You’re sick of it.
You’ve been dealing with SEO for weeks or even months.
Perhaps you’ve tried to find keywords on your own. Optimize meta titles and descriptions. Or improve your PageSpeed score.
But your Google rankings just don’t want to go up.
Or you are a complete beginner and so overwhelmed by the amount of information available that you don’t know where to start.
The good news:
I’ll take you by the hand and show you what’s really important in SEO.
I’ll show you the steps that are essential if you want to improve your Google ranking:
1. Do keyword research
Keyword research is the most important and basic SEO measure you can do for your blog or website because being in number 1 for a search term is of no use to you if nobody is looking for it.
So take the time to find really good keywords. And learn how keyword research works so that you avoid common beginner mistakes such as:
- Optimizing for keywords that are too competitive.
- Not paying attention to the search volume and optimizing for keywords that no pig searches for
- Not checking which keywords your blog articles are already getting visitors and optimizing them accordingly (e.g., with the Google Search Console).
- Not paying attention to the user intention behind a keyword.
- You’re using a bad keyword tool, or worse, no keyword tool at all.
I recommend KWFinder for keyword research.
In contrast to many other tools, this not only shows the exact search volume but also analyzes the competition.
How you can find good keywords and what you have to look out for in keyword research, I explain in detail in my guide Keyword Research: The XXL guide to finding and analyzing keywords (including case studies).
2. Write great content (and help Google understand it)
Content is the be-all and end-all. The foundation for all of your marketing efforts. Be it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google.
To be successful, your content should:
- linguistically and factually correct,
- well structured,
- up-to-date and
- be legible.
But no matter how great your content is – if Google doesn’t understand it, you won’t improve your Google ranking a bit but will end up in the Death Valley of the second page forever.
So you have to tweak it a bit so that Google can classify it as relevant to a particular search query:
- Include the main keyword and relevant secondary keywords (W-questions, synonyms, long-tail keywords) that you found in the keyword research
- Think about what search engine users who enter this keyword on Google really need (a buyer persona can help) and try to make them happy with your blog article
- Create a nice meta description and a meta title that will invite you to click on the search results. Include rich snippet data if necessary, such as Asterisk ratings, recipe data, etc.
- Long articles are often better because more text gives you more opportunities to respond to the diverse intentions of search engine users and to include more keywords.
- Google is a text-based search engine, which means that alt tags and descriptive file names for images are mandatory so that Google can better understand your content.
3. Offer a good user experience
Google’s goal is to fulfill the user intention behind every search as best and as quickly as possible.
This includes not sending search engine users to websites that are unsafe, load slowly, or are not displayed correctly on the device the user is using.
To do this, you should implement the following points:
- Optimize your blog for different devices, resolutions, and browsers (keyword: responsive design!).
- Make sure that your content is legible (font size, line spacing, color choice, clear design, etc.).
- Improve your loading time (preferably under 2 seconds).
- Switch your blog to HTTPS (without mixed content, domain validation is sufficient).
- Avoid annoying or aggressive advertisements (e.g., pop-ups that won’t close or ads that cover the entire screen).
- Protect your WordPress installation from hackers (keep plugins, themes, and WordPress up to date, use secure passwords, etc.).
Google itself provides many tools to test the usability of your websites, such as PageSpeed Insights, the tool for testing optimization for mobile devices, or the new speed test for mobile devices.
4. Get a link
If you want to improve your ranking on Google, backlinks, i.e. links to your website from other websites, are essential. Without backlinks, you will not get to the first page in Google search results, at least not permanently and/or for keywords with stronger competition.
It is not only important that your homepage is linked, but also the blog articles or subpages for which you want to get higher in the ranking.
For example, to get more links, you can:
- Participate in blog parades or organize one yourself
- Write guest posts (and let guest authors write for you)
- Be active in forums
- Comment on other blogs
- Be a speaker at a blogger event
- Write a blog article that people like to link to (helpful advice, controversial or emotional blog article)
- Do link exchange
- Give an interview and, in return, interview someone else on your blog
- Submit yourself in high quality and thematically relevant blog directories
5. Link your blog articles internally
How you link your blog articles internally with one another shows Google what weighting they have. The blog articles that are linked the most get the most link juice (the recommendation or link strength that backlinks give your blog).
By additionally linking with a keyword in the link text (also called anchor text), Google can also better classify your blog articles thematically.
I also like to link my most important blog articles page-wide, e.g. in the footer, in the menu, or in the sidebar. Breadcrumbs or the display of similar posts under each blog article can also help for internal linking.