Many things have changed in SEO since Google first came online in 1998.
The one thing that hasn’t changed is this: Your organic traffic is directly related to your search engine ranking positions.
If you have a prolific number of keywords in the Google index and they appear at or near the top of the search results, boundless traffic will follow.
Conversely, if you have a great website, but no visibility in the SERPs, you are destined to have little if any organic search traffic.
In this post, I’m going to break down the steps needed to boost your Google SERPs. That said, I know you are equally interested in knowing the following.
How Long Does It Take To Improve Google Rankings?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and give you the definitive answer, “It depends.”
While I recognize this is frustrating and seems like a copout, it’s the truth. SEO doesn’t happen in a vacuum and every situation offers a unique set of variables.
Skill, budget, the level of competition, and how your website stacks up can all play a role in how quickly one can move the dial.
So, bearing that in mind, let’s break it down in a more quantifiable sense and review what you can do to make things happen sooner, rather than later.
During an episode of AskGooglebot in June of 2021, John Mueller, a Google search rep, said it can take “several hours to several weeks” for Google to index new or updated content. He also warned that just because a page gets indexed, doesn’t mean that it will rank for anything right away, if ever.
Due to the number of factors in play, rapid changes in SERPs should not be expected.
Mueller has said in the past that even if you make drastic changes to your website’s design and functionality, it could still take a couple of months or even a year to have an impact.
This, however, doesn’t mean that you should just sit and wait after you upgrade your site. He mentioned some specific ideas for speeding up indexing, which included:
- Preventing server overload by making your server and website faster.
- Prominently linking to new pages.
- Avoiding the use of unnecessary URLs, like category page filters.
- Taking advantage of user submission methods like uploading sitemap files, and utilizing the URL inspection tool.
Finally, Mueller reiterated the best way to get ranked is to create high-quality content that searchers will find useful. In his words, make your site “fantastic.”
How To Improve Your Google Rankings
To reach the top 10 SERPs in less than a year takes lots of hard work, skill, and sometimes luck.
And this takes us back to the topic of today’s discussion on how to improve your Google ranking.
So, if you want to boost sales and conversions by taking your website to the first page of Google, here are five steps you should take.
1. Start With A Sound Foundation
Poor website structure and information architecture can doom even the best SEO campaigns.
If your website is difficult for users to navigate and Google to crawl, your rankings are likely to suffer. Pay attention to Core Web Vitals.
Perform A Technical SEO Audit
The Google algorithm incorporates thousands of signals, plus machine learning and AI to determine search rankings.
That said, attending to the basics, even today, will give you an advantage over many competitors. Here are the need-to-know steps for conducting an SEO audit.
2. Deliver A Great Page Experience
Google defines page experience as “a set of signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value, both on mobile and desktop devices. “
Whether it’s a mobile or desktop site, you must continuously monitor the speed and keep improving it. Specifically, Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS).
For file size, use your favorite image editing program.
Lastly, always confirm that the dimensions of the image fit into the reserved image space to retain a clean, structured look of your live webpage.
When a web browser loads a page, it loads a number of resources. Browser caching stores these resource files locally on the users’ computers.
That way, when a user navigates to a new page, those resources need not be loaded again.
For most, the best way to enable caching is by adding code to the web host/server .htaccess file.
For WordPress, there are free plugins available to accomplish this, like WP SuperCache.
Before loading countless JS and CSS files to enhance your site, make sure that you need those extra augmentations as they end up slowing down your website.
You can also minify your files by stripping comments, for instance, to keep things running fast.
And if it’s possible to merge several scripts into a single file, go for it. That way, there will only be one retrieving call to the server to load all the scripts.
Here are some tools that can help you measure and monitor Core Web Vitals.
According to Google “… our crawling, indexing, and ranking systems have typically used the desktop version of a page’s content… Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking…”
To avoid mobile ranking problems, you should double down on search intent and performance.
No Intrusive Interstitials
Intrusive interstitials are page elements that obscure content from the view of users, typically for the purpose of promotion.
3. Optimize Your Pages For Google
It goes without saying that you must write great content that will keep readers engaged so that they can read to the last paragraph.
To quickly win them over your target audience, start with a quick summary intro that tells the readers what they expect to find in that post.
Now, to make your content friendly for Google, some of the best strategies you can implement are:
Tell Google What Your Pages Are About
Do this by adding structured data throughout your site. That way, Google can easily understand what your content is about.
Schema.org is the format preferred by Google. Schema types include recipes, businesses, products, authors, and more.
Keep Your Titles Short
Apart from turning off your readers as it will be impossible for them to get the full info at a glance, extra-long titles will also hurt your keywords’ SEO impact.
To properly fit the SERP length, keep your titles between 135 and 159 characters. SEO plugins can help you identify titles with excessive characters.
Craft Unique Titles & Meta Descriptions
Even though titles and meta descriptions don’t have a direct impact on your website’s ranking, they are quite significant in portraying your content’s value from the SERP.
Thus, if done right, they can boost your click-through rate and subsequently increase your traffic.
So, make sure that you write unique titles with a simple and attractive description that also contains a target keyword.
Additionally, you should also know that if you don’t write your own unique and vivid meta descriptions with target keywords for your pages, Google will auto-generate them.
Obviously, the auto-generated ones won’t be as effective for your site as the ones you have properly crafted. Still, you should also be careful not to stuff your titles and descriptions with keywords.
Be Specific In Your Internal Anchor Text
Get straight to the point if you want your content to rank for a specific keyword.
Many websites out there unknowingly use vague and elusive anchor texts to link to other pages within their site.
This is a huge mistake because it will not be a clear enough anchor to your visitors and even the search engines.
4. Optimize For Search Intent
The end game for Google is to better understand the context of a search to serve up results that match the intent of a given query. In fact, Google’s continued success depends on it.
Four common types of search (a.k.a. user) intent are:
- Navigational – a search for a particular website.
- Informational – a search for knowledge.
- Commercial – a search for data (like reviews) to make an informed purchase decision.
- Transactional – a search to make a purchase (where to buy).
How To Optimize For Search Intent
- Check the SERPs for the keyword phrase that you are interested in ranking for. If the top results don’t align with your page, you aren’t going to rank. In other words, if Google has decided the intent of a search is informational and your page is transactional, that page will not rank well.
- In cases where a page does not match the top results/search intent, you have two choices:
- Edit your page to match the intent.
- Create a new page to match the intent.
5. Optimize Internal Links
The links on your website must be placed strategically, and you must ensure that all the links are working properly as well. Here are a few tricks to polish your link game.
The page depth of your site shouldn’t be more than three clicks; an efficiency hack that sometimes people forget.
A proper internal linking strategy will mean that your best pages appear on the first level.
An effective way of doing this is creating a home page section that links directly to your ‘Best-Selling Products’ or ‘Top Categories’.
Fix Broken Links & Duplicates
Some website owners have a habit of ignoring broken links because they don’t realize the impact of the poor user experience they create.
Reclaim Your Site Mentions
Reclaim the mentions of your site by setting a Google Alert that will help you keep track of your brand mentions across the internet.
And in case any of the mentions come without being linked back to your site, contact the webmaster and request them to link back!
SEO can seem overwhelming. It’s easy to get caught up in the paralysis of analysis and do nothing.
That said, it’s important to remember that even in 2022, simply paying attention to the basics, as outlined above, will position you for online success.
Featured Image: Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock