.
The best place to find such questions is in the “People also ask” section of the SERPs.
Improve Your Ranking Through a Sitemap
A sitemap acts as a guide, letting the search engine crawlers know about the organization and structure of your content.
In this manner, the Googlebot will read the file, and then see how to intelligently crawl through your content.
This will make the content easily readable and easily ranked for the SERPs.
A sitemap will also provide a wealth of information on the metadata about your web pages. This includes information such as when you last updated the site, how regularly you make changes, and how each of the pages relates to the other pages on your site.
There are several free sitemap generators that you can use, or go to XML-sitemaps.com.
If you build your website or blog using WordPress, then there are several sitemap generation plugins that you can use.
Once you have generated your sitemap, download it to your desktop.
Next, upload it to the domain root folder of your website.
Then include the sitemap address in your Google Webmaster account.
Now you are aware of the crucial areas that you should pay attention to, in order to improve your on-page SEO, it is time to move ahead and know how to differentiate your brand; Learn how to turn it from good to great, using strategic, unique, and focused content.
#8: Create Content In The Proper Manner Using Keywords
We have mentioned all about keyword research and how you can place them in your content, but in this section, we will take a better look at how to employ the keywords that you have researched.
There are a lot of people who are not familiar with the purpose of keyword research and employment.
Way before Google rolled out the first Panda update, marketers were aware of the need for quality, value, and purposeful content, when targeting a segment of users on the internet.
You must write useful and detailed, in conjunction with informational keywords in order to improve your search ranking and go a step further to add descriptive title tags and metadescriptions.
This is a process that will attract loyal fans, motivate them to share your content on social media, and also earn your site powerful, high-authority backlinks in a natural manner.
The guide below will help you write useful and detailed content:
Employ Data-Driven Content
Research has shown that data-driven content will help improve your traffic volume.
You should always back up facts with data; this way, your target audience will view your content as authoritative, and motivate them to share it on social media. This will expand your organic reach.
One way is to use infographics to illustrate the content on your web page; your readers are bound to share it on social media.
Other types of data-driven content include:
- The Science Behind Productive Business Processes
- 10 Proven Ways To Increase Conversions by 300%
- 5 Things You Do Wrong With Google Analytics and How To Do Them Right
When using data-driven content, make sure that the statistics you use are recent – Not older than 3 years.
Storytelling is your Best Friend
When you tell stories within your content, you will captivate your target audience, evoke a wide array of emotions and consequently improve your conversion rate.
There are many ways to tell stories, and here is a simple example:
Begin with a unique feature
Look for a way to start a story that has a message that will appeal to your target audience. At this point, you are aiming to connect emotionally with the pain points and questions that your audience has.
Add your own experience
There is a reason why it is called a great story. When you use your own experience to flesh out your story, you connect even deeper with your audience. Make sure that you do not fake it.
A real-life example is that of John Morrow, who use this technique to bring in 1,740 targeted subscribers within 7 days.
The article that helped him do so was entitled, “How To Quit Your Job, Move To Paradise, and Get Paid To Change The World”.
Create a Call-to-Action
Every story must have an ending, and it must be powerful. You have succeeded in capturing your audience, with the story where you share your own experience, so the audience wants to know what you did or learned.
This is where the call to action comes in.
The story you give must have a solution. It is not supposed to prolong the problem, so wind it up with a powerful CTA.
The CTA button must be clear, large enough to be seen and clicked on.
If you do not know how to create a compelling CTA, you can go to Unbounce and see examples that you can use.
Create Shareable Titles
Despite the fact that Google has brought about several changes about what is required to rank well, one stays true throughout – The Title, or Headline.
When you create a shareable headline for a post or article, there is nothing that will stop people from clicking on it, reading the content, and sharing it on social media.
A simple but profound example is that of Peep Laja, of ConversionXL, who increased sales by 332% by simply changing the word “Today” to “Now”, within a headline.
You should also know how important headlines are; if you optimize your content and get to the number 1 position, but your headline is bad, people may prefer to move on to a competitor who stands in the number 2 position, and has a better headline than yours.
Your on-page SEO may get you in the top position, but your headline may determine whether people click on your headline or not.
One thing that always seems to make people click on headlines is to add numbers.
A great example is a post by Upworthy, which had the following headline:
“9 out of 10 Americans are Completely Wrong About This Mind-Blowing Fact”
The Post was shared 1.6 million times on Facebook.
Would that number have been so high if he simply wrote:
“Americans are Completely Wrong About This Mind-Blowing Fact”
I bet the number of shares would have been considerably lower.
Let us look at some hypothetical examples and see what emotions you get:
- Optimize Your Site With These SEO Basics
Let’s add some numbers:
- Optimize Your Site With These 10 SEO Basics
- 15 SEO Basics You MUST Follow To Optimize Your Blog
- Money Making Tips For Stay-at-Home Moms
- Money Making Tips For Freelancers
Let’s add some numbers:
- 10 Money Making Tips To Help Stay-at-Home Moms Earn Money
- 10 Money Making Jobs for Exceptional Freelancers
Curiosity is a great thing since it pushes people to click on a headline. However, you should do this carefully. You must make sure that the content you create delivers on the promises made in your headline.
Let’s take a look at another example:
If you have the following title:
- 10 Gardening Secrets That You Didn’t Know About
Then you must ensure that you show “10” gardening secrets. Ideally, the secrets that you reveal should be new or unique.
Make Good Use of Multimedia
Writing content is crucial to getting people to visit your website. However, you can go a little further than that.
Once you know the keywords that people are using to find your website, use a wide range of content to answer their needs and questions.
