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7 key lessons about getting your website on top of Google Search faster and more consistently

by Rockey Simmons

Young adult businessman working with laptop at the office

How can something change, yet stay the same?

For example, your relationship with search engines has changed—even if you don’t know it yet. However, the methods for getting your website on top of Google Search haven’t. They’ve always included online reputation. (Ahem, backlinks anyone?)

We’ve spent over 15 years connecting the dots on how your online reputation and search rankings affect each other, and you’re about to get a crash course on how it all works.

But here’s a spoiler: Ranking has more to do with reputation than you think because it’s not called the world wide web for nothing. In this post, you’ll discover 7 key lessons about improving the search engine optimization (SEO) of your site and the internet’s perception of your business or personal brand.

When you’re finished, you’ll have the tools you need to improve your website rankings faster and more consistently.

Let’s go.

1. Why you should care about the first page of Google

The harsh reality is that not all web pages will make it to the first page of Google.

That’s ok. But you want to make sure you are improving your chances of ranking more pages and posts as you grow your business.

Why should you care?

For starters, appearing on page one of Google’s search results provides you with more than just bragging rights. Let’s look at the top 3 benefits.

Increased traffic exposure

Increased traffic exposure is the end game for any website that wants to rank high on Google.

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Expanding your site visibility will help you reach your target audience and potential customers. And the more eyes you get on your content, the better your chances are of garnering more inbound link opportunities.

Increased organic traffic is a significant indicator of your site’s success and can be achieved through various SEO techniques that can greatly improve the odds of getting your website at the top of Google.

To increase your traffic, you need to develop a comprehensive SEO strategy that targets your audience’s search queries.

We talk more about this content strategy later.

Trust and credibility

Building trust with Google and potential customers equals a bigger bottom line.

One way to establish trust with both is by obtaining an SSL certificate, which signals to users that your site is secure and safe to use.

Positive reviews are another influential trust-builder. With the right software or plugins, you can display your positive review star rating for your product or service on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

There are tons of trust and credibility techniques. But we’ll save those for another article.

Higher click-through rate (CTR)

In the world of search engine optimization, a higher click-through rate (CTR) can lead to higher conversions.

The CTR is the percentage of users who click on your website’s link after performing a search. Its importance in Google’s algorithm cannot be overstated as it is directly linked to the relevancy and engagement of your website’s content.

Google says “A high CTR is a good indication that users find your ads and listings helpful and relevant.”

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To increase your website’s CTR, start by using emotional title tags that capture the user’s attention. Short and descriptive URLs also help users quickly understand what your page is about and can entice them to click.

Rich snippets are another great tool to improve your CTR, as they allow you to showcase additional information about your website directly in the search results.

Finally, website speed is an important factor in CTR. Users prefer websites that load quickly, which is why Google ranks fast-loading sites higher (more on this later)—and the higher you rank, the higher your CTR will be.

2. High-ranking websites start here

With over 15 years’ of experience helping people and companies fix their search results, we’re here to guide you through the necessary steps to achieve a high-ranking website.

The process of search engine optimization (SEO) involves several factors, from crafting high-quality content to optimizing the technical aspects of your website.

It also includes managing online reviews, personal branding, and more. Now, let’s talk about the most important part of SEO—your audience.

Know what your audience really wants

Knowing your target audience is step #1 in creating an effective SEO strategy.

This will be the strongest way you can drive traffic and conversions. You must understand what your potential customers want to find when they search for a business like yours. This requires a data-driven approach that considers their search query and search intent.

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One way to achieve this is through keyword research using tools such as Google Keyword Planner.

Using tools like this will help you identify relevant keyword phrases that have high search volume and low competition.

The best way, however, is to just ask people. By conducting surveys, collecting feedback, and monitoring social media conversations, you can begin to formulate valuable content that solves people’s problems and answers their questions.

Determine which keywords explain your audience’s needs best

To get your website to the top of Google, you must use the right keywords. That’s the fastest way to explain it.

But how do you determine which keywords explain your content best?

Here’s a quick guide:

  • First, think about how your target audience might search for that specific page with relevant search terms. This is where your keyword research comes into play.
  • To optimize your website, you should center each authoritative page around a specific keyword phrase.
  • Pay attention to the ranking keywords of your competitors for inspiration (just remember to stick to the search intent and your research). Use SEO tools to find out which keywords are ranking well for them.

