How To Get Your Website To The Top Of Google In 6 Easy Steps
In this article we are going to look at one of the most cost-effective digital marketing techniques to drive traffic to your website – Search Engine Optimization.
Contrary to what most people think, you don’t need to be an SEO expert in order to get to the top of Google. All you have to do is follow some easy to implement steps which we will examine in detail here.
This article is also going to be a practical experiment in which I will list everything I’ve done to optimize it, how I’ve done it and most importantly why. You will learn every single SEO trick I’ve used to create this post. So let’s get started.
Get To The Top Of Google – How It Works
Before we start constructing an effective SEO plan you need to know how the major search engine works.
Google uses about 200 different ranking factors, but they are not equally important. Some will have a great impact on your position, while others won’t have much of a direct effect.
One of the major factors is the so-called PageRank which came as an idea after Larry Page and Sergey Brin noticed how scientific studies referred to important papers, such as Einstein’s theory of relativity. There was a correlation between the paper’s reference count and its importance.
They’ve decided to apply the same principle to the web pages. In other words if they could crawl the entire Internet (as it is now the case) they could potentially see which websites were linked to the most and rank them accordingly.
As you can see, the idea here is that a web page that has a lot of links pointing to it should be important and coming from a credible source.
Another ranking factor to consider is the keywords. These are the words or phrases that you want your website to rank for. Keywords tell Google what your website and web pages are about.
For example, this page is about how to get to the top of google. As such it is my job to make sure that Google understands that it is about SEO ranking techniques and how to rank on page 1. Of course the content also needs to be engaging, interesting and providing great value to the reader. We will get to that point in a minute.
In a nutshell, Google aims to show its users the most authoritative and relevant results. It determines that based on:
- the number and quality of links leading to the page
- the keywords that have been used on that page
Obviously like any other area of digital marketing this one is also susceptible to some cheating and hacking, but the results aren’t really worth the risks. Google is getting smarter with each day and if you choose blackhat techniques you will get incremental benefits before your website is cast into oblivion.
The 6 steps that I am going to discuss here are really easy to follow, but require some patience and persistence. With that being said, the results are going to be long-term and will pay tenfold for your effort.
Time for step one.
1. Identify Targeted Keywords
If you are brand new to SEO, keyword is a set of words that match the query a person enters into the search engine box to find information.
For example, one of the ways that you might have landed on this page is through typing how to get your website on google first page. On page one you will see the best results for the keyword google first page.
That’s what we are aiming to achieve with your website.
The first step is to write down a list of all the keywords that are related to your business and you want to target. In SEO there’s a concept known as long tail keyword. Long tail keywords or key phrases are more specific and usually longer (3 or more words).
Although long tail keywords get less traffic, the consumer purchase intent is much higher. That’s because those people know exactly what they are searching for.
Let’s say I am selling an SEO software that can help you get to the top of google. In this case I will target the long tail keyword SEO automation software or I could be even more specific with SEO backlinks automation software.
Here’s a more visual representation. In the graph below the vertical line (y-axis) indicates popularity, while the horizontal line (x-axis) indicates the length of the keyword. The further right you go, the longer the keyword is and the less traffic you get. However, conversion should be much higher.
It’s not just about getting visitors to your site, it’s about getting the right kind of visitors.
Some of you might want to rank for general highly searched keywords, but that doesn’t make much sense. Beyond the unrealistic amount of work that is required to rank a page for just SEO, the person who lands on my page might have actually looked for a guide (as this one), not a tool. Or maybe he doesn’t feel like reading and wants a video course.
Simply put, you will get the best returns on your time and effort when you target long tail keywords.
For a start open a Notepad or any basic word processing software and start brainstorming ideas. Describe what your product or service is about as if you are explaining it to a 10 year old kid. Write down the traits, functionalities and anything that is related to it. Mine looks something like this:
2. Use Tools For Additional Long Tail Keywords
After you’ve brainstormed at least 10 keywords it’s time to get some more… the easy way. For this task we will use a couple of free tools.
Keyword Shitter – Copy the list of keywords from Notepad (or whatever program you used) and paste it into Keyword Shitter. Start the job and wait for the tool to… well, shit some keywords.
In less than a minute I have about 200 keyword suggestions. Bear in mind that the longer you leave the tool to run the more irrelevant results it starts to give you.
From my experience 60-90 seconds is optimal – you get a decent amount of keywords while still being on topic. Once you are done, download the list.
Ubersuggest – type down your targeted keyword and click suggest. I’ve put first page of Google for which I received 91 suggestions.
You can also try keywords with a missing word. For example, if I type down how to * on page 1 of Google I get results such as how to get my website on page 1 of Google search. You get not only extended suggestions but also ideas for replacing the missing word.
Download the list after each keyword suggestion set. Then add them to a master list, which you will need later on.
SpyFu – this is a great tool to get a general idea of how your competitors are performing. You get insights such as organic keywords, estimated monthly SEO clicks, paid keywords, top organic and paid competitors, top keywords and much more.
By now you should have a solid list of keywords to target. The question that follows now is how do you choose the right ones?
Time to move to step 3.
