3 Things You Have To Nail To Get To The Top of Google
by Simon Trainer July 29, 2013
I just finished writing an eBook to give away when people sign up to Business Mapper. This is an unashamed plug but also an opportunity to write a foreword to let you know what you’re going to get.
There’s always going to be a more authoritative SEO book by an industry heavy weight but the ethos behind Business Mapper is to give businesses and organisations a thorough, easy to understand, actionable version of an online marketing subject so you can just go away and do it!
With that in mind, we’ll show you how to do the following 3 things you absolutely have to nail to get each of your web pages to the top of Google.
1. Keyword Research – finding potential ‘golden nuggets’ or words people search for through Google, for which you have a chance of competing.
2. On Page Optimisation – Telling the Search Engine exactly what your page is specifically about.
3. Off Page SEO – attaining inbound links from trusted sites close in subject matter to your own
Let’s break it down further
#1 A heavy weight blogger worth checking out on the subject of keyword research is Pat Flynn. His latest tutorial on keyword research is on YouTube and is related to his Niche Site Dual 2.0. If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend you watch it here as he uses mostly free tools as well as Long Tail Pro (which I personally have found the easiest keyword research tool to use).
A common mistake and one that I have certainly made in the past, is not doing keyword research thoroughly enough. In today’s online environment it really is a keyword hunt to find something valuable and worth optimising.
Pat describes it as sifting through layers of dirt – its time consuming, frustrating, but ultimately worth it if you can find a keyword with a good search volume, that’s relatively uncompetitive and with a decent CPC (cost per click). CPC shows you the advertising value of the keyword. Generally, the higher the CPC the more competitive it will be to rank for a keyword.
For new comers to keyword research (and not so new comers) finding a combination of decent metrics seems elusive, but as I said, if you get that wrong your website might never get to page 1 of Google!
In addition to watching Pat’s YouTube tutorial, other considerations are:
- Use the right tools (Check out the video again for these or they are listed in my eBook)
- Don’t be afraid to go for long tail variations (sentences) of a individual seed keywords with a lower search volume- ranking can be easier this way.
- Understand the competition and their chosen keywords. If you’re targeting a keyword that is dominated by internet behemoths you don’t stand a chance. Try for something less competitive, that way you can get to the top of Google much easier.
- Get all your ducks lined up. As mentioned above you need a decent amount of “exact match” search volume + low competition from other sites + CPC (cost per click advertising value) being over $1, if you want to monetise your webpage. You’ll need all 3 of these to make a successful, profitable webpage.
- Finally ask yourself, will a person that finds my website using that keyword be happy with what they find? There’s no point finding a great keyword if you don’t have content to back it up.
Also, remember search engines rank web pages not websites so each fresh web page you write needs to be optimised on its own merits.
Keyword research is the foundation stone that SEO campaigns are built upon – don’t skimp on it, enjoy it, embrace it, love it, get good at it, because ultimately it’s the difference between success and failure.
#2 Roughly half of SEO is about On Page Optimisation. The nice thing about the On Page side is- it is a science. That’s right, there’s no so called ‘secrets’ that insiders know which you can’t learn. Google goes out of its way to tell webmasters what to do, see this latest video from Google Webmaster Blog, and also this nifty little infographic from Brian Dean that breaks down the most important On Page factors.
I emphasize that although there are 100s of Search Engine Ranking Factors (SERFs) you only need to get the most important On Page ones correct to rank your web page.
Spoon feed search engines
Copyblogger describe search engines as bright toddlers- you need to speak to them clearly and deliberately so they know what you’re talking about. In reality this means to mark up your webpage with your chosen keyword in the places the search engine expects to see it
- Page Title Tag
- Page Heading and Sub Heading
- Image Alt Tags
- Meta Description
- Keyword density through page
(See eBook for more detailed info)
You do have to spoon feed the search engine with your chosen keyword (s) and place them correctly on the page- but don’t overdo keyword density, just write naturally.
Some other On Page SEO tactics to consider using are:
- Aggregate related pages onto one master page- it sends a strong signal to search engines that you are an authoritative source/website. Here’s an example. This will:
a) point the majority of links to one page sending a strong SEO signal to the search engine
b) allows for easy cross linking for future articles on the same theme
c) encourages people to book mark and share content
- Here’s another tip I picked up from Brian Dean. Link out to authority sites when you write. There’s an old saying ‘you can tell what a person is like by the company they keep’. When Google sees you referencing trusted websites it mixes you in with the right trusted crowd and sends all the right signals.
- Don’t forget internal linking! Your homepage probably carries a significant amount of page authority; find a way to link from your home page to other pages you most want to promote on your site.
- At the end of your freshly crafted post add links to ‘other popular pages’ to keep people engaged with your content. Sounds obvious but not to the novice blogger.
Finally just to put everything into perspective a quote from Jakob Nielsen, a well known website usability (user-friendliness) guru wrote:
"If a website is difficult to use, people leave. If the homepage fails to clearly state what a company offers and what users can do on the site, people leave. If users get lost on a website, they leave. If a website’s information is hard to read or doesn’t answer user’s key questions, they leave." Useit
As well as ‘epic content’ it pays to have a well designed site that people can find their way around. It’s amazing how many people screw this up.
#3 Off Page SEO is principally link building, although according to SEOMoz (now Moz) panel of SEO experts, social signals equates to 7% of SERFs.
For me, this is where SEO get’s interesting. Not only do link building strategies constantly evolve as Google devalues the most popular ones with its algorithm updates it’s also where people’s ethics come into play.
With Google bragging about its tax
evasion avoidance schemes should anyone have ever feel guilty about not adhering to Google webmaster guidelines? (I digress)
The golden rule of link building particularly for authority sites is to garner links for quality, trusted websites + websites that are in your niche. For example, a goal for Business Mapper (which is essentially an easy translation of academic digital marketing theory) would be to get a link from Dave Chaffey’s Smart Insights. It out ranks pretty much every other site in the digital marketing sphere.
So, bearing in mind a link is essentially a vote of confidence from one website to another, Smart Insights is going to do Business Mapper a massive amount of good. Sometimes I wonder if the SEO boys have forgotten about targeting the academic authorities within the industry...)
It’s been a hell of a long article without a pro tip so now is a good time to throw one in.
Target resources Pages! Here’s your search operator
My ebook has a lot more useful search operators to help you, but if you want to find some awesome linking building articles try these posts for starters.
SEO irony – I tried to get ranked for this, but instead I get ranked for that!
The funny thing about SEO is you end up ranking for keywords you never even tried to rank for. I recently went over to SEMRush and typed in www.businessmapper.co.uk and found this:
I’m not bragging about these keywords, I’m just saying I never intentionally tried to target any of these keywords, so doing a search like this once in a while is a good way to check if there is something worth pursuing. The Cost per Click (CPC) shows there is some advertising opportunities but the search volume is pretty weak.
SEO can be a frustrating subject particularly for those part time webmasters / business owners that really just want to get some interest and sales from their website. Hopefully my eBook will give you a beginner’s insight so you don’t have to scrape endlessly around SEO blogs looking for answers.
If you have a question about SEO, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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