How To Rank Higher On Google
- 1 How Does Google Rank Pages?
- 2 How Long Does It Take To Rank On Google
- 3 How To Rank Higher On Google: The Basics
- 3.1 Consider Your Site’s Architecture
- 3.2 Start With Technical And On-Page SEO
- 3.3 Improve Your Page Speed
- 3.4 Choose The Right Keywords For Each Page
- 3.5 Ensure You Have Matched Search Intent Well
- 3.6 Write Content Of The Highest Quality
- 3.7 Ensure a Pleasant User Experience
- 3.8 Enhance Your Pages With Visuals
- 3.9 Optimize Your Meta Elements
- 3.10 Create Plenty Of Relevant Internal Links
- 3.11 Don’t Forget About The Schema
- 4 Build And Earn Relevant Backlinks
- 5 5 Bonus Tips For Ranking Higher On Google
- 6 Wrapping Up
Ranking higher on Google is the goal of every website. There are hundreds of articles out there promising shortcuts and fast results, but the truth is, ranking higher on Google is a long game.
Here’s how you can nevertheless do it:
How Does Google Rank Pages?
The short answer: we don’t know. Not exactly. And we will never have a complete picture.
The long answer: Google uses an algorithm to determine where a page should rank. This algorithm considers over 200 known, and an unknown number of unknown factors.
It first analyzes the meaning of a search query. It then tries to match the most relevant page to said query. It takes into account the quality, relevance, and usability of a page to do so.
It will also use interaction data to figure out if a page is the most optimal search result. If lots of users click on a page, spend a couple of seconds on it, and click back (a process known as pogo sticking), that page will slowly drop lower in rankings.
Google relies on advanced machine learning to understand what a page is about. And while there is no way to outwit the machine, by producing quality, relevant and unique content, you can rank higher over time.
How Long Does It Take To Rank On Google
On average, it will take anywhere between two months to a year to rank on Google. However, it can take much longer, but it can sometimes happen in a shorter period of time too.
Don’t expect a page to start ranking anywhere near the first page in the first 12 weeks after publishing it. If it does happen, you can rejoice but don’t bank on it.
If you have ticked all the boxes we are about to list, you should notice your page starting to climb in roughly month three. If it isn’t, you’ll have to check if you’ve selected the right keywords, built enough backlinks, and done everything you possibly could to create the best page possible.
It may also surprise you to learn that over 90% of content does not see any organic traffic from Google, as concluded by an old Ahrefs study. In other words, some pages just don’t rank, period. Truthfully, these pages are usually subpar and don’t provide the most helpful and relevant answers.
Also note that not all of your pages can rank in the top 10, or even in the top 20. SEOs roughly estimate that around 10-20% of your website will show up on page one. As you create new pages, some of your old ones might drop out or might start to climb.
How To Rank Higher On Google: The Basics
Here are 15 basic principles for ranking higher on Google. You should utilize them for every page you create, to help it rank as high as possible.
Consider Your Site’s Architecture
The first point you need to consider is your website’s architecture. You want to make it logical and easy for both search engine crawlers and visitors to travel from page to page, and find what they are looking for.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Put all of your main pages and folders in your main menu. Place slightly less important pages in your footer, where they can still be accessed from every page.
- Create topic clusters that will both give your readers more posts to read and establish you as an authority on the subject in the eyes of search engines.
- Avoid creating content silos that you can’t connect to each other.
- Make sure to add plenty of relevant, contextually relevant internal links. Use Link Whisper to help you both automate the process and find any orphan pages or pages that could use more internal links.
- If you redirect any pages, make sure to use the right type of redirect. Also, make sure to internally link directly to the target page.
- Keep track of your 404 pages, and make sure you only keep the ones you truly need.
Start With Technical And On-Page SEO
On-page and technical SEO form the foundation of high rankings. You can write incredible content, but if your website is hard to crawl and provides a poor user experience, you aren’t likely to get far.
