With any website, one of the most important things is to actually get traffic.
After all, it doesn’t matter how good your content is if no one bothers to read it.
The process of how to get ranked in Google can be confusing, particularly to newcomers – and there are literally hundreds of different techniques for ranking.
This can make it pretty difficult to work out exactly what to do and what works best for you.
With ranking, there is no single correct technique.
You will find that different sites take different approaches.
Sometimes this is based on personal preference, sometimes this is just based on what they happened to learn originally.
Many people find end up tweaking whatever technique they learn to suit their own needs.
For example, some people find themselves placing a greater emphasis on keywords while others place a greater emphasis on creating detailed content on a regular basis.
The idea is to take this general outline and apply it to your own site, making tweaks and changes as you need to.
Whether you follow the blueprint exactly or just take pieces away from it, it will probably teach you about improving your ranking in Google.
One of the first elements of ranking is keyword research.
I’m going to assume you know the basics of this process, but if you don’t, I do have other articles on the topic
Technically speaking, you can do keyword research last, or you can skip it altogether, but doing it first always works much better.
When you put your keyword research first, you can use this to define what your content is about and the approach you take.
Keyword research is really common, but there are many mistakes that people make when they do it.
Often, people choose keywords with too much competition, not enough traffic or just ones that are too broad.
All of these can be problematic because you simply don’t get the traffic you are looking for.
Commonly, people will pick a single keyword per post.
This can work – but it’s risky.
With one keyword, you win or you lose, there is no intermediate option.
Additionally, there is always the risk that someone will rank for that same keyword at a later date. This can mean that you rank well for a while, then get pushed off the rankings.
So, one approach is to look for keyword themes.
This means that instead of a single keyword, you focus on a range of keywords, each around a specific theme.
With a keyword theme, you are looking at a bunch of keywords that are closely related to one another.
Ideally, you want them to be keywords that are easy to use in the same post and that are likely to flow naturally.
A good tool for this is Ubersuggest, which is free, or the results you get by typing in a partial phrase into Google, like this:
You can then pick terms you like, and feed them into a keyword research tool (like Google AdWords or Jaaxy) to find the search volume and competition.
Keyword research is considerably easier if you use qualifiers well.
Qualifiers let you make your keyword more specific.
This helps you to get the audience you are actually looking for and also helps you beat out your competition. Many qualifiers help to define intent.
This makes it easier to find audiences with the intent that you are looking for.
Date, location and price are all qualifiers and there are many more out there.
For example, if you were promoting a physical business, using a location qualifier can help a lot.
After all, people tend to include a location qualifier in the keyword when they are searching for something local.
If they didn’t, they would end up finding companies located in a different state or different part of the world – which probably wouldn’t be all that useful.
Another important technique to figuring out keywords and related keywords is to use the keyword feature of Google’s AdSense and look at what words and phrases Google thinks are related to your phrase.
This can give you an indication of what Google expects to see in content on a given topic.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have all of the related phrases in there, but it means that if you have some of them or some like them, you will probably rank better.
Paying Attention to Competition
In keyword research, information about your competition is critical.
The most basic place to find this information is in the keyword tool that you use, as many tools will give you a number that indicates the total level of competition for that given keyword.
However, that competition term won’t actually tell you much about the quality of competition that you face.
This is why you actually have to look at the search engine results (the SERPs) yourself.
You have to consider whether your competition is optimized for the keyword in question and whether you would reasonably be able to compete against them.
Sometimes you will find that even though you don’t have all that much competition for a keyword, the competition that you do have is particularly strong.
The following image is an example of this. In this particular case there would probably be significant competition for the keyword anyway, but what I want to talk about is the SERPs themselves.
From these first six results, you can see that there are some pretty major websites to compete against.
In particular, the top result is WebMD, which has a lot of authority and considerable reputation. It is also a very extensive site.
The next site is actually an authority blog, but it is a very well developed one.
The other sites include three different popular magazines (Health, Cosmopolitan and Women’s Health) and a government site.
As you can imagine, successfully ranking against these sites would prove to be particularly challenging.
So, if you find SERPs like this, it is an indication that maybe you should be trying for a different keyword.
However, looking at your competition can often give you an indication of how to win against them.
For example, your competition might focus on some areas of SEO over others.
