SEO carried out correctly can bring you lots of new business if you rank high in search engine result pages. SEO is much to do with common sense and has nothing to do with secret tricks, like some would have you believe. You can score high by offering great content, which visitors like and share regularly -it’s as straightforward as that. Great user experience is vital and a well functioning website helps too. Here is our step by step guide on how to get on top of Google Search.

Getting your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) set up correctly can help potential customers find your website and increase revenue. Depending on what line of business you are in, getting a good position in Search Engine Result Page’s (SERP’s) can be a make or break situation.

It can be pretty tricky to get right, but if you follow this step-by-step guide you will improve your position dramatically. The most important thing is to understand that optimising SEO is an ongoing process. It is not something you do just once and be finished with. It is something you keep updated on a regular basis.

4 steps  to get on top of Google Search

1) Choosing SEO tools

2) On page optimisation

3) Off page optimisation

4) Search engine updates

Facts to consider about search

Google Search has a market share of 78% globally with about 50.000 searches per second! The Chinese site Baidu is number two with 10% followed by Yahoo at 6%. This is global statistics for pure search sites and leaves only 6% to the other Internet search sites like Yandex, Bing and others. (Source: Internet live stats)

YouTube and other Social Media channels or travel sites (etc.) are not included in these numbers. We know that YouTube (owned by Google/Alphabet) also holds a huge number of searches, and about 3 billion searches a month equals roughly 2% of all search engine traffic.

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For most websites it is Google Search that is the key. Ask yourself: Where would you look for information if you were planning to buy something? For most products and services I would check Google.

Sometime it is not important to get on top of Google Search

If I am looking for airline tickets or accommodation I might look elsewhere. Same with restaurants or coffee shops. Also, there are clearly other businesses that need to consider other channels together with Google Search.

But, SEO is still key and Google Search is the main channel you need to be successful on.

According to some sources, more than 90% of all buying decisions start with a search. I would take that number with a grain of salt, but we can safely assume that it is a very high number and especially for products and services people don’t by on a regular basis. It’s common with big purchases or big decisions.

Also, the top three positions get 65% – 75% of the clicks (depending on sources) where the number one position rakes in at least 30% of all hits. Needless to say: If you can take the number one position for a high volume search, it will drive a lot of traffic to your website.

Be aware that you can also pay for positions on Google search with Google AdWords. For many companies this is a faster and cheaper way to get traffic from search engines.

A search for Bosch Dishwashers on Google Search shows how the two top results on the main search and the right side are paid ads. Marked with “Ad” or “Sponsored”

A search for Bosch Dishwashers on Google Search shows how the two top results on the main search and the right side are paid ads. Marked with “Ad” or “Sponsored”

1) Choosing SEO tools

You don’t have to use SEO tools to do Search Engine Optimisation, but it truly makes it a lot easier to get on top of Google Search. I have put this as task number one, because everything you need to do will be done faster and simpler.

There are a lot of different types of SEO tools to consider, mainly

Plugins for your website
Keyword finder tools
SEO Analytics

Plugins for your website

Choosing a plugin for your website can simplify your ‘On page optimisation’ process and let you easily tag every page and post on your website with: SEO title, meta description, meta keywords and more.

They usually have other functionality as well, like creating custom titles, sitemaps, archives, categories and pinging search engines every time you make an update. Other tools manage your links. And there are plugins that offer different other functionality and most tools offer much more functionality than I have mentioned here.

Here are some options to consider if you use WordPress

WordPress SEO from yoast (Solves most on-page optimization needs)
LinkPatrol (Control all links on your site)
Broken Link Checker (Checks for broken links, prevent bad user experience)

Keyword finder tools

One key task with SEO is to tag your content to make the Search Engines index your content correctly. There are specific rules to follow when you tag your content, as described in chapter 2C. But finding the right keywords can certainly move your ranking score in the right direction.

Google Keyword Planner

Keyword Tool

The master of keyword statistics is of course Google. So you should most definitely check out Google Keyword Planner tool. This is a free tool that not only help you select keywords, but also let you know estimated search volumes and lots of other details as well.

Another useful free keyword tool is KeywordTool.io which has a nifty auto suggest feature that let you see most used search frases where your keyword is used.

SEO Analytics

There are a lot of tools that can help you find out what you need to do to improve your SEO ranking. These tools analyse your site much like Google Search does and help you pinpoint where you have potential improvements.

You should start with Google search console

The Search console was formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools. It lets you analyse and score your SEO on your website. Also you will get a good indication on what you need to complete or correct to get a higher score. And much more.

Moz.com have a suite of solutions to help with any online marketing activity. Some of their tools are free, and they offer a 30 day free trial. Moz Prois a comprehensive SEO solution that pretty much give you all you need to improve your search rankings.

HubSpot Website Grader is another recommendation. It tests your website and give you a list of issues you should improve. This is a free tool for up to 3 URL’s a day.

2) On-page Optimisation

The “on-page optimisation” is about the ways you can design your website navigation, the content, how you tag that content and technical quality. It is about how you make your site easy to crawl  for the search engines with easy navigation, breadcrumbs, sitemap and user experience.

