Website Tips to Increase Page Rank in Google
"Get Us to the Top of Google Search Results!"
I was once asked if I could call Google to see what to do about a competitor ranking higher in search results and what could be done to get to the top—as if I could get an executive at one of the largest tech companies on the phone and somehow convince them to move a website to the first listing in search results for a very sought-after keyword in the industry.
I thought about responding that you could give Google money to show up higher in paid search results, but I knew increasing ad budget wasn’t a possibility. Plus, what he was after was a top spot in organic results.
So, I said “we can’t just call Google and ask them to do that.”
“Well then, how do we get there?” he replied.
First I told him to ignore all the emails from people saying they can get their website to the top spot in a specific amount of time. SEO isn’t that simple.
Then I shared the complexity of search results, algorithms, and SEO.
After this conversation, this client got buy-in from the company stakeholders to make changes to their website and we adopted a digital strategy that focused on increasing brand awareness, site traffic, and lead generation.
This was over five years ago, but if someone were to ask me the same question today, “How do we rank better in search results?” this is what I would tell them.
Improving organic ranking in search results takes a lot of work. The complexity of algorithms has only become more complex, and it takes serious dedication to SEO tactics and techniques to rank higher in search.
One of the challenges I see from many marketing departments when it comes to improving SEO is that the number of ranking factors, SEO trends, tactics, and techniques are overwhelming and they are constantly changing, so sticking to an annual SEO strategy only works until something changes.
The problem is that search is always changing.
The good news is that there are ways to increase the chances for your site to rank higher in search results that can be part of an ongoing SEO strategy year after year.
In this article, we focus on the SEO strategies to implement on your site that reflect this quote from Google’s John Mueller on how companies should approach their SEO. The advice he gave was “rather than chase the latest SEO trends, it’s more important to ensure a site has fast speeds, useful links, and well-written content.”
This is primarily what we will focus on in this article, ways to ensure your site performs well (is fast), has useful links, and has what Google defines as “well-written content.” These aren’t just techniques to implement once a year but should be part of an ongoing SEO strategy.
Achieve Faster Page Load Speeds
Page load speed is important for several reasons and it’s also a ranking factor according to Google.
Since search engines like Google want to provide users with websites that will offer them the best experience, and since users want pages to load quickly, then doing everything possible to get pages on your site to load fast will help your site rank.
One of the most common reasons for a webpage loading slowly is images that have large file sizes and the format of those images.
To optimize images for faster page load speed you can use JPEG formats, which are smaller than PNG or GIF. Also, scale down the size of your images and compress the file size with a tool like TinyPNG.
Now, it is important to understand the difference between site speed and page speed. Site speed averages a sample number of pages on your website. but page speed looks at one page.
When you are using a speed test or performance tool like PageSpeed Insights, it is important to know that it is only analyzing one page (the URL you enter) and is not an accurate indicator of overall site performance.
Master On-Page SEO
On-page SEO is all the things you can do directly to your site that can help increase organic traffic. You have control over a lot of these improvements, which is why mastering on-page SEO can have a big impact on search rankings.
The other type of SEO that companies focus on is off-page SEO which is all the things you do to increase organic traffic that falls outside of your website, like social media and link building.
If you haven’t revisited your on-page SEO strategy in a while, then 2022 is a good time to do that.
You should start with an On-Page SEO Audit, which reviews specific pages to ensure each one includes all the elements that help it perform well in search.
This includes looking at elements like page titles, headings (H1s, H2s, H3s, and other heading tags), sizes of images, use of keywords, structure of content, uniqueness of content, and effectiveness of links.
All these elements can affect the overall performance of your page, and since great SEO is closely linked to how well a page performs, all these elements need to be analyzed.
Focus Efforts on Technical SEO
Technical SEO helps to ensure your website is set up in a way that makes it easy for search engines to find and rank your content.
A search engine works by finding websites, crawling them, rendering the site content, and then indexing the pages.
Technical SEO makes this process for search engines easier from a technical standpoint.
But there are things that you need to be doing to optimize your website so that you have what I like to call “a website that Google and other search engines love.”
Some of the technical components of your website you need to consider are:
- Site architecture
- URL structure
- XML sitemaps
- Mobile friendliness
- Crawl issues
- Canonical tags
- Page redirects
- Error (404) pages
- Duplicate content
We go into detail on these specific items in our SEO Guide and also help our clients uncover technical SEO issues with our site audit.
Update Old Blogs and Pages
It is not uncommon to run across marketing teams that are trying to do more with less. Often you just don’t have the resources to write a new blog post so instead you can refresh an old blog post with recent data, insights, or industry trends.
Scan through your blogs and see if older posts can be made relevant again with some minor tweaks. This is also a good opportunity to look for ways to add internal links to your content, especially if you launched new products or services in the past year.
Updating your website content should be done at least once a year and more if you have a lot of published time-sensitive content.
Add Headers in Blog Posts and Long-form Content
Looking at how content is structured on a page is an important SEO practice, but it’s also a good way to improve user experience.
Most people like consuming shorter bits of information, so consider how you can break up heavy copy on a page in easy digestible chunks and then add section headers like H2s and H3s. And make sure your headings are descriptive and mirror the information in that section.
Breaking content into sections with headers can also help you rank better for that specific topic.
As an example, we wrote an article titled "The Ultimate SEO Guide for Sitefinity” In that article, we talk about different topics like technical SEO and under that we have sections with headings like “What is Technical SEO?” or “Improving Technical SEO in Sitefinity.”
