Seasoned SEO experts and beginners all have one thing in common – they all want to get their websites (or those of their clients) to the top of search engine results. Or, if they’ve already gotten there, they want to make sure they stay there. With so much competition and ever-evolving algorithms, it can be extremely challenging to get your website to the top of Google.
But that doesn’t mean it’s an impossible feat. With careful planning and the right strategies, you should be able to get your website to rank higher or even get to the top page within a few months. Here are some tactics you should use to get your website to the top of Google.
1: Create Content that Adds Value
One of the most critical steps to ranking your site higher is by creating valuable, high-quality content that people will want to read and link to. 90% of the most successful content marketers in a Content Marketing Institute study put their audience’s information needs as a top priority.
When your content offers value to your audience, it will make them stay on your site for longer. This can positively affect your rankings, according to experts like Larry Kim, who conducted studies identifying a correlation between longer dwell time and higher search engine rankings.
And you probably already know that backlinks affect your rankings. A Stone Temple study also proved that links from highly-relevant sites with high authority could help you rank your website higher on Google.
Image Source: Stone Temple
This makes it crucial to develop valuable content if you want to get your website to the top of Google. You can use content research tools like BuzzSumo to identify the most shared and trending pieces of content. This will help you brainstorm ideas for content that your target audience will love. You can also conduct polls and surveys to directly ask your audience what they want to see from you.
2: Create More Long-Form Content
You can also rank your website higher on Google by creating more long-form content. Long-form content lets you go in-depth into whatever topic you’re discussing, making it more informative and of higher value. So it tends to get more engagement, increasing your dwell time and helping you rank your site higher.
Besides, people love sharing long-form content. A BuzzSumo analysis of 100 million articles found that long-form content gets more social shares. Articles between 3,000 and 10,000 words got the most shares, followed by articles between 2,000 and 3,000 words. More social shares will result in higher visibility and increased traffic, which is crucial to get your website to the top of Google.
Image Source: OkDork
3: Optimize for Google Answer Box
Results in Google’s Answer Boxes are even more prominent than the number one position in Google search results as you can see in the screenshot below.
Image Source: Google search results
If your content appears in this section, it gains a lot more visibility and is likely to drive a lot of clicks and traffic. This fuels your effort to get your website to the top of Google search results.
This makes it crucial to optimize your site for Google’s Answer Box by using question phrases to optimize your content. According to an analysis by seoClarity, question phrases like “how” and “what” were the top two keywords that trigger featured snippets.
Image Source: seoClarity
You can use tools like Answer the Public to identify what top questions people are asking about a specific topic. Optimizing your content with these question phrases can also help you cater to voice searchers who tend to ask conversational questions.
In addition to this, you should also use H2 tags properly in your subheadings to help Google understand that you’re answering a question. When you manage to get the featured snippet, these tags will show up in the Google Answer Box to give searchers an idea of what your page contains.
These efforts will improve your chances of getting the featured snippet for relevant keywords and help you rank your site higher.
4: Keep a Close Eye on the Competition
As mentioned earlier, there is a ton of competition in the SEO landscape because every website wants to get to the top of Google search results.
So if you want to rank your website higher on Google, you need to stay one step ahead of your competitors at all times. This means you need to keep a close eye on them, where they’re currently ranking, which keywords they’re ranking for, etc.
You can use the SpyFu Competitor Analysis feature to get a comprehensive look at your competitors’ overall performance. SpyFu helps you identify competitors, and domains that are gaining on your keywords; and how many clicks they’re getting for their keywords.
You can use all these insights to optimize your strategy and prevent your competitors from overtaking you.
Image Source: SpyFu
5: Improve Your Internal Linking Structure
Internal links help you establish proper site architecture. Which helps Google smoothly crawl through every page on your site and list them in relevant search results. So if you want to get your website to the top of Google search results, you need to have a proper internal linking structure.
According to Moz, the optimal website structure is in the shape of a pyramid with minimal links between the homepage and other pages. Instead, you’ll have the homepage linking to main category pages, which will in turn link to product pages.