3. Keywords Competition and Traffic Estimation
For competition and traffic estimation we will use another 2 free tools, the first of which is Google Keyword Planner. I know not all of you will be up for this because Google requires you to have a website and a credit/debit card.
Fear not. Just head to the registration section and click Skip the guide setup. You should jump straight to the AdWords section. The downside of this “trick” is that it won’t work if you’ve already started your registration. You will either have to complete it or create a new Google account.
My suggestion is to complete the whole registration, since you will need Keyword Planner quite often from now on. It’s useful and it’s free. You don’t get too many of those.
Just make sure that your campaign(s) are paused or deleted to avoid any unnecessary costs. As you can see from the screenshot below none of my ads are running.
The steps here are: Tools > Keyword Planner > Get search volume data and trends > Paste all the keywords from your master list.
If you don’t like Google’s interface you can export the results as a CSV file and eliminate the columns that you don’t need. The competition factor is also a bit more detailed there, ranging from 0.1 to 1 as opposed to simply High-Medium-Low.
We are interested in only 2 types of data here – monthly searches and competition. However, there are 2 small problems.
Firstly, the monthly searches are only for exact match keywords, meaning those specific words or ones very closely related to them. So the numbers will be underestimated.
Secondly, the competition factor is for paid search, not organic search. The competition is low for SEO tactics 2017 because it is rather generic and is not “purchase intent keyword”. As a result the business owners most likely won’t get a good return on their investment.
So Google Keyword Planner is a great tool for getting rough estimates, just don’t rely too much on them. This is why we will throw another tool in our arsenal.
SEOquake – an extension that can be installed on Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari (sorry Microsoft Edge). It gives you not only stats about the websites you get in the search engine result pages, but also how difficult it would be to rank for a particular keyword.
You can configure the parameters in any way you like, but for me the most important ones are:
- Google Index – how many pages Google has indexed for that site
- Alexa rank – how popular the website is
- Webarchive age – how old the domain is (important ranking factor)
- SEMrush Traffic – estimated monthly traffic
- SEMrush backlinks – the number of links pointing to that page (critical ranking factor)
- SEMrush subdomain backlinks – the number of links pointing to that domain (again pretty important ranking factor)
From the example above you can see that I will have a damn hard time ranking for the keyword get to the top of google. At the time of writing this article I was also seriously considering rank on page 1 of google (68%) and google seo tactics (79%).
However, the former was not getting enough traffic, while the latter did not quite match what the article was going to be about. I don’t want you to land on my page looking for some blackhat techniques only to leave disappointed because there were none.
Aside from all the fun I am going to have ranking this page, I chose this keyword because the task is still quite possible.
All the results on page one are coming from high-authority websites with thousands of backlinks to the domain. With that being said, the backlinks going to the specific articles are between 5 and 25 (a few getting as little as 2).
So if I write an extensive and very helpful guide on how to rank your website on page 1 then people might like it and link to it. We will get to the point of writing a quality article in a second.
The take-home point from this step is to use Google Keyword Planner and SEOquake to estimate traffic and difficulty for your chosen keywords.
I also suggest checking your website “SEO health” on SEMrush. It is a marvelous tool that will show you stats such as organic traffic, keywords and most importantly backlinks. This should further help you determine whether the keywords you are targeting are within your range.
Needless to say you can use SEMrush to check your competitors.
Now let’s move to step 4.
4. Title Optimization
By now you should have figured it out for what keyword(s) you want to show on page 1 of Google. You know what your title is and what key phrases you are going to include in the copy.
Now let’s optimize the title for humans. Because if you have forgotten, you are writing it for them, not for bots.
The title should be crafted in such a way as to induce the potential reader to click on it. It needs to sound interesting and communicate value.
In an article on the Moz blog Nathan Safran reveals some interesting data insights as to what headlines readers click the most. The results were as follows:
- 36% Numbers – 15 SEO tactics
- 21 % Reader Addressing – The SEO mistakes you didn’t know about
- 17% How To – How to get my business on top of google search
- 15% Normal – Detailed SEO strategy and plan
- 11% Question – Why my site doesn’t show on Google
In the same study the guys also tested the respondents’ tolerance for superlatives in a headline. The results were as follows:
- 22% None – The 7 SEO tools you need in your arsenal
- 29% One Superlative – The 8 best SEO tactics you didn’t know about
- 15% Two Superlatives – The most powerful ranking tactics ever
- 9% Three Superlatives – The best and cheapest SEO tools you will ever need
- 25% Four Superlatives – The newest and most powerful SEO marketing tactics ever that will give you the best ROI
Finally, the respondents were asked about their headline capitalization preferences. The results were as follows:
- 64% Sentence Case – Become An SEO Expert Today
- 21% Capitals – HOW TO OPTIMIZE IMAGES FOR GOOGLE
- 7% Lowercase – Learning search engine optimization in an hour
- 8% No preference
I practice what I preach, so you can see that I’ve implemented some of those suggestions into my titles as well.