By dividing content into sections with descriptive headers, it can help your article rank not only for the overall blog topic, but also for these subtopics too.
E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness)
In 2018, Google released an algorithm update that addressed the importance of E-A-T or expertise, authority, and trustworthiness while announcing that it would be a major ranking factor.
The aim of E-A-T is to ensure that content in the top of search results is the right information. Google does this by looking at certain signals which help figure out if the content is from a trusted and reliable source.
One way that Google does this is by looking at the creator of the content. Does the creator of the content or author have experience and knowledge of the topic they are writing about? Has this person or website established themselves as a “go-to” place or person for this topic? Is the content honest and unbiased?
This is really where blogging becomes very important for businesses. If you want to establish your brand as a trusted expert with authority, then publishing articles, insights, and news about your industry needs to be a top priority for your content strategy.
This content should also be written by someone who has experience in the topic being presented. As an example, we published an article on whether financial institutions should add third-party or custom calculators to their website, so the best person to write it was our fintech guy, Dusty Ellis, who has over 10 years of experience in the financial industry.
Add More Interactive Content to Your Website
Another strategy to consider in 2022 is adding more interactive elements to your website. This not only enhances the user experience, but also keeps users more engaged. The more engaged your visitors are, the more likely they are to spend a longer time on your site.
There are several ways to do this, but here are a few examples.
If you are a bank or financial institution, then add calculators which give users an easy way to figure out monthly payments for mortgages or other types of loans.
Other effective ways to engage users are quizzes and interactive graphics like this one we created for a client.
Improve User Experience with Personalization
Personalization is nothing new but will still be important in 2022 if you want to improve your user experience and search rankings.
Google ranks sites higher that are helpful, valuable, and give users the information they need when they land on a page.
Supplying relevant information means someone is more likely to stay on the page and less likely to bounce, which are two important SEO factors.
Personalizing content is done with a CMS that has the capability of serving different content to different audiences.
There are several tools you can use to personalize site content, but having a content management system that makes it easy to set up and implement is key for successful personalization campaigns.
Optimizing Content for Voice Search
Voice search is something that has been a SEO focus for a few years now, but as smart speaker sales reach all-time highs and voice search is becoming more common, 2022 is a good year to start considering how your site content is structured and written to meet the demand for this new(er) way that consumers are searching for information online.
The simplest way to optimize site content for voice search is by making your copy more conversational. This way of writing reads better too.
Even if you offer a technical product or service, blog articles and website copy don’t have to be dull and boring. If you were having an in-person conversation with someone about what your company does, what would it sound like?
Stick to writing conversationally and your website will be in better shape for voice search results.
Look for Internal Linking Opportunities
This goes back to a point made when discussing the importance of updating old blog posts, but internal linking is so important that it is worth mentioning again.
Internal links are links to other relevant pages on your website.
When adding internal links to a page don’t just add the URL. Make sure there is text that is hyperlinked, and the text is descriptive and includes keywords that give clues to the page someone will be going to.
As an example, if we have a piece of content talking about SEO tips for the web platform Sitefinity CMS then anchor text for this would be SEO tips for Sitefinity CMS which goes to our Ultimate SEO Guide for Sitefinity. Anchor text is the term that refers to the text that is hyperlinked.
If internal linking is something your company has been doing for a while, then 2022 might be a good year to ensure all links are still active (no 404 errors) and that the page they go to are still relevant.
Start Implementing Topic Clusters
Another topic to mention when talking about internal links is topic clusters.
HubSpot even goes as far to say that topic clusters are the next evolution of SEO.
In the diagram below, you will see that topic clusters start with pillar content, which is the main source of content for all the cluster content.
The pillar content or pillar page is the main topic, and the cluster pages have subtopics or content related to the pillar page.
At its core, topic clusters are a structure for improving site architecture around different topics or content categories.
This is why it is important to spend time thinking about your site architecture before starting a website project, because it can have big implications on how search engines crawl and rank the pages on your site.
Add More Video Content on Your Site
Video content has been a great way to increase engagement and improve SEO for many years, but in 2022 video will continue to take on its new purpose.
In the past year, video has provided a way for companies to connect with their audiences when in-person events and meetings have been put on hold.
Not only is video one of the top ways consumers learn about a company and the products and services they offer, but it is also a highly effective and engaging way to add value to your website.
Look for ways to incorporate videos into product pages, blog articles, and other pages that talk about your company.
Some people love reading a full article, but many other people would rather watch a video. Make sure your website caters to both types of individuals.
Instead of only adding a lot of text about your company’s vision, mission, and history, see if someone in your company is willing to talk about those things on video and then add it to the top of the page with the copy underneath.
Stop Using Generic Page Titles
This is a very basic part of SEO yet there are still many companies that don’t get it right.
Page titles need to be descriptive and tell what the page is about. Stop using generic page titles like “Home” or “Services”. These page titles do not tell the user or search engines what the page is about.
As an example, the title for our page that highlights our development services for Sitefinity CMS is titled, “Sitefinity CMS Developers | Certified Partners”. This tells users and search engines exactly what they will get when they go to this page.
You want it short, simple, and to the point, but you also want it to include important keywords while still making sense to your audience.
Constantly Measure and Stay Consistent
You might have heard that increasing rankings in search results will take time and it’s true. It can get frustrating as a marketer to look at your Google Analytics data month after month and see little to no change.
But it is important to establish these SEO best practices for your organization and then measure their effectiveness over time.
Some may see an immediate jump in website traffic, but many will see slow and steady growth over time as you stay consistent with these techniques.
Learn more about the author of this article, Jake Picken.