What is the sure-fire way to rank better in the search results?

It is not unusual for me to get asked by clients if I can help them improve their ranking in search for a set keyword. Or if I can get them to the first page in the google results. Generally, the answer is more complicated than a simple yes.

So let’s talk about why SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is not straightforward

  1. Most businesses are targeting keywords that have a high rate of competition. Small companies who have just started operating, are not going to be able to compete with the big companies who have been around longer.
  2. SEO is not a one-off instantaneous process. There are several things we can do to get you off to a good start, but you are going to need to be committed to ongoing efforts to really succeed. It is not instant.
  3. Search ranking in part is formed by the authority score your website has gained over time. To form this understanding of your business search engines, monitor several other sites including your own to better understand how good your business is. This includes engagement on social, online reviews and links from other well ranking sites. Again, this relationship and understanding is only formed over time and is not instant.

But it is not all bad news. With a strategic approach and a commitment to keep improving it over time your business can draw in lots of free traffic via the search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Baidu. Here are a few strategies to get you started.

1. Look for long tail keywords that have low competition.

Often referred to as the low hanging fruit in marketing terms, try searching out keywords that are more specific to your product or service and have less competition. These are going to be a much easier to rank for than trying to target the competitive ones.

In order to find less competitive ones, try coming up with some long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are usually 3 words or more, they have lower search volume and high variation. Obviously, you’re going to draw less traffic with a long-tail keyword than you would with a more common one, but the traffic you do draw will be better: more focused, more committed to buying because they are looking for something specific.

For example instead of targeting “hiking backpack” you could instead try targeting “blue hiking backpack with sleeping bag compartment” or instead of “manuka honey” you could try “spray free manuka honey near me”. For a business consultant instead of targeting “business consultant” you could try “how to grow my business” or “how to gain competitive advantage”.

2. Make SEO part of your ongoing marketing strategy

While many people want the quick satisfaction of growing website traffic immediately, those who are willing to put in the work over time are much more likely to be rewarded.

In order to rank well you need to be both relevant and authoritative. Start by creating regular content using the keywords you are targeting – remember to target those long tails mentioned above. This content can be on your own website, on social or on other authoritative websites. It can be written articles, product descriptions, videos, profile, and directory listings.

Put in place a long term strategy to create new content on a regular basis with a focus on the keywords you are targeting. Every link you create adds authority and relevance to your brand over time.

3. Ensure user satisfaction

The search engines are trying to ensure they put forward the right content for what their users are looking for. This is their job, and they aim to do it well. Therefore, the real key to search engine success is understanding how you can help your customers. Long content that will help your customers is much better than short content which offers no solutions to their questions.

If your customers tend to bounce (not stay long on your website) then this can be a sign that you have a problem. There are many factors that cause a high bounce rate including poor content, bad navigation (they can not find what they want), slow loading speed or the website is not what they are looking for. The search engines will use a high bounce rate as an indicator of how well your content fits with the user’s intention.

To solve some of these issues firstly be sure you tell people what your site is about quickly. This removes any confusion. Then make sure they can find their way to useful information on your website. Do not forget to then direct them through your sales funnel to a sale eg. to the shop, to a product or service or to a contact page.

The other thing that will help is getting customer reviews, referrals and social engagement that provide signals to the search engines that users are happy with your product or service.