How to Rank Higher in Google - A Quick 101 Guide

Digital marketing is always an ever-changing process. What might work for you might not work for others, and so on.

Among the many branches of digital marketing nowadays, we have Search Engine Optimization, SEO - a scary term to some, and the light of salvation to others.

We all understand the importance of Google, The Big G, when it comes to our website’s success.

If people can’t find you through search engines, you’ll surely have a bad time.

But Google doesn’t hate you nor ignore you - you just need to carefully craft an SEO strategy that powers your Google Rankings.

That’s why in this blog post we’ll be further discussing the following topics:

The Importance of Ranking Higher on Google Search Engine

Getting organic traffic is hard - we know it, they know, and you know it.

There are so many sources of information across the Internet that standing out is a real challenge that not many websites can achieve.

But imagine what your project can achieve with improved search traffic:

  1. You can outrank your competition and become the first choice for your audience;
  2. It is possible to increase your CTR in an organic way;
  3. Establishing an industry and domain authority through SEO strategies brings you unmatching results in the medium and long haul.
  4. SEO is cheaper than PPC in the long run.

All in all, the advantages of ranking higher on Google are the fuel that your own website or project needs to rocket your results efficiently, consistently, and, more importantly, organically.

Things to Consider Before You Start Optimizing for Search Engines

Just because you need to rank higher on Google doesn’t mean you should follow all the pieces of advice you can find around.

We are quite aware of the “cliche” nature of the following sentence, but it perfectly fits here: SEO is a marathon, not a race.

And you can’t win a marathon without a preparation. Therefore, before starting to improve your search ranking, consider the three following factors:

  1. Make an SEO Checklist: all the data you gather throughout your strategy needs to be measured and analyzed. Thus, it’s important to have a proper checklist that acts as your main guide to find the path your site needs to follow;
  2. Don’t be afraid to hire specialists: SEO takes time. If you want to rank higher on Google, it won’t happen overnight. Practical experience and data comes in handy. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are pages rankings. If you have the budget, hiring specialists is a great way to save time and ensure results;
  3. Local ranking vs. global ranking: are you interested in local search results, or are you not aiming at a specific geographic zone? It is worth noting that factors such as your project’s business hours and general information are more related to local rankings than to global ones. Learn more about local rankings on Google

How to Rank Higher in Google

For practical purposes, we have divided this guide into 5 different ranking factors that should always be considered regardless of the current state of your site. Each ranking factor has its impact on Google’s Search Engine Results Page.

Before starting, we must say that no one has the “secret sauce” behind the search algorithm, but understanding what Google and the people want is what is going to subsequently bring you the high Google rankings you need.

And also always keep in mind, that the ultimate goal of Google is to provide users with the best search results matching the search intent behind their query. If you can discover the user’s intent and deliver exactly what they want, you’re golden.

1. Analyze Your Competitors

First things first - life is a competition. Whoever says otherwise will hardly find the success rates they need.

Google has an utterly natural competitive nature that can’t be avoided. Hence, identifying your main competitors is the first step if you want to rank higher on Google.

The “quick roadmap” should work like this:

  1. Identify your main competitors in the SERP;
  2. Understand who they are and what they offer to their audience;
  3. Analyze your competitor’s best practices: why are they so successful and how can you achieve something similar?

It’s not about copying your competitors, it’s about analyzing their results and extrapolating this information to handcraft a strategy that works for you and will allow you to beat them.

Pro Tip: Google is highly against spam techniques within the SERPs. Although we can’t avoid having a competitive mindset, we should never use shady strategies to harm others. Watch this official Google video to learn more about this matter.

2. The Importance of Keyword Research

How do people search for things on Google? Through words! They type in their query, and they “click” on the result that appeals to them the most.

That’s why keywords are so important in every SEO aspect that we can think of.

Needless to say, understanding each keyword we use is the key to answer the user’s query properly.

2.1 Find the Right Keywords

Before using a particular keyword, think about everything that surrounds it.

Think about the following target keyword: “Car Rentals.” This short keyword phrase isn’t as specific as we would like it to be. What does the user want? Does he want to rent a car? Or find a car rental company? Maybe he’s trying to estimate the cost of renting a car?