This will give you a better idea of what’s already out there and what you can do differently. Ultimately, your target audience should always be at the forefront of your mind.

3. Specify the keywords you want to use on Google

There is a right way and a wrong way to do this.

It’s not complicated; it’s all about practice. But the application of telling Google which words to pay attention to is easy.

Search-intent-focused meta title

One of the most overlooked aspects of search engine optimization is crafting a search-intent-focused meta title.

What’s that you ask? It’s learning how to craft a meta title (in 60 characters or less) that hits your ideal customers right between the eyes. It’s about speaking their language.

Remember, the goal of your meta title is to convince people to click through to your website to learn more.

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To create a search-intent-focused meta title, start by researching the top keywords and phrases that potential customers use to search for businesses like yours.

Once you have compiled a list of these keywords, you can use them to craft an attention-grabbing meta title that accurately describes what your page offers in relation to those keywords.

Matching meta description

Now, you need to create a matching description. While the meta title is enough for some people, others will want to read the description.

There’s only one thing you must remember when writing a meta description: What’s in it for the reader if they click on your page or post? You have 160 characters to explain this and provide a clear and concise description of the content users can expect to find on the page.

Your meta description should also include a call-to-action that can encourage users to engage with your content.

This could be anything from “Learn more” to “Sign up now,” depending on your page’s purpose.

Remember, people always want to know what’s in it for me (WIIFM).

Keyword in the URL

This is simple and fast.

Including target keywords in your page or post URL can make your content more valuable to users by telling them what your page or site is about. This makes it more valuable to Google, which can result in a higher search engine ranking.

To optimize your website for search engines, use part or all of the target keyword phrase in the URL.

Don’t forget the Alt tags

These tags serve as alternative text descriptions that provide search engines with important information about your image and video media.

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This step is particularly important for those using text-only browsers or screen readers. This is what really makes alt tags so important and special.

They make the online experience more enjoyable for users with visual impairments.

To optimize your use of Alt tags, it is important to accurately describe the content of your media while incorporating strategic keywords to enhance your relevance to search engines.

For example, instead of just writing “image_1234,” you should describe the content of the image, such as “happy family playing at the beach.”

Keep in mind that Alt tags should be used to provide useful information about your media to search engines and users. As such, you should avoid using them as a means of keyword stuffing, which can negatively impact your search engine ranking.

4. Create a topical authority content strategy

When it comes to ranking your website at the top of Google, it’s crucial to have a solid content strategy that prioritizes high-quality content that your audience finds useful. Doing so can help establish your website’s credibility with Google as a topical authority.

Let’s dive into how to create a topical authority content strategy that can help you get ahead in the highly competitive world of SEO.

Write content to help people, not just to rank

When it comes to creating content for your website, it’s important to remember that ranking high on search engine results is only part of the equation.

To truly make an impact, your content needs to be helpful, informative, and valuable to your target audience.

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Achieving this is simple. Remember, it’s important to conduct thorough research and analysis of your audience’s needs and interests. This will enable you to create content that addresses their pain points, answers their questions, and helps them solve problems.

Next, develop a content creation strategy that considers the type of content that resonates with your audience. This may include blog posts, infographics, videos, or other types of content that provide genuine value and are helpful to your readers.

If you don’t know, ask. If you can’t ask because you’re just starting out and have few customers, then you can look for engaging content within your industry and see if it feels right for you to create similar content. Then, once you’ve built an audience, you can ask them what they like.

By focusing on creating content that helps people (rather than just trying to rank high on search engines), you’ll not only attract more visitors to your website, but you’ll also build trust and loyalty with your audience.

So, take the time to understand your target audience and start creating valuable content that addresses their needs and interests.

Answer questions

One effective way to improve website visibility in search engine rankings is to provide concise and expert responses to knowledge-based search queries.

This just means you answer questions directly with content. You can find these questions using Ahrefs’ Content Gap tool or AnswerThePublic, or you can just type in Google Search and look at the People also ask (PAA) section.

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In Ahrefs (or another tool you like), you can research top-ranking pages and identify common questions and subtopics relevant to your target keyword.

