Can you build a website that will get to the top of Google? Creating a website that ranks highly on Google is challenging but achievable. It requires a blend of technical know-how, quality content, and smart SEO practices.

In this article, you will discover:

  • How Google's ranking factors influence your website
  • The critical elements of on-page SEO
  • Strategies to earn valuable backlinks
  • This is a whopper of an article – you may want to bookmark it.

Okay, let's take a look into what it takes to reach the top of Google and stay there. Please note, I do not work for Google, I do not speak for them, plus I have about as much inside knowledge as any other SEO guru out there (none). But what I do have, and what I'm sharing here is my 20+ years of experience, what's worked and what's not. If you are looking for a magic pill, silver bullet, or one weird way rather than common sense and what actually works… Then this post is not for you.

Understanding Google's Ranking Factors

Google's algorithm uses over 200 factors to rank websites, although according to recently leaked documents, there are now 14,000 of them! And no one, and I mean no one knows all of them. To make things even more difficult, Google tweaks its algorithm daily. In this section, I'm going to talk about some of the known ranking factors. these may come from the things Google has patented, and the things SEO experts have researched and found to work. Understanding these can help your site climb the search results. But! There are no guarantees. Not even God can give you pole position in the search engines. You have to work for it; add a dash of skill, a pinch of luck, a handful of crossed fingers and swig of Coke Zero.

Keywords

Keywords are words or phrases people search for. They are essential for SEO. They help focus your blog post content, and I always recommend that you use them. The keyword for this post is “top of Google”.  Tools like Ahrefs Free Keyword Generator or Rank Atom can help find the right keywords for your industry. Use relevant keywords throughout your content.

Finding Keywords: Start by brainstorming words related to your business. For example, if you're a baker, think of terms like “best cakes,” “wedding cakes,” or “bread recipes.” Use keyword tools to check their popularity and competition.

Using Keywords: Integrate these keywords naturally into your content. Avoid “keyword stuffing,” which means overusing keywords which can hurt your rankings. It also reads icky (a technical term). Instead, aim for a balanced use. For instance, if you have a blog post on baking tips, include keywords in the title, headings, and throughout the content.

Example:

  • Title: “Top 10 Tips for Baking the Perfect Cake”
  • Heading: “1. Choose the Right Flour for Baking Cakes”
  • Content: “When baking cakes, using the right flour is crucial…”

Long-Tail Keywords: These are longer, more specific phrases. They often have lower competition and can attract targeted traffic. For example, “how to bake a gluten-free chocolate cake” is more specific than “bake a cake” and may attract users with a particular interest. Let's face it, if you can't have gluten you will need the chocolate.

High-Quality Content

Google loves content that is informative, well-written, and regularly updated. Aim to provide valuable information that answers users' queries. They have a formula called E-E-A-T that will help you meet their standards.

Informative Content: Provide in-depth information that addresses your audience's needs. If you're a plasterer, useful content could include FAQs on types of plaster, when you need a plasterer, and signs your walls need replastering.

Example:

  • “What Type of Plaster is Best for My Home?”
  • “Signs Your Walls Need Replastering and How to Fix Them”

Well-Written Content: Ensure your content is clear, concise, and free of errors. Use short sentences and simple language. Avoid jargon unless you explain it. For example, instead of saying “Ensure the substrate is prepared,” say “Make sure the wall is ready for plastering”. And yes, I've had to ask a plasterer what substrate was.

Regular Updates: Keep your content fresh by regularly adding new information. Update old posts with new data or insights. For example, if you have a post on the best plaster types, update it yearly with the latest trends and products. Who knows maybe pebble dashing will make a comeback!

Visual Content: Use images, videos, and infographics to make your content more engaging. A tutorial on plastering can benefit from step-by-step images or a video demonstration. This not only improves user experience but can also increase time spent on your site, another factor Google considers.

