If you’re hoping to achieve business success online, then one of your primary goals needs to be increasing your website’s rankings in the search engines.

The best way to get the most attention (i.e., traffic) online is to rank effectively on the first page for searches related to your business in Google and Bing.

To give yourself the best chance of earning traffic online follow the 5 steps below.

By doing so, your website will have the qualities that search engines value (and reward!) the most.

1. Have a Responsive Website Design

With an ever-increasing number of searches being done on handheld devices, it should come as no surprise that the attention is shifting away from desktop-only websites.

Google will now evaluate the mobile experience of your website over the desktop version. This is referred to by the industry as mobile-first indexing.

What Does This Mean for You?

It means that if your website does not operate well across all types of devices, especially mobile devices, you’re not going to see any substantial amount of traffic from search engines. There is also a high probability that your website will not be shown in the search results.

Before you continue reading the next steps you need to be aware that if your website is not mobile-friendly there is no amount of SEO, keyword research, or content that will help increase your traffic.

Think of it like driving a car with flat tires. It doesn’t matter what you do to the engine or to any of the other vehicle components. If you don’t take care of those flat tires, you aren’t going anywhere fast.

2. Optimize Your Website Loading Speed

Speaking of going places fast, how fast your website loads and responds to visitors is also another important ranking factor.

We aren’t in the days of dial-up speeds anymore. Most people have and expect high-speed data capabilities. If your website is taking longer than 5 seconds to load, your potential visitors are likely not waiting it out.

Just how fast should your website load? The faster, the better. According to SEMRush, a good starting goal for load time would be 2 seconds.

Your website speed is just as important as being mobile-friendly. If your website is too slow, search engines will notice and you won’t be getting a lot of traffic.

3. Locate Keywords You Want To Be Seen For

With mobile-friendliness and website speed taken care of, you are now ready to target keywords.

When we say “keywords”, we are referring to the words and phrases people are searching for in search engines.

Here are some keyword examples that people might search for:

  • Plumber near me
  • catering companies in Austin
  • 2019 best movies
  • Weather in Austin

Basically, anything you can think of that you would use a search engine to find the answer for can be considered a keyword.

Start with Your Basic Keyword Research

Within the world of SEO, keyword research is an incredibly important step. But unless you have an SEO professional do it for you, chances are you’re only going to be able to tackle this step at surface-level.

But that’s okay, surface-level research is better than no research at all.

So, what keywords do you want your website to be listed for when people search?

For some, it may be more obvious than others. A plumber, for example, would probably want to be seen for searches related to the services that they offer (plumber repair, slab leak repair, etc).

Keep in mind that location matters too. Searches for “SEO” and “SEO Austin” will generate completely different results.

Brainstorm keyword ideas with your coworkers, friends, family, even your customers.

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and the keywords you should target will often come naturally.

Take Your Keyword Research a Step Further

If you’ve come up with a list of potential keywords it’s a good idea to qualify them first before committing.

To qualify your keywords simply search them in Google and take note of the following:

  • Do the results match what your website has to offer?
  • Does it make sense for your website to be listed?
  • Are similar businesses such as your competitors listed?

If you can answer “yes” to all three your keyword at surface-level is worth targeting.

4. Target Your Keywords With High-Quality Website Content

The content on your website is one of the most influential ranking factors in SEO and how you will target your keywords.

Google uses the content on your website, along with hundreds of other factors, to determine what keywords you should appear for and where you should rank in the pages of Google.

Believe it or not, search engines are very tuned into how well your website content is received by their users. This is commonly referred to as the User Experience or UX for short.

If your website does not have high-quality, relevant content on it you may not be listed competitively or at all, even if it’s for something that you provide.

For example, let’s say a construction company provides “land clearing services” but does not have a land clearing service page with high-quality content about it on their website.

Even though it’s a service they provide search engines will not list them when people search “land clearing companies” online. This is because their website does have the content that lets users and search engines alike know that they provide this service.

With well-written content, you will be able to target your keywords and put yourself in the best possible position to rank effectively online.

Where to Put Your Website Content

Your Homepage

Your website’s homepage is the perfect place to put content that briefly covers who you are and the types of services and/or products you provide.

Your Service Pages / Product Pages

When you create service or product pages you have the opportunity to naturally target keywords. Typically, each service and/or product you provide should have its own page of content.

Blog Posts (optional)

Blog posts are a great way to target keywords that otherwise don’t fit on a homepage or service page. Avoid creating quick, low-quality blog posts as these will not provide any benefit to you, visitors, or search engines. Instead, focus on creating high-quality content that thoroughly covers your keyword.

A Final Thought on Website Content

If you’re doing the bare minimum, or have poorly written pages, blogs, etc., that’s going to reflect poorly on your business. Potential customers are going to look elsewhere for better options.

And when the search engines realize that your web pages are not meeting the needs of the user, your odds of ranking competitively will quickly become non-existent.

If you want to be seen in search engines, you must take your website content seriously.

5. Optimize Your Website’s Onsite SEO

Your last step in making your website is “top of Google” worthy might be the most intimidating, but at its basic level it’s easier than it sounds.

To optimize your onsite SEO you’ll need to make sure your target keyword for the page or post appears naturally* in the:

  • Title
  • Headers
  • URL
  • Meta title
  • Meta description

*By natural we mean this should only be done where it makes sense to do so. Do not force or “stuff” any keywords into the above-mentioned areas as search engines are well equipped to see these tactics as spam. Spammy tactics can have long term negative effects on your Google rankings.

Check out How To SEO Your WordPress Website for a step by step walkthrough on optimizing the Onsite SEO for WordPress websites.

Avoid These Two Common SEO Mistakes

1. Do Not Use “SEO Hosting”

These “hosting” companies advertise setting up a network of blogs to drive traffic to your website through links.

In theory, the more links you have, the higher your rankings. This is true with real, unpaid-for links that are obtained through professional SEO services, but not with SEO Hosting.

Links from these SEO Hosting blogs (commonly referred to as Private Blog Networks or PBNs) will get you penalized or removed from Google searches completely.

2. Don’t Waste Your Time with “Social Signals”

It’s a common mistake to think that if you have an active social media presence that Google will recognize and reward this. Unfortunately, this is false.

In fact, this was confirmed as false by an ex-Google employee. It’s myth #9 on Search Engine Land’s SEO myths busted by an ex-Googler article.

To Conclude…

While there are many things that you can do to up the ranking of your website, these fundamentals are a necessary foundation for achieving 1st-page rankings. There are many ways to go beyond the steps laid out here.

To get the maximum ranking results for your website consider working with a professional SEO company that can help you with the basics as well as more advanced digital marketing strategies.