It’s important to answer the question early in the content you are writing to increase the chances of it being featured in Google’s answer boxes (featured snippet).

This content optimization technique can help showcase your expertise and authority on the topic while offering valuable information to potential customers. Plus, when it comes to topical authority, the more questions you answer, the more you look like an expert, regardless of how well your content ranks.

Don’t get so caught up with ranking all the time, creating valuable content goes deeper than that.

Create an ecosystem of content

To ensure that your website remains relevant and appealing to your target audience, it’s important to create an ecosystem of content.

Just like we explained above, this involves providing a diverse range of content formats, including blog posts, videos, infographics, and podcasts, among others.

But there’s more to it than just pumping out content.

As you create content, it’s important to consider how each new piece fits into the broader ecosystem of your website.

Interlinking content pieces from different formats together can create a web of related content that users can explore and engage with, ultimately improving their experience on your website.

Diverse content also helps to improve your website’s SEO.

With informative content, relevant keywords, and high-quality internal links, your website can rank higher in search engine rankings, attracting more organic traffic to your website.

5. Use Google’s advice & resources

We all have the same opportunities to rank. But it’s how you use the tools and resources available to you that matters.

Google tells us what to do. It’s up to you to pay attention. If you want to get your website to the top of Google, you need to use the resources and advice provided by Google itself.

Google offers a range of helpful resources to aid you in optimizing your website and driving traffic to it.

What’s RankBrain?

RankBrain is a machine-learning, artificial intelligence (AI) system that Google uses to interpret and process search queries.

Because it helps Google determine user intent, it is critical to optimize your content for RankBrain. This means creating long-form content that answers unique queries relevant to your target audience.

These strategies can improve your website’s relevance and increase its chances of ranking higher in organic search results.

Google’s social media platforms, blogs, and community, and GMB

Information is power, and you can grab as much of it as you want from Google’s social platforms.

Google’s Search Central Twitter account is a great way to stay up to date with the latest updates and news in the SEO world.

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Google’s blog is an excellent place to find SEO advice, announcements about algorithm changes, and news about Google products and services. By following Google’s blog, you can stay current with the latest trends and updates in the world of SEO.

Engaging with the Google Search Help Community is also a fantastic way to gain insights and get answers to your search-related questions.

Following this lesson might not directly impact your SEO rankings but the knowledge you gain can.

Finally, Google My Business (GMB), can improve your search results by providing a business profile, business address, and positive reviews, all of which make it easy for potential customers to locate you and trust you.

Site speed mastery (mobile & desktop)

As we all know, site speed is crucial for user experience and search engine rankings. In fact, Google has stated that site speed is one of the ranking factors in its algorithm.

Therefore, it’s important to master site speed for both mobile and desktop users.

Google’s mobile first (you should be too)

No website today can afford to overlook mobile optimization. With over half of all internet traffic originating from mobile devices, Google has shifted its focus towards the Mobile First approach, which emphasizes providing a better user experience for mobile users.

This implies that a website’s mobile performance is now a crucial factor in its search rankings.

Slow-loading sites can be detrimental to user satisfaction, and studies indicate that 29% of smartphone users will immediately switch to other sites when they are not impressed with a site’s mobile speed and performance. Therefore, it’s imperative that businesses optimize their websites for mobile users.

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To get your website at the top of Google, you need to start by designing a mobile-responsive website. This ensures that the design adjusts to fit all screen sizes and improves the user experience.

It’s also essential to use Google’s mobile-friendly test to ensure your site is optimized correctly. To keep your site at top speed, you should run this test on a regular basis.

Furthermore, you should consider implementing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) to enhance mobile page load times. WPtouch is another tool that allows you to create mobile pages without changing your site’s existing content.

Desktop site speed

Improving your site’s speed doesn’t have to be complicated.

Start by assessing your current speed using tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix. Both are very trustworthy sources to see if your desktop site needs improvement.

Once you’ve identified the areas that need fixing, you’ll probably need to minimize HTTP requests by optimizing images, minimizing CSS and JavaScript, and reducing redirects.

You can also compress files to minimize their size, enable browser caching to reduce loading time, remove any unnecessary plugins or widgets, and consider using a content delivery network.

