Don’t have the budget to hire a Search Engine Optimisation agency? Or, maybe you are just interested in how search engine optimisation works. Here are 10 ways you can rank your own website. These are the same methods we use to rank our clients’ sites.
1. Market Research
The first step in any successful SEO campaign is conducting thorough market research. All SEO professionals will do this. A very basic method of doing this by using the Google Keyword Planner Tool available in Google Adwords. You’ll need to create an Adwords account (or login) first, then follow the steps below:
1. Log into Adwords
2. Click on the ‘Tools’ tab, then choose Keyword Planner
3. Select the ‘Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category’ tab and enter in the main search terms that you think people will be using to find the products and services that your business provides. Make sure you set you targeting information. We may do another post on this in the future, but for now just see if you can nut it out on your own. Click ‘Get ideas’.
4. The Keyword Planner will show ‘Ad group ideas’ by default, so you will need to click on the ‘Keyword ideas’ tab. There you will see the search terms you entered earlier along with the number of searches each keyword gets per month. Then when you scroll down you will see the whole list of related keywords and their search volume.
5. You can organize the keywords by search volume just by clicking on the ‘Avg. monthly searches’ column.
Now you will be able to see which keywords have the best search volume. You will be interested to see that by just changing the order of a search term there can be a significant difference in search volume. For example, ‘Window cleaning Brisbane’ will have many more searches than ‘Brisbane window cleaning’.
6. Download your keywords and save the file as an Excel spreadsheet. You can refer back to these keywords later when you are planning your on-page optimisation strategy.
2. Create your Title tags for your main pages
This is a key area which many businesses just don’t get. Having your main keyword in your title tag is one of the biggest influencing factors in ranking for that keyword. This means you would create a title tag based on the keyword(s) you are targeting. Let’s look at a case-study using the example of ‘Window Cleaners Brisbane’ above.
The keyword ‘Window Cleaning Brisbane’ is the best keyword to go after because it has an average of 320 searches each month. So if your company name was ‘AAA Window Cleaning’ you would make your homepage title tag something like this:
AAA Window Cleaning Brisbane | Professional Window Cleaners
Notice that this title tag has the company name, the city, and another top keyword ‘ window cleaners’. With this title tag it would be possible to rank for more than one of the keywords in the keyword list.
Now that you understand this, you’re no doubt wondering how you can set the title tag. If you are using WordPress, you can use an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO or something similar. If your site isn’t on WordPress you will have to find another way. You will need to insert the title tag into the header of your homepage.
The title tag in this case would look like this:
<title> AAA Window Cleaning Brisbane | Professional Window Cleaners</title>
If you’re no good at code, just go to Fiverr.com or Upwork.com and find someone who can do this for you. It doesn’t have to be stressful. We aren’t going to recommend anyone in particular because there is a certain level of risk with this, but if you choose a seller who has good reviews and a proven work history you should be okay. When we are doing the title tag changes we just do it ourselves. If you do decide to use a contractor for this, make sure you change your passwords after they complete the task.
3. Optimise Your Homepage
Another important ranking factor is having your heading tags configured properly. There are three heading tags that need to be set up on your homepage. H1, H2, and H3.
Your H1 tag is the most important of the three. Your H1 tag should contain your main keyword or another important keyword, just like your title tag does. Using the example above, you would make the H1 tag something like ‘AAA Window Cleaning Brisbane’.
Your H2 tags will be your next main keyword, or if there are a few services you provide, your main services keywords. For this case study we only need one H2 tag because this business only has one main service. The H2 tag could be something like ‘Window Cleaners Brisbane’ or just ‘Window Cleaners’.
The H3 tags are other related keywords. To accommodate this we could have an article on the homepage which uses H3 tags for the subheadings. Some examples of relevant H3 tags could be ‘window cleaning services’, ‘professional window cleaners’, ‘best window cleaning’, ‘How to clean windows’, ‘why choose our window cleaning services’ etc. The important thing is that the H3 tags contain terms relevant to the services you are offering.
To configure the heading tags on your site, you will need to edit the HTML. The size of the text should be commensurate with the importance of the tag you are using. The H1 tag should be the biggest.
Let’s go back to our window cleaning example. The HTML heading tags could be configured something like this on the homepage:
<h1>AAA Window Cleaning Brisbane</h1>
<h3>Window Cleaning Services</h3>
<h3>How We Clean Windows</h3>
<h3>Why Choose Our Window Cleaning Company</h3>
If you don’t know how to do this yourself, you will need to get help. Once again, you could just pay a contractor to do this for you as suggested before.
When your heading tags are configured properly search engines will clearly understand what your site is about and what terms are important to your business. If you have no H1 tag and messed up H2 and H3 tags with useless terms (we see this A LOT) there is a good change search engines won’t know what your site is about or what’s important to your business.
