A 2021 Step-by-Step Guide on

How to Rank On Google

top view of paper with concept words of seo, digital devices, pencil and notebooks on wooden table

This is a complete beginners guide on how to rank on Google and other search engines in 2022.

In this in-depth guide you’ll learn all the step I take to rank on Google for my clients

So if you’re ready to go “all in” with web design, this guide is for you.

Let’s dive right in.

How to make a small business website (in 6 simple steps)

Lesson One

WHAT IS SEO AND HOW IT WORKS

What, why, and how? This beginner-friendly lesson will teach you everything you need to know about SEO, why you need it, and how to use it to your advantage.

Lesson Two

KEYWORD RESEARCH & CONTENT WRITING

This lesson will teach you about keyword research to write good articles and other methods for determining what your user experience & audience’s is looking for.

Lesson Three

ON-PAGE SEO

On-page SEO is the process of making a page’s content more relevant to search engines to help that page rank higher and attract qualified traffic.

Lesson four

OFF-PAGE SEO & LINK BUILDING

Off-page SEO and Link Building is the process of increasing the popularity, relevance, trustworthiness, and authority of a site in the eyes of search engines and users. 

Lesson Five

Technical SEO

Implementing an intuitive design and robot directive, as well as technical elements such as meta tags and structured data, can tell the Google bot what your website is about.

Lesson Six

TRACKING RANKINGS

Another critical component of SEO is keeping track of what works and what doesn’t. Then you may fine-tune your strategy based on what works best.

Introduction

How to to rank on google

A warm welcome to you as you begin your how to rank on Google journey here.

Throughout this guide, I’ll show you EXACTLY how to rank on Google for your small business.

In fact, this is the same process I’ve used to rank #1 in Google for many of my clients.

Search engine optimisation concept and bullseye 48

If you want to fully take advantage of this guide, you must test and execute everything you learn here about how to rank on Google.

In this guide, you will learn all the fundamental SEO techniques, ranging from keywords research (where you dig out phrases and words that will help your website get traffic), to giving your site exposure and building links.

The SEO world is very dynamic and complex.

However, the basic principles on how to rank on Google are easy to learn. SEO knowledge, no matter how small, can make a world of difference in your website.

There are a variety of free resources available to help you learn SEO, and guess what?

You’re in luck because this guide is one of them!

Follow the lessons below and practice what you learn.

You will become SEO savvy in no time!

Lesson one

What Is SEO And How Does It Work?

Hey, so you made it to section one

Throughout this chapter of my How To Rank On Google Guide, you will learn what SEO is, and what you need to do to get started on the right foot. 

Since there is so much information available regarding SEO, you must begin with the basics and learn the correct approaches and techniques that will lead you to success!

But, what exactly is search engine optimisation (SEO)?

Search Searching Online Network Website Concept

What Exactly Is SEO?

As mentioned above, SEO is the acronym for search engine optimisation.

It is a process that involves different steps and techniques to rank a website at the top of Google. Whether you own a blog, a local business, or e-commerce, you need SEO if you want to stand out.

When your website ranks higher, it gets more traffic, which can then lead to more sales. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

However, getting started with SEO can be confusing and overwhelming, especially with so much conflicting information available.

Not only that, but SEO is always evolving. Google releases updates on a regular basis, which means marketers must test new ways to outsmart the big G!

Getting more eyes on your website and convincing Google that your website is worth sending visitors to is a battle you will have to fight throughout your search engine optimisation journey.

The Most Commonly Asked SEO Questions 

There are a few questions that are frequently asked by those who are new to the SEO world, and I believe it is necessary to address them all.

Is Search Engine Optimisation Dead?

You will be happy to know that SEO is still alive and well.

Even though SEO is continuously evolving and new strategies are required, marketers and business owners will always need to optimise their websites for these to appear at the top of search engine results.

The key to success is accepting change, and that you must adapt and tweak your strategies to stay ahead of the competition.

What Are The Most Important Aspects of SEO?

This is a hard question to answer because when it comes to SEO, things sort of complement one another.

For instance, some people are really obsessed with building backlinks. 

Are links important? – Yes, they are. 

But will backlinks work if a website lacks content? – Hardly…

Is it better to write a 3000 words blog post rather than a 500 words long blog post? – Usually, yes.

Will the 3000 words long post rank without proper keyword optimisation? – No, keyword research and optimisation is just as important as content length.

As you can see, there aren’t specific factors that are more important than others when it comes to SEO. It is all about the overall combined strategy. 

How Long Will I Have to Wait for SEO to Produce Results?

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to predict this.

You can get a rough idea by looking at the competition, but the truth is that we marketers cannot control Google (boo).

We can, however, experiment with our strategies and adapt based on niche and competition.

SEO can take weeks or months. That’s when being patient comes in handy!

On-Page SEO vs Off-Page SEO:
How Do They Differ from One Another?

In simple words:

On-page SEO refers to all of those actions you perform on your website, for example, content creation, website speed optimisation, and so on.

Off-page SEO refers to those actions that happen away from your website, for example, press releases, social signals, niche edits, and so on.

Is It Safe to Buy Links?

Like with anything, you will find good places to buy links from and bad places to buy links from.

Some argue that you should not be buying links at all and that your website will naturally gain backlinks as time goes on.

Yes, that may as well happen. But you will have to wait a long time for that, especially if you are fighting in a very competitive niche.

SEO Basics Everyone Should Be Aware of

Although I previously mentioned that there aren’t specific stand-alone factors that are more important than others, there are some SEO basics that you should definitely incorporate as part of your strategy.

Please bear in mind that SEO constantly evolves, so always make sure you keep up with what is working at the time.

Write Relevant and Optimised Content

Content should be well-researched, keyword optimised, interlinked, and include the appropriate headers, among other things, to be effective.

Having high-quality and well-optimised content is critical for sending the right signals to Google and establishing your website as an authority in your chosen niche.

Furthermore, creating high-quality content is essential for naturally gaining backlinks over time.

