December 2, 2018
Google Rankings – It’s In the Details
Getting your site ranked requires paying attention to all the little details that help the search engines find and rank your keywords:
1. Building, and updating, your sitemap is extremely important.
For large sites with many pages, it may even pay to have several sitemap pages. The search engines can only crawl pages that allow it; on the other hand, it’s a good idea to use robot.txt to tell the search engines when not to crawl a page, i.e., where a lot of the content is duplicate or where it is a sub-page for a primary page that has the best content for your keyword that you want ranked (search engines can get confused; you should check what pages the search engines are using for ranking your keywords). You’ll be surprised with how many times they are not using the right page. Google’s Webmaster Tools, Ahrefs, Moz, SEMRush, SpyFu, and other software will show what page is linked to your keyword. (Small SEO Tools has a free checker for up to 20 keywords at a time that shows what page is associated with each keyword. This software only gives the info if your keyword is ranked on the first ten pages of the search results, i.e., through position 100.)
Build a sitemap using an XML sitemap generator to build an XML sitemap for your website, if it doesn’t have one now. Not sure, just right-click on a page in a blank area, select “Page Source” to show the coding, and do a Control-F and search for “xml”. If you have a sitemap, it will be one of the search results. (XML-Sitemap.com is an easy to use builder. It will handle up to 500 pages for free and allow you to download the file. You can then use Google’s Webmaster Tools to load.) It’s important to build another map if you add content or pages so the search engines “see” the new content and pages. An XML sitemap or updated map is one of the easier ways to enhance your rankings without doing a lot of work (article writing is so tedious.
There are many other ways to improve your rankings with the search engines, some talking a little bit of effort; others, a lot. Remember that improving your rankings takes time and patience to “boost” your site’s rankings. We never expect to see first five-page rankings for at least 3-4 months after doing the work; sometimes we’re pleasantly surprised, but most times we’re not. Know also that a lot of what you do to improve rankings also helps improve the user experience, i.e., the ‘UX”, for visitors to your site, i.e., better content or getting to the right spot on your site quickly and easily.
2. When writing content with “content” being broadly defined as words and paragraphs on your web pages, articles and blogs written either on your page or posted on an external, and even to some degree labels and tags associated with your site, images on your site, and other uses, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
Highlight your keywords by using a slightly larger font, making them bold, or underlining them. (Search engines seem to value text that is in a larger font size or otherwise distinguished from the rest of the text. This should help raise your rankings somewhat. No, it’s not the be all and end all, buy everything helps. (Conversely, don’t bold, italicize, or underline any words that aren’t keywords because the search engines may index them as keywords and diffuse the power of your content.)
Focus your content on your keywords. Make sure they are in the title, the first paragraph, and several other times in the content. Using variations helps improve both the readability and density of the keywords. (Word of caution, don’t overdo it. If you use the keyword more than four times in 500 words, it’s too much. Likewise, not more than two times (not including title for short, i.e., 100-150 word, blogs.).
Longer is better, as long as it’s readable. The search engines can’t “read” and measure what you write, but they can measure how fast people jump away from what you write, so make sure what you write addresses your human audience. (We have found Google Trends gives us good ideas for what to write about.) Often, we will interweave one sentence or paragraph out of 5-10 to promote our keyword(s). We have been able to measure greater response to having higher quality material for the viewer to read.
Specifically, for title tags, image tags, and other labels: i) make sure that the tag is relevant to the product/service/site; and, ii) make each tag unique. Duplicate tags confuse the search engines and they will ignore them, and you will lose out on one of the better indexing sources. The more unique tags you have, the more opportunities for the search engines to index and value your content.
3. Keywords are your gateway to bringing business to your website. You can’t have too many keywords, as long as you have content supporting them. Using variations, misspellings, and branding all expand your online “reach”; go for it.
4. Videos are your friend, especially videos shown on your YouTube channel properly tagged and linked to your website. There are many sources of free videos: Archive.org; Pixabay, etc. will allow you use their videos for free. A subscription to Shutterstock or even single item purchase there or at other video providers can give you what you need.
Don’t forget to set up a video sitemap for your videos because that will enhance their ranking. Again, you can build and submit just like you did your web sitemap.
5. Blogs open your website and products and services to both your human audience as well as the search engines. If you’re not blogging, think about starting. If you are already blogging, think about expanding your efforts.
We believe that blogging is one of the primary SEO techniques. We have a list of 500 high-authority social media sites you can use and we’re willing to share it. Don’t think that setting up a profile page or commenting on someone else’s blog is doing the job. We think those are practically worthless, regardless of the domain authority. Google and the other search engines can determine the value of your blog. They’re looking for content and authority for your blogs; the term “relevancy” is often used to describe a good posting. Keep it in mind when you do yours. The value of backlinks from your blogging efforts is the very foundation of improving your rankings. Backlinks have been found to have the highest correlation to rankings.
These few tips should help you get started on the road to higher rankings. Applying the techniques noted here will help your website rankings, and start bringing more traffic to your site. It is not unusual to see a 50%-100% increase in traffic after diligently applying these techniques (not if your efforts are half-hearted). So, get started now and let us know how well it works out!