Image Source: Moz
Even when linking blog posts, you can try having a detailed and comprehensive pillar post on a specific topic. And then interlink it with other relevant posts that discuss specific tactics or subtopics in detail.
For instance, if you have one pillar post on SEO as a whole, you can link to several other posts that discuss specific SEO tactics like anchor text optimization and backlink strategies.
6: Optimize Your Anchor Texts
Anchor text optimization is another crucial step to get your website to the top of Google search results. The anchor text you use to link to other pages can help Google understand what the page is about, helping it list the pages accurately.
So using relevant keywords as anchor text is an excellent way to guide search engines and help them understand your page content and rank your site higher.
There are five different types of anchor texts that you should know about:
- Exact Match Anchor Text – An exact match anchor text uses a keyword mirroring the page you’re linking to. For example, “SEO strategies” linking to a page that covers SEO strategies would be an exact match anchor text. These are ideal for helping Google understand what the linked-to page contains.
- Partial Match Anchor Text – This type of anchor text includes a variation of the main keyword on the page you’re linking to. For example, “content optimization strategies” linking to a page that talks about content optimization. These are also an excellent alternative to exact match anchor texts as they’re still relevant to the linked-to page topic.
Here’s an example in which we’ve used the anchor text “SEO strategies” to link to a post that explains SEO for beginners.
- Branded Anchor Text – As the name suggests, this type of anchor text uses a brand name. For example, “SpyFu” linking to a SpyFu blog post. Overusing this type of anchor text may be considered suspicious and manipulative. Avoid using it more than once in your blog posts. Here’s an example from one of our blog posts.
- Naked Link – When a URL acts as an anchor, it is considered a naked link anchor. These anchors may not be the best option if you’re trying to link to content within blog posts, as they could hamper reader experience.
- Generic Anchor Text – Generic anchor text is a generic word of phrase that links to other pages. “Learn more” or “click here” are some examples of generic anchor text. They’re not very ideal for SEO because Google has no way of understanding the content of the linked-to page and its relevance to the linking page.
Google’s Gary Illyes has said explicitly that there are no penalties for over-optimizing your internal linking anchor texts. This means that you can use exact match anchor text however much you want to for your internal links.
That said, it’s still a good idea to use synonyms and variations to maintain a natural flow in your articles instead of trying to force exact match anchor text.
7: Have a Great Guest Posting Strategy
No matter what you’ve heard, guest posting is still one of the best ways to get your website to the top of Google search results. It’s not just because of the backlinks, but also because of the increasing amount of visibility you get with relevant audiences.
By getting published on a reputable site, you build your credibility in the industry and attract more people to your site. All of this contributes to a higher Domain Authority, and eventually, this helps you get ranked on top of Google’s organic search results.
For instance, Adam Enfroy published eight guest posts in 15 days. He earned 247 new backlinks, 32 new referring domains, and 268 new organic keywords that ranked in the top 100. His Alexa Rank improved by 600,000, organic traffic increased by 372%, and domain rating improved by +12.
But that doesn’t mean you should be sending out pitches to just any website that accepts guest posts. For this to work, you need to take a strategic approach and come up with a proper plan.
Here are a few tips to follow:
- Aim to get published on relevant websites with high Domain Authority (preferably over 60). This is the most crucial step because you don’t want to get backlinks from just any website.
- Choose topics that will appeal to the target site’s audience.
- Make sure you create detailed, high-quality content that would be useful for the target site’s readership.
- Support your claims with relevant, high-authority sources to gain more credibility.
- Link to other influential websites, and bloggers wherever relevant.
- Avoid being too pushy in your outreach emails if you want your pitch to be accepted. Be friendly and polite, and don’t hesitate to follow up at least once.
8: Display Rich Snippets in Search
Displaying rich snippets in your search engine results is one of the best ways to get more clicks to your site. This, in turn, helps improve your ranking and can eventually help you get your website to the top of Google search results.
The Structured Data on your page HTML helps Google in displaying accurate rich snippets for searchers to see. It could include information such as price, rating, stock availability, and more.