Alternatively, your competition might have good SEO, but absolutely horrible headlines and writing.
This may well mean that you can rank against them over time.
One of the interesting things about the list I showed above is that Authority Nutrition ranked against those other sites, which have a lot of authority and weight in Google.
This shows that it really is possible for people to rank against even the biggest players in a niche.
Nevertheless, it is still wise to pick your battles.
A new site is not going to have the strength to up against well-established sites in the field.
Instead, you need to focus on keywords that you can reasonably compete against.
When you’re looking at the competition, one thing to keep in mind is domain authority (DA).
The DA of a site offers an indication of the authority associated with a site, including the links that go to it.
Many of the tools that provide indications about website metrics will give a measure of page authority.
For example, this is the results from one such tool for the first five of the results I showed above.
As you can see, the page authority for all of the sites is pretty high, with WebMD scoring the highest.
This suggests that competing against those sites would be very challenging, and any victory may well be short-lived.
For new sites, it’s worth looking at DA for the top ten rankings in SERP for a given keyword, and only proceeding if they are under 30. If not, you will have a hard time ranking, and that’s not a good way to start.
You do always have the option of trying to rank for multiple keywords, with one being difficult and the others easy.
That means that over time you might rank for the difficult keyword, but in the meantime, the page does well enough on its own.
For example, the free toolbar on Moz lets you see a large amount of different information under each search result.
This makes it pretty easy to spot which pages are likely to be easy to rank against and which are likely to be more difficult.
Overall, it’s important to be aware of how many pages you are competing against and also how strong they are.
Only having one of those pieces of information can lead to a bad keyword choice and ultimately a site that is not profitable.
Keyword research will only get you so far.
While keyword research is a very valuable tool, you don’t get ranked on keywords alone.
Instead, your content plays a key role in ranking.
Nowadays, you can rank a web page without ever intentionally targeting keywords, but you cannot rank a web page without having content in place.
Content can really mean a lot of things. It refers to the writing on your web page, and it might be as simple as a few hundred words or as complex as thousands.
There really is no set length that content should be – but when you are considering how to get ranked in Google longer content tends to be better.
Some people argue that content should be more than 1.000 or 1.200 words, for most of your content at least.
Personally, I think that those are good numbers and anything less has a risk of being irrelevant.
But, let’s step away from length for a moment.
What differentiates good content from bad?
The first, and arguably most important, thing is that the content needs to be relevant to your audience.
People who are searching for your web page do so with a reason.
Maybe they want information.
Maybe they want advice on whether something is any good.
It’s tempting to try and trick your audience with your content, and people often do this.
For example, that could involve targeting a page around the keyword “Best Rockclimbing Gear” then proceeding to talk about how there are other much more worthwhile hobbies.
This approach is pretty much guaranteed to anger your audience, which honestly isn’t the best way to start.
Additionally, Google’s algorithm picks up on context (somewhat) and related keywords.
This means that if the rest of your content really isn’t related to your keyword, it won’t rank too well at all.
Good content also has value.
The most common way to look at this is to ask “so what”?
I have seen so much content online that simply doesn’t seem to have a purpose.
For example, it’s pretty common to find content that might outline very basic information about a topic but never goes into any detail and never applies that information to anything.
This also tends to be what you get if you purchase PLR content or if you hire a low-quality writer.
So, you might see a 500-word article that talks about motivation using phrases like “motivation involves having a purpose” “motivation has life value” and “good leaders are highly motivated”.
Many times this type of article wouldn’t actually give any valuable advice and would tend to state only things that tend to be obvious.
Honestly, any piece of content that doesn’t have value is just spam and a waste of time.
This also means that you have to take the time to actually provide something different than what is already out there.
This could involve stirring emotion in your readers, providing a specific point of view or providing information that people can actually take away and do something with.
Delivering value on your site may involve the creation of just basic content, but it may also involve working on more specific types of content.
Things like video series, a how-to article, an infographic or even a tool are all things that people find highly valuable and may even be likely to share with others.
A third important thing about content is that it is timely.
By this, I mean that it is relevant when you create it.
In some cases, this might mean creating content around current events and pieces of news – if that fits into your niche.
It might also mean making sure that your content isn’t out of date when you publish it.
