Let’s face it, you’re not the only one that wants their website at the top of Google search results. Every single one of your competitors would love that top spot on the first page just as much as you do. The thing is, reaching that top spot takes a lot of work and dedication, a lot more than simply having a “good-looking” website. You can have the most attractive, most beautiful website in the world, but if you show up on page 20 or 30 of Google search results, it’s very unlikely your target market will ever even see your website.

I have put together eight tips that will help you climb the rankings of Google and develop your online authority. Now, keep in mind there are tons of books, tutorials, videos and entire companies dedicated to improving online traffic and search engine rankings, so I’m obviously just scratching the surface with these eight tips; however, they are a great starting point and will definitely set you on the right path to getting closer to the top of Google’s search results.

Tip #1
Determine the keywords you want to compete for.

One of the most crucial parts of any marketing campaign or SEO strategy is determining the best keywords to reach your target market. A common mistake some make is focusing on keywords that are too broad, many times destroying your marketing campaign or SEO strategy before it even starts. There are several problems with focusing on keywords that are two broad. First of all, broad keywords can get very expensive, very quick, especially if they are the same keywords targeted by large companies, some of which have marketing budgets in the tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. The more you narrow down your keywords, the better. Include local elements and more specific terms and services in order to focus on your target audience. For example, instead of going after ‘website’, or even ‘graphic design’, I work for ‘web design Barcelona’.

Hint: Before starting a new campaign I usually ask myself three things – who is my target audience, where are they located, and what do I think they be searching for on Google? This helps narrow down my keyword in order to target the audience I am after.

Tip #2
Optimize your website.

After determining which focus keywords you would like to compete for, it is now time to begin implementing these keywords into your website. These optimization elements help Google understand what each page is about. These are the elements you should optimize:

  • Page title – It is highly recommended that you use the primary keyword at least once in the page’s title, and then again in the text, as close as possible to the title.
  • Meta description – According to representatives from Google (and Bing), the meta description does not affect the search engine ranking algorithms, but it does show up in the search results under the title and url of the page, so it is part of what searchers consider when deciding whether or not to click on your website link.
  • H1 & H2 titles – The titles help break up the content and let Google what each section on a page is all about.
  • Image Alt attributes – This helps Google know what your image is about, and also offers an opportunity for your image to show up in image search results.
  • Keyword in content – Using the keyword throughout the content of the page helps Google know what the page is about, in turn increasing your search engine ranking score for the page. If possible, preferably if used in a statement or a phrase, it is also good to highlight the keyword by making bold.

Hint: Implement your focus keywords naturally and make sure to not over load your page. As Google’s algorithms continue to get smarter and smarter, they will eventually notice your attempt to over load a page with focus keywords that are not correlated with what the content is about or what the image is showing (which may cause Google to penalize you by dropping your ranking score).

Tip #3
Focus on quality over quantity.

The quality of your website and its content is very important when trying to climb the ranks of Google. Make sure to write well-written articles that are original, unique and full of useful information, and trust me, Google will reward you for your efforts. Be sure your content includes lots of detail, and be authoritative and professional when you write, but don’t overdo it. Don’t attempt to fill your website with content and keywords simply to increase your ranking score because Google’s algorithms will see this and drop your website to a lower position in search results.

Relevancy is everything with Google. If you can prove to Google that your website is worthy to be on the first page of search results, Google will give you a boost and help you reach that first page, but the only way of doing that is to have a website that is full of good, quality material. Remember, when it comes to determining your position in search results, quality beats quantity.

Hare representing quantity, being beaten by a tortoise representing quality

Tip #4
Implement a blog.

For those of you that blog, you already know how good it is for your business and how much it increases your website’s traffic. For those of you that haven’t started blogging, or have merely thought about it but not considered it to be a priority, you should rethink the power of a blog and the benefits it can have for your website. According to a study by Rick Burnes at HubSpot, companies who blog get 55% more website visitors than businesses without blogs. The same study also shows that companies that blog, on average, have 97% more inbound links and 434% more indexed pages, both of which greatly boost your search engine ranking score and greatly increase your chances of getting found on search engines. Think about it, every new blog post you publish counts as a new indexed page on your website and each one can be promoted and shared on social media to drive additional traffic to your site.

What do I write about? As I mentioned in a previous blog post titled Does My Small Business Really Need A Website?, most people nowadays turn to the Internet to find solutions to their problems. A solution to these problems is a great way to attract potential customers to your website. You can also write about the kinds of things your potential clients may be interested in learning about. The important thing is to not be overly promotional about your own products and services and to focus on the industry in general.

Tip #5
Pay attention to inbound links.

As I mentioned already, relevancy is important for climbing the ranks of Google, and a great way to boost the relevance of your website on search engines is via inbound links. Inbound links, also known as backlinks, are created when other websites link back to your website in order to support content on their website. Obtaining links from other credible and authoritative business sites within your industry can really boost the relevance of your website on search engines.

Hint: Inbound links are another case of quality over quantity. Spend your time getting higher quality links, not simply more links. Target the sites you want to earn links from, contact their webmaster or marketing department with a link to an article which they may find useful and kindly ask them to add a backlink to your website.

Tip #6
Generate traffic to your website via social media.

It is still unclear how much inbound traffic from social networking sites affects your ranking, but still, social media is a great way to promote your site. A great deal of your traffic comes from social networks, so be sure to make your content “social friendly” – add images and give your content engaging titles, with the goal of your followers liking, commenting and sharing your articles to their followers.

Tip #7
Update the website regularly.

Google uses very high-tech programs to scan the Internet for the websites. These programs are referred to as web crawlers and they “index” sites based on a number of algorithmic factors determined by Google.

A site may be indexed based on a combination of incoming links to the site, focus keywords, and many other factors, including how often the site is updated. Every time you update your website, Google takes notice and re-arranges your site’s ranking. By keeping your website updated with new material, new content, new images, Google will reassess your website’s position on its index and reposition your website in search results.

Tip #8
Be patient.

Patience will be a huge part of your online success. Even after you apply all of the tips provided above, the results will take time to show. How much time? Unfortunately, the answer to that question can be rather “unsatisfying” for most since it’s hard to say. Keep in mind there is no magic formula for ranking a website on Google, making it impossible to determine exactly how long it will take your website to get to the first pages. For new websites, organic traffic from Google searches can take three to six months to kick in, while established websites that have been around longer will most likely see faster results, usually in one or two months. Search engines have a lot of data to sift through and it takes time for them to realize that you deserve a spot at the top of their rankings. As the old saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. The important thing is to be patient and to consider SEO as an investment, not a cost, because the results will take time to show.