How to rank on Google
If you run a business, you’ve probably received hundreds of emails telling you that you could be #1 on Google if you just gave them hundreds or thousands of dollars. Some of the consultants are legitimate and can actually help you improve your ranking, others use black hat techniques that will only get you penalized, while still others will take your money and run for the hills.
With so much at stake, it can be difficult to know what the best practices are, and what you can actually do that will help your business stand out from its competitors.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the most critical things you can do to help your business rank well in organic search.
- Think like a customer when choosing your keywords
Keywords are search terms that your customers are likely to type in when searching for your products or services. It’s critical to think like a customer when you come up with your keyword list. Remember that customers are unlikely to use industry jargon or technical terms so try to use simple basic phrases that describe your business. Google has a number of tools you can use to see how potential customers are searching for businesses like yours:
If you already use Adwords, this can be a great source of knowledge. Take a look at which keywords are converting the most site visitors and use this data to create your keyword list.
- Structure your web page addresses around your main keywords
Many SEO pundits believe that Google gives extra weight to parts of your website that are hard to change such as your domain name and the url structure of each page. This means that the url structure of each page is a fantastic opportunity to include your keywords. Remember that your urls still need to be relevant to the page they’re on and that they should not be overly long. That said, picking a few of your top keywords and incorporating them into your url structure where appropriate can be a fantastic long term strategy.
Additionally, it’s worth taking the time to create interesting and appropriate titles and descriptions for each page. While these items are commonly believed to carry less weight, they will be seen on the search results page and can be a strong force in determining which page the searcher decides to click on.
- Create relevant content
Each page is an opportunity not only to describe your products and services, but also to incorporate your keywords into your content in a meaningful and relevant context. Don’t force the words in places they don’t fit, but do use them where you see an opportunity for them to flow naturally. A blog can be a perfect opportunity to create additional content that uses your keywords in a meaningful way.
As Google’s search algorithm becomes ever sophisticated it becomes less important to use your keywords in a strict order every time. Context is key and by using related terms in conjunction with your keywords strengthen your case to rank for your keywords. (Think of a florist whose keyword is “order flowers” using terms like “dahlias” and “roses” which are related to the concept of flowers.)
- Use schema.org mark up
Schema markup is code (semantic vocabulary) that you put on your website to help the search engines return more informative results for users. This can help improve your ranking for terms that are directly related to your business.
Schema.org, the website for schema markup, was created by a collaborative team from Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
- List your physical address and contact information
Every website should display their Name, Address and Phone Number. NAP is critical for businesses wishing to rank well in the local organic search results, because search engines like Google take the data into account when determining which companies to show for geo-targeted searches.
- Make sure your website is mobile optimized
In April 2015, Google announced that websites that were not mobile optimized would be penalized and rank lower on mobile search than sites that rendered well on mobile devices. While this update only affects search results on mobile devices, these represent an increasing share of searches worldwide.
You can check your own website to see if it is mobile friendly using this tool from Google. If your website doesn’t pass it can be worth the investment to move over to a responsive design that will render on all devices. See this article for questions on whether your site needs a redesign.
- Create a Google My Business Page
Creating a Google My Business page is critical for any business with a physical location that customers can visit. This lets Google know where your business is located and allows you to show up in the local business section on relevant searches as well as on Google maps.
Setting up a Google Business page is crucial for all businesses, including service businesses. However, you must have a physical address listed in order to verify your business.
- Use social media to your advantage
Social media can be a powerful tool not only for remaining top of mind with potential clients, but also for improving your organic search ranking.
There are two main ways social media can help your SEO. The first is to link out to your site on the main information section for each of your social media profiles. The second is to encourage people to share links to your website. You can do this by posting them yourself and by embedding share links on your website itself. The more quality links you have to your content from social media, the more it can help your organic ranking.
- Find relevant sites that will link to you
Inbound links are one of the most powerful tools in SEO and also one of the most misunderstood. Google measures every website for what it calls PageRank which is a measure of the importance of an individual site. As a general rule, links to your site from pages with high PageRank will boost your own site’s ranking more than links from those with low PageRank. It is also worth noting that most SEO experts agree that links from pages that are related to your business will help more than links from unrelated pages.
Some SEO vendors will offer to create multiple links from low quality domains. It’s important to know that these links can potentially hurt your site more than they can help. Google is constantly updating its algorithm to penalize these sorts of SEO tricks—in the long run you’re better off putting in the effort to get links from the quality of your content and the service your business provides.
Wolfhaus Design can help you optimize your existing website or create a new site that will help drive qualified traffic to your website. Learn more about Wolfhaus Design or get started with a free consultation.