Anyone who has dipped their toes into Search Engine Optimization (SEO) knows it can be a slow, often arduous process going from little to no traffic to a bucket load of it. Sometimes it can take up to a year to build authority and rank pages. While it might be amongst the slowest form of online marketing, it also means loads of free traffic once you start ranking, and that can translate to hundreds if not thousands of dollars in sales or orders.
The other problem with SEO is that most business owners, even if they know their way around search engine rankings and factors, don’t have the time. Since optimization is an evolving process, often requiring small tweaks to keywords, content, backlinks, internal links, etc., most business owners give up on it before they even start.
But there is a shortcut, and that’s called Legiit!
We’ll take a step-by-step approach to improve your Google ranking quicker than what would otherwise be possible in this post. However, these tactics will allow you to rank faster, but with the help of Legiit (as we’ll see), you will not have to babysit the process either. Instead, you can focus on other business processes.
Improve Google Rankings By Knowing What Are You Currently Ranking For
The first step is to find the keyphrase you’re ranking for, but it may not be high nough. It might be on the third page or lower. Once you find the phrases, you then locate the corresponding page ranking for that phrase. Now you can better optimize the page and watch your search ranking jump.
Ahrefs is a paid tool, which can be used to find all the key phrases you’re currently ranking for. Also, if you want to go the route of a free tool, then Analytics will also give you a list of phrases.
Once you have a list of phrases you want to improve rankings for and their corresponding pages, then you can move through the steps below.
Look at the “Queries” Report
You want to find the phrase that you’re likely going to rank for. In Google Analytics, go to Acquisition > Search Console > Queries.
Anyone who can’t access this report hasn’t connected their Search Console account to Analytics.
The report will list the following:
• All key phrases your site is currently ranking for
• The number of times the site has appeared in the search, aka impressions
• The number of times your page(s) has been clicked or visited (clicks)
• The average position of the key phrase, aka your ranking
Note: The report will only show data from the last three months. There is no data from the last 48 hours. That’s why you will want to set the date range to cover three months to pull in as much data as possible.
You’ll Want to Set An Advanced Filter
Since we’re looking for phrases already ranking but could do with some improvement, it’s important to set up the advanced filter. The Advanced Filter will help us find the phrases we are ranking for, but not high enough.
We’re looking for phrases that already rank in Google but could use improvement. We need to use the ‘Advanced Filter’ here to find just the phrases for which we rank high, but not too high. To do this, click Advanced < Set “Average Position to “Greater than 10”> Click “Apply.”
The idea here is that if a page ranks greater than 10, it happens to be high on page 2 of SERPs. It assumes there are ten organic search listings on the first page, which may not always be the case. The filtered report asks Analytics, which phrases I rank for are on page no.2?
Page 2 is almost page one, which means that the keywords need a slight nudge in the right direction to improve ranking. In other words, this is doable low-hanging fruit…but don’t get excited just yet! We still have a lot of work to do to boost search engine ranking for that keyword(s).
Sort By Rankings
You then click the “Average Position” option to sort the report.
To save yourself some time in the future, you can save the filtered or sorted queries report as a shortcut link and then name it. Now you can quickly switch to the report anytime by clicking it on the left side of the Google Analytics screen.
Dig and Sort Through the List Manually To Find Phrases and Confirm Their Rankings
It becomes nearly instantly apparent that the report has some strange phrases. Often you’ll find stuff that’s irrelevant. You don’t need to worry about these terms or phrases because every site will rank for a few unrelated phrases or ones you’re not targeting. Simply ignore them and move on.
The report may also show phrases that include your brand name. You can skip those too. The goal of SEO is to rank and get traffic from mainly non-branded phrases.
Ideally, you should be able to find some buyer-related keyphrases. You will run into two types of keywords:
One with question marks – These are phrases that people enter when looking for a solution to their problem, without yet knowing how to fix it. For instance, “Why do my feet hurt after swimming?”
Dollar signs – Now, these are searchers entered by people who already know how to solve their problem but are looking for a solution anyways. Usually, they want to spend money to get the problem fixed, for instance, “Emergency roofer in New York.”
Confirm Your Rankings
You can search for the phrases in Google’s search engine results to confirm where your ranking. However, you will probably notice that the “average position” noted earlier isn’t the same as your rankings. At times you might rank higher than the “average position”, and sometimes your site may not appear.
Here are a few more discrepancies you might have to deal with:
• Your site has multiple pages that rank for the phrase.
• The site is ranking in image searches.
• The ranking of your site for that keyword changes every day.
• You see personalized search results based on your browsing history, location, etc.
You can do a few things to avoid these issues. Start by logging out of Google properties, then use the browser’s “incognito” or “private” mode setting. Ideally, you may want to use a proxy server to connect to Google search.
It is important to emphasize here that there is no such thing as there being a neutral search. It is for this reason why A/B testing for rankings is nearly impossible. In fact, there are many versions of Google, which is why being 100% anonymous is not easy. But get as close as you possibly can yet be aware of the fact that the data isn’t going to be highly accurate. However, since you’re hunting for clues, it does not have to be highly accurate.
