September 26, 2022 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
Ranking high on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) is a make-or-break deal for businesses and agencies. Organic traffic can account for the majority of leads that a company earns. Ranking high on SERPs means more potential for new customers, while lower rankings can mean the need to use paid ads.
But moving up in the SERP rankings is much easier said than done. With over a billion websites competing for the top spots, you need to play by the rules if you want to improve SERP rankings. And there are quite a few rules. Today, we’re diving into how to improve SERP rankings with the following topics:
This is the question of the hour to pretty much every marketer out there. Although Google does discuss what they take into account when building search pages, their algorithm is still a secret. People have a pretty good idea of what makes sites rank better, but there isn’t a 100% perfect recipe for success.
With this in mind, boosting your SERP ranking is all about doing as many positive things as possible while avoiding things that could knock you down the list. There’s a range of specific tips and areas to take into account. However, a list going through them all would last for 1000s of words. And besides, it’s been done before.
Instead, we’re going to focus on the three main categories of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), showing how each category comes into play. The three main pillars of SEO are:
Let’s move through these core pillars and demonstrate exactly how you can optimize your content to improve SERP rankings for your business.
On-page SEO is by far the form of optimization that marketing teams focus on the most. As you have complete control of the content you produce online, you can get into the nitty-gritty of optimization strategies.
Considering how flexible and distinct content can be, there are a lot of different ways that you can go about optimizing. If you want to have a good chance to improve SERP rankings, you’ll want to do the vast majority (if not all) of this list. While this might seem overwhelming at first, most of the optimization strategies only take an extra minute or two.
Over time, they’ll become second nature to you. Here are the current best on-page SEO strategies to improve SERP rankings:
Keyword research is huge in the world of marketing. If you’re already working in this field, this is definitely something you’ll have come across before, so we won’t dwell too long. Before creating content, you should always conduct keyword research to see how much traffic certain phrases get, and how much competition there is to rank for them.
Focus on keywords that relate closely to your business and incorporate them into your content. From landing pages to individual blog posts, you should attempt to build up a strong foundation across important keywords. Effective keyword research and integration are vital. After all, this is how Google decides which pages to recommend when someone types in a certain phrase.
Especially with Google’s Helpful Content Update, writing quality content that gives detail to users is always a great way to boost ranking. A 3000-word article that goes in-depth on a topic provides more value than a 500-word article with a narrow view of the same topic. The priority here with on-page SEO to improve SERP rankings is to always provide useful, in-depth, and valuable content to your readers.
For more insights into the Google Helpful Content update, tune into the CopyPress podcast with our CEO, Dave Snyder. Get the scoop on the update and how your business content can continue to provide value and improve SERP rankings.
There are four types of search intent online: commercial, informational, navigational, and transactional. When writing a new blog, type in your keyword into Google and see what comes up. Are there lots of how-to guides? What about company names or event titles?
Depending on the search intent for a specific keyword, a distinct style of the article will work. Google cultivates the top-ranked articles for each page based on search intent. If people want information, Google is never going to recommend a company’s homepage. Always match your writing style to the established intent of the keyword.
Meta descriptions and meta titles are the information that Google reads when it first encounters a page. This is also what people will see on their Google search page. When crafting your metadata, use best practices for both meta descriptions and titles. So for meta descriptions, include your targeted keyword (a longtail if possible) and keep it between 155 and 160 characters. For meta titles, include your keyword and keep the title between 50 and 60 characters.
Here, you can see a concise title and meta description, both of which fall within the correct character range.
It’s always a good idea to include media throughout an article, both for SERP rankings purposes and for readability. But, alongside adding media, you also need to make sure it’s optimized. This is actually incredibly easy, especially for photos. When optimizing media and images, use a checklist to make sure you follow these key parameters:
With that, you’ll have all the boxes ticked so you’re able to upload media to your heart’s content.
While often overlooked by marketing teams, updating content over time is a great way to increase SERP ranking. Not only does the update bring fresh content to the page, but it also shows Google that it has relevant and modern information.
Especially in our digital age, information gets old fast. If Google sees that you’re updating and amending content over time, then you’ve got a green tick next to your name. We recommend that you update brand content at least once every six months, as this will ensure your content remains as fresh as possible. Remember, you don’t have to do a total overhaul. Just a few edits or another paragraph here and there will do wonders.
Improving SERP rankings doesn’t just stop at optimizing your own content. On-page SEO is actually only one piece of the puzzle, with off-page also coming into play. Off-page SEO is anything you do that isn’t directly related to your own website. While you might still be writing content, you won’t be posting it to your site. The main goal of an off-page SEO strategy is to help your website look even more reputable.
If we think about Google’s E-A-T score, you might post create content to improve how much expertise is displayed on your website. But, this leaves a glaring hole in terms of authority and trustworthiness. Google and other search engines determine A and T with a metric known as Domain Authority (DA). DA is an arbitrary score on a scale of 1-100. A new company with no content might have a DA score of below 10, while a well-established site that’s been posting for 10 years or more might have a score of 80 or higher.