For example, if you were writing about a nutritional supplement you would want to consider recent studies on that particular supplement rather than ones from years ago.
A final important thing about good content is to make sure it is written well.
This includes having good grammar and good spelling, and it also involves your content actually flowing.
So, a piece of content that jumps all over the place and goes from one topic to the next without much flow will be very difficult for your readers.
Most people won’t find it interesting and many will find it frustrating.
This isn’t a very productive approach and it isn’t going to do much for audience engagement into the site.
There are other things about good content of course, but these four are some of the most critically important.
Perhaps the biggest thing to remember is that to make your content appealing to search engines, you really have to make it appealing to people too.
If you focus on only search engines or only people, then you risk making content that simply won’t be effective.
Length of Content
As I mentioned before, the length of your content is relevant.
If your content it too short, it will tend to be boring and not have that much point to it.
However, length is only part of the story.
Trying to reach a certain word count tends to be a very ineffective approach most of the time.
Instead, your focus should be on the depth in your content.
For example, I could write a 2,000-word article that basically said nothing or a 2,000-word article that was interesting, engaging and served a purpose.
Those articles would probably rank differently and they would definitely get different reactions from the audience.
Figuring out how to write content with depth does take a bit of time, but it gets easier as you go around.
Being unique is one important part of this.
Now, to rank at all, your content does have to be different than what is already out there, but if you’re writing it yourself, you’ll probably end up doing this without even thinking about it.
What I really mean by being unique is offering something different than anyone else.
Regardless of what your niche is, there are probably other articles out there on the same or similar topic to what you are writing about.
If your writing basically says the same thing in a slightly different manner, it isn’t going to stand out much.
Being unique involves taking a different perspective, offering additional information and talking about things in a different way than other people.
One way of doing this is to simply look at what your competitors are doing and think about ways of doing things better or differently.
For example, this might involve using personal anecdotes throughout content or conversely using scientific evidence.
There is a huge amount of options out there. Realistically, being unique can help your content be more in-depth and more interesting.
Another important component of depth in your writing is the length of sentences.
Short snappy sentences do have their place, but in general, longer sentences offer a better chance for keywords, which can help you rank and can help your content seem more relevant to search engines and readers.
Writing a good title is absolutely critical for content.
The title of your post is the very first thing that gets people interested in it – so you have to get them interested right from the very beginning.
Spending two hours or more on a title isn’t uncommon, and it can be the difference between a web page that isn’t popular and one that gets a lot of views.
When people search something in Google, they get a list of different web pages that meet the criteria.
They see your title and description, and this is what convinces them to actually visit your site.
This means that you have to get the title right – even if it takes time to do so.
In the same manner, you want to focus on the description that appears under the title.
This is something that you can write manually, otherwise, Google will pull something out from your website.
Most of the time it’s much better to write the description manually because this gives you more control over it.
Content and Quality
On any website, the quality of content offers a strong indication of the quality of the site overall.
This is something that users take into account when they look at your website. It’s also something that Google’s algorithm considers
There are a number of different indicators of quality.
Some of the key ones are:
- Is the content trustworthy?
- Does the author have credibility?
- Is the article balanced (i.e. has little bias)?
- Does the article go beyond the obvious?
- Is there attention to detail?
- Is the article original in nature?
- Is the writing error-free?
Google counts many of these things in its algorithm, although some are hard to measure.
Others are measured using proxy approaches, which are not always accurate.
You can get clues about the quality of your own site by looking at sites you are competing against and just what sites rank in general.
However, if you focus on consistently producing high quality and in-depth content, you should be able to rank as a high-quality site.
When you are considering how to get ranked in Google, one important point is that Google doesn’t rank the pages of your site entirely independent of one another.
This means that it attaches a certain value to your site based on a range of factors, and this value then influences how all the pages on your site rank.
In practice, this means that poor quality content or poor quality pages can bring down the ranking of your entire site.
This creates challenges for people just learning internet marketing because it means that they have to get their content right the first time, or make sure they go back and rewrite it once they get the hang of creating good unique content.
When people look at how to get ranked in Google, the role of social sites is often overlooked.
Many website owners have ‘traditional’ points of view, and they focus on content and SEO, often ignoring social media altogether.