User Intent: Understand what your audience is looking for and tailor your content to meet those needs. If users search for “how to fix a cracked wall,” provide a detailed guide with tools needed, steps to follow, and common mistakes to avoid. Now, you might think that showing someone how to fix a cracked wall will mean they run off and fix their own wall. Yes, a small number of people will do that. They were never your customer. Most people will see that

  • You know what you're doing,
  • You seem like a nice person
  • and pick up the phone and call you.

Which is exactly what you want to happen.

Content Examples and Tips

Example 1: Baker Blog Post

  • Title: “How to Bake the Perfect Sourdough Bread at Home”
  • Introduction: “Sourdough bread is a favourite for its rich flavour and crusty exterior. Here’s how you can bake it perfectly at home.”
  • Keywords: sourdough bread, baking tips, home baking
  • Sections:
    • “Choosing the Right Flour for Sourdough”
    • “How to Create a Sourdough Starter”
    • “Step-by-Step Baking Instructions”

Example 2: Plaster Guide

  • Title: “Types of Plaster: Which One is Right for Your Home?”
  • Introduction: “Choosing the right plaster can make a big difference in your home’s finish. Here’s a guide to help you decide.”
  • Keywords: types of plaster, home plastering, plastering tips
  • Sections:
    • “Gypsum Plaster: Benefits and Uses”
    • “Cement Plaster: When to Use It”
    • “Lime Plaster: Traditional but Effective”

By understanding and applying these ranking factors, you can significantly improve your website’s visibility on Google. Focus on relevant keywords, create high-quality content, and keep your site updated. This will help attract and retain visitors, boosting your site’s performance in search results.

The Importance of On-Page SEO

On-page SEO refers to optimising individual pages on your website to rank higher in the search engines.

Meta Titles and Descriptions

Meta titles and descriptions are snippets of text that describe your page's content. They appear in search results and can influence click-through rates. A compelling meta title and description can significantly impact your site's traffic.

meta description in search engines screenshot

Arrow 1 is the clickable headline. And Arrow 2 indicates the actual meta description.

Now, there are plenty of expert out there who will tell you not to bother with these, that they don't matter. Imagine for a moment you're searching for something in the search engines. You see a clickable headline, but the description underneath is gobbledy gook. Do you click? of course you don't, and that's why meta descriptions are important; they matter to human beings.

Best Practices:

  • Keep it concise: Meta titles should be around 50-60 characters. Descriptions should be about 150-160 characters.
  • Use keywords: Include your primary keyword in both the title and description if you can. Sometimes it's not possible without sounding like a spammer.
  • Make it compelling: Use action words and create a sense of urgency or curiosity.

Example: For a recipe page, a compelling meta title might be “Easy Chocolate Cake Recipe – Ready in 30 Minutes!” The description could be “Discover our quick and easy chocolate cake recipe. Perfect for any occasion!”

What happens if you don't optimise these?: Poorly crafted meta titles and descriptions can lead to low click-through rates, reducing your site's traffic. If searchers don't find your snippet enticing, they'll skip your site, hurting your overall position in the search engines.

Headings and Internal Linking

Headings and internal links play a crucial role in on-page SEO. They help structure your content and guide users and search engines through your site.

Headings:

  • Use H1 for titles: Each page should have one H1 tag, which is the main title.
  • Use H2 and H3 for subheadings: These help break down your content into manageable sections.
  • Include keywords: Naturally integrate keywords into your headings.

Example:

  • H1: “Easy Chocolate Cake Recipe”
  • H2: “Ingredients You Need”
  • H3: “Step-by-Step Instructions”

Internal Linking:

  • Link to related content: Guide users to other relevant pages on your site.
  • Use descriptive anchor text: This helps users and search engines understand what the linked page is about.

Example: In your chocolate cake recipe, link to a page on “Baking Tips for Beginners” with anchor text like “Check out these baking tips for beginners.”

What happens if you don't optimise these?: Without proper headings, your content can be hard to read and navigate. Poor internal linking can result in lower user engagement and higher bounce rates, negatively impacting your SEO.

Additional On-Page SEO Elements

URL Structure: Keep URLs short and include keywords. A clean URL like “yourwebsite.com/easy-chocolate-cake-recipe” is better than “yourwebsite.com/post12345”.

