I know it sounds a bit like one of those titles I was talking about in my last blog but this is a look at how I got onto page one of Google by doing a few straightforward things.
This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive guide to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), for that you might find this rank correlation analysis and rank correlation factors for Google from Moz interesting (bear in mind that the analysis was done in the US and Google’s algorithm differs from country to country).
Of course the really quick way to get onto page one is to pay for ads but I’m talking about organic search here.
This is what I’ve been up to…
1. Search terms
With the Hummingbird update last year, Google moved towards semantic search but keywords and phrases are still important. They’re number one in the page ranking factors in the article above as Google’s bots need ‘flags’ to tell them what a page is about.
I’m currently on page one for ‘copywriter Nottingham’, ‘copywriting Nottingham’, ‘Nottingham copywriter’ and ‘Nottingham copywriting’.
[For the first two keyphrases I’m in position 7 on the page and the 4th copywriter (the others 3 are job sites). For the third keyphrase I’m in position 8 and the 5th copywriter (job sites again), and for the last one, position 9, 5th copywriter.]
I moved to Nottingham two years ago and didn’t start optimising my site for those phrases until about March or April this year so it doesn’t take long to climb the rankings.
TOP TIP: If you want to see where your website ranks go ‘Incognito’ otherwise your results will be affected by you being logged in (search results are personal).
2. A blog
A blog does a lot more than help your position on Google, it also shows that you know your stuff, it engages, educates and entertains. Google likes sites to be regularly updated PLUS having a blog means you can add more and more pages to your site that include relevant keywords and phrases.
I started blogging as soon as I set up WordNerd in 2011. Back then I managed to post every week, now it’s more like once every three weeks as I’ve got really busy. I’m still ranking quite well but if I could post more I’d have more site visits and rank better.
TOP TIP: The more often you can post the better but don’t trade quality for quantity. If no one reads your blogs or engages with them it won’t help your business. Ultimately the aim is to get more clients, not just to rank well.
3. SEO Yoast
There are a number of WordPress plugins you can use to help with your SEO but this is my favourite. It checks whether you’ve done the essentials, like included the keywords / phrases in the title, meta description, URL, H2 sub-headings, first paragraph and content.
It also checks whether you’ve added an image, written enough copy (over 300 words), that the title is the correct length (40 to 70 characters) and that there are outbound links.
To keep it really simple the plugin scores your post or page as red, orange or green so you know if you need to do more work on it.
4. Social media
Google takes the number of ‘shares’ and ‘Likes’ on social media as ‘social proof’ that you’re putting out useful content so the more talked about and shared your content, the higher up the rankings you go. This seems particularly strong with Google+, where a ‘+1’ can mean that your update comes up on page one immediately and stays there for a long time, while your web page with the same term is nowhere to be seen.
TOP TIP: Choose up to three social media platforms that your prospects are on and commit yourself to them.
I’m on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ and I get work directly from Twitter and LinkedIn (more from LI than Twitter), I’m still working out G+ and have seen it more as a tool for SEO.
5. External links
Link-building is still important but again it’s quality over quantity. It’s far better to get links in from respected websites than to have loads from dodgy link farms. Not all links are created equal.
I haven’t consciously worked on acquiring lots of links but I have written a number of guest posts on other people’s sites and made sure that I could link back to my own from them. I do the same for people who want to post on my site, it’s one of the benefits of guest blogging.
6. Internal links
Internal links – links between the pages and posts on a website – are important too and something I did from day one without knowing much about it.
When search engine spiders crawl a site, links show them how a site fits together, so if a page doesn’t link to any others the spiders will assume that it isn’t important. Links also help your site visitors get around.
A simple way of linking pages is to use a call to action on every page and remember to link each blog post to other ones that are relevant – great for your readers too.
Here are a few final tips that will help you rank highly:
– add an alt tag (the bit search engines read) to every image (Google can’t read images yet but they’re working on it…)
– ascribe Categories to each blog post (this helps your readers by showing them other blogs they might be interested in and the Category also appears as part of a post’s URL so it helps your SEO)
– add an XML sitemap to help the bots crawl your site and understand its structure
That’s pretty much what I’ve been doing and it seems to be working. I’ve still got a few places to climb but there are people on page one who’ve been optimising for years and years so I’m pleased that I’m on there at all, even if I’m not at the top. Yet!
I hope you found this useful. Any questions or comments, you know what to do…
P.S. If you want to find out which search terms people use to look up your services so you can include them in your copy, use Google’s Keyword Planner tool (you’ll need to set up an adwords account but you won’t have to pay for anything).