The implication is that social media represents an entirely different source of traffic than search engines.
Yet, this isn’t strictly true.
Instead, social media is a powerful force that can actually help a web page to rank in Google.
This means that social media is worth using even if it isn’t directly driving a large amount of traffic directly to your site.
One of the key things about using social media is to use it effectively.
Social media can take up a lot of time if you aren’t careful.
Basically, you want to focus on using social media to share your message and to provide your audience with a way of sharing it easily.
People share information in a spur-of-the-moment manner, so you want to make it as easy as possible.
Personally, I suggest taking the time to be engaged in at least one social media network, posting on it regularly and linking any of your sites posts to it.
One network is easy to manage, and you can expand this when you get good at using one.
Some of the most common social networks that sites use are Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.
What works best for you will be related to your site and what is best for you.
Personally, I would always recommend focusing on Google Plus for social networking as your first option.
One reason for this is that Google has indicated that it doesn’t use Twitter or Facebook for social signals, although this doesn’t necessarily apply to other search engines.
Additionally, Google Plus is something that Google has been actively promoting for quite some time now and offers a way of tying together different websites with a single author.
This makes it quite valuable as a social networking tool – and suggests that it is likely to be weighted as a social signal now and in the future.
Content and SEO
When you look something up in a search engine, the keyword you put in determines what web pages you see as an outcome.
This is the underlying basis for keyword research, but really it's only part of the story.
Search engines continue to move towards semantic searches and related words.
This means that the algorithm doesn’t just look at what you search, it also looks at what it thinks you mean by that search. This varies depending on what specifically you are searching for and the exact words that you use.
For example, the term PC generally stands for personal computer, and a basic search of the term agrees.
However, as with most abbreviations, there are other things that PC can stand for. For example, I can change the wording of my search slightly and get this:
Aside from the very first result (which is a bit of an exception), all of the first page results related to political correctness or simply to words starting with Pc (for all you scrabble players).
In fact, in the second search, Google even bolded the words political correctness. This means that Google was treating the term as one of my keywords – even though it actually wasn’t.
One of the key ways that search engines figure out how relevant your results are to a given topic is by looking at context.
This includes what your site is about in general and also the other words you have in your posts.
After all, most of the time an article on political correctness is going to talk about very different things than an article on a computer.
One outcome of all of this is that the search engine results for a keyword often don’t contain that keyword at all.
It’s not so obvious with the simple keywords I have chosen here, but if I search something like ‘Learning Rock Climbing’, you can see that the search term doesn’t turn up in the descriptions under any of the high ranking web pages:
Yet, there are more than 42,000 web pages that use that exact phrase.
This shows very clearly that keywords alone cannot make a web page rank.
However, it doesn’t mean that keywords are useless.
Instead, having the exact keyword is one of a number of ranking factors that make up the algorithm of Google and other search engines.
This means that if you have a well-planned and well-designed website with decent content, then using the exact keyword will give you an advantage.
However, for poor quality sites, having the exact keyword really won’t make much difference at all.
Website Design – It Matters
Your content and your SEO is all very important for your website, but it’s only part of the story.
The design of your website plays a key role in many aspects of its success and it even indirectly affects your ranking.
A well-designed website will tend to engage your audience much better.
It will also establish trust and make you seem more credible.
In turn, this acts to increase the time that people spend on your site and increase the number of pages that they view.
Good design even makes it easier for you to get links from other websites.
All of these factors can help your website to rank.
After all, the majority of web pages that rank well are very well designed – and yes, having a well-designed website does cost money, but it is an investment that ends up earning you more than it costs in the long run.
Hubs and Navigation
The way that people navigate through your website has a large influence their experience and likewise on your ranking in Google.
If navigation is easy and logical, then it is much simpler for people to find the pages they are looking for and it also makes more sense to Google.
In particular, Google figures out how relevant a page is not just by what happens to be on the page, but also by the pages that link to it.
One approach to making navigation logical is to create content hubs.
Content hubs offer a way to link together different pieces of content that are relevant to each other.
For example, on a nutrition site, you might have a hub about different types of diets, a hub about supplements and perhaps a hub about recipes.
You end up with articles about a similar topic all in one place and this makes it easy to use internal linking to connect these all together.