Image Alt Text: Describe your images with alt text that includes relevant keywords. This helps search engines understand your images and improves accessibility.

Example: For an image of your chocolate cake, use alt text like “easy chocolate cake with frosting.”

Content Quality: High-quality, original content is essential. Ensure your content is informative, engaging, and free of errors. Use short paragraphs, bullet points, and visuals to make it easy to read.

Mobile-Friendliness: Ensure your site is responsive and works well on all devices. Google prioritises mobile-friendly sites in its rankings.

Example: Use responsive design techniques and test your site on different devices to ensure it looks good and functions properly.

What happens if you don't optimise these?: Ignoring these elements can lead to a poor user experience, which Google penalises. Slow-loading pages, difficult navigation, and non-mobile-friendly designs can all hurt your rankings.

Content Quality

Content quality is paramount for SEO success. High-quality content keeps visitors on your site longer, reducing bounce rates and signalling to Google that your site is valuable.

Best Practices:

  • Informative and Engaging: Provide detailed, accurate information. Engage your readers with a conversational tone.
  • Original Content: Avoid duplicate content. Plagiarism can severely harm your rankings.
  • Readability: Use short paragraphs, bullet points, and subheadings to make your content easy to read.

Example: Instead of a long block of text on plastering, break it down:

  • Introduction: Brief overview of plastering.
  • Types of Plaster: Discuss gypsum, cement, and lime plaster.
  • Plastering Tips: Offer practical advice and common mistakes to avoid.

What happens if you don't maintain content quality?: Low-quality content can lead to high bounce rates, where visitors leave your site quickly. This indicates to Google that your site isn't providing value, which can harm your rankings.

Mobile-Friendliness

With over half of web traffic coming from mobile devices, having a mobile-friendly site is essential. Google uses mobile-first indexing, meaning it primarily uses the mobile version of your site for ranking and indexing.

Best Practices:

  • Responsive Design: Ensure your site adjusts to fit any screen size.
  • Fast Loading Times: Mobile users expect quick load times. Compress images and minimise code.
  • Easy Navigation: Use a simple, intuitive layout that’s easy to navigate on a small screen.

Example: Test your site on various devices. Ensure buttons are easily clickable and text is readable without zooming.

What happens if your site isn’t mobile-friendly?: If your site isn’t optimised for mobile, you could miss out on a large portion of potential traffic. Users will leave if they can’t easily navigate your site, increasing your bounce rate and lowering your rankings.

User Experience (UX)

User experience (UX) is critical for keeping visitors engaged and improving your SEO. Google considers factors like site speed, ease of navigation, and overall usability.

Best Practices:

  • Fast Loading Times: Users expect pages to load quickly. Aim for under three seconds.
  • Clear Navigation: Use a simple, intuitive menu structure. Ensure important pages are easy to find.
  • Engaging Design: Use a clean, attractive design that reflects your brand.

Example: Use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights to analyse and improve your site's speed. Ensure your navigation menu is logically organised and easy to use.

What happens if you ignore UX?: Poor user experience can lead to higher bounce rates and lower engagement, negatively impacting your rankings. Users are likely to leave if your site is slow or hard to navigate, signalling to Google that your site isn't providing a good experience.

Regular Updates and Maintenance

Keeping your website updated and well-maintained is crucial for maintaining high rankings. Regular updates show Google that your site is active and relevant.

Best Practices:

  • Content Updates: Regularly update your content with new information. This keeps it relevant and accurate.
  • Technical Maintenance: Regularly check for broken links, update plugins, and ensure your site is secure.
  • Monitor Performance: Use tools like Google Analytics to track your site's performance and identify areas for improvement.

Example: Schedule regular reviews of your content to add new information or improve existing sections. Check your site for technical issues monthly.

What happens if you neglect updates and maintenance?: Outdated content and technical issues can harm your site's performance. Broken links, outdated information, and security vulnerabilities can all lead to lower rankings and a poor user experience.