There are a set of rules you need to follow to get on top of Google Search

SEO is about user experience
Content is king
You have to tag your content
Technical optimization

SEO is about user experience

Search engines are getting better at understanding what is on your website. There is just no point in doing SEO without having the focus on the content on your website. There is no way you will get on top of Google Search unless you have great content!

Making your site in a way that creates great user experience will improve your SEO. The first step to create great user experience is through the most relevant content. Remember that SEO is about users searching for content, and the Search engines goal is to deliver the most relevant results to those searches. SEO is about what the users want.

What content do you need to get on top of Google Search

In general we think there are three main things that people search for:

Information – they have a question and they search for the answer.
Products – they want to buy and look for potential suppliers, reviews and pricing.
Places – they want to go somewhere and want to find out where and how to get there.

So how do you optimise the user experience on your website?

Site navigation is key. Use breadcrumbs which make it easy for the user to navigate and also provide site structure, search engine crawling help and indexation.HTML sitemaps also make it easier for the users to locate your content and help search engines crawling.
Long tail keywords, as in text blocks, is what the search engines display with their search results. It also help providing great relevance for the search engines schema.org protocol create user friendly search results and optimise the search experience for the search crawlers.

To be successful with SEO you really have to put your site visitors first. Offer them the best possible user experience and you have come a long way in getting better results with the search engines.

content-is-kingContent is king

You have heard it before, but there is no question about it… Having the right content is what makes people end up on your page after searching for that content. Simple as that. You have to have interesting content to get on top of Google Search!

 

There is no point in doing SEO for a bad website. It will never fly. You have to start by focusing on publishing content that people are interested in. There is a technical side to SEO, but the important part of SEO is to make content that people are searching for! The solution of course is to have both – great content and great SEO.

Most companies have lots of content and just need to make it available on their website. If you don’t have a blog yet – that is a great idea, where you easily can add valuable content for your customers and potential customers.

Also adding customer reviews, product reviews, case studies, product presentations, slides, infographic, videos, your company history and any other improvements to the content on your website will be helpful.

Ask yourself what kind of content your typical customer would be looking for, you might find that you already have that content other places than on your website. It may just need a little bit of curation for your website.

Tagging your content

When your user experience is good and the content is interesting, the next thing that drives SEO is good tagging. The title tag is a HTML element that will be viewed in the search results in the search engines. This is the most important tag the search engines are looking for when they crawl and index your site.

Make sure your title tags are good and represent the content of the page. Follow these rules when making title tags:

  • First use your primary keyword
  • Then your secondary keyword
  • Keep it under 55 characters (ideally max eight words), and always have your brand name in the title tag

The title tags are very important. Focus on describing the content and leaving your main keywords and brand, and you will get the indexing you deserve… Do not add too many keywords to your tags – the search engines are too smart to fall for that trick, but make sure you don’t leave it out.

Tag your images too. Use the same principle rules and you will get better indexing on image searches.

And there are descriptions, meta keywords, short URL’s and hashtags. There is a lot you can do to help the search engines find and present your content, but please don’t try to fool them – that just don’t work anymore.

Technical Optimisation

It is increasingly important to provide your visitors with a joyful experience also in terms of speed and responsiveness. Is your site ready for mobile browsing? If your site is not mobile friendly or have long loading time  you will get a penalty with the search engines.

Make sure you use speed optimised images,  a caching plugin and you may also consider using a CDN service to work with your caching.

You can check if your site is Mobile ready with: Google Mobile test

You can check your loading speed with:Google Page Speed

Load time is also affected by your service providers pipes to the net and technical capabilities. If you have an issue with that you are welcome to talk with Cloudnames. Our infrastructure is built on Amazon’s cloud platform – the largest hosting infrastructure on the planet. It is world leading in speed, security, scalability and stability.

Please contact us at Cloudnames if you have any questions. You can send us a direct email on hello@cloudnames.com or simply leave your contact details below and we’ll get right back to you.

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3) Off-page Optimisation

Off-page optimization is everything that is not on your website that affects your ranking on the SERP’s. In short that means links on other websites and references on Social Media. This is in general affecting your “Authority” which is important if you want to get on top of Google Search.

In fact, it is widely assumed that having high quality backlinks is most important to get on top of Google Search.

It is common sense, really. Search engines uses different algorithms to determine which content is most useful and what better indication can they get than the verdict from the visitors? If you have many visitors liking, sharing and linking to your content it is probably useful content!

The main Off-page areas you need to focus on to get on top of Google Search are:

  • Link building
  • Social Media

Link Building

The most popular Off-page SEO method is link building. Basically by having links to your website from many other websites you will increase your authority. Your challenge is to have more links to your content than your competitors, so that search engines understand that your site have great content.

Don’t think that you will be able to fool Google by using “black hat link building”. Their algorithms are way too smart to just simply count links. The old tricks with link building networks, link directories, forum or Social media comment back links etc. just will not work. Actually, if you use these old-school techniques you will likely get a penalty with the Search engines and specially Google.

