This isn’t surprising. You’re a search engine user. When was the last time you scrolled to the bottom of the first page of results — much less clicked to the second?
Luckily, you’re not completely helpless in the face of the great and unknowable search engine algorithms; there are solutions and best practices when it comes to improving your Google rankings. It’s never been more important to re-evaluate your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) practices to ensure you’re doing everything in your power to get on top — or if you’re already a power performer, to stay there.
Keep reading for our hard-won insights on how to improve your organic search rankings and boost Google traffic to your top content.
Start with keywords.
Keyword research has always been of primary focus when it comes to SEO, and for good reason: this research is the foundation of all effective SEO strategies.
You’ll want to start by considering what your potential customers might be searching for, and compile a list of keywords to meet their needs. Look through your website and write down the keywords you’re already using. Is there a noticeable difference between these two lists? There’s your first simple fix.
Remember to use just one keyword per webpage. Unfortunately, you can’t kill two birds with one stone here. If you want to improve your Google traffic and rankings with multiple keywords, you’re going to have to create multiple webpages.
Also note that keyword placement matters. Your research will be most effective if you can place your keyword in at least the URL and title. Bonus points if you include the word in a heading!
All that said? Keywords aren’t everything. We run into too many content creators who think simply stuffing an article with keywords will help them claw their way up the Google ladder. And that’s not true any more. Because...
Google loves topic clusters, and so should you.
In 2021, we’re focusing less on keywords and more on topics. Why? Search engines like Google are now smart enough to recognize the purpose behind an individual’s search. The latest AI research at Google has started to apply neural nets “to understand subtopics around an interest, which helps deliver a greater diversity of content when a user searches for something broad.”
How do you adjust for this new technology? Great question. Your best bet is to pivot to topic clusters.
If you have a blog and you’re only relying on keywords, it’s every blog post for itself. Your blogs actually end up competing against each other!
Topic cluster format is superior, because it makes your content easier to navigate and link together.
To use this new format, you have to start with a pillar page. This can be a little tricky to create. A pillar page on your website is a hub page that covers a single topic. While you want to give a broad overview of the topic, you can’t skimp on quality. Your pillar page must provide as much value as your subtopic content.
You’ll develop your topic clusters (also called cluster content) around the pillar page. This content can be anything from an article to a video to a white paper — pick what you do best! The real beauty of this format? If any one of these pieces of content get more traffic, the rest are boosted too.
“If you search for “home exercise equipment,” we can now understand relevant subtopics, such as budget equipment, premium picks, or small space ideas, and show a wider range of content for you on the search results page.”
Your job is to figure out what specifically people are trying to learn about the topic featured on your pillar page. Some tools that can help you here include Google Answer Boxes and ExplodingTopics.
Organic search ranking… Can you do anything about it?
Sort of. Organic search ranking is tough to control, as Google’s algorithm changes each week. That being said, using good SEO practices can help improve your organic ranking and edge out the competition. Our top tips?
Create useful content
This one is a no-brainer, and should always be your #1 priority. People come to your site when your content is valuable to them. Period. Also remember that people may bookmark you on Chrome if your information is useful enough to return to — further improving your rankings on Google.
You can’t have a slow page
You just can’t. Google detects the crawling pace of your site, and it will negatively affect your organic rankings.
As a side note: you are reading a blog post right now...clearly something’s working!
Stay on top with thorough competitor research.
Conducting painstaking research on your competitors is worth the headache. You have to know who you’re competing against to beat them!
You’ll need to find your organic competitors for general searches, but don’t stop there! You must also consider your competitors when it comes to more niche searches. Even if a company doesn’t provide the same products as you, they could still be stealing customers from you if there’s any overlap.
Once you know who you’re working against, it’s time to do a thorough page-by-page comparison of their site versus yours. Do they have more backlinks? Better content to go along with their keywords? Thoroughly analyze why they are currently higher or lower in the rankings than you. Then do something about it.
Want to level up on your SEO practices even further?
At Vye, we collaborate with every client to create a solid SEO strategy that achieves results fast. We start with improving your site’s user experience by evaluating analytics and performance. We take care of all the keyword and competitor research, and we identify gaps in your content and suggest next steps. That way, you can focus on what you do best: providing exceptional products and services.