By focusing on these on-page SEO elements, you can significantly enhance your site's visibility on Google. Remember, on-page SEO is one crucial aspect that will help you reach the top of Google. Ensuring your pages are optimised will attract more visitors, keep them engaged, and improve your overall search rankings.

Investing time and effort into on-page SEO will pay off in increased traffic, better user engagement, and higher rankings. Keep your content fresh, your site technically sound, and always prioritise the user experience. This approach will help you build a website that not only reaches the top of Google but stays there.

The Power of Backlinks

Backlinks are links from other websites to yours. They signal to Google that your content is trustworthy and relevant.

Why Backlinks Matter

Quality backlinks from reputable sites can boost your site's authority. For example, a link from the BBC to your blog signals to Google that your site is valuable. Backlinks act like votes of confidence from other sites. More high-quality backlinks mean better chances of ranking higher.

Busting Backlink Myths

  1. Myth: Any backlink is a good backlink.
    • Reality: Not all backlinks are equal. Links from reputable, relevant sites are far more valuable than those from low-quality sites. Avoid spammy link-building practices; they can hurt your rankings. Also, think of your industry. If you sell plumbing services how relevant is that link from your friends Cat Cafe website?
  2. Myth: You can buy your way to the top with backlinks.
    • Reality: Buying backlinks can lead to penalties from Google. Focus on earning backlinks naturally through quality content and outreach.

Earning Quality Backlinks

  1. Create Shareable ContentHigh-quality, shareable content attracts backlinks naturally. For instance, infographics, comprehensive guides, and research studies are often linked by others. If you have a cooking blog, an infographic on “Top 10 Baking Mistakes” can be highly shareable.
  2. Guest PostingWriting guest posts for reputable blogs in your industry is a great way to earn backlinks. Reach out to blogs that accept guest contributions and pitch relevant topics. For example, if you blog about digital marketing, offer a guest post on “Effective Social Media Strategies” to a popular marketing blog.
  3. Broken Link BuildingThis involves finding broken links on other websites and suggesting your content as a replacement. Use tools like Ahrefs to find broken links in your niche. Contact the site owner, inform them of the broken link, and propose your relevant content as a replacement.
  4. Engage in Online CommunitiesParticipating in forums, Q&A sites like Quora, and social media groups can help you earn backlinks. Provide valuable answers and include a link to your content when relevant. Remember, be helpful and avoid spamming.

What Happens If You Don't Focus on Backlinks

Ignoring backlinks means missing out on a significant ranking factor. Without quality backlinks, your site may struggle to compete with others that have built strong link profiles. This could result in lower search rankings and less organic traffic.

Best Practices for Earning Backlinks

  1. Quality Over QuantityFocus on earning links from reputable, relevant sites rather than amassing a large number of low-quality links. One link from a high-authority site like Forbes is worth more than dozens of links from lesser-known sites.
  2. Diverse Link ProfileAim for a diverse backlink profile. This means earning links from various types of sites, such as blogs, news sites, and industry directories. A varied link profile looks more natural to search engines.
  3. Consistent EffortBuilding backlinks is an ongoing process. Regularly create high-quality content, engage in outreach, and participate in your industry community. Consistency over time will yield the best results.

By focusing on earning quality backlinks, you can significantly improve your site's authority and search rankings. Keep these strategies in mind, and you'll be on your way to higher visibility in search results.

User Experience and Mobile Friendliness

User experience (UX) and mobile-friendliness are critical for rankings.

User Experience (UX)

Google favours sites that are easy to navigate and provide valuable information. A good user experience keeps visitors on your site longer, reducing bounce rates. A cluttered site frustrates users and increases bounce rates, negatively impacting your rankings. This is known from hard-won experience. And I'm still learning. Only last week someone messaged me and said “Where's your blog writing page on your website? You write for my friend, and I know you have an NDA so you'll deny it, but I want to see what writing packages you offer and have a chat”. Guess who was digging up their writing page to put in their navigation at 1 am?