You can use several types of multimedia, including:
- Animated GIFs
- Email Series
Get Rid of Duplicate Content
There are tools that you can use to get rid of duplicate content on your website.
Some of them include:
- Screaming Frog
Even if duplicate content will have little or no effect on the ranking of your website, you need to show Google that your business upholds originality, relevance, and usefulness, in its content creation.
That is about all that you should do for on-page SEO.
Remember to use both informational and transactional keywords in all your content. Use the keywords to tell fascinating stories to your audience.
It takes time to get to the top of the search engine rankings, but when done right, it will be more fulfilling and lasting.
#9: Learn To Create Links In The Proper Manner
You now know how to analyze your links, and how to remove those that are unhealthy, so you can improve your ranking on the search engines.
Now you need to know how you can rebuild your links so they are beneficial to your rank.
Here are some tips on how you can go about building links in the right way.
Create Inline Text Links (Anchor Text Links)
Anchor text links are simple links that appear within the text of your content. There are several that I have placed in this article.
In order to greatly improve the efficiency of anchor text links, you should ideally place them “above the fold”.
You should always use the anchor text linking technique when you are aiming at gaining a high rank for a particular keyword.
You can employ your target keywords within the anchor text. However, you should make sure that you add some generic, contextual text so you do not incur penalties from Google.
For example, if you want to rank for the keyword “fishing rod reviews” when you are creating links to your website from other sites, you should use text such as top fishing rod brands, get the best fishing rods today, etc.
Now, mix up such diverse sentences when creating your anchor text links; this is smart on-page SEO.
Create Editorial Links
When you create valuable content and then share it through social media, then you will naturally earn valuable inbound links.
Brian Dean once wrote a post on the 200 ranking factors, and the post has been cited several times.
Google takes a look at what other people are saying about your content when it is trying to gauge the importance and relevance of the content you add to your web pages and posts.
The usefulness of your content will earn you respect, valuable reviews, and exceptional inbound links. This will improve your ranking on the search engines.
Scale Your Link Building Process
As we have mentioned above, creating diversity when it comes to link building, is the best way to make Google favor your links. This will improve your ranking in the SERPs and will not attract any penalties.
Obsolete techniques such as forum marketing, directory submission, wiki sites, press releases and even creating guest blogs do not work anymore; these techniques might even put you on the Google penalty radar.
In order to build a diverse inbound link profile, you should write content that will bring in links from local, regional, and even international sites, that have a relationship with your niche.
In this way, you will be able to build an organic, natural link profile, using natural and targeted on-page SEO.
Your site will be able to stand anything thrown at it by Google.
#10: Embrace Social Media
Many people may ask what social media has to do with search rankings.
Now, this may be a great question and I will answer it.
Google and other search engines aim to use as much information as possible, concerning your website, when they give a rank to it.
This is information that is used to put a value on the quality of your website, so they can place you at a certain position, whenever someone searches for information about a topic that touches on your niche.
Some of the information search engines look for is information about your social media presence.
There are some crucial factors that they consider:
- How many shares on social media does your web content earn from your visitors?
- What is your level of activity on social media?
- Are your social media accounts up to date?
When you consider that there are more than 4.8 billion users on social media, then this is a very huge pool of potential traffic for your site. Google has to consider your efforts in reaching out to these users.
Apart from using social media just for the sake of reaching out to a large pool of users, just to engage with them on the social platform in itself, you should be thinking about the amount of traffic that can lead to your site from these platforms.
Now how can you go about sharing your content on social media in a manner that motivates users to share?
Here is one wonderful tactic:
Whenever you share your content on social media platforms, your aim is to boost the size of your audience and bring in more people to interact with your content.
In order to do that, you can start by tagging some of your friends, who might be interested in the content.
This does not necessarily mean that the post will only be seen by the people you tag. Actually, the post will be shown to the friends of all the people who you tagged.
With just a few, well-thought-out tags, you can increase the views on your post by thousands within a very short time.
Another way that you can promote your content on social media is to join groups that have a common interest in the things that you write about.
Some of these groups have over 100 thousand users.
Once you post in such a group, your content will be available to all of them, and this is a great way of getting a large group of people to view your content with just a single post.
There are many other ways of sharing your content on social media, so please go ahead and do it.
Just keep in mind that the search engines are watching. Do your part and do it well.
Frequently Asked Questions About Improving Google Rankings Without Penalization
What is the soundest way of boosting your Google Ranking?
The best way to improve your Google ranking is to start off by doing sound and in-depth keyword research. Then go ahead and use those keywords to create powerful, high-quality content, that is also relevant when it comes to user intent.
How long will it take to start seeing a positive shift in my rankings?
It will take approximately 6 months for your content to start appearing on search results.
Can you improve your Google ranking without spending any money?
Yes, but you must know the best way to generate organic traffic through SEO and also how to do free content marketing.
What are the things that can earn you a penalty from Google?
Google will penalize you if you use duplicate content, employ bad liking practices, and over-optimize your site.
The best way to improve your ranking on Google, without earning any penalties is to make sure that you provide high-quality and useful content. It must be structured in a manner that is palatable to your target audience and the search engine too.
Some of the factors that you should keep in mind are:
Always start by doing your due diligence and understanding your target audience and what their pain points are.
Do proper research into the keywords and keyword phrases that the target audience is bound to use when they are looking for solutions to their pain points.
Armed with this information, proceed to create powerful content that will aptly meet their pain points, and solve the problems they are experiencing.
Make sure that they know you have more for them, so they can keep coming back for more.
Finally, keep on creating powerful content, and promoting it to the maximum.
Refine, clean up and repeat. This is the best way to get to the top of the search engines without incurring any penalties.