How To Get Your Website To The Top Of Google In 6 Easy Steps
- How – how to guide
- Your website – reader addressing
- 6 easy steps – number
- No superlatives (the third most preferred option by mere 7% difference)
- Sentence Case – each word starting with a capital letter
- Capitals – in the header section of the articles (this has nothing to do with the study though)
Of course I could have added some superlatives and probably turned this into a question, but that would have caused confusion. People don’t click on something they don’t understand. So don’t overoptimize your title.
5. On-Page SEO
In most basic terms this means optimizing your web page in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic from search engines, such as Google.
In a recent study of 1 million pages Matthew Barby made a few interesting observations that I would like to discuss here.
Short Titles Tags and URLs
Top-ranking webpages tend to have shorter URLs and page titles (about 8 words in length).
Although not a ranking factor, the length of the page title does seem to have an indirect impact on page ranking. Those pages tend to get to the point quicker, meaning that the user can quickly decide whether the page is what he/she is looking for.
Not to mention that if your title (or URL) is longer it can get cut off. So yes, titles matter, probably more than you think.
Keyword Presence In Page Title and URL
If you’ve ever done any SEO whatsoever then this one shouldn’t come as a surprise. Including your keywords in the page title and URL makes it easier not only for Google to understand what your page is about, but also for the users. Any mentions of the keyword in the URL or meta description are shown in bold.
The take home point here is clear – make sure that your keyword is present in your title tag, URL and meta description. If you are using WordPress for your site make sure you download Yoast SEO. It’s an absolute must for on-page SEO.
As I promised, 100% transparency. Here’s what my Yoast SEO stats look like for this article.
Most of the criteria are self-explanatory, but if you have any questions let me know in the comment section below.
In an ideal scenario all the points would be in green, but that’s rarely practical.
This is especially the case for the focus keyword doesn’t appear in the first paragraph of the copy. That’s a common thing. Just make sure you mention your keyword in your first paragraph of the copy and you are fine.
Same for keyword density. As long as you have the word mentioned at least 3-4 times in the copy you are good to go. In long articles (like this one) it’s rather hard to hit the keyword density.
The only thing I wish I have nailed better is avoiding the stop words. Those are words that the search engines often ignore because they are used all too often. Examples are: a, an, and, is, on, of, or, the, was, etc. In my case there are 3, which is really a bit too much.
It’s time for the final step.
6. Off-Page SEO
By now more than 90% of the readers have given up. It may be because of my writing style, who knows.
However, if you are still around you are going to learn the final and most important step to get to the top of google.
Off-page SEO refers to the techniques and methods that can be used to improve the position of your web page in the search engine results page (SERPs). The truth is that when most people say off-page SEO they really mean building backlinks.
The number and quality of your backlinks are a major factor determining on what page of the Google search results your website will show up.
There’s little confusion about the number of backlinks. It’s simple – the more the better. What about the quality though?
The quality of a backlink is determined by the authority of the website. If an authoritative and well-respected site links to your page, then you have a high-quality backlink. You get something called link juice.
Similarly to each glass with liquid, each website has a different level of authority in the eyes of Google and consequently will give you more or less authority.
What you need to strive for is getting a lot of high-quality backlinks from well-respected websites that have domain authority of 5 and above. Preferably those websites will also be in you niche.
The links that pass the so-called “link juice” are known as dofollow links or just links, meaning that the websites linking to you are giving you a vote.
A link is nofollow when a website links to you, but is not giving you a vote. In this case you don’t get link juice and no authority is passed.
An easy way to check whether a link is follow or nofollow is by installing an extension called NoFollow. Once you activate it you will see all the nofollow links highlighted in a dotted box.
And here comes the question how to get high quality backlinks for free?
The most natural and effective way is to create content worth sharing and linking to. This means giving people massive amount of valuable content – be it for entertainment or educational purposes.
Once you create the SEO content you need to get the word out. Share your content on the social media channels on which your audience hangs out – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc. When enough people check your page and share it, it will get some traction (provided it is some good stuff).
Social media signals are also a ranking factor, although not as strong as the previously discussed ones.
Another way to get backlinks is by doing email outreach. Let the people that you’ve quoted or referred to know that you’ve released an article. This is why it is a good idea to include relevant links in your copy. It not only benefits your readers (the main goal), but your article will also show up on the webmasters’ radar.
Your main work should be on establishing yourself as an authority. In the beginning you will need to do some link building, but if you consistently produce quality content soon enough the backlinks will start coming in automatically.
It’s simple – quality backlinks are attracted to quality content.
You can check some of the backlinks pointing to your site in Google Search Console (Webmaster Tools) under Search Traffic and then Links. If you have the budget you can go for much better tools such as Ahrefs or Moz Open Site Explorer. However, those are rather expensive so if you are just starting out they might not be worth the money at this stage.
Get To The Top Of Google – Recap
As you can see getting your website on page 1 of Google is not rocket science. Yes, it does require a plan, some patience and consistence, but the steps are totally doable.
Once you get used to the process the whole keyword research won’t take you more than 15 minutes and it certainly is time well invested.
Stop guessing your way to success. Make a plan, stick to it and make adjustments whenever needed.
If you want to share your experience, tools or strategies that boost page ranking on Google, please leave a comment below.
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Thank you for reading.
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