Tips for Improving UX:

  1. Intuitive Navigation
    • Ensure your site has clear menus and accessible information. For example, if you run an e-commerce site, categorise products logically and provide a search function.
  2. Readable Content
    • Use a clean layout with plenty of white space. Break up text with headings, bullet points, and images. This makes your content more digestible and engaging. For instance, a blog post on travel tips should have clear sections for packing advice, destination guides, and safety tips.
  3. Fast Load Times
    • Slow-loading sites frustrate users. Compress images, use a reliable hosting service, and streamline your site's code to improve speed. Tools like Google PageSpeed Insights can help identify and fix speed issues.

Mobile-Friendly Design

Over half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices. A mobile-friendly site is essential for reaching a wider audience and improving your rankings.

Tips for Mobile Optimisation:

  1. Responsive Design
    • Use responsive design to ensure your site looks good on all screens. Responsive design automatically adjusts the layout based on the device being used. For example, text should be legible without zooming, and buttons should be easy to tap on a mobile screen.
  2. Mobile-Friendly Testing
    • Tools like Google's Mobile-Friendly Test can help you check your site's compatibility. This tool analyses your site and provides recommendations for improvements.
  3. Simplify Navigation
    • Mobile users need easy access to information. Use a simple menu and ensure important links are easily accessible. For example, a news website should have a prominent “Latest News” section at the top.

Speed and Navigation

Fast-loading sites retain users. If your site is slow, users will leave, and Google will notice. A well-organised site structure helps users find what they need quickly, reducing frustration and improving engagement.

Tips for Speed and Navigation:

  1. Optimise Images
    • Compress images without losing quality. Use formats like JPEG for photos and PNG for graphics. Tools like TinyPNG can help with image compression.
  2. Minimise Redirects
    • Each redirect slows down your site. Avoid unnecessary redirects to improve load times. For example, ensure that all your internal links point directly to the final URL.
  3. Enable Browser Caching
    • Browser caching stores some of your website's data on the user's device. This speeds up load times for repeat visitors. Most content management systems (CMS) like WordPress have plugins to enable caching easily.

What Happens If You Don't Focus on UX and Mobile-Friendliness

Neglecting UX and mobile-friendliness can lead to higher bounce rates and lower search rankings. Users will leave your site if it's difficult to navigate or slow to load, signalling to Google that your site isn't valuable. This can result in less organic traffic and reduced visibility in search results.

By focusing on user experience and mobile-friendliness, you ensure your site is accessible, engaging, and quick. These factors are essential for retaining users and improving your search rankings.

Regular Updates and Maintenance

To stay at the top, your site needs regular updates and maintenance. Often when I'm building websites, clients pushback on things like website care (they've not budgeted for it) and being on our own optimised servers. Most clients do not ever update their sites once they're in charge of them. They then think any hack, security update etc is in the initial price… If that's the case most websites would start at a 1,000,000 as the builder is tied into a lifetime of free updates.

Content Updates

Regularly updating your content keeps it relevant and signals to Google that your site is active. Fresh content attracts both search engines and visitors, enhancing engagement and improving rankings.

Tips for Regular Content Updates:

  1. Update Old Blog Posts
    • Refresh old content with new information, statistics, or examples. For instance, if you have a blog post about social media trends, update it annually to reflect the latest trends and tools. This not only improves SEO but also provides ongoing value to your readers.
  2. Add New Content Regularly
    • Consistently publish new blog posts, articles, or resources. Aim for at least one new piece of content per week. For example, a fitness blog could post weekly workout routines, diet tips, or success stories. Regular updates keep your audience engaged and encourage them to return.
  3. Monitor Trending Topics
    • Stay informed about trending topics in your industry and create content around them. Tools like Google Trends can help you identify what people are searching for. If you run a tech blog, writing about the latest smartphone releases or software updates can attract a lot of traffic.

Technical Maintenance

A technically sound site provides a better user experience and ranks better. Regular technical maintenance ensures your site runs smoothly and efficiently.

