How to rank in Google and other search engines is probably the single biggest problem that bloggers and business websites are concerned about, when they look at their marketing strategy.
It is an important point to consider since Google is still undoubtedly one of the biggest influencers in reaching online traffic and potential new customers through the internet.
But are there still tricks you can use to ensure ranking, or have the new Google algorithm changes put an end to all that?
First of all there are no quick and easy fixes for ensuring fast google ranking, so you can freely eliminate any advice from people or companies that claim that there is.
The first place to start is by developing an understanding of how the Google ranking system actually works. And then start to look at matching or optimising your site to match these requirements.
The first challenge that new websites face is how to be recognised by Google and accepted as a legitimate site worth ranking.
Google appears to operate a system of sandboxing new sites, until it can assess whether or not they are spam sites or proper content based sites. This can be frustrating for new businesses hoping to achieve high rankings in the early days.
Are there ways to speed up the sandboxing process?
The main impact of the sandbox phase is that competitive page rankings will be suppressed.
In other words if you are competing against larger and more established sites for popular keywords then these pages will not rank highly during this phase.
However, using long tail keywords and what is sometimes referred to as low hanging fruit keywords can be a way to avoid this.
Low hanging fruit are the low traffic, low search keywords. These may not bring in much traffic but they will enable your site to rank highly for some searches, even during the initial sandbox phase, which can last 3-6 months depending upon your niche topic.
By producing content using low hanging fruit phrases this will also achieve the following;
- Google sees the site developing content in a specific niche area
- You can use these pages to link internally to other more competitive keyword pages that are not currently ranking.
- You can still promote all your posts on social media which can bring traffic to your site.
It can be frustrating trying to get traffic to your site at this stage because the search engines will contribute very little to this process.
In another article (How Site Rankings Work in Google) I have included a video from Matt Cutts who works at Google. He outlines how the ranking system works and states that there are over 200 different factors that affect ranking.
It is therefore not a simple process of change a couple of things and everything will be OK and high rankings are guaranteed. Instead we need to understand what Google is and isn’t interested in.
At the end of the day Google is interested in helping its searchers to find what they are looking for. In particular the search engine wants;
- Genuine sites with real people writing real content for real searchers. In the past people created shell websites with lots of bought links (similar to paid followers in social media)
- Pages of content that are more than just lists of affiliate links and calls to action asking people to buy products.
When we use search engine optimisation techniques or SEO we tend to focus on just a few of the more important (and within our capacity to change) areas of ranking.
Using Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Techniques
Most bloggers and content marketing writers look to maximise their chances in ranking using SEO techniques.
Basically these techniques will help to ensure that the content you have produced in your blog post or article, is described accurately for the search engine and will appear in the right searches.
Businesses use these techniques because as well as wanting an increase in the numbers of visitors to their site, they also need to ensure that it is the right visitor who will be interested in purchasing from them.
What are these SEO techniques?
- Using keywords and keyword phrases to match targeted search queries
- Developing authority by linking externally to authority sites and internally to other posts on the same topic.
- Updating and expanding content through site comments
- Suggesting meta description text to maximise client click through rates
- Optimising site content for reading including adding alt text for images
All of these techniques are useful and are good content writing practice regardless of the SEO value. However in addition to these standard techniques it is important to remember the following;
- website needs to be constantly maintained and well designed for readers to navigate around
- the website needs to be adapted for mobile use
- the site needs to be quick to load
These last three points are gaining prominence in the search engines because many readers will not stay with a slow loading site or if the navigation is poor.
Mobile search queries now account for more than desktop so if your website isn’t optimised for mobile users it won’t rank well.
Finally Google for its part is looking for the following things within your blog posts
- a few images – labelled and alt text included
- clear headings dividing content and breaking it down into manageable chunks
- longer posts 1,000 words or more
- use of different media such as videos and podcasts
- links to relevant outside experts and their websites
- links to other relevant pages on your own site that show this is not a once off topic
Almost everyone who talks about ranking will focus on the importance of choosing the right keywords. It is important to note though that keywords are only one component of the overall Google algorithm that determines ranking.
Some authorities on SEO are even suggesting that in the future Google will be able to interpret everything it needs simply from scanning your article. You won’t be able to rank for specific keywords just by using that word or phrase.
Answering Specific Questions
Instead of focusing on keywords content writers need to look at being useful to readers and answering their questions or providing solutions to their problems.
This is not a new concept in marketing many niche marketing websites were built on this thinking. However what is different now is that Google has the capacity to seek out answers to reader’s questions.
Seeing the question written in your blog reaffirms for Google that your post is relevant to this question. Therefore keywords are slowly being replaced with content based answers and solutions. This I believe is the future of SEO.
Content Based Search Solutions
The term content based search solutions I have used in place of traditional keyword research. It refers to understanding the intent behind a searcher’s question or query, in other words writing answers to questions rather than focusing solely on including specific keywords.
What if my Keyword isn’t a question?
If the keyword you are using doesn’t have an associated question that you can think of, then the next thing to research is
What are searchers asking about when they use this word?
In other words why would someone place this word into the search bar, what would they be interested in finding out?
The Internet is a Big Place
In 2014 the billion mark was reached for the total number of websites, although this figure appears to have fallen during 2015.
This means that there are a lot of websites with content, that could potentially provide exactly the same information that you are giving.
So what is different about your website?
In order to get noticed amidst all the noise of the internet your content and approach needs to be valuable and of good quality, and that is just to get over the first hurdle.
Digital Marketing Strategies
One of the other components of any content marketing strategy is to develop your digital media influence and to start to build up a following across a number of different social media outlets.
Relying solely on search engines especially for new websites is a lengthy and slow process. Additional promotion is needed and as the main content writer or owner of the website you need to be able to show potential new readers, that you have authority and respect in this niche.
In the world of internet marketing there is no room to dislike social media. It may not be your personal choice as a way to interact, but in order to connect with other global businesses it is the fastest and easiest method.
You can reach out on Twitter to over a 1,000 followers within your own niche relatively easily, compared to struggling to get this number of visitors a day to your website.
In digital marketing there are a few things to remember about social media in order for it to be effective.
- You need relevant followers who will purchase from you – thousands of indifferent followers is not much use, 2 or 3 regular customers will go a lot further.
- social media is about interaction and providing value to others, not just self promotion (people will get bored with you very quickly if you have nothing interesting to add)
- different types of people use different social media, but don’t try to do everything try to pick two or three that work well for your niche
Does you involvement in social media affect your Google ranking?
Difficult to tell at this stage, some people claim it does especially as Google plus is Google’s own social media site. However the search engine is also aware that popularity on social media is not necessarily an indicator of quality, so it isn’t the be all and end all of ranking at the moment.
How to Rank Well in Google
In summary this article looked at the following ways in which you can improve your website and get it ready for ranking in Google.
- Avoid High Competition Keywords especially early on.
- Produce Relevant Content – answer genuine queries and questions within your niche.
- Produce Variety of Content that readers will stay with, is interesting and includes different formats.
- Build Your Authority – write lots of relevant content even if posts aren’t ranking in the beginning.
- Use Digital Marketing and social media to raise your profile.
There are a couple of other posts on this site that you might find interesting.
I hope your enjoyed the article and please feel free to share on your own social media channels, thanks.