With over 90 percent of online experiences beginning with a search engine, online and web-based marketing has become a main sales channel for modern businesses. However, even the best-looking websites aren’t worth much if nobody can find them. This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Google rankings come into the picture.
It seems like every business is eager to claw their way to the top of Google’s result page, but what’s the key to beating out your competition? To find this answer and more, I sat down with Audane Leger, Digital Marketing Specialist at Continuum and resident SEO connoisseur. Keep reading to discover her tips on how to improve your Google ranking and make your way to page one.
Q: What Key Elements Does Google Look at When Determining Page Ranking?
A: There are typically five key elements that can determine a page’s ranking—these include its title, headers, meta description, URL structures, and on-page keywords.
Page Title – This is an HTML element that specifies the title of a certain web page. The page title is what you see displayed on both the search engine results page and on the tab of web browsers.
Headers – Also referred to as H1, headers are based on HTML tags and are included within the content of a web page.
Meta Description – This provides a description of what a page is about, and is also displayed on search engine results pages below the page title. Meta descriptions should be 155 characters or less, unique to every page on your website, and relevant to the content on that page.
URL Structures – The website URL structure is important for ranking on search engines and domain authority, but it’s also important for user experience.
Keywords – Target keywords should be placed on all of the on-page elements listed above. A good place to start when deciding keywords for your web pages: ask yourself, “what would I search for to find the page that I’m working on?”
While all of these elements work together for a strong ranking, I’d argue that having a strong keyword strategy is the driving force behind all of the other elements, and should be made a priority when creating an SEO strategy.
Q: What Are Some Best Practices for Optimizing These SEO Elements You’ve Listed?
A: I would say that first and foremost, your keyword strategy should be solidified. Start by picking 5-10 words or short phrases to target, then look for where you can naturally sprinkle those in throughout your on-page web content.
Next, Google loves fresh content. A great way to get noticed by search engines is to create fresh content—bearing in mind quality over quantity—that includes some of the target keywords you’ve identified.
And finally, make sure that meta descriptions, headers and page titles adhere to the character limits and include keywords where applicable.
Q: What’s the Biggest Mistake People Make When It Comes to SEO? Any Advice on How to Fix It?
A: The biggest mistakes I’ve seen are a) not having a solid keyword strategy, or b) picking words to target that no one is looking for. To avoid this, you should really take your time in doing keyword research and identifying which words or phrases people are actually typing into search engines. Ask around, conduct surveys, use a keyword research tool, etc. It’s very important to gather enough information to support your keyword strategy because keywords are such a major driving force behind your overall ranking.
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