Tips for Technical Maintenance:

  1. Check for Broken Links
    • Regularly scan your site for broken links using tools like Ahrefs. Broken links frustrate users and harm your SEO. Fix or redirect any broken links to maintain a smooth user experience.
  2. Update Plugins and Software
    • Ensure all your plugins, themes, and software are up to date. This not only improves functionality but also enhances security. For example, if you use WordPress, keep your plugins and themes updated to prevent vulnerabilities.
  3. Improve Site Security
    • Secure your site with HTTPS, regular backups, and security plugins. Tools like Sucuri can help monitor your site for threats. A secure site builds trust with your visitors and protects your data.

Successful Content Strategies

Looking at successful sites in your niche can provide insights into effective content strategies. Analyse what type of content they produce and how often they post.

Examples of Successful Content Strategies:

  1. Case Studies
    • Use case studies to demonstrate your expertise and results. For example, a marketing agency could showcase how they helped a client increase their online sales by 50%. Case studies provide proof of your capabilities and attract potential clients.
  2. User-Generated Content
    • Encourage your audience to contribute content. This could be in the form of testimonials, reviews, or guest posts. For instance, a beauty blog could invite readers to share their favourite makeup looks. User-generated content adds authenticity and builds community.
  3. Multimedia Content
    • Incorporate videos, infographics, and podcasts into your content strategy. Multimedia content is engaging and can be easily shared on social media. For example, a cooking blog could include video tutorials for recipes, making the content more dynamic and appealing.

What Happens If You Neglect Updates and Maintenance

Neglecting regular updates and maintenance can lead to outdated content, technical issues, and security vulnerabilities. This negatively impacts user experience and search rankings. Users are less likely to return to a site that appears neglected or insecure, leading to decreased traffic and engagement.

By focusing on regular updates and technical maintenance, you ensure your site remains relevant, secure, and high-performing. This commitment helps attract and retain visitors, improving your overall search engine rankings.

Conclusion

In this article, we've covered the essential elements required to build a website that can achieve top rankings on Google.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Understanding Google's Ranking Factors:
    • Keywords and high-quality content are crucial for visibility.
    • User experience (UX) greatly influences your rankings.
  2. On-Page SEO:
    • Optimising meta titles and descriptions can improve click-through rates.
    • Effective use of headings and internal linking enhances readability and engagement.
  3. The Power of Backlinks:
    • Quality backlinks from reputable sites boost your site's authority.
    • Strategies such as creating shareable content and guest posting can help earn valuable backlinks.
  4. User Experience and Mobile Friendliness:
    • A good user experience keeps visitors on your site longer.
    • Mobile-friendly design is essential for reaching a wider audience.
  5. Regular Updates and Maintenance:
    • Regular content updates keep your site relevant and engaging.
    • Technical maintenance ensures your site runs smoothly and securely.

Next Steps…

If you've already got a website and want to get it to the top of Google your next step will be a website audit. This goes into detail of where you currently are, and what you can expect to achieve. Remember, even if you get to the top of Google, if it's for “Knitting jackets for flatworms” you may only get 10 new visitors a month.

Best of skill in reaching the top of Google, I hope it's all you dreamed it would be.

Sarah x

P.S. If you are ready to do this, check out Traffic Jam SEO, my popular course that helps you learn the skills you need to reach the top of Google.

 

About

Sarah Arrow

With over 20 years of experience, Sarah Arrow (me!) knows the ins and outs of effective blog writing, which is why she makes her excellent at website copywriting, or, as a blog copywriter. My expertise ensures your blog will captivate readers and deliver your message effectively. Experience? This spans various industries, giving me a unique perspective and a wealth of knowledge to draw upon. This extensive background means she can adapt her writing to fit your specific needs and audience.

Ready to elevate your website or blog? I am the writer you need. My experience, skill, and passion for online writing make me the perfect choice for your blog copywriting needs. Contact me today and see the difference a professional content writer can make.

What Sets Me Apart?
Human Touch: My writing resonates on a personal level. I understand human psychology and use this to create content that connects.
Attention to Detail: Every post is detailed. Grammar, style, and accuracy are important in my work.
Consistency: I deliver high-quality content consistently, ensuring your website blog remains fresh and engaging.

If you're ready to get started join the free blogging challenge and do it yourself, or call me on 07816 528421 to do it for you.

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