Here’s a basic list of the on-page and technical elements you need to implement:
- Ensure your website is secure by using an SSL
- Make sure your http website is completely and correctly redirected to the https version
- Also, make sure your non-www website version is completely and properly redirected to the www version, or vice versa, depending on which one you want indexed
- Make sure you pass the Core Web Vitals test
- Make sure the website is mobile-friendly and that it loads seamlessly on all devices and in all screen sizes and orientations
- Ensure your pages load as fast as possible
- Ensure there are no crawl errors: check for broken redirects, redirect chains, and redirect loops or broken links
- Use a clean SEO URL structure with minimal words and no numbers
- Ensure your sitemap is in order and properly connected with your Google Search Console
- Make sure there are no errors in your robots.txt file
- Use Schema markup on every page, especially on your product pages
- Make sure to comply with any data privacy regulations in the countries or regions you serve content in
- Optimize all meta elements, including title tags, ALT text, meta descriptions, etc.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a good place to start. These are the tasks you need to complete if you want to rank higher on Google.
Improve Your Page Speed
We’ve already mentioned page speed as an important element of technical SEO. However, since it’s considered one of the most important ranking factors, here’s a list of things you should do to ensure your website is as speedy as possible:
- Choose a reliable hosting provider and make sure the server is as near to the majority of your target audience as possible
- Use a CDN if you are serving a worldwide audience
- Use a caching plugin
- Minimize render-blocking CSS and JS files
- Reduce image sizes, lazy-load all images outside the viewport, and preload all images inside the viewport
- Reduce the number of external scripts
- Limit the number of redirects
- Minify all CSS and JS code whenever possible
- Reduce the number of HTTP requests
- Delete all plugins you aren’t using
Choose The Right Keywords For Each Page
Once you have made sure all the basic on-page and technical elements are in place, your next task is to carefully select keywords for each page.
In short, every page should have a main keyword and numerous secondary ones. They should all be relevant to the page, your audience should actively be looking for them, and you should be able to provide the best possible content for them.
Optimizing a page for the wrong keyword can prevent you from ever showing up when your audience is actively looking for you.
On the other hand, optimizing for the right keyword does not mean you need to stuff your page with the same phrase over and over again. It’s about being helpful, useful, relevant, and concise, more than it is about keyword optimization.
Make sure to read our guide on choosing the right keywords!
Ensure You Have Matched Search Intent Well
There are four types of search intent: informational, navigational, commercial and transactional. In order to rank higher on Google, you will need to make sure that your page is perfectly aligned with the intent behind a query.
For example, if someone is looking to learn more about internal links, you don’t want to try and serve them a page that sells your internal linking plugin. You want your blog posts to show up for queries like “what are internal links” or “why are internal links important”.
On the other hand, when someone is looking for “best internal link plugin”, you want your main landing page to show up. This is how you align your pages with search intent.
We also have a guide on search intent that can help you!
Write Content Of The Highest Quality
Probably the most important box you need to tick in order to rank higher is to write the best content you possibly can. Subpar, low-quality, poor content is highly unlikely to rank, or to keep ranking in the top for a long time.
What does high quality mean though?
The shortest answer: content that is written in clear language and that provides a direct answer to the search query. Your page should be the only source of information a visitor needs to find everything they want.
Quality content adds value, is relevant, written from a place of authority and matches the knowledge level of the reader.
It also gets to the point early on. Don’t bury the lede: give your readers the answer they are looking for as soon as possible, and provide any additional information further down the page.
Quality also happens to be somewhat subjective, so your best bet is to check out what Google already considers quality content. Read the top-ranking pages, and make your own conclusions:
- Is the language formal or informal?
- Does it use jargon or plain, everyday terms?
- Does it use the first or the third person?
- What information does it explain well?
- What information is missing?
- What can you add to the topic that has not yet been mentioned?
Note that sometimes all you will be able to do is give a topic your own twist or take, as there won’t always be new information you can add.
Your goal is to write the best piece you can, that adds the most value, and that aligns with your brand’s tone of voice and the interests and needs of your audience.
Ensure a Pleasant User Experience
Another important element of quality content is user experience. If a page is written very well, but is very hard to read, it won’t rank well.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Choose an easy-to-read font style, size and weight
- Ensure there is plenty of space between lines and paragraphs
- Break up your page with headers
- Use lists, bullet points and other formatting tricks to make the page easier to read
- Use plenty of negative space to draw attention to the important elements of a page
- Make sure the page loads fast and that no element is stalled
- Don’t autoplay any videos or music
- Don’t use popups or consent forms that take up the entire page
- Make sure the page is equally readable on all screen sizes and orientations
- Ensure the page is easily accessible to the visually impaired
Enhance Your Pages With Visuals
In order to boost your user experience even further, your pages need to have useful and relevant visual elements. They will help break the content up and make it easier to read. Walls of text usually send visitors running, while a page that has a seamless flow will keep them engaged.