One of the most effective ways to use a hub is to create a single master page for each hub that has links to all (or most) of the others.
This doesn’t have to be a list of links if you don’t want it to be.
Often the master page is an article in its own right and one that contains a large number of links.
You may also offer people the ability to go to a given hub through your menus.
This could involve taking them to the master page for that hub or to a category page using the category feature in WordPress.
Both approaches work, and you can look at what other people do to get an idea of what you like.
Hubs are a really important part of effective website design, but surprisingly, they aren’t all that common.
Many people just create content as they go without any attempt to put them in categories or work out how they relate.
Doing that does involve less work, but it is also less effective in the long-term.
The final thing about how to get ranked in Google is to focus on on-page SEO.
Now, this isn’t really as significant as it used to be, and there is some contradictory advice out there.
I do recommend using tools for looking at your on-page SEO, but take the results with a grain of salt.
Every service will test slightly different things and it’s debatable how many of them are relevant.
One aspect of SEO is linking. Google weights links differently.
In particular, the links from within unique text tend to be ranked quite highly, while links from navigation or images are much less significant.
When you’re linking, having diverse anchor text is very important.
This includes the links out to other websites and also internal links to other pages of your site.
In general, your link should provide some indication of where it is going to, rather than something like “click here” or “see this article”.
Most of the time, you should avoid using the actual URL as the link text unless it is important for what you are doing.
Keywords and Over-Optimization
With SEO, you do need to be careful about optimizing too much.
Search engines have really been cracking down on sites that appear to be trying to game the system.
This is particularly true of Google and the search engine giant has been placing a strong emphasis on quality of content.
Most people still recommend using your keyword in at least one H3 title tag and in the title of your web page.
While this can offer some benefits, it isn’t necessary, and in its developer blog, Google has indicated that it doesn’t really care about these.
At the end of the day, it’s best to go with what works for you and what works for your site.
If the keyword sounds unnatural, it’s probably best not to use it.
Google is very aware of when keywords are overused and when SEO approaches are being manipulated.
Because of this, approaches like link farms and private blog networks now tend to be very ineffective and they can kill your ranking instead of helping it.
Links are still an important part of SEO, although they aren’t as important as they used to be.
In general, your main emphasis should always be on content, particularly once your site is developed.
One approach to link building is the 90/10 rule. This rule suggests that you should spend 90% of your time developing content and only 10% of your time in building links.
This will vary a bit depending on how well established your site is, but it is a good general rule.
Link building is something to be careful with.
It is a process that can help your site, but can also harm it if you aren’t careful.
I’m not going to go into link building too much here because it really is the topic for an entirely new discussion.
In general, though, the focus of link building should always be on relationships and on quality, not on quantity.
Finally, it’s important to note that link building does more than just help you rank.
It is a process that provides valuable information for readers and also helps support the websites you are linking out to.
In some cases, these two advantages can be more important than the search engine ranking.
In general, its best to seek out links from people in your niche with high authority because this can help your site to gain authority in the process.
Working out how to get ranked in Google looks complicated, but really, it isn’t as bad as it seems.
The four main things are:
- Keyword research
- Quality content
- Website design
- On-page SEO
Putting time into each of these things can dramatically increase your ability to rank and your overall success.
You will find that content is the most significant area that you focus on and that it will take up most of your time.
This is to be expected though, because content is what provides your visitors with value, and value is the whole reason that people come to your website.
At the end of the day, the process of making a successful website is one that generally takes time and planning.
You do have to consider the keywords you use, the way you design your site and who you are competing against.
However, if you follow these approaches, you won’t only learn how to get ranked in Google, but you’ll also get good at how to rank on the first page of Google.
As long as you understand how Google ranks sites and pages, and how to research well, then it is very possible to consistently rank in Google.
If you want to learn more about this topic and about making sites successful in general, head on over to Wealthy Affiliate.
In this post, and in others, I talk about general concepts to do with being successful online.
But, Wealthy Affiliate provides much more comprehensive information. At the same time, the site also has training programs that provide step-by-step instructions about how to build a website and get it ranking in Google.
Those instructions are great for people with no previous experience in building websites.
At the same time, new training is constantly being developed on the site. This makes it easy to stay on top of any changes that search engines make in how they rank websites.