Ranking organically in search results has never been harder. Manipulating the search engines to your rank your website high is a thing of the best, but there are certainly some steps you can take to achieve high rankings.
The hardest thing about SEO is that the steps you need to take to rank are no longer tricks to outsmart search engines, but to follow their guidelines. Search engines, specifically Google, have gotten very smart in learning what content is actually good content. You need to create high quality content otherwise you will not rank high.
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Here are some of the best steps you can take to improve your rankings:
1. Make sure you target the right keywords
When you are writing a post in hopes to rank it high in the search engines, it’s not secret that you need to have some target keywords in mind. Your content needs to be written with at least two purposes. To provide value to readers, and to rank it in the search engines. If you can’t get it ranked, there is a good chance nobody will see it.
The best way to make sure that you are targeting the right keywords is to use a keyword research tool. I know that not everyone has the budget to spend money on a keyword research tool, so I would recommend using the Google Keyword Planner.
With the Google Keyword Planner you can type in a keyword and it will give you search volume, cost per click, competition, and also keyword recommendations. The ideal scenario is to find keywords with a high search volume, high cost per click, and low competition.
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2. Match search intent
The idea of matching search intent is often missed. When focusing on SEO, it can be easy to get so caught up in the process of trying to rank your page, that you might ignore search intent. This causes a few issues.
The first issue is that it is going to make it harder to rank when you ignore search intent. You need to be providing a resource that either answers the searcher’s question or solves their problem. When your write your content for search engines rather than users, this becomes difficult to achieve.
The second issue this can cause, is that maybe you get ranked for your target keyword, but your page doesn’t actually help anyone. You can give yourself a pat on the back for getting the page ranked, however if it isn’t helping anyone, all your time and effort spent ranking your page was a waste. In addition, over time search engines will understand your page isn’t helping users and will rank you lower in the search results.
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3. Optimize keyword usage
Optimizing keyword usage is one of the easiest things to know to do, but can be one of the hardest things to do right. This involves more than just putting your target keywords into the post a bunch of times. Keyword stuffing can end up hurting your rankings and is something that should be avoided when optimizing your pages.
It is more important than ever to have a natural flow in your content. As mentioned earlier, you need to write content for users rather than search engines. If you are writing about a specific topic, you will naturally use keywords that you are trying to target. If you need to actively be thinking about using your target keyword, then there is a good chance you are trying to force the keywords, rather than using them naturally.
4. Create high quality content
This is something that everyone knows they need to do, but very little people actually do this. Google has many different ways of measuring the quality of content. A big part of this is looking at metrics on how users interact with your page. If users click on your search result, then quickly leave and go to another search result, this shows Google your page didn’t have what the user is looking for.
Just like the other points about search intent and optimizing keywords, it mostly comes down to writing content for users. When you are writing your content, you need to provide real value for the users. This will help users have a positive experience with your site, as well as help Google understand that you have high quality content.
5. Internal Linking
Internal linking is one of the easiest ways to improve your rankings. This isn’t something that is going to take you from page 5 to page 1 in the search results, but it can improve your rankings.
Internal linking is when you link to your pages within your website. What this does is it shows search engines which pages on your site are important. By linking to specific pages from multiple other pages, search engines will know that you are trying to give extra attention to those pages.
The nice thing about internal linking is that it is something you can do immediately. You can find places on your site where it makes sense to include internal links and add them right away. With that being said, you still need to use this naturally. Don’t force internal links, and only use them where they make sense.
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6. Link Building
Building backlinks is another one of those things that we know is important, but it is very hard to do. Google has mentioned that backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors. When Google sees many backlinks point to a page, it is a good sign that that page is a high-quality page.
There is no easy way to build links, but it is all about finding what works best for you. The first thing you need is high quality content that other website owners will want to link to. After that you can try reaching out to websites that you would like a link from. This part is all about having the right pitch. Give them a pitch on why you think linking to your site will help their website visitors, and they might be willing to give you that link. If link building is a pain point in your SEO efforts, consider working with a Local SEO company to help you with this part.
7. Be Consistent
It is important to be consistent with this process when trying to improve your SEO. If you apply all this to just one of your pages, it likely will not have a big impact on your bottom line. Creating a process is a good way to be sure you stay on task and are consistent in your SEO efforts.
I would recommend trying Trello to set up a process for yourself. It is a free tool and is a great way to stay organized. You can use this for yourself, and you can also use this to stay organized in a team setting as well. I have found Trello to be one of the most useful tools for myself in staying organized and on track.