4. Optimise your Website’s Performance
This is a topic that most web designers miss. We have tested many websites with various tools and found them to perform poorly. Believe it or not, the more attractive a website is the worse the performance in many cases. We wrote an entire article on how to optimize your website so we aren’t going to repeat that information here.
5. Increase Domain Authority (DA)
Domain Authority (referred to as DA, not to be confused with Domain Age), is a metric created by Moz. Websites like Facebook and Twitter have a DA of 100 which is the highest DA attainable. You can raise the DA of your website by creating backlinks to your website from trusted web properties.
Some of these properties will not pass DA onto your site even though they have a high DA. But it is a great sign of trust to have backlinks from high DA sites like social media platforms. Do a search on Google for top Web 2.0 lists and create an account with each of them remembering to put a link to your website.
This is also a great way to establish your brand across authoritative web properties. Web 2.0 links should be among the first links that go to your site because they help establish trust.
6. Create Directory Listings
Directory listings are a great source of backlinks for local businesses. These listings are also called ‘citations’. To find directories to list your business in you can just do a search in Google for ‘business directory’ or something similar. Some are paid, some are free. Not all paid directories are worth it though. They try to justify the cost by telling you how much traffic their website gets. But in all honesty, in all our experience very little business comes from business directories.
However, there is value in having the citation listed with them as the backlink to your website will help you. Just remember that when you are making the directory listings you are consistent with the format of business name, address and phone number. If you vary the information from directory to directory, this could cause some issues.
Apart from helping your website gain authority and trust, directory listings also play a key part in getting your business ranked in the local search results in Google. The more directories you’re listed in, the better your local rankings. In fact, we have ranked websites locally and in organic search just by using directory listings and Web 2.0 links only!
A very effective, yet time-consuming method of getting more links to your site is by contributing to the websites of others. Many sites have blogs these days and most blog articles will allow you to leave comments. There is a lot of SPAM that gets submitted on blogs and website owners are quite adept at detecting and deleting any comments which look like SPAM. So when looking for sites to leave comments on, make sure your comment is related specifically to the article and is positive. The comment form will have fields for your name, email, and website URL.
When your comment is approved, the text you put for your name will link to the website URL you entered in the URL field.
With outreach you can also offer to do a guest post with a small attribution link to your website in the article or at the bottom. There are many article directories out there that let you do this. But make sure you only leave comments in blogs that are high-quality and related to your market somehow.
8. Social Signals
Having social interaction on your website is very powerful. Search engines favour sites that provide value to others. When you get ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ on your website, it shows that people enjoyed the experience. Make sure you have social sharing buttons installed on your site. If your site is on WordPress, you could get a plugin like ‘Add to Any’, which automatically adds social share and follow buttons to your website.
If you aren’t using WordPress, get a contractor to install the buttons for you.
After the buttons are installed, reach out to friends, family, staff, and customers to get them to like or share your site. Some businesses get creative and put an interesting image on their site which people like to share.
Social signals are great and will really help support your rankings.
9. Avoid common pitfalls
One of the most effective ways to get good rankings which are sustainable and long-term, is by avoiding common pitfalls. Never just buy backlinks. Doing so is not only against Google’s policy, but it is also extremely dangerous. There are many SEO service providers who sell links and services which will get you penalised. It’s just not worth it. Disregard anything claim they make, such as ‘Penguin/Panda Safe’ etc.
SEO is a very delicate process now, and no two websites are the same. You can get penalized based on the anchor text you use, the frequency links are built, the quality of the sites linking to you, the topic of the sites linking to you, and a host of other factors. You may see a competitor get away with something, but you could get penalised for doing the same thing.
The recommendations given in this article are safe and promoted by search engines like Google. But once you start mixing in shady SEO and paid backlinks you are going to get into trouble. Removing a penalty is extremely costly in both loss of rankings and service fees to fix. And it can take a few months to get it removed. Just don’t do it.
10. Content Strategy
If your website is thin on content, there is a good chance it just won’t rank. Try to get at least 500 words on each page, especially your homepage. The more content the better, as long as it’s relevant. Use pictures and video as well if you can get some taken.
Write informative articles for you website – articles which provide real value and people actually want to read.
Aim to become an authority in your market. You don’t have to know everything, but if you are consistent and thorough in the content you provide, you will foster and cultivate trust with your market.
Well, there you have it – 10 Ways to Rank Your Own Website! We use these exact some methods to rank our clients’ sites. This list isn’t exhaustive by any means, but using these methods are extremely effective in getting your site ranked.
We hope you enjoyed it. Please feel free to leave your non-spammy and positive comments below!
Want to hear more about these 10 steps? Listing to our Podcast on this very topic!
And in our endeavor to over-deliver, we have created an info graph of this article so it’s easy to share with others.
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