But how do you go about creating great content? Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Conduct keyword research and include these in your content along with relevant secondary keywords based on user search intent. This approach will help Google understand how relevant your content is. 
  • Add keywords in your headers, alt attributes, meta descriptions, and URLs.
  • Don’t just crank out a 3000 words article for the sake of it. Write content that focuses on relevance rather than length. 

 

When sprinkling keywords throughout your content, make sure that you do not overdo it (keyword stuffing) and that you place keywords are placed in a natural way.

Always write content by making readers your top priority, rather than writing to please Google crawlers. 

The Importance of Metadata 

Metadata is the information displayed to users when your content appears in search results.

Results will include a meta title and a meta description.

In addition to creating metadata that encourages users to click on your result, it is critical to optimise your metadata so that Google understands what your content is about.

Here is how to effectively optimise metadata:

  • Add relevant keywords and variations of your main keyword both in the title and description.
  • Aim for 160 characters or less in your meta description. Google does not display more than 160 characters in the search result.
  • Write a meta title and meta description in a way that entices users to click on your content. 

 

How Important Are Links?

For many years, links have been a key component of search engine optimisation.

When a website receives a backlink, Google considers it to be a “vote” in favour of the website in question. Backlinks signal Google that your content is both useful and related to the website from which the link was received.

Back in the days, when Google was not as clever as it is now, you could send tons of spammy links to your website, and easily rank without being penalised.

Nowadays, obtaining high-quality and relevant backlinks is critical for SEO success.

In conclusion, links are a vital aspect of SEO, as long as they are of good quality and highly relevant.

The Importance of User Experience 

When it comes to ranking in Google, a great user experience is crucial.

Numerous aspects contribute to a positive user experience, ranging from website layout to content.

Follow these recommended practices to improve the user experience:

  • Improve your website and content layout to make it easier for users to navigate. Minor changes can have a significant impact on your website’s click-through rate and bounce rate. These matrixes will signal Google that your website provides a positive user experience.
  • Make sure your site loads in under 2 seconds. If your website is overly slow, users are more inclined to leave early. There are several things you can do to increase speed, including improving code structure and compressing images. To gain an understanding of how your site is performing, use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

 

Mobile Devices Take Priority

Since 2018, Google has been prioritising mobile indexing over desktop indexing. Thus, Google will rank your site based on the mobile version of your web pages.

This is understandable since the majority of us these days search the internet using our mobile phones.

But how do you ensure that your content is optimised for mobile devices?

What you need to do is create a website that is consistent across all devices. This can be achieved by adopting a responsive web design approach.

Your website should load quickly on mobile devices and should provide users with a positive user experience.

The Future of Voice Search

Voice-activated search is currently used by over 3 billion individuals, making voice search optimisation a crucial SEO step.

As people get too busy to type, voice search will become more prominent, so keep voice search in mind while optimising your site.

Here are some of the things you can do to implement voice search optimisation:

  • Write content in a natural manner and respond to users’ questions
  • Optimise your content so that it shows up as a featured snippet
  • Incorporate an FAQ page

Staying on Top of The SEO Game

Above we covered some technical aspects of SEO. However, I’d like to point out a few factors that will ultimately assist you in staying on top of the SEO game.

Beware of Shady Techniques

SEO comes in various shapes and forms, ranging from black hat to grey hat to white hat.

Black hat SEO refers to the use of techniques that violate Google’s guidelines. Cloaking, keyword stuffing, hidden text, and misleading redirects are all examples of black hat SEO techniques.

Grey hat SEO refers to the use of techniques that are a combination of white hat and black hat. For example, using PBNs, purchasing expired domains, building web 2.0s, and many other strategies.

White hat SEO entails using only ethical techniques that are compliant with search engine guidelines. For example, creating high-quality content, developing a responsive website, increasing site speed, and so on.

The use of white hat techniques is, without a doubt, the most secure approach.

However, some grey hat techniques may come in handy, especially when dealing with highly competitive niches.

Whatever strategies you decide to use, you must ensure that you implement them the right way.

For example, if you are buying links, make sure that you purchase them from reputable sellers. Buying cheap, crappy links may end up damaging your site’s reputation!

Learn from Real SEO Experts

There are a plethora of self-proclaimed gurus who, in reality, have no idea what they are talking about.

Some are just out there to sell you their course and make money off of you, without actually having the skills to teach you how to do SEO effectively. 

It is important that you not only learn SEO from actual experts but that you also test and implement the strategies you learn. Then take those strategies and refine them based on what works for you.

Not every website will rank using the same techniques!

Never Stop Testing!

As previously stated, SEO is all about learning the proper techniques and then fine-tuning them based on what works best for you.

Testing is the only way to know if you’re on the right track, and it’s ultimately the key to successful SEO implementation.

Conclusion

SEO is constantly evolving, so what works now may not work in a year or two.

You can learn as many SEO tactics as you want, but at the end of the day, you need to figure out what works best for you and your website.

Check what your competitors are doing, as this will give you an idea of what you could do to replicate their success.

And finally, never stop testing! That is what will ultimately help you win the SEO game.

Lesson Two

Keyword Research and Content Writing

Content rules, but it needs proper keyword research, or you may never be heard!

All content deserves to be read, and what better way to make sure people find your content than conducting keyword research?

In this chapter, we are going to look at keyword research and content writing. 

Content is King message on paper in old typewriter

What Is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is used to help search engine optimisation (SEO) in your efforts to rank higher than your competitors.

When doing keyword research, you can unveil all sorts of valuable data such as popular keywords, ranking difficulty, and traffic estimates.

Keyword research will help you determine what keywords are popular in your niche and which ones to include in your content. 

For example, when analysing the keyword “best head massager for blood circulation,” you can see that it is a keyword that gets searched on Google.

It is less competitive, therefore easier to rank for than just using “best head massager”. 

You can then brainstorm different ways to use this keyword for your article and include it in places like the title, subtitle, metatag, URL, and so on.

You should conduct keyword research prior to producing content. This information will allow you to be more specific about what topics need to be addressed and how they should be written.

How to Do Keyword Research Correctly

Below, I have listed some essential steps to take to do keyword research the right way. 

Before writing content, you should research keywords to make sure you craft the kind of content your readers will actually care about. 

Try to put yourself into your readers’ shoes and understand what they’re looking for when they enter a search term or phrase.

Make a list of the topics you believe are most pertinent to your business

Start by listing the topics you want to rank for based on your business’ needs. For example, suppose your site is about web design and development.

In that case, the list might include related topics such as: “design”, “professional services”, “web hosting”, etc.

These topics will help you with keyword research since they will allow you to dive deeper and identify keywords that are easy to rank for.

Run a keyword research report to explore
what people are currently searching for

Now that you have identified your topics, go ahead and do some keyword research. You are going to want to rank for terms that your target reader is likely searching for.

For example:

  1. Web design for roofers
  2. Affordable websites for small businesses
  3. Web design for online stores

You want to dig as deep as possible with your topics because broad keywords like “web design” are harder to rank for.

To rank for this keyword, you would have to own a very authoritative site. And if you are just starting out, targeting more specific long-tail keywords will help you rank. 

For example, targeting “affordable web design for roofers” will cut down on competition and help your site rank higher.

Understand Intent and How It Affects Keyword Research

In the previous section, I mentioned that it is vital to look for keywords based on what users are likely to search for.

Google wants you to answer questions that have been asked by other users, which means your articles should focus on solving a problem.

So let’s say that during keyword research, you decided to target the keyword “website”. Targeting “website” will not capture user intent.

But what happens when you start typing “website” on Google?

Google will start suggesting what other users have searched for.

For Example:

  1. website design
  2. website speed test
  3. website template

The above 3 phrases represent 3 different intents, so it is crucial to target the right keyword.

Conduct further keyword research for related terms

Now that you have understood user intent try and search for a specific keyword on Google.

Then look at the “related search terms” section and gather additional keywords.

You can incorporate those related search terms into your article to make it even more relevant.

The good thing? You can carry on going through related search terms over and over by searching for the related search terms of a related search term!

Make the most of keyword research tools

Keyword research tools can help you come up with additional keyword ideas for the topics you write about.

The most popular keyword research tools are SEMrush and Ahrefs.

These tools let you enter a keyword, then give you stats on how many people search for those keywords each month and the competition for ranking well in search engines for those terms.

You’ll also learn which other keywords are closely related to these terms.

Secrets to Finding and Choosing
the Right Keywords for Your Website

After gathering a few keywords, it’s crucial to think about which ones make the most sense for your business:

Know what makes keywords good keywords to target

Keywords need to be targeted based on relevance, AKA user intent. So you must choose keywords that solve problems a user may have.

It is also essential that you find keywords with a good search volume so that your website can gain a certain amount of visitors. That is when keywords research tools come into play.

Finally, remember that having a new website will always put you in a disadvantaged position compared to websites that have been around for years.

Google tends to give priority to sources that are deemed to be authoritative.

Make sure you use both head terms and long-tail keywords

Keyword phrases are either short (head) or long-tail. Short keyword phrases might have only one or two words and are typically more generic.

In comparison, long-tail keywords are lengthy and usually contain three or more words.

You need to find the balance between head terms and long-tail by mixing your keywords.

Head terms, which generally get searched more regularly, are often (but not always) more competitive than long-tail keywords.

Let’s look at the example below:

  • Chair –> head term
  • Reclining chairs for small spaces –> long-tail


Of course, the head term will get more monthly searches, but it will be impossible to rank for that keyword or even just catch the right user intent for it.

However, using “reclining chairs for small spaces” will likely catch the right user intent and give you a better chance to rank higher on Google. Search volume for that long-tail phrase will be much lower.

Analyse your competition to see
how they rank for those exact keywords

Analysing your competitor can really help you get an idea of what other keywords you could target.

However, bear in mind that using their exact keywords will not guarantee that you will outrank them.

As mentioned earlier, an SEO optimised authoritative website will always have an advantage over a brand new website.

However, it is still worth trying to match what your competitor does, even if you think your website currently does not stand a chance!

Incorporating a well-balanced mix of competitive and non-competitive phrases into your keyword list will provide you with some easy wins and allows you to progress towards more ambitious SEO goals.

But how do you find out which keywords your competitor is ranking for?

The easiest way is to use a tool such as Ahrefs, search for your competitor’s domain, and get a report of top keywords your competitor currently ranks for.

How to Write Content That Ranks

So now that you have a list of keywords to target, it is time to write some juicy content!

Now, I’m not going to dive into how to write good content too much.

That’s because, my ‘how to write a killer blog post‘ guide already explains most of it more in depth.

But here’s some important take aways to consider.

Understand the ideal word count

First of all, how many words should you write to have a better chance of outranking your competitor?

Well, it depends…

You would want to search for your main keyword and analyse the top 3 results as a rule of thumb. See how long their articles are and try to match or even double their word count.

However, nowadays, Google prioritises quality over quantity. So if you feel like the article you need to write can be nicely written with just 500 words, then go for it!

A well-written 500 words article will be better rewarded than a 2000 words long article that has a lot of fluff and is not SEO optimised.

Keyword optimised headers

Start by laying down the headers for your content. There should only be one H1 one per article/page. This should contain your primary keyword.

Then add a few H2s and even H3s using related search terms.

Having the headers in place will help you stay on track of what exactly you should include in your content.

Write body content by naturally including your keywords

It is now time to write body content!

When doing that, make sure you include all the keywords you found during your research.

Don’t try and stuff keywords within your content where it does not make sense to have that keyword. Everything should flow naturally.

This is yet another chance for you to sprinkle all those high competition keywords, low competition keywords, and related terms you previously found!

Inbound and Outbound links

As part of making our content relevant and authoritative, we want to build both some internal links and link out to authoritative websites.

For example, suppose you are writing about “web design”.

In that case, you can hyperlink the word “web design” and link to an authoritative piece of content that talks about what web design is.

You can, for example, link out to Wikipedia, or even better, link out to an authoritative website that is in the web development niche.

You can then do the same to link the article you are writing to another related article within your website.

Conclusion

Yay! You made it to the end of this chapter! By now, you should have a good understanding of how to do keyword research the right way.

It is important to update your keywords often- once every three months. Maintaining the presence you already have and growing in new areas are significant aspects of having successful SEO.

As your website grows and gains authority, you can aim to add more highly competitive keywords.

Just make sure you never replace an old article’s existing keywords, as that will cause your website to lose rankings for terms you were already ranking for.

I hope you found value in this chapter, and I will see you in the next one!

Lesson Three

On-Page SEO

We all know that Google is the biggest search engine in the world.

But how do you make sure your website can rank on Google at the top of their search results page (SERP)?

Keeping up with Google’s algorithm is becoming more and more complex, so it is important to stay up-to-date with the latest SEO techniques.

This chapter will explain the exact on-page SEO strategies that helped me improve my own website traffic.

SEO or search engine optimization concept

What is On-page SEO?

On-page SEO involves optimising websites pages or posts for the purpose of traffic and search visibility improvement.

When doing on-page SEO, we take care of things that happen within the website—for example,  headings, title tags, content, and internal links.

Technical SEO vs On-page SEO

On-page SEO is all about optimising the content of your website.

This includes keywords, headlines, image optimisation, and user experience aspects such as navigation and load time.

Technical SEO refers to making sure your site has a clean code, a schema, good speed, and has a great overall structure so that search engines can access it better and rank you higher in their results pages.

These are all techniques implemented on your actual websites instead of off-page SEO, which involves steps taken outside of your website, such as link building. 

Is On-page SEO Essential?

If you wish to get more traffic from search engines, you need to fully understand how to do on-page SEO correctly.

Back a few years ago, you could easily rank by stuffing your content with keywords.

However, things have changed now, and keyword stuffing has stopped working.

Although most people know this, they still don’t understand how to create excellent copy for their site that attracts visitors while not annoying them with useless keywords or irrelevant information.

On-page SEO is essential since Google’s search algorithm is becoming more and more sophisticated.

Today’s problem with on-page SEO is that it can be hard to know what factors are important and which ones don’t matter so much.

This leads people to try too many things at once, hurting the overall user experience of their site, which is bad since Google prioritises user experience.

The Importance of Optimised URLs

URL optimisation is essential to better help Google understand what your content is about. But how do you do it? 

  • Insert your main keyword in your URL. This enables users and search engines to get a better idea of what your content is about. 
  • Put your keyword on the left-hand side of the URL.
  • Keep the URL short as it will facilitate users and search engines in reading it. 
  • Hyphenate the URL to make it more readable. So if you are writing an article about “best walking shoes”, have your URL as www.abc.com/best-walking-shoes. 
  • To prevent lots of duplicate URLs for the same page, consider excluding session IDs from your URLs.

Title tags and Meta Descriptions

Meta tags contain key information for web pages such as page titles, keywords, and descriptions that are used to help search engines understand the type of content on a page.

Title tags show up in search engine results as headlines for your website or blog post, while meta descriptions appear just below the title tag, providing more information on what the web page is about.

Title tags and meta descriptions are both vital to search engines.

A good title tag and meta description will help your website gain more clicks from people searching for content like yours.

Enticing users to click on your result helps improving your website’s CTR (click-through rate), signalling to Google that users enjoy reading your content.

This will, in turn, boost your rankings. 

Optimising your meta tags

Meta tags are crucial, and here is what you should do to optimise them:

  • Have your primary keyword at the beginning of the title.
  • The title should be between 55 or 60 characters. This is so the full title appears in search results. If you have built a WordPress site, you can use a plugin such as RankMath to know when you have exceeded the recommended character length.
  • Don’t have the whole text in upper case, but do capitalise each first character of every word to draw attention. 
  • Ensure every page has a unique title so that you avoid keyword cannibalisation (Competing with yourself over the same keyword).
  • Write great titles that entice users to click. 
  • Place your main keyword in your meta description. 
  • Make sure the meta description is no more than 155 characters.
  • Write a short description of what the article is about. The description should make users want to click on your content. 

Structured data

Structured data is an excellent method to enhance your websites’ SEO by making it easier for Google to read and understand parts of your page.

When creating a product review, structured data is essential since it will help Google understand data such as recipes, reviews, pricing, etc. Structured data is included in a web page’s HTML.

Types of Structured Data

There are many types of structured data, which include:

  • Articles 
  • Courses
  • Movies
  • Books
  • Recipes
  • Star ratings 
  • Local business info
  • Events 
  • Ratings
  • Job postings

Sometimes structured data shows up on Google search results.

This is called “rich snippet”, and it stands out in search results, meaning users will be more likely to click on it. 

Tools to Use to Produce Structured Data 

There are some very powerful keyword research tools out there, but some of them, for example, Ahrefs, can analyse and understand what type of data you need to show up in search results as a rich snippet.

You can create structured data by using Google’s own structured data markup tool. 

Once created, you can add the data to your site. 

You can use crawlers like Screaming Frog to reveal the structured data of your competitor’s site and see everything they are doing.

The Power of Headers 

Headers are essential for SEO because they immediately communicate the most important information about your page/post.

In addition, headers offer a quick glimpse of what the article is all about.

This reduces the amount of scrolling time readers have to spend on your article, which can help with lowering bounce rates and increasing the number of visitors.

Subheaders are also very important because they help with the classification of content.

Place your main keyword in at least one H2 header and one H3 header, then sprinkle long-tail keywords throughout the rest of the headers and subheaders.

Content Is Key

The way you write and what you write about has a significant impact on the way people find your content.

Proper content and copywriting are necessary for an effective SEO campaign.

You should implement some basic techniques to write effective content:

  • Introductions are important. Be concise and highlight both the problem and the solution to entice readers to stay. 
  • Make your content easier to read by having shorter paragraphs and sentences. 
  • Divide sections by implementing subheaders. 
  • Sprinkle the main keyword throughout the content.
  • Write content based on search intent.
  • Write by keeping the reader in mind. 
  • Make content engaging. 

Position of Primary Keyword 

As a rule of thumb, you should place your keyword within the first 100 words of your article. This will enable Google to understand what your main topic is.

However, don’t just try to stuff the keyword if it does not make sense to have it there!

