There are never enough hours in a day, and you have to wear multiple hats in your business. So why care about your website’s “organic ranking” on Google?
Well, you should: search engine and social media ads can quickly gobble up your ad budget. Print, television, and radio ads can also be exorbitant, so one of the best ways to spread the word about your business in a cost-effective manner is to simply have your website show up near the top of search results. And you do that by boosting your organic ranking. Here are some basic ways to do just that.
How search engines determine “ranks”
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Just as legitimate business owners are trying to boost their website’s search engine ranking, so are scammers and hackers. Therefore, most search engines like Google keep their ranking algorithms a closely guarded secret. However, trial and error has effectively revealed certain rules. We arrive at educated guesses based on tons of data and real-world simulations tested by companies like Link Laboratory, who make it their business to stay on top of the constantly changing algorithms employed by today’s top search engines.
The basic purpose of these algorithms is to use AI to separate the genuine, helpful content from sites that are illegitimate or even harmful to the user’s computer. Each search engine has its own approach to this, but their programming AI uses a variety of data points found on your web page, so it’s extremely important to optimize those data points so that the algorithm does your marketing for you — for free.
Keywords and key phrases
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Before you can rank organically, you need to know what you’re about and what you’re selling — more importantly, you need to know what people will type into a search bar when they’re looking for products or services like yours. These are called “keywords”, and you need to include them throughout your website.
For some people, that’s easy: they sell cupcakes, dog-walking services, books, or equipment. Some professions or services can be a bit more difficult to describe succinctly with a single word or phrase, but that is precisely where you need to start.
Website components for organic ranking
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For this example, let’s imagine that you are a plumber trying to beat out local competitors for the top spot on the list of search results.
Next let’s examine some of the most basic components of your website that likely play a factor in your organic ranking:
- The page URL slug, or the portion of the URL that comes after your domain address. For example, in “samplewebsite.com/plumbingservices”, the part which says “plumbingservices” is the slug.
- The page header or title. An example would be “Expert, Affordable Plumbing Services”.
- Secondary headings (H1 or H2) on your page, which should contain key phrases or related terms.
- The first paragraph of your page, which should contain your key phrase at least once.
- The overall word count of your page (300 or less is too low, 600 or more is ideal) with high-quality, helpful, and informative content. A string of nonsense representing a bunch of keywords or links will not be looked upon favorably by the algorithm, so write about something interesting.
- The quality of outbound links on your page, which should link to well-recognized, high traffic sites. Also have one or two internal links (link to another relevant page on your website).
- The age of the page; pages over one year old tend to rank higher than newly-created pages, so be patient.
- Multimedia attributes on your page (the picture or video descriptions and filenames need to include your key phrase as well).
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Lastly, ensure your meta description on each page presents a compelling reason for the user to click on your link. The meta description is essentially your free ad copy, so maximize your message there.
Making sure every page on your domain consistently displays a relevant keyword or phrase helps your site organically show up higher on search engine results, which can save you a great deal of money on search engine ads.