When adding any visual element, make sure it adds value. Don’t randomly select images just to have them. Try to use them as a way of eliciting an emotional response from your readers, or helping them understand your words better.
Always add charts, tables and graphs where it makes sense, especially if you are discussing complex numerical data.
Try to use your own custom-made images whenever you can. Stock photos can be used by anyone, and they won’t make you stand out or become more memorable.
Always optimize your images:
- Ensure they are served in a next-gen format
- Minimize the file size as much as possible without compromising on quality
- Give the file a relevant name
- Write an appropriate alt text
Optimize Your Meta Elements
Meta elements tell search engines and visitors more about your page. While they don’t play a huge factor in rankings, they are a great way to score an additional point, and can often help you improve your click-through rates too.
The meta elements you need to optimize include:
- Title tag
- Heading tags
- Meta description
- Alt text
- Canonical tags
You will need to feature your main keyword in the title, heading and meta description.
The meta description should be written for humans, and tell them what the page is about.
The alt text is there to tell screen readers what the image is, and will show up if the image does not load.
Canonical tags tell search engines which page is the main one, in case you have several similar ones. For example, if you have several sizes of a product, all of these size-specific page versions need to have one canonical page.
Create Plenty Of Relevant Internal Links
Internal links are a great way to signal to search engines what a page is about. By using relevant anchor text, you can literally tell crawlers what you think that page should rank for.
Internal links also help you visitors stay engaged with your website. The more valuable and interesting content you serve them, the better.
Use Link Whisper to stay on top of your internal links. It can automate a lot of the process for you. All you need to do is choose the anchor text you want used for certain pages, and it will add the internal links.
It will also provide an insightful report about the pages that have the most (and least internal links), and notify you if a link is broken.
Don’t Forget About The Schema
Schema markup is a code that tells search engines what information can be found on a page. It is literally like spelling it out to Google and telling it what kind of page it is (product page or blog post, for example). Google uses it to show rich snippets, which can get you more clicks too.
Make sure to add Schema to all of your pages (not just your homepage or product pages). There are dozens of relevant pieces of data you can include, from author to rating to pricing and everything else that’s relevant to the content of the page.
Also make sure to periodically do a Schema audit, just to make sure no code is broken and that all the information is still relevant and up-to-date.
Backlinks used to be considered the most important ranking factor. And while that is no longer the case, they are still incredibly important for boosting your rankings.
Think of them as recommendations from other websites. The more you have, the better your content is, and the likelier you have earned the right to rank high.
When building backlinks, make sure to choose relevant websites that don’t link out to anyone and everyone. Carefully consider the page you want to link to and the anchor text you want used. Remember, the anchor tells search engines what the destination page is about, so choose wisely.
Diversify your link portfolio and build all kinds of relevant backlinks, from guest post to directory listings.
Don’t forget that creating quality content is the best way to make building backlinks easier. Plus, it increases the chance you will earn plenty of quality backlinks too.
Build Up Your E-E-A-T
Google uses E-E-A-T to determine the value of a page. It stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.
In order to rank high in Google, you need to:
- Demonstrate you have personal experience with the topic you are writing about
- Prove that you are an expert on the topic, for example by writing several articles around the same topic cluster
- Prove that you have the authority to speak about the subject, for example, you have a certain university degree or years of experience in an industry
- Prove that you are trustworthy
You can boost your E-E-A-T by including author bios for every blog post you publish. Also create an authors page, where you will list the biographies of each writer. Work with writers who have first-hand knowledge of a topic which they can easily prove with their LinkedIn bios or personal blogs.
If you don’t have expert writers on staff, you can hire expert reviewers who will read and fact-check articles, making sure the information is correct and presented in a logical way.
Getting featured by major publications in your niche is also a great way to increase your E-E-A-T, as is linking out to relevant, trustworthy sources and backing up your claims whenever possible.
Don’t Forget About Mobile First
While you already know that being mobile responsive is an important aspect of technical SEO, don’t forget that Google uses its mobile index to rank websites.
In other words, if you don’t perform well in mobile search, you won’t perform well at all.