In fact, the results around this keyword might not even be targeted at the user’s intent because it’s too generic.

On the other hand, think about this one: “Car Rentals near Miami.” Now, you are quite aware of what the users want when looking for this exact keyword.

Head keywords vs. long tail keywords should be carefully studied before you use them.

At first, you might think that a seed keyword, such as “Car Rental,” is what you want to rank for - think twice and find the right keywords!

2.2 Track Keyword Performance

There’s a saying: “You can’t fix what you don’t measure.” Perhaps you found some hidden keywords that were going to help you rank, but they are not working.

If you fail to track the overall performance of the keywords you use, then you won’t know what is working and what isn’t.

You can use free tools, such as Google Search Console, for this matter.

How to rank higher in Google 101 - Google Search Console

There are of course paid tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, MOZ, Ubersuggest, SE Ranking, WebCEO and many others that will keep the track of the keywords. If you value your time more than money, you should consider using them.

2.3 Use SEO and Google Tools

Google is the absolute king for a reason: they know what the users want (including those who want to rank higher in Google, i.e., you!)

That’s why you should never ignore official Google SEO Tools. Google Keyword Planner, Google Analytics, and the aforementioned Google Search Console, are strong allies that you should always take to war with you.

Using these Google Tools is a great way to find target keywords by analyzing related searches in your niche.

Linking your site to your Google Analytics account is an absolute must. You can integrate your GSC with Google Analytics for a better performance and more data.

Luckily, this isn’t rocket science - Google offers different free resources for webmasters so they can learn the dos and don’ts of their official tools.

 

3. Perform an On-Page Optimization

On-Page SEO is the process of focusing on the optimization of elements that are present within your website.

Without a good On-Site SEO, it would be impossible for Google (and your audience) to understand what your site is about.

Thus, in order to improve On-Page SEO, take the following three factors into account.

3.1 Create High-Quality Content

Another cliche, yet useful, phrase for you: content is king.

Think about it: if you have good, and we mean good content, people will feel attracted to your website. There is a slight shift towards the video content, as people get lazy, but still a good, well-researched, in-depth article will do magic.

Creating a piece of information that matches the search intent is worth more than what you believe.

Consequently, think about the following before you start making content for your website:

  1. What does the user want to find?;
  2. What’s the best way to help the reader cover their needs?;
  3. How is the competition addressing this same matter on their websites?;
  4. How can I provide real value through written content?;
  5. How can I make Google like this content as well?

 

Ultimately, cracking the “right formula” to make an article is not easy - it varies depending on the topic and intent.

But, overall, we can say that using SEO’s best-known practices, such as identifiable headings, a good title tag, visible anchor text, and more, will lead you into the right direction.

 

3.2 Understand the Search Intent

We cannot stress this enough - search intent is all. You want to get to the first page of Google, we know it, but you can’t do so without people.

And the needs of the people that look for a query are the most important thing in search engines.

You won’t create On-Page content about “Chicken Wings” for people looking for “Car Rentals,” right? That doesn’t make sense - you know it, your readers know it, and Google knows it.

So, what does the user want when they look for “Car Rental”?

  1. They want to rent a car. They don’t want to purchase a new vehicle or go on a plane. They want to rent a car;
  2. Most likely, they want to check the costs related to renting a car;
  3. They want to see where they can rent a car, depending on their location;
  4. They want to compare rental car services with each other;
  5. Probably, they also need to read the advantages and disadvantages of car rentals.

This is just a general example, but it gives you a broad idea regarding search intent and its meaning on Google.

There are four main types of search intent.

Informational

The user's intent is to collect information and/or acquire knowledge in one field or another.
Example:
“search intent”
“what is search intent”

Commercial

The user is considering a transaction and researches options for a product or a service.
Example:
“seo support”
“best seo agency”
“cloud storage”

Transactional

The user searches for a specific product or brand with the intention to purchase. 
Example:
"apple iphone 13"
"photoshop free trial"

Local

The user is looking for something that's near them, such as a local service or place.
Example:
“seo agency frankfurt”
“web design near me”

3.3 Use Internal Links

Internal links go from one subpage of your site to another. Including relevant internal links within your content is useful both for readers and Google crawlers. A well-designed internal linking structure is crucial as it will spread the “link juice” all over the page, enhance crawlability, and basically tell Google Bot which pages are important. Employing useful anchor text links that are related to the main query is always appreciated in the eyes of Google.

