10 ways to increase your ranking on Google

Search Engine Optimization is quickly becoming a concept that businesses are familiar with. It is one of the fastest growing marketing services, for good reason. Yet, the SEO industry also has a dark side, with many things you should be aware of before you start your journey. In this post we show you how you can organically increase your ranking on Google, with examples and explanations.

10 Ways to increase your SEO ranking on Google:

  1. Set-up Google Business, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console
  2. Diversify your backlink portfolio
  3. Use primary key words and secondary key words appropriately
  4. Use header tags and paragraph tags appropriately
  5. Guide Google to use your desired meta description
  6. Infuse your SEO strategy with paid advertising
  7. Update your website regularly with relevant content
  8. Ensure your website is mobile-ready
  9. Decrease load times
  10. Meet users at every point of the buyers’ journey

Setting the Stage

Suppose a young couple just got a new puppy, named Dune. Dune is the first puppy they’ve ever owned. There are many things they need to consider as new puppy owners: what food do they feed Dune? What size leash does Dune need? Does Dune need a winter jacket? What type of toys will Dune like? The list goes on.

As new puppy owners, they aren’t sure where to start. They might ask a friend, who has owned a dog, for advice. But chances are – at some point in the process – they will turn to Google to find answers for their questions.

We can all recognize that Search Engine Optimization is extremely valuable. If I’m a dog food company, I would like these new dog owners to know I exist. If I offer dog leashes, naturally I want these owners to consider my product for Dune.

In the digital world, having strong SEO and advertising is like having your brick-and-mortar business in the busiest part of the city. Traffic and visibility are higher. Just like you wouldn’t want to be a restaurant located down a dark back alley, you don’t want to be hidden in the depths of Google Search.

So, let’s pretend we are a dog food company. We want these new dog owners to consider our product for their puppy Dune. How might we be able to gain visibility and traffic using SEO?

1. Set-up Google Business, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console

We consider these 3 services to be the SEO trifecta. The first thing you should do is set up Google Business. It is super simple to get going – you can follow the instructions here.

Google Business is especially relevant if you have a physical location or if you only offer your services in a specific area. If my dog food business has a storefront located in Toronto, creating a Google Business profile will help my Google ranking improve when someone searches ‘Dog food store in Toronto’ – for example. It also helps if someone searches ‘Dog food store near me’, because Google now knows your exact address.

Creating a Google Business profile also results in your business showing up in the ‘side tab’ of search results. This gives users quick access to your phone number, website, social media, and more- and helps reinforce their perception of your trustworthiness.

Business profile example

The next thing you should set up is Google Analytics. This one is a little more complex because you will need to add a small line of code to your website. You can send the instructions to your website developer - if you have one - or follow the instructions yourself.

Google Analytics helps you understand who is visiting your website, where traffic is coming from, what times of day traffic is the highest, and so much more. These analytical insights help you make informed decisions about your SEO strategy and are invaluable when designing your marketing plan.

Suppose Google Analytics is revealing that women are visiting my dog food website at 3x the rate that men are. This information will impact my strategy considerably.

Analytics example

Google Search Console is the final piece of the puzzle. It is specifically designed to help you understand how Google indexes your website. It highlights any page errors, it shows your average position in Google Search, it shows how many clicks and impressions Google is generating for you – and it tells you what search queries are driving these specific outcomes. We use Google Search Console to reverse engineer our website and content, to deliver a more relevant experience to users. Getting it set up is relatively easy.

Using the dog food business example, Google Search Console may reveal to me that my Checkout page is being shown to people who search for ‘organic’ dog food, but not as much if they search for ‘healthy’ dog food. Now, armed with this information, if you update your website with relevant keywords (like healthy) to the specific page of interest, you can capture more leads.

You also might notice that Google has showed our dog food website to thousands of people searching for ‘local dog food store’, but a very small percentage of those people are clicking the link. This is the CTR (Click-Through Rate). CTR helps us understand that our meta description may not be displaying useful information.

Search console example

Google Search Console is not to be confused with Google Trends. Google Trends allows you to explore a high-level view of what the world is searching, what keywords are trending, and other valuable data – whereas Search Console is specifically about your website.