Avoid penalties

To avoid penalties when linking to websites that you don’t trust 100% you can add it as a “nofollow” link on your website. In general you should do this with all links unless it is a trusted website with high authority. Also, if you link to banner ads, comment links or other links than can be taken for link sharing or link selling you should add a “nofollow” to avoid penalty. You do this by adding rel=”nofollow”after the link or in your link plugin.

What kind of links will make you get on top of Google Search

Now, you probably ask yourself: What is a good link? Rule number one is getting quality links rather than quantity. Getting links from low authority websites or blogs does not bring value. Getting links from thought leaders and huge sites is valuable. The links you want is what Google calls “natural links”, which mean that if someone like your content and naturally would link to it that will increase your authority.

So, the next natural question is: How do you get high quality natural links? The obvious answer is by publishing high quality content that people like. We link to websites that publish valuable content we think our visitors like, and other sites link to us when they discover content in our site that they like. Simple as that.<

There is other ways to do this, but you need to exercise caution. You could of course build a relationship with other thought leaders in your field and by attracting their attention your odds of getting links from them will increase. If you post a valuable blog post or launch a cool product  you could make them aware of it – and if they like it they may link to it. Another way is to have guest bloggers on your site and guest blog on other sites.

Social Media

Social Media is increasingly important to build your authority. Building great Social Media profiles on the most important channels will help your ranking. Simply posting a link-post on your Facebook page linking to your site is considered a “nofollow link, but if many visitors like and share your link-post that will help your ranking.

This is why promoting link-posts on Social Media can help build your authority. By promoting valuable content on Social Media channels that people like and share you are likely to improve your authority way easier than link-building. But both strategies require a bit of patience and persistence!

Off-page SEO is unfortunately just as important as On-page SEO to get on top of Google Search, but much harder and more time consuming to achieve. If you want to rank high, you have to do both. My advice is focus on building a great website with great and valuable content, promote it and leave the link-building to your visitors. If your site and content is great the links will follow.

4) Search engine updates

Let Google know that you want to get on top of Google Search

The last task on the list is to update the search engines when you make changes to your website. All search engines have web-crawlers that constantly search for content on the internet. But with more than one billion websites out there, they don’t visit your site on a daily basis. You can however let them know when you make updates.

The first thing you should do is to check if everything is OK with your updated or new URL. You can do this with Fetch as Google. This is a part of the Google Search tool.You can fetch and render your URL to diagnose and debug any errors on the page.

When your URL is verified you can Submit to Index, which will ask Google to crawl and index the URL that you have updated. The Submit to Index button will only be available if the fetch have a complete, partial or redirected fetch status, uses the desktop or smartphone Googlebot and is less than 4 hours old.

Issues that will destroy ranking

Now that we have gone through what you need to do to get on top of Google Search, let’s have a quick look at issues that may reduce your ranking. We have already talked about technical issues that give bad user experience, like broken links, navigation issues, missing sitemap and long loading time.

You are also in trouble if your site is not Mobile ready. This is essential together with lack of good content, it is probably the elements that hurt your SEO the most, but this is something everyone can correct. Further Google have started penalising websites with low security; now you need to offer encryption with SSL to get on top of Google Search.

Authority is probably the biggest challenge to get on top of Google Search

Next on the list is low authority. A much harder issue to correct, because it takes time and focus. Some “SEO Experts” would resort to “black hat link building” which will hurt your SEO more. This is where you build artificial links, spamming Social Media or blog comment fields with links to your site, and also links from low authority sites may give you a penalty. All link building that is not natural and from thought leaders or high authority sites may hurt your ranking.

But there is more ways to reduce your ranking. For instance if you copy content from other places, Google give a penalty for Duplicate content.You have to have at least 60% original content on your site. Examples of sites that is legally duplicating content are travel agent sites where they often are reselling products from tour operators. We recommend being very careful about publishing content on your site that is produced by others – at least rewrite it.

There is a long list of other techniques that could help your SEO in the old days, but which is giving a penalty now. So, to be successful with SEO you should avoid all tricks, focus on the user experience for your visitors. Don’t make your website for Google, they have figured out all the tricks in the book. And they don’t take you seriously unless you focus on maximizing the user experience for your visitors.

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Cloudnames can help you with everything you need to be your best online. We can manage your complete online presence, your website, Social media profiles, online marketing and all the complicated technical details to effectively grow your revenue online.

We offer a managed web design service where we not only design a website with modern mobile friendly responsive design, including the services your customers demand. We also manage your website and keep it updated and secure on a regular basis.

We can also take care of your Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engine Marketing, Social Media Accounts and SoMe Marketing and all other online marketing campaigns, including email and banner ads. We also deliver all your graphic design, photo, video, curated text content or any other service you will need to maximise your online revenue generation.

Please contact us at Cloudnames if you have any questions. You can send us a direct email on hello@cloudnames.com or simply leave your contact details below and we’ll get right back to you.

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