Here is the bitter truth: when you first launch your website, you are certainly NOT going to appear on page 1.
Submitting your sitemap and indexing with Google will send their bots crawling, but in Google’s eyes, they have no idea if searching users will find your website relevant. Relevance is important to Google because that’s their core promise to every user that makes a search. They want to offer the most relevant site to searching customers.
In pursuit for better rankings on Google, many companies try to jump the “rankings” by paying for Google Ads to appear higher up in the search results. But users often skip ad listings and instinctively trust the organic results. Plus, Google Ads require optimisation. But to optimise and deliver the best ads, companies will need to invest significantly to deliver large volumes of ads before trends can be identified and ads tweaked / optimised. The Google Ads approach to “SEO” is expensive and out of reach for most small and medium businesses.
My clients improve their search rankings by playing the long SEO game.
This content marketing strategy involves regularly publishing highly relevant content, a back-linking strategy, harnessing the power of reviews, and improving user experience on your website.
Let’s get into it.
#1 Regularly Publish Relevant Content
Let’s unpack the elements of this content marketing strategy.
Regularity tells Google that you are an active business that is serious about engaging your customers.
Relevance here pertains to keywords. Using especially the keywords in your URL and headings, Google will begin to match search queries from users to your website. Google will also use the keywords from within your page content (and meta-data descriptions) to match search queries and present users with a listing of your website. From the click-through rates, Google will soon start to measure your website’s relevance in relation to keywords.
In the background behind and opaque digital curtain, Google is perpetually scoring your website and the specific page. As you regularly publish increasingly relevant content, your score, and therefore rankings, will improve over time.
#2 Back-Linking Strategy – Substantiate Your Credibility
Google needs to know you are credible.
Like in the real world, one indicator Google looks out for to determine credibility is your network of referrers. Other websites that link to your website is viewed as an endorsement. But just like in organic life, it makes a difference who recommends you – is it your relative or is it another business leader?
Getting established companies linking to your website (either to the home page, post or any landing page) makes a BIG difference. It tells Google “these guys trust them” and assures Google of your credibility.
But how does this happen?
Every website has a Domain Authority score. Nikes domain authority will surely be higher than your local apparel brand. The more the Nikes of your industry are pointing to your website, the more Google trusts you. The end result: better rankings.
Thankfully, there are 3rd party companies out there that offer Domain Authority scoring tools. Companies that are serious about moving up Google Search Rankings must really be actively tracking their Domain Authority.
Getting established companies linking to your website assures Google of your credibility.
#3 Harnessing the Power of Reviews
The more your existing customers trust you, the more Google will.
Google measures the trust your customers have in you via your Google MyBusiness listing. Having customers leave ratings and reviews goes a long way in improving your search rankings.
Capturing reviews is an art in itself. Often we have 1 opportunity to ask a customer for a review. The best time is usually after a big win for the customer when satisfaction (and gratitude) is high. While B2B reviews are often best captured on LinkedIn, if a customer is really only going to have time and energy to leave 1 review, then picking the right platform is important. Here, a business needs to ask themselves – how important is it to rank on Google? If Organic Search is an important part of the lead generation sales funnel of a business, then capturing a Google Review is certainly a key strategy to rank better on Google.
#4 A Delightful User Experience
Google needs to know that users enjoy using your website. They evaluate this by looking at how long users spend on your pages and whether or not users are interested in exploring more of your website.
For those seeking to rank better on Google, optimising user experience by looking out for these 3 indicators become important:
bounce rates – how many users leave without browsing further?
page depth – how many pages do users browse to in a single session?
Here, the SEO optimisation is less about keywords and more about design. A company needs to ask itself: does the design offer pathways to more relevant interactions? Articles that lead on to other relevant articles is one example of this.
The “deeper” and “longer” users browse, the more Google regards your website as rich and relevant, and therefore worthy of a better ranking.
SEO optimisation is not a quick fix. Content Marketing is the pathway to organically, meaningfully and strategically improve your rankings, audience and customer base. It begins with a well-structure website, a thoughtful strategy and patience. Its return on investment can be much greater than Google Ads.