So, you’ve written this great article and you’re really proud of it. Now what? Obviously you want people to read it. Well how do you go about that? You can tell people about it directly, think of your mailing list or word of mouth. You can post it on social media too. Will that get you traffic, sure but, the real source of traffic is organic.
What’s organic? It’s the traffic that makes it to your site(s) by finding you through the search engines. As such, you really want your posts and site to rank high in the search engine results. This post on How to Improve a Search Engine Ranking is all about getting your pages to rank in the search engines and ways to improve your existing rankings.
Let’s take a look at why search engine ranking matters, How to Improve a Search Engine Ranking, things to keep in mind as you write future articles and other ways you can generate traffic…
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It matters because most of your traffic is likely to come from people that find you when they search for a word or phrase in a search engine. The higher your article ranks for a particular keyword or phrase in a search engine, the sooner your potential traffic will see it.
Think of it this way: Imagine you’re performing a search for something. How many pages will you scroll through when looking at the results? For me, it’s five tops. Any results after page five, I won’t even look at, let alone follow. Now that’s just me. Someone else may have a much shorter attention span on only look at the top three pages of results or even only page one.
This is why it’s imperative to shoot for the highest ranking possible. Imagine how much traffic you might get if you hit page one or, better yet, spot one on page one! I’m willing to bet it’s a lot more than what you’d see if you landed on page three or five. BTW, you can get an idea of the amount of traffic you could expect if you were to rank on page one of Google for a specific word or phrase using the Jaaxy keyword search platform that I reviewed here.
So, my article is already published and the search engines know about it. It’s not where I’d like it to be so what are the steps to improving a search engine ranking? There are a few things you can do:
SEO, or search engine optimization, is practically a must-have these days. These are tools to help you make sure your site is optimized for the search engines (basically making them more appealing/compatible). This is one of the best things you can do to help get your post and site ready for the search engines.
Don’t just copy and paste something someone else wrote. Make it your own. You can say the same thing but put it into your own words. Search engines are getting smarter every day. They are interested in new and unique content.
This is just a generalization but, you should strive to make your post a reasonable length. Don’t just slap 500 words up and expect it to rank well. The search engines have been giving more weight to longer posts. That doesn’t mean fill your posts with fluff, they’re smart enough to know when someone is simply stuffing an article.
If you have something to write about, surely you can come up with enough content to make the article of real use to your visitors. Shoot for 1000 words minimum and, if you can, 2000+ would be ideal. My posts tend to fluctuate between 1200 and 2500 words or so and it’s working well for me.
Update the graphics and images, used in your post, making sure they are relevant to the content. If you don’t have any, get some. Make sure to name them appropriately and provide alt tag information. If your post is about coffee, an image of a Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t make sense.
If you did your research beforehand, you should know what your target keyword or phrase is. Make sure you use it. I suggest using it in your title and the first and last paragraphs of your article.
Although you can manually code your meta information, most SEO solutions will make generating and editing this information much easier. One of the most important fields for SEO optimization is the meta description field. Think of this as the little excerpt that’s shown in the search results.
Most plugins will automatically fill this in with the first few words of your post. I suggest you edit it to make sense as a summary of your post’s content and be sure to include the keyword you’re trying to rank for in that description.
The search engines know that people are starting to look at alternative ways to get their information. Adding a video clip to your content shows that you’re offering multiple ways to disseminate your information and can earn you some brownie points when it comes to ranking.
When the search engines are looking at your content they’re also looking for engagement. One of the best ways to show this is to encourage commenting on your post. Put in a call to action right there in your post. Ask your readers to comment. Maybe they have experience with what you’re writing about or maybe you’re writing on a very controversial topic. Either way, ask your readers to give you their opinion. It’s a great way to spark others into engaging and will definitely get the search engine’s attention.
These aren’t the only ways to increase your search engine rankings but they are some of the best. Now let’s take a look things to keep in mind for articles you haven’t written yet that will help you to get rankings quickly…
Content can become stale. Revisit your posts from time to time to see what could be updated or add new information that wasn’t available when you first wrote them. The search engines eat this up and, many times, will move a post up the ranks as they see the new or updated content.
You don’t have to do all of these but, the more effort you put forth and the more items you check off of this list, the better off you’ll be when it comes to ranking in the search engines.
This section will be a bit shorter. Not because there’s not as much to do for a new article, it’s actually quite the opposite, but because everything listed in the previous section applies to new articles too and I don’t need to repeat it here. This section will simply focus on the stuff that isn’t listed above.
Before you even start to write an article, do your keyword research. The keywords you choose to focus on can have a huge impact on where your article lands in the search engine results. By simply making a small alteration to your keyword phrase, you might go from having 1000 competing sites to 37. See my post on 3 Tips for Writing A Blog Post for Your Website for more information on this.
Consider breaking down your primary topic into multiple supporting topics, each one lending themselves to your over-all point of view. By placing this information into your article, you’re helping to support your topic and the search engine algorithms are getting to the point where they can actually understand relevant content and make the link between it and your keywords.
If your site is about car maintenance, an article on the latest Baskin Robbins ice cream flavor probably isn’t relevant. Not only are your articles being ranked but your site as a whole is as well. Write content relevant to your site and to the other content on it. This will help your overall site ranking in the long run.
Those are really the top three things (not already listed in the previous section) that I can think of when it comes to creating a new post from scratch. If you all of them into account when you create a new post, you’ll be more likely to rank higher in the search engines.
Organic traffic isn’t the only traffic. Although this post is focused on How to Improve a Search Engine Ranking, I still wanted to leave you with other options for getting traffic to your site. Here are some options:
Don’t underestimate the power of social media. Join relevant groups. Share your posts on your main feeds and any groups that are appropriate (don’t violate any group rules or policies about spamming or soliciting). Engage in those groups. As you interact with others, you’ll build a reputation and level of trust with them.
If your budget allows and you think you have something worth paying a company to advertise for you, consider running a campaign. It can be on social media sites, through ad networks like Google AdSense, etc. If your target audience is set up right and you have an eye-catching ad, it can be a great source to get traffic to your site and people to notice you.
Hopefully you have a mailing list going. Maybe you’ve collected your own, purchased one or use some sort of service. Whatever it may be, use it. Send out new post notifications. Consider posting a latest news type of newsletter from time to time. This can drive traffic to your site, if done correctly.
See these posts for more information that you might find useful:
Be proud of your work. Tell your family and friends about it. Let your co-workers know. You never know who might help you spread the word. Any traffic is good traffic.
I’m not a huge fan of these types of traffic sources. Basically they offer back links or get people to follow a link but most of the time they hit your site and bail. Then it just looks like bounced traffic and that’s not what you want.
Still, I thought I’d list it here as it is a way to generate traffic. Now and then you might catch someone that will actually stick around and become a regular visitor. I just think it’s not cost effective.
I’m sure there are other ways out there that I haven’t listed here but you get the idea. There’s more than one way to skin a cat and there’s more than one source to get traffic to your site.
So there you go, How to Improve a Search Engine Ranking. What do you think? Go ahead and review your existing posts to see where you might be able to take advantage of some of these suggestions. What can it hurt? Don’t forget to keep these topics in mind when you go to write your new posts too. It will just save you time in the long run and will help you to get your posts higher in the ranks.
Do you have some older articles that can benefit from the suggestions above? Have you applied any of these suggestions and want to share your results? Do you have other suggestions that you think should be listed here? Please let me know by commenting below (Aha! That engagement piece, help me out). I read and respond to each and every one.