Domain Authority is one of the most important factors in SERP rankings. If two websites post very similar content, Google is always going to recommend the one that has a higher domain rating. With this in mind, most content on the first page of Google comes from sites with fairly high DA scores. There are many ways of using off-page SEO to improve SERP rankings and DA scores:
Backlinks are the lifeblood of online businesses. A backlink is when one website links to another, embedding links to its content throughout its pages. Each time one of these links is inserted into a website, that website is essentially vouching for the validity and authority of the information on the linked site. While you could go down the route of guest posting, which we’ll discuss shortly, the main way to get more backlinks is to produce high-quality content that people will link to.
Most of the time, when people write articles, they’ll actively search for facts, infographics, or other statistics to include on their website. Once they find a statistic, they can include it in their article, linking back to where they found it. By doing your own research and creating original facts, you’ll become a top source for certain content. As more people link back to your content, the likelihood of someone finding your link will improve.
Alongside helping you to gather more backlinks, this also means that your authority score will increase. Backlinks are very much like a snowball rolling down a hill. The first few backlinks are usually the most challenging to collect. But, once you’ve got the ball rolling, it’s smooth sailing all the way down.
It’s no secret that although SEO strategies range further than just the digital page, great content really is the most powerful tool when trying to move up the SERP rankings. One way to get more backlinks is to create guest posts for outside publications. By contacting different newspapers or company websites that write about a niche you’re working within, you can set up the opportunity to create content for their page.
Posting on other websites might seem counterintuitive. After all, don’t you want to save your best content for your own website? While that may be true, there are many benefits to straying from your own domain, including:
As this could go in both off-page and on-page, internal linking is a bit of an outlier. Internal links are when you link between different posts that you’ve created. This helps search engines to understand how all of your content interrelates and connects. Creating a web of links across your content is a great way of providing overall structure to your site.
While a quick one, it’s always a good idea to move through your page before hitting publish and add a range of internal links. While not technically backlinks, these still fit into the link-related SEO strategies. A website that is well-structured, as demonstrated by interconnected links, will have a much higher domain authority rating than those that miss out on this element.
Technical SEO deals with all the backend sides of your website. While on-page tinkered with content, technical is all about making sure your website works as well as possible. We’re talking structure, loading times, indexing, and all that fun stuff. Even something like how quickly your website loads can make a huge difference to your SERP ranking.
According to Google, increasing the time it takes to load a page from 1 second to 3 seconds will increase its bounce rate by around 32%. People are impatient, and they’re not going to wait for your site to load. By making sure your site is optimized on the technical SEO side, you’ll have a much better chance of users clicking on your content and staying on the page. There are a few pillars that you should move through when making sure your site is perfectly optimized:
Over time, your website will shift and change. You might change some URL links or maybe delete the content entirely. But, with these modifications, you might accidentally make some holes in your website. If you’ve got an internal link that points to nothing or a page that simply doesn’t load, you’ve got something to fix.
Going through your website with a free tool like Ahref’s Broken Link Checker will give you a list of website links that are currently leading nowhere. This is one of the easiest fixes in terms of improving your SERP rankings. Simply move through and fix all of your broken links, making sure your site only has functioning links. If a search engine sees that everything on your site neatly connects, that’s a big green flag for your business.
Indexing errors are where search engines crawl through your website and find certain errors. Perhaps they can’t find a certain page, or maybe Google is indexing different links that go to the same place.
One of the easiest ways of creating a site that’s indexed correctly is to ensure you have an XML sitemap on your website. If you type in your domain + /sitemap.xml into Google, you should see a screen that moves through your site in code. If you get a 404 error when you type this in, then you’ll need to create a sitemap.
Luckily, this is much easier to do than it might first appear. You can simply use Yoast SEO or another plugin to automatically generate a sitemap for you. Once live, Google will have a much easier time understanding how your website is structured.
A fairly recent entry into this list, mobile accessibility has become vital for high SERP rankings over the last few years. Back in 2018, Google announced that mobile-first indexing was currently representing over 50% of all top research pages. By July of 2019, they announced that this was now an internet-wide standard.
Creating a mobile website friendly is vital if you want to rank well on search engines. Most of this comes from testing and optimizing over time, but there are some general factors to consider, including:
These are some of the easiest changes you can make, which will ensure your site is as mobile-accessible as possible. Much like page speed, if people can’t access your site properly or quickly, they’ll instantly click off. Once you’ve gone through all of these changes, you should then use a tool like PageSpeed Insights to double-check everything is running smoothly.
The fight for the top spot on Google is exactly that, a fight. While these guidelines and SEO-friendly tactics can help you move up the rankings, things take time. With the continually changing landscape of SEO, it’s vital for you to stay on top of new developments when they come up. If Google’s recent Helpful Content update showed us anything, it’s that Google will change priorities at the drop of a hat. Take these strategies and run with them to improve SERP rankings. But, always stay on top of new evolutions so that you can keep your website as high as possible.
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