2. Diversify your backlink portfolio

Backlinks are other websites that link to your website. The more websites that link to yours, the higher Google ranks your trustworthiness. There are SEO companies that have their own network of private blogs that they can use to link to your website – while this may temporarily increase your website ranking, Google will eventually discover this and deindex your website entirely. Be careful.

Diversifying your backlink portfolio takes a lot of time. It generally increases in sync with the natural growth of your business. A blogger might write about how she loves our dog food after buying it for her dog, and link to our site. A news company might write an article about our dog food, or a twitter user might link to our site explaining how good their experience was with us. These are all high-quality, diverse, backlinks that benefit SEO.

3. Use primary key words and secondary key words appropriately

Using relevant keywords is important for your SEO strategy. But remember, Google is smart. You may have noticed that the young couple in our example named their dog Dune. In late 2021, Dune was one of the highest trending keywords in Canada because of the IMAX movie that came out in October. Does the fact we named the dog Dune help with SEO optimization?

No. Google is extremely adept at recognizing relevancy. Just because I frequently stuck the keyword Dune into this post does not mean it will show up higher in Google Search. SEO ranking is extremely dependent on phrasing, the content of the entire post, and the syntax of the search query. You should only add keywords to your website that are actually relevant. Use Google Search Console in conjunction with Google Trends to help find what keywords you should be using.

4. Use header tags and paragraph tags appropriately

When you build your website, it is important to tag block text with their matching tags. The <p> HTML element represents a paragraph, and the <header> HTML element is used to define the header for a document or a section as it contains the information related to the title. Many website builders will automatically create these tags for you.

Header and paragraph tags help improve the SEO of your site by making it easier for Google crawl your page. It organizes content for Google on the coding level.

For example, if my dog food company tags the header “Why is healthy dog food important for my dog?” and underneath we have a paragraph tag answering the question, then this is good for SEO. Google easily crawls our website and if someone searches that specific query, we have a higher chance of showing up.

If instead we were to use the header “Why our dog food is the best”, and underneath we answer the question in a paragraph, it may be less effective than the first example. Simply because it doesn’t make sense for the young couple and their puppy Dune to search ‘Why our dog food is the best’. They are far more likely to search the query from the first example.

5. Guide Google to use your desired meta description

A meta description is the paragraph that appears under the title in a Google search.

Meta description examples

Every website builder allows you to input a meta description for each page on your website. Here's an example from Wix.

Adding meta descriptions is easy

A meta description is a concise explanation of what is on a specific page and why it is relevant for someone to click on it. Meta descriptions are very important because it is generally the only piece of information about your company someone sees before they click on your website.

However, the meta descriptions you put into website builders are merely suggestions. There is absolutely no guarantee Google will use them, and in many cases they won’t. It depends on the exact search query.

Let’s take an example from an actual dog food company, Pedigree. Generally, when we type in the name of a company (in this case ‘Pedigree’) - with no other words in the query - Google will show the meta description that the company has crafted.

If instead, we search for ‘Pedigree dog food’, the meta description changes - despite the fact Google is linking us to the exact same page.

The first meta description that resulted from ‘Pedigree’ was generalized - offering us tips on dog care and ways to understand dog behaviour. The second meta description that resulted from ‘Pedigree dog food’ was all about dog food. Makes sense, right? Google is serving us more relevant information based on our query.

You can’t tell Google what you want your meta description to be in every scenario, you can only guide them to display what you want. You need to use appropriate header and paragraph tags, and appropriate primary and secondary keywords, to accomplish this.

6. Infuse your SEO strategy with paid advertising

There is no such thing as an SEO strategy without data. Using Google Business, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console is the only way to understand how Google interacts with your website.

This is precisely why your SEO strategy will benefit from paid advertising. Suppose my dog food company is brand new - my website has been online for one day. Who exactly am I optimizing the search engine for? How do I know what I should add, remove, or rewrite? How do I know if my meta description is displaying, or if my header and paragraph tags are driving people to my website?

You don’t. Young companies need months or years to generate enough data to get a good idea of how to improve SEO.