So searchers get an accurate picture of whether or not the product or content is relevant to them. This is a great way to minimize bounces as well, since most of the clicks will be from relevant searchers.
Image Source: Google search results
Google’s John Mueller has also clarified that the use of Structured Data makes it easier for Google to understand in which searches it should display your page. In other words, it improves your targeting and makes it easier to rank your page for relevant search results even if it doesn’t directly affect ranking.
The more you rank for relevant keywords, the more relevant traffic you’ll get. All of this helps rank your site higher over time.
9: Optimize Your URLs
As minor as it may seem, your URL structure is an important consideration to improve your ranking. On its own, it may not have a massive impact on your search engine ranking.
But if you want to get your website to the top of Google search results, you can’t afford to ignore even the minutest factors that can influence your ranking.
Here are some of the best practices to create SEO-friendly URLs:
- Keep them short and to the point. A Quick Sprout study found that the top 10 results on Google had an average of 37 characters in their URL. URLs containing 35 to 40 characters seem to perform much better, according to their study.
- Use hyphens instead of underscores to separate your words. This makes it easier for Google to understand what your page is all about. Google’s Matt Cutts has also explained that Google ignores underscores while considering hyphens as separators.
- Add keywords naturally to improve relevance signals and help Google understand where to rank your site. Although this is a small factor, it still plays a crucial role if your end goal is to get your website to the top of Google.
Shaun Anderson of Hobo even conducted an experiment in which he found that the ranking of a page gradually declined when the keyword was removed from the URL slug. And a Cognitive SEO study found that the top-ranking page is three times more likely than the second-ranking page to have a keyword in its URL.
Image Source: Cognitive SEO
Avoid using extraneous characters like @, &, $, or % in your URL, as they can confuse search engine crawlers. Only 0.194% of the top 100 results for 1,000 results across multiple industries contained extraneous characters in their URL, according to the Quick Sprout study cited earlier.
10: Optimize Your Meta Tags
Like your page URL, your meta tags are minute but important factors that can influence your page ranking. You’ll need to optimize both your title tag and your meta description to help both search engines and users in understanding your page content.
This can help increase your click-through rate, while also allowing Google to rank your page in relevant search results.
Here are a few best practices to help you optimize your meta tag and get your website to rank higher:
- The previously-cited Cognitive SEO study found that keyword presence in your title can make all the difference between ranking 1st and 2nd. This makes it crucial to optimize your title tag with relevant keywords.
- Similarly, you’ll need to optimize your meta descriptions with relevant keywords as well. But make sure not to overstuff it with keywords just for the sake of it. Use them naturally so that the description flows well and is understandable for both search engines and humans.
- Keep your titles short, catchy, and to the point. The average title length in organic search results is 55.04. But you can go over 60-65 if need be, without exceeding the 70-character limit.
- Summarize the content of your page using meta descriptions. Avoid making them too lengthy, as anything over 160 characters might not display fully in Google search results. While the RankRanger analysis found that the average length of meta descriptions in organic search results is 164.07, it’s best to avoid going over the 160-character limit.
11: Improve Page Load Speed
Starting in July 2018, mobile page speed became an important ranking factor for mobile searches. While Google said that this update would only affect a small fraction of searches, that doesn’t mean you should ignore it.
As mentioned earlier, you can’t afford to ignore even the smallest ranking factors if your goal is to get your website to the top of Google search results.
And although the consideration is only for mobile searches, there’s a chance it could still impact your overall ranking in the long run.
A fast-loading page enhances the user experience, which is likely to reduce the number of bounces. This could eventually contribute to a higher ranking on Google search engine results.
You can use the Google PageSpeed Insights to see just how fast your website loads. In addition to analyzing your page load speed on mobile and desktop, this tool also shows you some opportunities to speed up your page load time.
Image Source: PageSpeed Insights
12: Implement AMP to Rank for Google News
Ranking your content on Google News is a great way to gain authority links from sites that would want to cite you as a source. This can eventually build up and improve your domain authority, which further helps you get a higher ranking.
