12 Steps to Rank on Google
You may wonder -- what happens when you hit search in Google? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a technical term which means analytical tools called spiders crawl through data living online and come up with the answer to the phrase or keyword you have entered. It's a highly complex program but is not intuitive; so this is where you as a business owner comes in. For your business to be found online and to rank on Google, your website and content must utilize all the tools available to be found by the spiders.
Here are 12 easy steps to help you optimize your website so you can be top of the list when a prospective customer searches online for your service or product.
STEP 1: CREATE A GMAIL ACCOUNT
Begin your How to Rank on Google journey with a Gmail account. Although you may use an alternative email for business purposes, having a gmail account makes things easier to populate and promote your business online. Simply create an account through google.ca, the top right corner prompts you to create your account.
STEP 2: GOOGLE MY BUSINESS
Let's ensure your website and business can rank in Google searches. Begin with Google My Business, this free tool walks you through the steps to set-up your online presence. With your new gmail account, sign-in to Google My Business (a.k.a. Webmaster Tools) and take the tour, or follow these steps:
- populate all content using keywords
- upload relevant images
- accurately note your business address
- claim your business with the Google map -- you will receive a verification code via Canada Post within 10 business days to verify your business
- search for your industry within the category section
- populate hours of operation, particularly if you have a store front
- write your business introduction using keywords
STEP 3: GOOGLE ANALYTICS
It can be challenging when you are busy running your business to understand if your marketing efforts are actually driving traffic to your website. The best way to determine if what you are doing is working, is to install Google Analytics to your website.
Within the first few weeks or month, you will be able to measure and analyze your website traffic. Great places to start to give you insight into your website are:
- engagement rate -- how long a customer is staying on your pages
- bounce rate -- when a customer arrives on your site but quickly leaves
- custom dashboard -- create a dashboard of what is important for you to view
- event tracking -- if you are running a special campaign, this is the tool for YOU!
- advanced segments -- allows you to delve deeper than the overview
- intelligence events -- alerts you when there are significant spikes or lows
- filters -- blocks out views you may not need or want to see
- visitor flow -- allows you to analyze the path your visitor is taking
- annotations -- make notes as to why there was a spike or low
- in-page analytics -- allows you to view your analytics on your website
*Source: Information sourced from Google Analytics
STEP 4: META TAGE DESCRIPTIONS
SEO spiders are constantly crawling the internet for content to connect Google searchers to relevant search related websites. One of the main searches are Meta Tag Descriptions which appear below the title on a Google page.
Write your website/business description in a fluid sentence using keywords and under 155 characters (including spaces). Willy's meta tag description has a total character count of 153 and is noted below:
Willy's Digging team specializes in tree, root & rock removal; digging holes for pools, preparation for landscaping & general dig-ups in North Vancouver. (Willy's keywords are bolded)
STEP 5: CALL-TO-ACTION
A Call-to-Action (CTA) is what you want your prospective customer to do next. You have spent all this time and energy creating and promoting your website, let's motivate action! Position your CTA button at the top right or centre of your website's homepage; ideally in a bold colour. The button should link to a form where the visitor will supply their name and email address. Keep in mind, people are not as willing to give up their valuable email addresses, so make sure you are offering something of value to encourage action.
Some examples of CTAs that convert are:
- Get a Quote
- FREE xxx!
- Ebook download (packed with valuable information)
- Enter to Win
- Check out Willy's CTA here
STEP 6: H1, H2, H3 (HEADERS & TITLES)
Utilizing H1, H2, and H3 headers and titles throughout your website and blog posts helps Google crawlers find relevant information that your prospective customers are searching for. Google recognizes these headers and titles particularly if they are populated with keywords that reflect the content. Within each webpage or blog post, use only one H1, H2, and H3 header -- don't use two H1 headers within the same document. Keep all headers and titles within the 42-68 character range, including spaces to optimize results.
STEP 7: PAGE CONTENT
Google penalizes website pages and blog posts that are thin on content or offer little substance. Google is searching for websites and blogs that are authoritative and can provide the content searchers are looking for. Imagine if Google consistently sent you to irrelevant websites and pages -- you would be quick to switch search engines. Google is committed to the user experience, if you follow their guidelines you are sure to win! Populate each page and blog post with 500 to 2,500 words that relates to the topic. If necessary, merge webpages into one to meet Google's criteria. Brian Dean of Backlinko wrote a fascinating blog post about Google-Ranking-Factors -- take a look.
STEP 8: KEYWORDS
Keywords are the foundation of your website's success. Take the time to brainstorm a list of words that your prospective customers may type into a Google search. Building a keyword list is invaluable as this is what the spiders are using to find your website. A tool that can help you identify strong keywords is Google ADwords -- it guides you to build a list of keywords.
Keep in mind some of these tips:
- words that describe your industry & business
- how-to advice
- your business & competitors name
- town/city you operate in
STEP 9: IMAGES
Images are powerful and impressive when they are properly optimized. If your images are too big, they will slow down your website's loading time which frustrates visitors and they will leave your site; also Google will penalize you for slow loading sites. Sign-in to Google Page Insights to see if your website is impacted. If it is, follow the instructions and compress your images.
Use Image Alt Tags on all images within your site, blogs, and social media posts. The spiders that crawl the internet cannot see images, but use tags to find content.
- Label images with keywords and save to desktop i.e.) willy-digs.jpg
- Once image is uploaded to your website, populate the ALT text with the exact same name i.e.) willy-digs.jpg
STEP 10: RESPONSIVE DESIGN
There are few things less infuriating than having to "pinch" your phone or tablet to view a website; and Google penalizes websites that are not mobile friendly. Consider building your website with a Responsive Design that will translate across all platforms.
STEP 11: SITEMAP
Sitemaps are what Google uses to find your website. Ensure you submit your sitemap to Google through your Webmasters Tool page.
Willy's sitemap is: willysdigging.com/sitemap.xml
STEP 12: REVIEWS
Since Google's focus is user experience, spiders also rely on authentic customer reviews. Consider asking your customers who LOVE your business to write a review on Google, Yelp, Trip Advisor, HomeStars, or any other relevant review website to help boost your Google page rankings.