You must think of SEO as reverse engineering. When you first build your site, your web developer and copywriter will, to the best of their ability, design and write with search engines in mind. But you cannot ‘optimize’ this process without first seeing how the process plays out. That is the definition of optimizing: to rearrange or rewrite (data, software, etc.) to improve efficiency of retrieval or processing.

Paid advertising can fast track this process considerably. By driving more traffic to your website through ads, you will collect data faster than you otherwise would.

7. Update your website regularly with relevant content

Search engines love recent content. If you don’t update your website content for months or years, it will negatively impact your SEO. This is why blogs are touted as extremely beneficial for SEO, because they force you to keep adding relevant and recent content to your website. But beware: the internet is littered with unloved blogs that haven’t been updated in years. It takes commitment to continue regularly publishing blogs over the long run.

8. Ensure your website is mobile-ready

Search engines love mobile-ready websites. Google tests several different things about your website to determine this.

Google tests to see if width of layout scales with the screen width. Dynamic content layouts are highly recommended, giving website builders like Webflow the upper hand over Wix in this category.

Google tests to see if there is enough space between clickable elements and sends webmaster a warning if elements are too close to one another for mobile users.

Google tests to see if images load fast enough for mobile browsers.

Google Webmaster Tools will give you all the info you need to locate the mobile issues with your site and fix them. Take the mobile-friendly test to discover how your website stacks up.

9. Decrease load times

Search engines love short load times. The two best ways to decrease load times are:

  • Compress and optimize images and videos on your website
  • Minify CSS, JavaScript, and HTML.

You may need to talk to your website developer about helping with this. Some website builders, like Webflow, allow you to minify your coding by simply clicking a button. Others are more complicated.

10. Meet users at every point of the buyers’ journey

Meeting users at every point of the buying journey is one of the most impactful components of your SEO strategy. It is also one of the most difficult – requiring high-level thinking and the ability to let go of your biases. In essence, it is about understanding the way your target markets brains’ work – psychologically and behaviourally.

Let’s circle back to our dog food company example.

Before somebody decides to buy dog food, what might their journey be? Here’s a simple example:

  1. They currently don’t have a dog but are considering getting one.
  2. Alternatively, they have a dog but are considering getting another.
  3. They research what type of dog they want, based on their lifestyle.
  4. They decide from where they might get the dog – a rescue or from a breeder.
  5. They decide to get a dog.
  6. They research what dog food is appropriate for the type of dog they are getting.
  7. They research what dog food is appropriate for the age of their dog.
  8. They research what is the healthiest thing for dogs to eat.
  9. They research where the closest dog food store is to them, offering what they are looking for.
  10. They purchase dog food.

Each one of these stages is a good place for my dog food company to try and introduce myself to the potential buyer, with a curated message. Perhaps the potential buyer is in stage one – they don’t have a dog but are considering getting one. Maybe they are searching things like “Are dogs good companions”, “Should I get a dog?”, “A beginner’s guide to owning a dog”, etc.

As the dog food company, it is in my interest to create a section of my website to explain how wonderful it is to own a dog. Or to write a blog post answering one or more of these questions. This potential new client has just discovered your brand organically, by researching things that are related to the product you’re offering.

The same is true for every step in their journey. Take number 7 for example (what is the healthiest thing for dogs to eat?). If you answer this question on your website with scientific evidence to support it, it is a great way to transition them into “Oh, and by the way, we offer this type of food. And we can deliver it to your door.”

Meeting the buyer at different stages is a complex subject, but one of the most important parts of your SEO strategy.

Summary

Search engine optimization is an intricate, elaborate, and often convoluted tool to utilize. The landscape is always changing and there are numerous companies trying to take advantage of you. Yet, it is extremely valuable – and prime search engine positioning is the modern-day equivalent of having your business located in the busiest part of the city.

As you can probably tell, the goal of this post was to meet you at some point in your buyer journey. We hope sharing our insights has helped you gain a broad understanding of SEO and how you might use it to grow your business.

We also hope that you will reach out to us if you are interested in hiring outside help for your SEO strategy. Like anything else, “practice makes the master” when it comes to digital marketing - and we have practiced like walk-on athletes. We take pride in putting our knowledge to work for our partners.

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