Having the main keyword at the top also helps reduce bounce rate since the user will be able to quickly see that they are on the right page and will be reading what they came for. 

Keyword Density Matters

Keyword density is the percentage of words in a document related to a specific keyword. Optimal keywords density is 0.5% – 2%.

This means there should be at least one occurrence of the target keyword every 200-400 words.

While there’s no official or perfect keyword density when it comes to SEO, you need to make sure your keywords are always placed in a natural manner.

Furthermore, it is always best to analyse the content at the top of the search results for your target keyword and have a keyword density in line with it. 

It is also important that your content includes long-tail keywords, synonyms, and related words that will help Google better understand the context of your content. 

Taking Search Intent Into Account

Google gives priority to content that provides users with a solution to their problem, and that is why your content should always satisfy search intent. 

There are four different types of search intent:

  • Informational: Users are browsing the internet to find specific information. 
  • Navigational: Users are searching for a particular page. 
  • Commercial: Users who are interested in a product are doing some research before buying it. 
  • Transactional: Users who are looking to purchase something at that right moment. 

You can figure out what a keyword’s intent is by analysing page 1 of the search engine.

If a title includes words such as “ways” or “how”, those articles aim at informational search intent. Words like “top” and “best” are used for commercial intent. 

When writing informational content, you should always make sure it is relevant. Write in-depth content and answer common questions a user may have. 

If you are writing content focused on commercial intent, do your research to give users the information they need to buy a specific product. You may include price, reviews, photos, and so on. 

With transactional content, optimise it using structured data so that products will also be displayed in the Google Shopping carousel. 

Taking Search Intent Into Account

Google gives priority to content that provides users with a solution to their problem, and that is why your content should always satisfy search intent. 

There are four different types of search intent:

  • Informational: Users are browsing the internet to find specific information. 
  • Navigational: Users are searching for a particular page. 
  • Commercial: Users who are interested in a product are doing some research before buying it. 
  • Transactional: Users who are looking to purchase something at that right moment. 

You can figure out what a keyword’s intent is by analysing page 1 of the search engine.

If a title includes words such as “ways” or “how”, those articles aim at informational search intent. Words like “top” and “best” are used for commercial intent. 

When writing informational content, you should always make sure it is relevant. Write in-depth content and answer common questions a user may have. 

If you are writing content focused on commercial intent, do your research to give users the information they need to buy a specific product. You may include price, reviews, photos, and so on. 

With transactional content, optimise it using structured data so that products will also be displayed in the Google Shopping carousel. 

Write Readable Text

Having readable text is crucial if you want users to keep on reading your content.

A user who leaves too early will signal Google that your content is not good enough for the reader, and this will subsequently hurt your rankings.

Here are some things you can do to make your text readable:

  • Split your content into chunks that make it easier to read.  
  • Utilise headers and subheaders.
  • Keep paragraphs short. 
  • Include bullet points where needed. 
  • Add videos and images. 

Always keep in mind that most people read content using their mobile phones, so your content should be easy to skim.

Take a look at my guide on How To Write A Killer Blog Post for more guidance.

Internal Linking

When it comes to on-page SEO, internal links are essential as they will assist Google in understanding the relationship between the content on your website.

Internal linking also improves the user experience because they help readers find relevant content to what they are already reading. This, in turn, improves the bounce rate.

If you have some content that is already ranking well, make sure you interlink it with the piece of content you are currently writing. 

Use your primary keyword or key phrase as the anchor text, but do not use that same anchor text too often across many pages.

Google may see this practice as keyword stuffing and penalise you for that. 

Although internal links don’t improve a site’s authority, they help you spread its existing authority throughout all the content. 

Optimising Images

Image optimisation is also essential when it comes to on-page SEO.

First of all, you should name the file in a way that includes your keyword. Also, ensure the file is of optimal size so that your website does not get slowed down by huge images.

A slow website can negatively impact your SEO efforts. 

You can use tools like ImageOptim or WP Smush to easily optimise your images. 

Another important thing is filling in the image alt tags and occasionally insert your keywords. 

Recap: What Techniques Should
You Use for On-page SEO?

This chapter has covered all the basic steps you should take to implement on-page SEO effectively. Let’s quickly look at them again:

  • Have your primary keyword in the URL and ensure the URL is short enough to make it easier to read 
  • Optimise title tags and meta descriptions
  • Include structured data
  • Add optimised headers and subheaders
  • Write engaging content
  • Place your primary keyword within the first 100 words of your content
  • Take keyword density into account
  • Write to solve people’s problems
  • Ensure text is readable
  • Include internal and outbound links 
  • Implement image optimisation

 

Conclusion

It is important to remember that on-page SEO and optimisation are not dead.

They still have a significant role in the success of your website as well as ranking for keywords you want to be associated with online.

It’s never too late to take some time to review what elements of on-page SEO need attention or updating, so make sure all pages are well optimised before they start seeing traffic drops!

Lesson Four

Off-Page SEO & Link Building

Link building is a necessary component of your SEO strategy, but not strategies are created equal. In fact, many of the “tricks” you may have heard about from shady marketers or unscrupulous businesses may actually hurt your website instead of helping it.

If you have optimised your site’s on-page SEO, it is now time to learn how to implement off-page SEO correctly! This chapter will explore some tips for effective link building across multiple platforms, including web 2.0s, forums, social bookmarking, and more! Let’s get started!

Link building

What Is Off-page SEO?

Off-page SEO is the process of taking actions outside of your own website that will affect how high your site ranks.

It is off-page SEO any time you receive a link to your site or content from another source. Google sees each link as a “vote” to your website.

The more “votes” you have, the more Google will view your site as an authority.

Good on-site optimisation and high-quality content are vital. Still, building backlinks is crucial, especially when it comes to ranking highly competitive niches.

Is Off-page SEO Important?

Search engine optimisation is a constantly changing field. Yet, one thing remains constant – the importance of portraying trust, authority, and relevance.

If you want your website to rank well in Google, you need an excellent off-page SEO strategy.

This will help increase your website’s authority and trustworthiness with search engines like Google. 

Although nobody knows how exactly Google’s algorithm works, many experts in the field have stated that off-page SEO accounts for 50% of the ranking factor weight.

Backlinks

Backlinks are the lifeblood of SEO.

They help search engines determine which sites are most relevant for a particular topic and rank those sites accordingly.

The more high quality links you have pointed to your site, the better it will perform in search results (as long as you also do your keyword research right, write good content, do on-page SEO, etc.) That means more traffic and higher conversion!

Links are split into three different types: manual, natural, and self-created links:

  • Manually built links involve contacting someone (a webmaster) who has an authoritative site or blog and ask them to put one of your links on their site.
  • Natural links are created when someone links to your site without you asking. For example, someone who has a sports-related blog sees a great article you have written about rowing machines. They decide to include your link within their content. By doing that, you get to receive a natural link!
  • Self-created links are created to make search engines think that your content is good and worth linking to. These types of backlinks can be done in many ways without spamming, but they’re not allowed by search engine guidelines. They may get you penalized if not done carefully.

 

Whatever type of links you decide to build, there are a few things that you should look to get valuable links:

  • How popular the website linking to your site is
  • How relevant that website is to the article you want to link it
  • The anchor text ratio used 
  • How trustworthy the linking site is 
  • How many websites the linking page is already linking to
  • Domain age and authority

 

Nofollow vs. Dofollow Links

A nofollow link is a hyperlink where the site linking to you has its anchor text replaced with a rel=”nofollow” tag that instructs search engines not to factor it into their ranking metrics.

Nofollow links tend to come from forums, social media sites, and other places where people “post links without editorial control”.

A dofollow link is a hyperlink where the site linking to you DOES affect its ranking. This is common when building backlinks because they pass much more juice to your content than nofollow links.

That said, having too many dofollow links could work against you. Follow these guidelines if you want to safely build links:

  • Have a nofollow/dofollow ratio of about 40% and 60% respectively
  • Have a mix of branded text, naked URL, generic text, exact match text, partial match text, empty text, videos and images with and without alt text, and LSI

Understanding Anchor Text and Ratio

Anchor text is the clickable words or phrases in a hyperlink. When building links, it is crucial to have a healthy anchor text ratio that looks natural and will not get your site penalised:

  • Branded Text – 70%
  • Naked URL – 15%
  • LSI Text – 4%
  • Partial Match Text – 3%
  • Exact Match with Branded – 2%
  • Generic Text – 2%
  • Image or Video with Partial Match Alt Text – 1.5%
  • Empty Text – 1%
  • Image or Video without Alt Text – 1%
  • Exact Match Text – .5%

 

Key Differences

  • Branded Text: A hyperlink in which the website name or business name appears in the anchor text.
  • Naked URL: A hyperlink in which the URL is used as the anchor text.
  • Generic Text: A hyperlink where generic phrases such as “Read This” or “Site” are used in the anchor text.
  • Empty Text: A hyperlink that does not have any anchor text associated with it.
  • Image or Video without Alt Text: These have hyperlinks, but their Alt tags are not filled in. 
  • Image or Video with Alt Text: These have hyperlinks as well as Alt tags containing keywords.
  • Exact Match Text: A hyperlink that contains anchor text that is an exact match to the target keywords.
  • Partial Match Text: A hyperlink with a combination of the target keyword and related text.  
  • Exact Match with Branded Text: A hyperlink including business name and target keywords. 
  • LSI Text: Terms related to your keywords. 

Ways You Can Build Backlinks

There are numerous methods for obtaining backlinks. You should strive to utilise as many of them as possible to get as much diversity as possible.

Some of the sources from which you can obtain backlinks are listed below:

Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is a popular way to build backlinks.

This strategy involves writing articles for other blogs in your niche.

When you submit guest posts, you should ask for an author bio. If the blog accepts your article, be sure to write the post as if you’re talking to your target audience—just like you would if you were posting it on your own site.

The blog will likely ask for the URL of your site or social networks, so make sure they are well optimised.

Press Releases

For small businesses looking for some quick exposure, press releases are probably one of the best options out there.

When done correctly, press releases can help quickly increase brand visibility and online presence, especially when they include a link to your site.

There are plenty of free and low-cost press release distribution sites out there for those who don’t have the budget for private PR firms.

Social Bookmarking Sites

The idea behind this strategy is simple: identify websites that accept user-submitted bookmarks and then submit a link to your site with a short description of why it’s useful.

Infographics

Infographics have been all the rage lately because they provide an easy way for businesses to engaging content that combines images, text, and links.

The idea is that bloggers looking for infographic submissions will share your valuable content with their audience, which could help you acquire some valuable backlinks.

Forums

Forums are another great way to build quality backlinks by demonstrating expertise in your industry.

Wherever you see a forum related to your niche or industry, join the community by adding informative insights of your own.

You can also use private messaging services on forums to connect with other members who might be interested in linking to your site.

Directory Submission

Not as popular as they once were, directory submission is still a great way to build relevant backlinks.

The idea here is that most directories allow for the addition of a short description of your site along with a link back to it.

Blog Commenting

This is another excellent way to build quality backlinks because it takes advantage of other people’s content and expertise.

Simply find blogs related to your niche or industry and leave a thoughtful comment with a link to your site.

If you can, try to relate your comment back to the original post as much as possible.

Web 2.0 Properties

Web 2 0 properties provide another easy way to acquire valuable backlinks with little commitment.

This is a type of link that you can easily build yourself, but you may want to outsource to save you time.

There are a variety of web 2.0s platforms out there. Some popular web 2.0s include WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, Weebly, and Medium.

Conclusion

Link building can be a daunting process, but it is easy to do with the proper knowledge and tools. 

Sure, you can do well with on-page optimisation alone, but it is not enough to rank highly competitive niches unless you have some juice coming to your site. 

If link building sounds too complicated for you, don’t worry! These days is very easy to outsource your link building strategy.

The best part? You’ll save tons of time by outsourcing this task to them! Just make sure they have a good reputation before hiring them.

Lesson Five

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is the process of making sure your website is following best practices for optimising a site’s performance.

It’s not just about “pretty” design; it’s also about how well a site performs in terms of speed and technical requirements.

