For any business with an online presence, nailing your SEO is essential when it comes to driving both traffic and sales. Here’s how to rank on Google.
Advanced SEO gurus, this guide ain’t for you. But if you’re new to the world of SEO and wondering how to get traffic to your website and rank on Google, then you’ll want to read on. We’ll be delving into what SEO is, how you can use it to increase web traffic, and ultimately, the 9 simple hacks you can use to get your site’s SEO up to scratch.
But before we get stuck in, you’ll first want to make sure your website is ready for ranking. Check out our Digital-Ready checklist to take the test.
Ok, first up: What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Quite simply, this refers to all of the tick-boxes you need to check-off on your website, so that when search engines crawl the internet, they find you. It is the art of organically ranking high up on a results page, rather than getting lost at the bottom of the pile.
And this is important, because if you’re not ranking within the top five results, your chance of being seen drops by 67%. That’s a lot. What’s more, the top article sitting in position one takes a whopping 31.7% of all clicks.=So folks, that’s ultimately where you want to be if you want the lion’s share of traffic (which you do!).
Read our full guide to What is SEO for a more thorough breakdown on this trending topic.
So, how to get ranked in these top spots on Google?
Well, there are lots of variables that determine whether or not your page will make the cut on page one of Google (or any other search engine for that matter). But the good news is, there are simple steps you can take to make sure you rank on Google. And one of those is great SEO.
It’s said that when it comes to Google, there are up to 200 different factors that affect your SEO ranking. But don’t break a digital-induced sweat just yet, because the good news is, there are just a few key SEO hacks you need to really see a difference in your ranking and your traffic. Here are our top tips and tricks.
Top 9 SEO hacks to increase traffic to your website
1. Quality content is king
While great SEO does involve ticking Google’s boxes, it’s quality, user-friendly content that will always win over articles that only please the Google algorithm. By this we mean, you want to write engaging articles for your human audience, not just for Google’s robots. Sure, you’ll want to add keywords into the right places (more on that next!), but if your writing is awkwardly stuffed with repetitive sentences and keywords to try and sweet-talk the algorithm, your audience won’t read your articles and they’ll bounce from your page. This tells Google that your content is bad, and that’s a one-way ticket to the bottom of a results page!
Take a look at our guide on how to use content marketing successfully for more ideas.
2. Do your keyword research
Now that you’ve got your quality content, you’ll want to do some keyword research to find out exactly what people are searching for. For example, if you’re blogging about the best pizza restaurants in your city, you need to know if people are looking mostly for family-friendly pizza restaurants, vegetarian pizzas, or maybe pizzas with the best crusts. By doing this research (and later adding these keywords into your website), this tells Google that your content is exactly what your audience is looking for. Want to know the easiest way to research keywords? Simply type your query into Google, and see what the most frequent suggestions pop up. When I type “pizza restaurants” into Google, the first suggestions are “pizza restaurants that deliver” and “pizza restaurants near me” – so straight away we know that these keywords are important to our audience.
3. Use your keywords correctly (without stuffing!)
Ok, so you’ve got your great content, and you also have a list of keywords that people are searching for. Now what? Time to add these keywords into your article. But just like we mentioned in Point 1, do not keyword-stuff just to please the Google algorithm. Instead, use your keywords wisely, and only place them in sentences where they fit naturally. And the good news? There are 9 key areas where you want your keywords to be seen: in your Title Tag/SEO Title (the clickable link on the Search Engine Results page), in your article’s headline, meta description, in the subheading, in the first paragraph of your article, in your image captions, in your image’s Alt Text, in linked text, and of course, sprinkled throughout your body text. Read more about where to use keywords here.
4. Keep your content up-to-date
Just like us, search engines don’t like outdated content. If your website is getting a little stale (or if the information has changed over time) you’ll want to update your content pronto. You’ll want to check that the details are still relevant and factual, and you might also want to check your keywords to make sure they’re still important to your audience. As a general rule, we like to update our articles within 90 days. And as a final tip, we also try to avoid using specific dates (unless absolutely necessary) as these expire quickly. We try to keep our content as evergreen as possible (it means less work when it comes to update time!)
5. Answer questions & be explicit
If you think about it, we use search engines because we need something. It might be an answer to a question, or to solve a problem. So on your website, why not offer exactly that? Rather than writing long-winded paragraphs that mean the reader has to hunt for the answer, be explicit in your content from the get-go and elaborate later. Google will pick up on the fact that you are answering an exact search query, and that’ll boost your ranking. Try it on Google for yourself. Search for “what is SEO?”. The top result will almost always feature a specific question-answer combo. If you do this well, Google may even select your website for the top-ranking “Featured Snippet” spot like the above story from Honeycombers Hong Kong.
6. Write killer titles + headlines (to lower your bounce rate)
We’ve written an entire guide on how to write killer headlines. Why? Because it’s crucial in hacking your way to SEO success. For starters, your site’s SEO title is the deciding factor as to whether or not someone will click through to your website from Google. Then, once they land on your page, you need a killer headline to keep them there. Quite simply, if your headline sucks, no one will want to stick around on your site or read what you have to say. The result? High bounce rates, which Google does not appreciate. So get your Titles and your Headlines in order, and you’ll see your bounce rates decrease, while your traffic skyrockets.
7. Link and get linked
One of the best ways to show your worth (and prove to Google that your content is both trustworthy and relevant) is to link to reliable sources. This is pretty easy – simply link to other sites that are valuable to both you and your readers. Now, the tricky part is earning those backlinks to your website, from outside sources. There are a few ways you can do this. You can contact other websites directly and request backlinks (some may charge for this service), or you can write guest posts for other sites that link to yours. Otherwise, you can simply hope that over time, your site will naturally acquire backlinks through the quality content you’re continually producing. Be that reliable source and those backlinks should start flowing in!
8. Get your H1s, H2s and H3s in order
If you’ve already uploaded content to your site, you’ll no doubt be familiar with H-tags. These are essentially the headings that tell Google what to read first. For example, your headline is the most important line of information, so this is your H1. Next up is your subtitle, which is your H2, and finally, any subheadings in your body text should be H3s. Now, this seems very straightforward, but it’s surprising how many people get it wrong, which ultimately confuses the message you’re sending to Google. Top tip: you can have more than one H2. For example, if you’re splitting your content into sections, you can use H2s to tell Google to read those sections equally.
9. Do some digital housekeeping
Over time, your site and its content will need a little spruce-up, and that’s where digital housekeeping comes in. Updating your content regularly will minimise the amount of housework you need to do, but it’s always good practice to audit your site to check your page-load speeds, crawl for any broken links, analyse your bounce-rates and so much more. And once you find errors or link problems? Fix them. Google loves a clean house, so get tidying. There are plenty of automated site audit websites out there, or we can do it for you.