You can also try using voice search if you’re trying to rank for a question like “Who is the best barber near me?”
Check and See How That Phrase Was Used On The Page
The next phase of increasing your Google Rankings is to check on how the phrases were used on the page. Are the phrases you are trying to rank for appearing in the right places? Is the page relevant to the search intent for that phrase?
It could be that the phrase only appears once on the page and that ranking it was entirely accidental. If that’s the case, you have the opportunity to optimize the page in order to indicate relevance, consequently improving rankings with minimal effort.
Here is how you can check: While viewing the page, search for the intended phrase by hitting Control + F on your keyword if using Windows or command+F if using a Mac.
• Do you see the phrase on the page?
• Is the phrase broken up, or does it appear together?
• Where on the page does it appear? Do you see it in the title, body text, meta description, or header?
• How many times do you see it used in every location?
If you don’t see the phrase in the header, title, or body text, then it (the page) isn’t optimized, at least not for this search term. That’s how we can tell if the rankings were accidental.
Here are two things you might want to consider before moving on with our optimization tips for the page:
• The first is to ensure that the page isn’t already ranking for maybe a few other phrases you want to target. You could inadvertently indicate the relevance for the phrase you want by hurting the relevance for the one you’re already ranking well for.
• You also want to make sure that you don’t end up de-optimizing the page. To know this, go back to the Queries report and see what other phrases this page is ranking for. Then search for the phrases in Google search or enter the URL into Ahrefs or SEMrush, which should give you all the phrases the page is ranking for and where?
If you see that the page is ranking for another phrase, then check its volume via Google’s Keyword Planner. If you see that the phrase is more popular, it is also more relevant and will increase targeted traffic.
If “yes,” then don’t hurt the relevance of your phrase on the page. You are probably better off creating a new page for the phrase you’re trying to target.
Phrase Relevance is One of the Many Important Ranking Factors
SEO is all about indicating a page’s relevance. Relevance is indicated mainly using various on-page SEO best practices such as:
Using the key phrase in the title – Usually, this is within the <title> tag, which may appear in the code but not necessarily the page itself. However, the title shows up in the browser’s tab and is a clickable link in SERPs. If you have a WordPress site (most people do), the titles can be added and edited via the Yoast plugin. Ideally, you’ll want the keyphrase to appear at the beginning of the title, with the words of the phrase kept together.
Keyphrase once in the header – This means including it once in the <h1> tag, which is the headline of the page.
Several times in the body text – So, there is no magic number here for how many times it should be included. However, since high-ranking pages tend to be long, usually 1500 to 2000 words, they might need to appear half a dozen times at least. However, if your page is short, try not to fluff the page just to add the keywords you’re targeting. But make sure it appears once, at least along with other key phrases.
You Might Want to Use Semantic Keyword Research
You probably already agree that search engines are more about the meaning, topics, and intent of the page than just words or phrases. Google is getting smarter, so a lot of attention is on semantics instead of using a string of letters.
As someone whose optimizing their own website or doing it for a client, it would help if you focused more on the broader meaning of the pages. That would mean being able to indicate relevance by using semantic keyword phrases within the content too.
To find out which words and phrases tend to be linked semantically to the phrase you’re targeting, you’ll find a few clues at the bottom of Google’s search page.
Pro Tip: The alternative to taking the manual and albeit more time-consuming approach to optimizing your content is to use a tool like Surfer SEO. Surfer SEO pulls up all the relevant keywords based on intent, competitors and semantics, making it easier to optimize your content.
Legiit has quite a few writers that can optimize your existing content for a keyword using Surfer SEO and create fresh content. Not only does this save you a great deal of time, but those high-scoring, highly readable pieces of content will help you rank well and help with conversions.
Improve the quality of The Text To Improve Search Engine Optimization
The relevance of your text is within the context of its quality. The trick here is to ensure that you have the best page on the internet for the topic you’re writing about. You’re better off not attempting to trick the robot but instead working with it by writing quality content. The text should help people find the information they are looking for and become a resource.
One of the ways to do this is to write what’s called a “Skyscraper Article.” Usually, these are comprehensive and long-form articles that cover the topic from every angle. It’s time-consuming, but it may also be worth adding video and graphics instead of just keywords.
If you don’t have the time, some excellent writers on Legiit specialize in creating these so-called Skyscraper articles.
Check Your Rankings After A Few Days
So how did we do? Make sure to check your rankings after a couple of days. If you don’t see any changes within a week or so, you probably aren’t going to see any changes moving forward either.
Usually, a couple of small changes can significantly impact your rankings, especially if you didn’t have a well-optimized page. The time it takes to find the phrase to when you update it can take around 30 minutes, and you’ll see results in a couple of days. However, if you’re dealing with multiple pages and multiple keywords, these 30 minutes can add up.
What If You Don’t See Any Changes After Doing The Above?
Now, if you don’t see any positive movement after making those changes, there are many other things you might want to tweak. We’ll go over what other changes can be made in this section. However, keep in mind that this section is slightly more technical, but the good news is that you can always find an expert on Legiit who can pitch in.