In this lesson will help you get started with what you need to know as a beginner and provide some valuable resources that will guide you through the technical aspects of Technical SEO.

cropped view of woman touching sticky note with seo lettering near laptop on desk

What is Technical SEO?

Technical SEO can be defined as an umbrella term that covers all aspects of ensuring the technical correctness of a website.

This also includes ensuring there are no conflicts between search engines and other applications, such as Google Analytics or JavaScript-based advertising tags.

Keyword cannibalisation is another aspect of this subject matter.

The benefits of applying good practice in the technical optimisation of a site are to avoid being penalised by search engines and ensure that a site’s pages can be indexed correctly.

Is Technical SEO Difficult to Understand?

There are many resources online that discuss technical SEO in great detail.

Technical SEO is very complicated, especially when it comes to crawling and indexing pages correctly.

Many blog posts aim to provide information about the subject matter.

Still, most of them do require some knowledge of HTML, programming languages such as PHP or other complex coding languages.

Even just understanding how a website works at a basic level is helpful in understanding technical SEO.

Website Crawling

When it comes to crawling, search engines want to provide the best user experience possible when a site contains thousands of pages that could be indexed.

Many webmasters assume that their website is constantly being crawled by search engines when this isn’t always true.

For example, Googlebot crawls at a relatively slow pace – depending on how busy Google is, a site can be crawled once every couple of weeks.

There are several things that search engines have to take into consideration.

As an example, the crawl budget is when all the URLs on a site have been indexed, and Googlebot doesn’t know which pages it has already indexed and crawls them again.

While this does happen, it’s not a common occurrence.

The crawl budget is also taken into consideration when a website has a large number of 404 error pages.

Googlebot crawls the homepage and other URLs on a site several times before identifying which ones are valid and which aren’t.

If your website contains many 404 pages, then crawl speed will decrease, which is not ideal for SEO purposes.

URL sources and redirects

When it comes to the sources and redirects of URLs, Googlebot relies on information in HTML to determine where a page’s content is located.

If real-time site crawling technology detects differences between the source and destination URLs for a link, crawl priority is affected.

For example, if your website uses dynamic parameters for tracking purposes, this can cause search engines problems.

Crawl queue and priority

When Googlebot crawls a site, pages have both crawl queue and priority assigned to them.

A page’s crawl queue determines how many URLs from the same host can be crawled in one go.

The pages on your website which don’t contain any broken links will have a higher crawl priority score than those that do – this means that the search engine will prioritise crawling these pages.

Crawl budget

Google has an algorithm in place to prevent sites “gaming” the system by fooling Google into thinking that a page hasn’t been crawled when it actually has.

If Googlebot detects inconsistencies, such as being redirected from one URL to another within milliseconds, it will not crawl the page again until a certain amount of time has passed.

This prevents the search engine from crawling your website too much and burning out your crawl budget.

Crawler types

There are currently two types of Googlebot crawlers: desktop and mobile.

Not all crawlers follow the same rules when it comes to crawling your website, so you must be aware of which one is in use.

Crawler type can be identified if you see a “spider” or “bot” string in the user-agent string that Google returns in a request header.

Processing systems

Google has developed several tools for crawling and processing content to make its search engine results as relevant as possible.

These systems pay attention to each word on a page and the links pointing to it.

Renderer type

When it comes to rendering a page, there are two types of browsers that need to be taken into consideration: Web crawler and Web browser.

The former is responsible for identifying nodes on a page while the latter displays them.

 

How to Take Control of Crawling

Controlling what gets crawled on your website may be done using several different methods:

Robots.txt

This file specifies whether a search engine crawler can or cannot access your site and the sections within it.

The problem with this method is that you don’t know if Googlebot has actually respected your “page” – many webmasters have reported backup issues caused by not correctly disallowing crawling of their robots.txt files, for example.

Crawl Rate

Another way of controlling Googlebot’s crawling rate is to adjust your site’s settings in Search Console.

Here you can view the number of sessions per day that are being indexed for each property.

Access Restrictions

If you don’t want Googlebot to crawl your website at all, then this can be done by blocking it from accessing any pages using:

robots.txt: User-agent: * Disallow: /

Also, ensure that the robots.txt file is accessible to search engine crawlers and not protected behind authentication or a firewall.

If Googlebot can’t access your robots.txt file, it will return a 404 Not Found status code, and your website will be treated as if it doesn’t exist.

How To View Crawl Activity

The easiest way to see what Googlebot has been up to is by viewing your log files.

This gives you a great insight into the performance of your site’s crawling and indexation.

You can do this using tools like Log File Viewer or through your hosting account, where you will be able to see all incoming requests in chronological order.

A quick search will display the crawl activity from the beginning of the time you ran a report up until now.

Content Indexing

Indexing is the term used to describe the process in which search engine crawlers crawl your website and index the content.

Google processes this information so that it can return relevant results when people perform a search query. 

Robots directives

A page may have up to three directives applied to it at any one time.

Here are some examples of how you can use them:

Disallow: /directory/directory-2/ Disallows crawling of all pages underneath this directory 

Allow: /directory/directory-2/page-1.html Allows this specific page to be crawled but not any others in the directory

Allow: /directory/directory-2/ Allows crawling of all pages within this directory but not its subdirectories

Disallow: /directory/ Disallows crawling of every page underneath this directory regardless if they are disallowed or allowed elsewhere on your site.

Canonicalisation

If you have duplicate pages on your website, then using a canonical tag is the best way to let search engine crawlers know which version should appear in the results.

This can be inserted in the header of a webpage and should reference the original URL:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.example.com/” />

 

Check indexing

You can check if Google has indexed your website by running one of the following search queries:

  • site:example.com (shows all pages that are indexed) site:example.com/page (shows which page is indexed)
  • site:example.com inurl:https (shows if SSL is enabled for your domain)

 

These will also work for other search engines like Bing and Yahoo.

Add internal links

Linking to internal pages is an excellent way to help Googlebot discover the hierarchy of your site.

You can do this by linking from one page to another throughout your posts and comments, at the end of articles and even in footers.

