Earning a top spot in search engine rankings is no easy feat, but when it does happen, the benefits can be numerous. According to research published by Backlinko, the number one organic result is ten times more likely to receive a click compared to a page in the number ten spot. Maintaining a high ranking in Google can open up new opportunities for businesses by increasing brand awareness and improving their ability to generate traffic and leads.
Steps To Take To Improve Your Rankings In 2021
Learning how to rank higher in 2021 involves understanding the unique algorithm that the search engine uses to assign relevancy scores to web pages. A web page’s PageRank is based on several factors, such as the age of the web page, the number of other web pages linked to the page in question, and the frequency and location of keywords within the web page.
Businesses who want to achieve a higher ranking in the search engines should perform a series of steps to improving their ranking.
Perform Initial Parent Keyword Research
A robust keyword list, coupled with a solid content marketing strategy, has been proven to deliver measurable and sustainable results. One of the first tasks involved in keyword research is the formulation of a parent keyword list. A parent keyword refers to a high-level keyword that covers niche products or services within a business. Parent keywords generally receive the highest amount of traffic but can be the most difficult to rank for as they are highly desired.
The parent topic is the keyword that brings the most amount of traffic to the top-ranking pages for the keyword. Having a parent topic can be useful when categorizing keywords to create target pages. For example, the keyword “what does a criminal defense attorney do” may have the parent topic of “criminal defense attorney” (As shown in Figure 1.2). Today, businesses can find a wide range of free and premium keyword research tools to simplify this process. Ideally, a combination of tools should be used to retrieve the highest volume of keyword suggestions.
Identify Long Tail Keywords Based On Your Parent Keywords
Once parent keywords have been identified, research can be conducted to find long tail keywords. Long tail keywords refer to search terms with a relatively low search volume and competition level. As the name suggests, long tail keywords tend to be longer in length than other keyword types, usually three or more words.
The use of long tail keywords can be highly beneficial for SEO purposes as they are usually far less competitive than parent keywords which makes them easier to rank for. Long tail keywords are also more specific and tend to have higher conversion rates. Once long tail keywords have been identified, they can be sprinkled into content or a piece of content can be optimized around that specific term.
There are many different ways to identify long-term keywords. One of the easiest involves typing into Google and seeing what autocomplete suggestions pop up. Also check at the bottom of the search page where it lists “Searches related to” to gain insight about other relevant topics people are searching for that might fall under the parent keyword.
Long tail keywords are often referred to as niche keywords as they are specific to the topic. For example, a parent keyword of “running shoes” may have long tail keywords such as “best running shoes for men” or “best running shoes for flat feet.” The use of long tail keywords also makes it easier for searchers to find the specific information that they are looking for when performing a Google search.
Do Extensive Competitor Research
Many businesses rely on basic keyword research to determine how competitive a particular keyword is, but this is not the only tool available. Conducting research on competitors can also provide businesses with valuable insight as to what topics and keywords are ranking best in the industry. Keyword competition analysis is the process of evaluating the success of top rankings in terms of SEO factors.
Performing a competitive analysis can result in a wide range of benefits, such as the ability to significantly grow website traffic, target keywords with high search volumes that have been overlooked, find keywords that give competitors the highest ROI and leverage high competition keywords.
Researching competitor keywords can help businesses find search terms that already attract their target audience. These terms can then be used to expand their reach. To find competitor keywords, a business must first identify industry leaders who consistently rank high in the search engines. These top ranking sites can then be analyzed to see what keywords are driving traffic to them.
Take Note Of The Time Of Year For Content Relevancy
Creating seasonal content is critical for businesses in nearly all industries. Many businesses rely on the changing seasons, such as holidays, changing weather and other yearly variations to help attract consumers. It is important for marketers to determine the best time to create seasonal content to meet the needs of both new and existing customers.
Most businesses understand the importance of having both evergreen and seasonal content throughout the year. However, the timing of this content plays a major role in its ultimate success. It is important that seasonal content has the chance to go live and become indexed before the target date. If a marketer fails to plan ahead and is late publishing the content, then the opportunity for increased traffic to the site may pass. It takes time for search engines to index content, sometimes weeks or even months.
There are many tools available that can help businesses find seasonal trends that can be used in seasonal content creation. Google AdWords can be used to find specific queries that a target audience is searching for. Google Trends can also be a helpful tool for determining what topics are of high interest at the moment, including seasonal patterns.
Create A 3 Month Outline Of Content
Life is unpredictable and it may not always be possible to create content directly before the anticipated publish date. That is why it is important for businesses to create content ahead of time and be prepared for future posts. Ideally, a business should have a three-month outline of planned content.
This content may include blog posts to help drive traffic, e-book topics to help capture leads and email content to nurture leads. Having a well-planned content strategy can give businesses a competitive edge and encourage consistent posting that attracts new and existing consumers.