So if your goal is to get your website to the top of Google, you should also consider getting ranked among Google News results.
If you go through Google News results on mobile, you’ll see that most of the results are Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). This means you should implement AMP and enhance your AMP content to get ranked on Google News.
AMP helps improve mobile user experience because the content loads instantly. So although it isn’t yet a ranking factor, AMP is likely an indirect factor that influences other ranking factors.
77% of websites, in a collaborative study between Stone Temple and WompMobile experienced an increase in organic traffic after implementing AMP.
There was an average of 27.1% increase in organic traffic and 33.8% increase in SERP impressions. Their SERP click-through rates also increased by 15.3%.
Image Source: Stone Temple
13: Improve Your Social Signals
Google doesn’t consider social signals as a direct ranking factor. However, several studies have identified the correlation between good social media presence and higher search engine ranking.
Cognitive SEO, for instance, found that pages with higher search engine rankings tend to have a larger social media presence.
Image Source: Cognitive SEO
The study found a close correlation between higher rankings and higher social media activity.
This means that the number of likes, comments, and shares you get on social media has some impact on your ranking. This is likely because increased social media activity improves visibility, which can further increase your traffic.
This means that if you want to get your website to the top of Google search results, you need to make sure that you boost your social media presence. Engaging with your audience and sharing valuable content with them can help you rank your site higher.
You’ll need to share relevant and timely posts to catch your followers at the right times. You should also engage with their comments by responding to their queries or generally thanking them for their feedback.
In addition to this, you can conduct polls, ask them questions, etc. to make it more interactive and garner higher engagements.
14: Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Ranking higher on local search results is another crucial step to get ranked on top of Google’s organic search results.
And the best way to improve your local ranking is by optimizing your Google My Business listing. Moz found that GMB signals played the most important role in ranking your business in the local pack.
As you already know, results in the local pack tend to be much more prominent than any other search result.
Image Source: Google search results
Your Google My Business signals also affect your local organic ranking as a whole, according to the Moz analysis. This makes it crucial to optimize your listing if you want to rank higher on Google search results.
Here are a few tips that can help you do that:
- Make sure you fill out all the details of your business correctly. This would include your business name, address, contact information, website URL, category, business hours, and description. Your business name should be exactly as it is in real life, and every other information you provide should be correct.
- Google now allows you to include a business description in your GMB listing. However, the description should not exceed 750 words. You can also optimize this description with relevant keywords in a natural flow.
- Include pictures to accurately represent your business and make your listing more prominent and compelling.
- Create GMB posts to announce upcoming events, sales, or products to keep people updated about your business.
Encourage your customers to leave reviews about your business, products, and services to make sure that your listing stands out.
You can also check out some of the more detailed guidelines from Google on how to accurately represent your business through GMB listings.
15: Have an Effective PPC Strategy
An effective paid advertising strategy may not necessarily affect your ranking directly. However, it’s crucial for raising brand awareness as it helps rank your site prominently among search results and social media feeds alike.
And the increased traffic resulting from increased visibility can build up over time to boost your website ranking.
This makes it crucial to build an integrated SEO and PPC strategy if you want to get your website to the top of Google. The two strategies working together can significantly leverage your website and lift up your rankings twofold.
KoMarketing ran a highly effective SEO campaign and then integrated it with an optimized PPC campaign. This dramatically improved the results that were already achieved through SEO and also helped improve individual keyword performance.
Many of the tips we mentioned touch on marketing strategy. Getting your page to the top of Google's search results relies on technical aspects as well. You can run an SEO audit to also cover bases on many overlooked points.
These are some of the best ways to help you improve your rankings and get ranked on the first page of Google. While some of them may directly affect your rankings, others have a more indirect impact.
But if you want to master how to get your website to the top of Google, you’ll need to prioritize these tactics equally. You can’t afford to ignore something just because it’s a smaller ranking factor.
Now, get to work using the tips above to boost your website rankings and get your website to the top page.