4. Work on your Off-Page SEO

On-Page SEO is utterly important to increase organic traffic, but you can’t sleep on Off-Page SEO. In this case, we are talking about the things that do not happen within your site, but also impact your rankings.

4.1 Create Backlinks From Relevant Web Pages to Your Site

Link Building is one of the most important parts of nowadays SEO strategies. Whenever you create a useful backlink, Google understands that you are relevant for that specific topic. Backlinks directed to landing pages provide the site with “link juice,” which is quite important in Google’s eyes. Likewise, links that come from resource pages are as useful as they get, but they should be carefully crafted - you don’t want spammy or useless backlinks pointing at your website, do you? You can think of backlinks as a sort of recommendation. Running a car rental business, you could use some backlinks from Autonews or MotorTrends. Meanwhile a backlink from a housekeeper’s cooking recipes website from Arizona won’t do much. Not to mention spammy backlinks from link farms that people are still trying to push.

4.2 Go One Step Further In Your Link Building Strategy

There’s a reason why there are SEO professionals solely focused on link building strategies - it’s not easy. A good linking strategy can only be properly tailored to a website if dozens of different factors are previously analyzed. Internal links, unlike backlinks, are under your control, but backlinks and their relevance are way more difficult to manage. That being said, networking and providing really useful content are just some of the existing methods to get powerful backlinks.

5. Pay Attention to the Technical SEO

Last but not least, technical SEO is as important as the previously mentioned SEO factors. Google needs to crawl and index your website. If, for any reason, Google crawlers can’t do their job, your site will be lost on the 20th page on the SERP.

5.1 Improve Your Web Page Security

Your website must be secure - no one wants to access a site with faulty security features! It is quite known that Google prefers HTTPS sites due to their security protocol. Either way, it’s not just about appealing to Google - it’s about keeping your audience safe from Internet threats.

5.2 Optimize Your Page Speed

Page Speed is one of the most important factors when it comes to Google rankings. With Core Web Vitals becoming a thing recently, it has to be taken care of. If your website fails to load within 3-4 seconds, there’s a good to fair chance a user will bounce. Your title tags and keyword research strategies might be on point, but you cannot neglect page speed. Learn more about Google and Page Speed here.

Page Speed

5.3 Think About User Experience (UX) and Mobile Optimization

63% of all Google searches are performed via mobile devices in 2022. There is a Mobiles First Index as well, meaning that Google looks at your mobile version of the website first. If it looks poor, your desktop version won’t rank high either.

If you want more organic traffic, you have to make your website mobile device-friendly.

This is not optional. Even if you manage to rank high somehow, your click-through rate will heavily drop once Google (or the users themselves) identifies that your site doesn’t work as it should for mobile phones.

Likewise, when it comes to UX, little things, such as descriptive URLs or large font can help a lot.

Having a clean, understandable, and easy-to-spot URL is way more important than some marketers believe, so don’t skip on it.

It’s Time to Dominate Google Search Results

This was just an appetizer - the SEO world is way bigger than it looks.

The way in how Google displays your website is subject to changes due to monthly, quarterly, and yearly Core Updates.

But even if the SERP can get quite volatile from time to time, following the tips in this guide will give you a broad idea about how to rank higher on Google.

It will be a challenge, but nothing in life that’s worth having comes easy.

You now have the 101 information you need to power up your rankings - it’s time to put your hands to work!

FAQ

Can You Pay Google to Rank Higher?

Yes and no. You can indeed pay for Google Ads, but this is not the same as organic ranking. In short, paying for Google Search Ads may put you at the top of the page, but that doesn't improve your organic search rankings.

How Does Google's Ranking Algorithm Work?

Google’s Search Algorithm is the code used to determine the ranking SEO factors in the SERP. Its intricacies are yet to be fully analyzed before understanding the algorithm's way of working. Click on the aforementioned link to learn more about this matter.

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