Content strategy refers to the management of all types of tangible media, such as visual, written or downloadable. When creating a content strategy, it is important to consider who will be reading the content, the problems that the content aims to solve, what makes the content unique, what content formats will be used and what channels the content will be published to, such as websites, blogs or social media.
It is useful to develop a content calendar that can be shared among team members to keep everyone informed of the content that is to be distributed throughout the year. Creating a three-month outline of content can also help businesses plan around key events.
Leverage E-A-T For SEO Success
E-A-T is one of Google’s newest buzzwords that stands for expertise, authority and trustworthiness.
- Expertise – Expertise refers to whether the individual writing the content for a particular website is an expert in their respective field. When writing content, it is important for writers to demonstrate their level of expertise in the pieces they produce.
- Authority – Authority refers to a business’s brand reputation. Businesses are generally seen as authoritative figures by Google when people link to their website and talk about their website and content producers on social media.
- Trustworthiness – Trust is a measurement of authenticity and credibility. Google wants the websites that they recommend to be trustworthy and provide good products, services or information. Google measures the trustworthiness of a website or brand in the same way that a real person would.
E-A-T is a model used by the search engine to evaluate whether information is credible. While the specifics of these evaluation guidelines are more in-depth, the main concept has remained relatively unchanged over the years. Pages are generally considered high-quality if they are clearly credible, meaning that they demonstrate high levels of expertise, authority and trustworthiness. Pages that are unable to demonstrate an adequate level of credibility are generally considered low-quality.
Write Engaging & Informative Meta Descriptions
A meta description is a short paragraph of text found in the HTML of a website that describes its content. Meta descriptions generally appear under the page’s URL in the search results. These short snippets of text are used to summarize a webpage’s content and are an important component of on-page SEO.
Search engines then show the meta description in the search results when the searched-for phrase appears within the description. The maximum length of a meta description is based on pixels. On mobile devices, this is 680 pixels or roughly 120 characters. On desktop, it is 920 pixels or roughly 158 characters. Figure 7.1 shows Rank With Content’s home page meta description, showing the use of valuable keywords with engaging and informative copy.
Writing meta descriptions does not have to be difficult. Good meta descriptions prioritize the user experience and focus on benefits. When writing a meta description, consider what the page is about and why the page is the best choice for the given query. It is also important to include the primary keyword in the meta description that the page aims to rank for. The most important information should be first and the subject matter should be clear and quickly communicated. In other words, write for people and not for the search engines.
Master On-Page SEO
On-page SEO refers to the practice of optimizing individual web pages to rank higher in the search engines and earn targeted traffic. This component of SEO consists of both the content itself and the HTML source code which can be optimized. This differs from off-page SEO which deals with links and other types of external signals.
By optimizing on-page SEO, businesses are able to make their websites more valuable and useful to web searchers. In turn, this can improve rankings and enhance brand visibility in the search engines. Engaging in on-page SEO tactics can lead to higher search rankings, improved traffic to a business website and a greater number of conversions. Although it takes time and effort to optimize a website for on-page SEO, consistency can help make a business’s online ranking and overall sales soar.
There are several different ranking factors to consider when optimizing a website for on-page SEO. It is best to optimize all of these factors to improve rankings and make a website more competitive. Some of the most common on-page optimization factors to focus on include URL, meta description, title tag, alt tags, heading tags, keywords, speed, content, images, internal linking and mobile-friendliness.
We recommend using the Yoast SEO plugin when optimizing posts and pages. It will give you guidance on how to best optimize your title, meat description, alt text, internal & external links, etc.
Place Strategic CTAs Throughout Your Copy
A call-to-action (CTA) is a common marketing term that refers to the step a marketer wants its reader or audience to take. CTAs are often placed at the end of content to nudge readers to perform an action. For example, a call-to-action may ask a reader to contact a company to learn more about their goods or services. A CTA may also suggest that the reader sign up for a newsletter or click the buy button to complete a sale. Although CTAs are most commonly placed at the end of content, they can also be strategically placed throughout copy.
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CTAs are a key element in any web page and can help drive readers to take action and move along in the sales funnel. Having a call to action is important regardless of what the business is selling. Without a clear CTA, a reader is likely to finish reading the post and then leave the site without completing any more tasks. However, when there is a CTA within the copy, readers are encouraged to continue interacting with the website. Common examples of CTAs include “read more articles,” “share on social media,” “sign up,” “free trial” or “get started today”.
Perform Strategic Interlinking (With Strong Anchor Text)
An internal link is a link that goes from one page to another on the same domain. This differs from an external link which is a link that goes from one website to a different website. There are many benefits that come from performing strategic interlinking, including the strengthening of the sales funnel.
Internal links help to pass authority from one page to the next which can improve search optimization. These links also help guide readers to high-value and relevant content, improving website usability. Internal links also prompt readers to act using relevant calls-to-action, thus optimizing conversions.
Strategic interlinking can help Google find and index all pages on a website. When used strategically, internal links can send page authority to other important pages on a domain. This makes internal linking a critical component when attempting to rank higher in Google. Internal links also help to provide organization to a website. They often are used to group related pages or sections together to make it easier for readers to find the information that they are looking for.
When adding links to a website, it is important to use strong anchor text. When writing anchor text, avoid excessively stuffing text with keywords just for search engines. Businesses should also avoid creating unnecessary links that will not help the user navigate the website.
For example, Figure 10.1 shows a section of a blog Elijah Millard wrote for 321 Web Marketing with descriptive anchor text to provide readers with additional information about what local SEO is (link shown in Figure 10.2) and the benefits of local SEO for insurance agencies (link shown in Figure 10.3).
Add Images With Keyword-Centric Alt Text
Businesses that use visual content to help promote or sell their products or services can greatly benefit from using keyword-centric alt text with their images. Alt text, or ‘alternative text,’ is used within an HTML code to summarize the appearance and function of an image on a web page.
There are several reasons that alt text is added to images. First, adding alternative text to photos improves web accessibility and allows visually impaired users that use screen readers to read the alt attribute and understand what the image is trying to convey. Alt tags are also used in place of an image if an image file cannot be loaded. Search engine crawlers may also use alt text to help them properly index an image.
The use of alt text can lead to an overall better user experience. It can also help a business achieve higher rankings in the search engines through its SEO benefits. Alt text provides businesses the opportunity to include their target keyword and attract a specific audience. When writing alt text, be sure to describe the image as specifically as possible, keep it short, avoid keyword stuffing and don’t include “picture of” or “image of” in the alt text.
Utilize Google’s Page Experience Signals
Google page experience is a series of signals that measure how users perceive their experience when interacting with a web page. This new algorithm allows for the optimization of a website to create a more pleasurable user experience across all browsers and devices. The use of Google’s page experience is believed to contribute to business success on the web and help users become more engaged with the content they read.
There are many ways that businesses can optimize their page to improve page experience. First, look at the website loading time. The faster that a website loads, the better the experience the user will have. Website load time for both mobile and desktop should ideally be under three seconds. However, businesses should aim for the one-second range if possible.
Next, businesses should compare their user experience with that of their competition. If a competitor that sells similar products or services is providing consumers with a better user experience, then users may choose the competitor to complete a purchase. Analyze what the competitor is doing, how their content compares and the differences between the two websites to find ways to improve.
Sometimes too much of a good thing can be bad. This is true when it comes to SEO and website optimization. Stuffing dozens of keywords into a piece of content used to be an effective way to boost a site in the search engines but not anymore. Today, keyword stuffing and other frowned-upon antics, such as link spamming, can actually cause Google to penalize a site. In some cases, a page may be demoted in the rankings or entirely removed from the rankings.
There are certain signs that may indicate that a business is over-optimizing their website. Using keyword-rich anchors for internal links too frequently can have a negative effect on a business’s SEO efforts. The same applies to the use of non-relevant keywords. Optimizing a website with keywords that are not relevant to the topic will not only confuse readers who land on the site, but can detract from the overall strength of the site in the search engines.
Practicing good SEO is a good idea, but when a business puts too much focus on the technical details of SEO and overdoes it, it can have negative consequences. Websites are ultimately designed for human use which means it should appear high-quality and natural to the user.
Perform Link Building & Off-Page SEO
Off-page SEO refers to actions taken outside of a website that impact a business’s rankings on the search engines. Optimizing for off-site ranking factors typically involves improving search engine perception of a website’s popularity, trustworthiness, relevance and authority. Successful off-page SEO can be accomplished when reputable people, pages or sites on the internet promote or link back to a business’s site. In this regard, that person or site is essentially “vouching” for the quality of the site or content.
Off-page SEO plays a critical role in how well a business ranks in the search engines as Google looks to off-page SEO and external links to determine if a website is an authority in its field. The building of backlinks is the foundation of off-page SEO as search engines use backlinks to determine the quality of a page’s content. A website or web page that has many high value backlinks will generally rank better than a website that has fewer backlinks.
When performing link building, businesses will come across several different types of links. Natural links are links given without any action by the page owner. This is an excellent type of link to have as it shows the popularity of the site. Manually built links are earned through deliberate link building activities, such as getting customers to link to a website. Self-created links include practices such as adding backlinks in online directories, blog comment signatures, forums or press releases. It is important to avoid black hat SEO link building techniques as these can result in penalties from Google.
Speak To Experienced Content Writing Professionals
Today, more than 90 percent of all internet searches take place on Google, according to Business Insider. In fact, the popular search engine processes more than 3.5 billion searches per day. With so much competition, businesses must take the initiative to engage in SEO best practices and improve their overall online presence to achieve a higher ranking on Google and other search engines. To learn more about how to rank higher in 2021 or to speak with our SEO content writing experts at Rank With Content by calling 571.200.8863 or by visiting our content shop online!