A few plugins that are loved within the WordPress community are W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache, both are free and can really help improve desktop site speed.

6. Internal linking boosts results

Proper internal linking is a crucial aspect of any successful SEO strategy.

By linking relevant pages within your own website, you can help search engines understand the structure and hierarchy of your content and guide potential customers towards the most important parts of your site.

With SEO tools, you can easily see what pages should be linked. And by focusing on an ecosystem of content, you can quickly build a system that makes interlinking a no-brainer.

Now that you have all your SEO strategies, keywords, and content set up, what’s next?

Track & monitor

Google excels at data collection, so it makes sense you use Google Analytics to see your progress and monitor your website.

Monitoring your organic traffic is the most significant metric because it ensures that your SEO efforts are producing results.

To help you track and monitor your website’s performance, you can use Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and other ranking-specific tools.

Google Analytics Goals feature is useful in measuring how many leads and sales you’re generating from your website, especially from organic traffic for a specific page. It can even tell you how many pages a visitor looked at.

Now, let’s talk about the lesson most online business owners learn too late.

7. The power of reputation management for your website

As you work to improve your website’s SEO and climb up Google’s rankings, it’s important not to overlook the impact of reputation management.

Building a strong online reputation for your website helps ensure that potential customers see you in a positive light, which can increase the likelihood of them choosing your business over your competitors.

How strong backlinks come from a better online reputation

One key benefit that comes from maintaining a positive image online is the ability to earn high-quality backlinks that improve your website’s search engine rankings.

Backlinks are links from other websites that point to your website, providing something called link juice, which is essentially borrowed authority from the site that is linking to you. So, a credible site that links to you will make you look more credible.

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To receive valuable backlinks, you must provide high-quality and informative content on your website that solves user problems, offers unique stats, or presents a different angle on a topic that your visitors relate too.

You can also do link building by staying active on social media platforms, responding to online reviews in a timely and appropriate manner, and collaborating with other relevant websites that have a good reputation in your industry.

Doing these things will encourage Google to view your website as trustworthy and valuable to internet users, which will increase the odds of it prioritizing your site in the search rankings.

As you continue to grow your domain authority, other content you create gains the potential to rank on your authority alone.

This means that customers who are searching for relevant keywords in your industry are more likely to find your website, resulting in more traffic, potential customers, and revenue.

Online review management

Customer reviews are an important factor that search engines like Google consider when determining search rankings.

Positive reviews indicate that your business provides quality products or services, while negative reviews can significantly damage your online reputation. Working with a professional reputation management firm like ReputationDefender can help you eliminate bad reviews from top search results.

Another effective way to manage your online reviews is by utilizing Google My Business and other review sites. Google’s platform makes it more efficient for you to monitor and respond to reviews promptly, which can help you address any concerns or issues that customers might have about your business.

Search results & personal branding

Personal branding involves creating a unique identity and reputation for yourself to build trust with potential customers.

Once you have established your brand identity, it’s time to develop a consistent voice across all your online channels, including your website, social media profiles, and blog.

What’s great is if you don’t want to do this yourself you can have an expert online management firm do it for you. This has many benefits, including:

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  • Making you more attractive to potential employers
  • Building awareness about a cause you support
  • Keeping tabs on what people say about you online
  • Helping you create personalized content

What the personal content creation will do is help you control what Google displays when people search your name or company.

In today’s fast-paced digital world, standing out from the crowd is more important than ever.

By incorporating personal branding and search results control into your SEO strategy, you can create a lasting impression on potential customers and employers, establishing yourself as a thought leader and possibly opening a flood of opportunities.

Final thoughts

Google’s constantly evolving search algorithms prioritize high-quality, user-focused content.

Coupled with your SEO success is online reputation management. It’s always been important, but now it’s more critical than ever because whether you’re an individual or a business, people go to the internet to learn about you.

Thankfully, we’ve laid out these seven lessons and a few SEO tools and techniques that can help you foster a plan to improve your results faster and more consistently.

If you need further assistance with your online reputation, ReputationDefender offers a variety of professional solutions, including a free reputation report card that shows how others currently see you online. Don’t wait to take control of your online reputation and begin your climb to the top of Google. Start with your free reputation report card today.

This post was contributed by Rockey Simmons, founder of SaaS Marketing Growth.