Improve Page Speed
How fast your page loads is important for a couple of reasons. The first is that if the page is too slow, Google will see this as visitors not possibly having a good experience that could harm your rankings. While this is a controversial statement, we have reason to believe that page speed matters.
Even if you were to believe that page speed has no impact on where you rank, most SEOs already know that Google can tell when visitors have a bad experience. Negative interactions over a period of ‘X’ days or hours will gradually drag your rankings down.
Research shows that around 40% of visitors will abandon a website if the page takes more than 3 seconds to load. Worst of all is that 80% of visitors aren’t going to return to the website.
The quickest way to test your website’s page speed is to use a free service like Pingdom. You can then test your website from different locations in the world. You can also test the speed of your website on mobile devices. If you see that the website is running slow, you might want to undertake a couple of optimization measures.
There are quite a few things that could be weighing down your website, including unoptimized images, unoptimized code, plugins, and other types of bloat.
If you’re not sure how to speed up your website, fortunately, there are services on Legiit. Legiit is home to some of the most experienced WordPress experts and coders, who drill down into the nitty-gritty of your website’s inner workings to speed things up. It saves you from having to do all that work to score an ‘A’ in terms of speed! Most if not all providers on Legiit promise an A+.
Use Header Tags
Headings are a great way to improve a website’s user experience because it breaks up the content, makes things easier to read or if desired, then skim through.
Headers also make everything appear more appealing, which is always a bonus when you want to keep people on your page. A wall of text is discouraging and boring, so might as well make sure it looks good.
Anyone whose using WordPress can quickly log-in to the backend and change the header tags i.e. <h1>, <h2>, <title tag> etc.
If you are not using header tags for some odd reason, that could be why your website isn’t doing so well.
Build Internet Links
Internal link building helps connect pages to each other; it shows how each page is related to the other. Furthermore, internal links help keep visitors on your website for longer.
The internal link structure is also very important for SEO. Search engines often try to figure out what a website is all about, and one of the ways they do this is by looking at how each page is linked to the other.
For instance, if you’re trying to rank for ‘Baseball Bats,’ you might have a page talking about the most popular types of baseball bats, and then sub pages that link to this main page that goes into detail about each type of bat, like how they are manufactured, their strengths and weaknesses etc. When Google crawls these pages, it becomes instantly apparent that the website is about Baseball, and the page you’re trying to rank is about Baseball bats.
The technique, when used correctly, can also help you rank for loads of related keywords, which bring in lots of traffic.
If you have a large website with dozens of pages, trying to fix or alter the link structure can be challenging, if not very time-consuming. Here too, hiring a Legiit expert to help optimize the link structure can save you lots of time and effort.
You May Also Like: Why Infographics Are Effective For SEO
Add Outbound Links
You can do a few things to increase credibility, which helps your rankings, one of which is to add outbound links. Linking to authoritative and trustworthy sources is one way to do it.
Citing authority sources, using outbound hyperlinks does two things. The first is that it ensures your visitors have a good experience because they know where to learn more. The second being, it shows that you’ve pulled information from a credible source.
Many people worry about passing on link juice, and this can be prevented by using a ‘no-follow link.
Find and Fix Broken Links
As your website grows, there are bound to be a few broken links that go unnoticed but which may hurt your rankings. In fact, it can crush your rankings.
Fortunately, depending on the size and type of your website, fixing broken internal links and outbound links isn’t different. Not to mention that it can improve your user’s experience tremendously.
Dead Link Checker is a tool that you can use to check for errors and links on your website. The tool can be used to scan the entire website or just specific pages.
If you signup for an account, you can set it up so that it checks automatically. So, anytime a link goes down, you will be contacted to replace it. It can also be used to monitor other websites in your industry.
One of the ways this will work if you’re monitoring websites in a related industry is anytime a link goes down on their website, you can notify the webmaster and ask them to replace that dead link with possibly a link to your website.
In a way, you’re doing them a favor and being rewarded for it in exchange in the form of a backlink. Over time the more inbound links you can get to the page that’s relevant to your niche will also help boost rankings.
The moral of the story here is to monitor your own website and others for maximum SEO gain.
Need a Technical SEO audit? Check out these services on Legiit
Outsource Your Ranking Strategy
Just about every step we’ve discussed above can be outsourced individually or to a single person. Some people like to do it individually since it allows them to compartmentalize things, so nobody steals their ranking strategy. It also allows them to control every step.
Legiit in particular, is home to everyone from professionals who write relevant content, optimize content, build backlinks, do technical SEO, run audits, and even help you figure out why your website isn’t ranking for those keywords. Some experts specialize in local search, audits, social media, etc.
There are also SEO professionals that can help you improve rankings for the keywords you want and many of them will follow all the steps we’ve discussed above. Buying that service on the Legiit platform saves you from having to do all of the work. As a business owner, you need to think if your time is better spent working on sales, customer service, or hiring the right people for the job.
If you’d instead handle other aspects of your business, it is possible to leave ranking almost entirely up to one of the professionals on Legiit. Many businesses that want to rank or maintain rankings do it by hiring experts from Legiit
Need help hiring an SEO freelancer? Check out this article.