Add schema markup

Schema markup helps search engines to better understand the information on your page and display this in results. For example, you might want to specify that a post contains recipes!

Core Web Vitals

Several signals can be used to measure the quality and relevance of your web pages. The most common ones include:

Page speed

This measures how fast a page loads on average for users across different devices, browsers and geographical regions.

The lower your score, the slower it is likely to be, resulting in a loss of traffic. You can check this on Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

HTTPS

If your site uses an SSL certificate so that data flows between a visitor and the website via secure encrypted HTTPS, Google will display a green padlock icon in search results.

Mobile-friendliness

If your site is commonly accessed from mobile devices, you can also provide a mobile-friendly version of it so that Google knows which version to display in results.

An excellent place to check if your website is mobile-friendly is Google Search Console.

Interstitials

Interstitials are HTML5 advertisements that are displayed before, after or during a webpage’s content.

They can be used to provide site visitors with an offer that is only available on that specific page.

A great example of this would be a popup that appears once someone hovers over particular keywords or keyphrases on your website.

Hreflang 

If you have a version of your website in multiple languages and you want to specify which one Google should use, then implementing hreflang is the best way to go.

This can be inserted either in the head or body element of your webpage.

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://example.com/” hreflang=”en-gb” />

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://example.com/” hreflang=”es-es” />

Website Health

Here are some general tips for improving the overall health of your website:

Broken links

These are dead pages that are no longer available on your website.

If Google crawls these, it will index them in the SERPs, resulting in poor UX for visitors. You can use tools like Ahrefs to find broken links on your site and fix them.

Redirect chains

These are series of redirects that happen between two different pages. You can check if your site is affected by checking the number of hops in a URL with tools like Ahrefs.

Tools for Effective Technical SEO

There are a lot of tools available that allow you to check the metrics listed above. Some of the most common ones include:

Google Search Console

This is a free tool available from Google that allows you to manage everything from the crawl rate, internal linking and URLs to technical issues.

Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test

The Google Mobile-Friendly Test is a free tool that measures how mobile-friendly your site is.

Chrome DevTools

The Chrome Developer Tools allow you to see how a page loads from a visitor’s perspective. You can also debug issues as these are detected as they happen on your website.

Google PageSpeed Insights

This is a free tool from Google that measures the loading time of pages across different browsers and geographical areas, providing suggestions for improvement.

Ahrefs Toolbar

This is a free browser plugin for Google Chrome and Firefox that allows you to see key metrics for your website, such as:

  • On-page SEO report
  • Broken link checker
  • SERP positions

Conclusion

In this chapter, you have learned what Technical SEO is and the importance of using it to improve your website’s performance.

You now know why implementing a technical SEO strategy can be beneficial for any business and how to do so with the help of tools such as Google Search Console, Chrome DevTools and Ahrefs Toolbar.

Technical SEO should always be part of your strategy because site performance plays a crucial role in your ranking success.

Make sure you practice these skills and use them to your advantage when optimising your site. See you in the next chapter!

Lesson Six

Understanding Rank Tracking & Monitoring Results

There are numerous popular rank trackers that have made this possible for anyone with a computer and an Internet connection.

Still, they all do the same thing: they monitor your site’s ranking on Google or other search engines.

This is vital step in SEO, since it allows you to understand how well your website in terms of search engine algorithms.

In this lesson, we’ll look at what rank tracking is and how it may be done efficiently.

Man working with analytics at the office

What Exactly Is Rank Tracking?

Rank tracking is a way of determining how popular a website, blog post, or article is. It is done to check how well your content is performing and whether or not it would be useful to post further content on that topic.

SEO specialists utilise rank tracking to determine whether or not they need to make changes to boost their site’s ranks. Tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, Nightwatch, Ranktracker, and others can also assist you in determining which keywords are bringing traffic to your website, which may encourage you to optimise your content for those terms.

Because tracking is based on current rankings as well as historical data, you’ll be able to monitor your progress and observe how it influences your organic traffic growth.

Why Do I Need Rank Tracking?

For your online business to succeed, you need to optimise your website and ensure that it shows up in search engine results. One of the most basic ways to do so is to use proper keywords.

You can’t just pepper your website text and content with keywords and hope for the best! You need to know that they are effectively increasing organic traffic. To do so, you need to use rank tracking and analyse keyword positions over time.

Some of the most common factors that can influence keyword rankings are:

  • The location and IP address
  • Time
  • Personalized results
  • Devices used by searchers
  • Search settings
  • The synchronizations of Google data centres


Rankings may vary, depending on the SEO tools used. That’s okay, though, as rank tracking isn’t the only priority when using SEO tools.

Two of The Most Effective Ways To Track Keyword Positions

1. Google Search Console

This is a free service available from Google that allows you to monitor your site’s performance on Google search. 

On the console dashboard, you’re going to see a tab marked “Performance”, which provides a report on your website’s ranking. This report will include the site’s average position and CTR, as well as the number of impressions and clicks your website garners from different search queries. 

2. Rank tracking tools

Rank tracking tools also monitor the performance of your site in searches but, depending on the tool, they might offer a few more features. You can find several rank tracking tools online, test a few but make sure they feature the following: 

  • Accurate keyword tracking
  • Historical data reports
  • Aggregated metrics that show how ranking changes influenced organic traffic

Other factors that could come in handy are:

  • Data that is updated daily
  • Reports on search volumes
  • Analysis of potential organic traffic

Best Practices For Rank Tracking

First of all, you need to realise that, a high keyword position isn’t the most important factor to ensuring good SERP. What’s more important is the progress of keyword positions.

Rank tracking focuses on tracking the progress of your keywords’ positions and the impact that this had on your website’s organic traffic. It takes changes in position into account and provides analysis on what you can do to improve SERP performance.

Conclusion

When using rank tracking, remember the following:

  1. Gather current and historical data on keyword performance. If possible, do this daily.
  2. Find and use a tool that can analyze changes in keyword performance. It should have indexes and aggregated metrics that can give you insight into why these changes occurred.

Rank tracking can really change your SEO game. Don’t take it for granted!

Join 100s of small businesses already growing online via my consulting services