Here’s what you can do to ensure your website ranks well for mobile search results:
- Use a mobile-friendly design and layout
- Remove any elements that don’t work on mobile screens or take up too much space
- Don’t use popups on mobile
- Make clickable elements easy to reach by thumb
- Ensure your website loads fast
- Optimize for voice and local search
- Place all key information above the first scroll
Monitor and Tweak As Needed
One final piece of advice: the work does not stop when you do rank top in Google search results. You need to constantly keep monitoring your rankings and tweaking pages as necessary.
Remember that there are dozens, if not hundreds of websites vying for the same keywords you are. When you climb to the top, they will analyze your page to see how they can outdo you.
Update your content regularly, do regular audits and ensure your website is error-free. Keep an eye on the latest Google algorithm updates to make sure you are still compliant. If you are not doing anything to cheat it and are producing quality content, you’ll have nothing to worry about.
5 Bonus Tips For Ranking Higher On Google
Now that you are aware of the basic optimization tactics you should be using, here are 5 additional tips that can help you rank higher on Google:
Try Ranking For The Featured Snippet
The featured snippet is the first result you see in search: the one that provides the best answer for the query you have typed in.
This position is called the zero position, and different rules apply to ranking for it than they do for the rest of the search results page.
The key is to provide the best possible answer. If you do, you can rank at the very top without having the fastest website or the most relevant backlinks.
When creating content, think of the questions that are likely to put up around it. Answer them as clearly and concisely as possible. Take a look at the current featured snippet, and try to outdo it.
Note that not all queries will be eligible for a featured snippet, so make sure yours is before you start optimizing for it.
Update Your Content Regularly
Content will naturally start to go a bit stale, so to speak, as time goes by. New research will be published, new discoveries will be made, and there will come a time when something that was written 2 years ago is no longer the best and most valuable piece of content.
If you regularly update, revise and improve your pages, you will increase their chances of ranking higher (and staying at the top).
Take a look at your pages that are ranking either at the top, or on the cusp of the first page. Can you do something to improve them? What are the competing pages doing better?
When updating pages, think not just about the text and information itself, but about the links and images as well. Can you make them more relevant?
If you have published any seasonal pieces, for example, a guide on the best SEO practices for 2023, make sure to regularly update them. They will otherwise stop ranking well at some point.
When updating content, republish it with today’s date. You can also add an “originally published on” and “updated on” date, to tell both search engines and readers that you have worked hard to make the page better.
Reduce Bounce Rate
While bounce rate is not considered a direct ranking factor, reducing it can still impact your rankings. Remember when we talked about pogo sticking? If visitors keep bouncing off your pages, they aren’t likely to rank very high.
Look at your Analytics to find pages that have high bounce rates. Analyze them with everything we’ve just talked about in mind. Are you matching search intent? Is your page targeting the right keywords? Is your information still relevant? Does the page load fast enough?
Note that if visitors spend several minutes on your page and then bounce off, they have probably found what they were looking for. Try to get them to engage with your other pages by adding relevant internal links where they can see them.
Add Video To Your Content
Video is often hailed as the most popular content format on the internet. It can help you boost engagement rates and interactivity, and is great for helping you rank higher too.
Ideally, the videos you include on your pages will be your own. Using someone else’s content will only give them more exposure, and can channel visitors away from your website.
You don’t have to film elaborate videos to capitalize on this tactic. The video needs to be of the highest quality possible, but you can do that with a good phone. Most importantly, it needs to provide value.
For example, if you are writing a post about adding internal links to WordPress, a simple 30-second tutorial can add immense value to the page, and help it rank higher.
Video content will also help you rank for video-specific search. If you also publish it on YouTube, Google’s own platform, you are further increasing your chances of being seen.
Another great way to rank higher in Google is to provide information no one else has. Think research, statistics, use cases and case studies. If you can write about something that can’t be found anywhere else, you will show up for all relevant queries.
What can you write about that no one else can? What insight can you share with your audience or your peers that they would be interested in? Write down any ideas about personal experiences or expertise, and find the keywords they will be most relevant for.
This tactic will also boost your authority and credibility, and can also earn you plenty of relevant backlinks as well.
There you have it: now you know how you can rank higher on Google. Sounds tough, doesn’t it? While there certainly are numerous moving parts to consider, don’t forget that it all essentially boils down to creating the best possible content and page experience you can. Everything else is just details.