Fix the Basics
Want to rank high on Google? Like, on the first page (or at least higher than you are today? There’s no secret – just hard work. Here’s a guide on the basics of fixing your on site SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in order to rank high on Google. Before you do anything fancy on your website, do these first. You do not want to bring down the quality score of your website. Remember, if you have low quality pages on your site, your entire website suffers the penalty – not just that one page.
Prevention vs. Real Penalties
You will see a huge improvement and avoid or correct penalties from the Google Panda update. This will help you rank high on Google. If you have seen a consistent drop in traffic or rankings that could be an indicator that you are suffering from a penalty. It is harder to recover from a penalty than to prevent one altogether. Even if you do not have any signs of a penalty right now, it’s almost certain that you will get at least a minor penalty if the basics are not taken care of.
How Can I Check If I Have A Google Panda Penalty?
Sometimes it can be difficult to see if you actually have Google penalty on your website. After spending approximately 30 minutes quickly checking these helpful resources, you will get a really good picture of what you need to improve so you can achieve your objective: rank high on Google. Use these sources:
- Google Transparency Tool – Just punch in your URL
- Page Speed Insights – check your mobile and desktop score
- Google Analytics – check traffic consistency, filter spam traffic, and low performing pages
- SEO Ranking Report – check rankings are steady without major drops
- GT Metrix – check site speesd
- Google Webmaster Tools/Search Console – check for errors
- Siteliner– check duplicate content
The Basics of Ranking High on Google
Complete these and your SEO will see an upgrade. When small business owners ask me “How can I rank on the first page of Google?” I say you have to do all of these things to start. They then get discouraged that it’s not a simple answer and that they can just pay someone to do all in one day. Once a small business owner realizes that they need to get serious about their SEO and take action, they see major improvements. The hard part is that it takes time and a whole lot of effort to rank high on Google. The items listed below all work together and are all important.
Google Search Console
If you haven’t already, sign up for a free account. Formerly, Webmaster Tools, Google Search Console can increase the frequency in which Google crawls your site if you have better internal linking and site structure. In order words, each page on your blog needs text linked to another page on your site that makes sense and an external site. Site structure is simply setting up your site in a way that makes sense with dropdowns and your navigation. If it’s hard for humans to click around your site, it’s hard for Google to understand your site.
Basic SEO Title Tags
The truth is the majority of SEOs are not truly optimizing SEO title tags - so double check their work. Quality title tags are 50-60 characters and convince a searcher to click. If the titles are more or less than this number, there is a chance that the title you wrote won’t show up on the results.
Thin Content & Indexing Pages
Some of this information applies only for sites with WordPress. There are alternatives if you have another provider.
If you have thin content pages on your website, you have 3 choices to avoid a Google penalty so you can rank high on Google:
- Delete the page and do a 301 redirect
- No Index, Do Follow the page
- Add more content and fix the page for high quality user experience
Any pages on your website with less than 100-200 words would be considered thin content. This is also the minimum amount. A good website standard is 300-600 words plus pictures, videos, and constantly refreshed content. However, if your competitors that you want to rank above are doing a better job, you have to compete on a higher level.
After doing all this great work to your best website pages, make sure it counts. Go to Google.com and type in your website like this without spaces:
Only let Google index the pages that contain high quality content with at least 300 words. If you don’t, all that work will be diluted between hundreds of pages on your site, making Google bots do too much crawling. AS a result, they will crawl your site less often and if they do crawl, you won’t get as much credit if you have poor quality pages. Any other pages you need to no index, do follow if they still have great content for visitors such as a thank you page for filling out a form or affiliate links page. Use Yoast if you have WordPress. Yoast also has a guide on indexing pages.
Duplicate Content and Protection
Duplicate content on your website is one of the main reasons for penalties. Use siteliner.com to check and identify any duplicate content. Remove this immediately.
There are 2 types of duplicate content:
- Duplicate content within your own site
- Duplicate content from other websites
Prevent or eliminate duplicate content by:
- Installing Google Authorship – also gets profile picture next to result to increase CTR
- Rewriting duplicate content
- Installing DMCA.com logos and SSL certificate
- Include a policy on your website
- No Index, Do follow pages
- Delete pages with a 301 redirect
Check GTmetrix.com to see how fast your site loads. The general rule is if it doesn’t load within 2 seconds, your rankings will suffer on search engines. On the flip side, most humans will hit the back button and click onto the next result also known as pogosticking. Identify the problems and have your web team fix them. Gtmetrix.com – fix them.
You can also use Search Console for site speed. Go to crawl – fetch as google to test load time of individual pages. Insert url, click fetch, click success link under fetch status.
Fix Broken Links
This is an important consideration to rank high on Google. Webmaster tools will tell you if you have broken links. Fix them by hand using 301 redirects, deleting pages with 301 redirects, or improving thin content pages. Be careful when using broken link plugins because some may lead to penalties or viruses.
Create A Blog and Stay Active
Posting fresh content daily is best. Any amount of fresh, original content is one of the best things you can do for your site. As a small business owner, this can be difficult to find the time and do it correctly. Try writing 1 blog per week and post news snippets as often as you can. This will still have the effect of posting fresh content daily but will take less time. For example, if you go to a networking event or speak in town or hold an event or have a 10 year business anniversary, go ahead and post 1 picture and a sentence or 2 and bam! you now have fresh content.
You may be posting daily already on social media. If you post daily or Facebook or Twitter, you are not getting credit for fresh content on your site. In my past experience, posting on Google+ holds more weight than other social media sites in order to rank high on Google. You can also set all of the blogs up for a month with future release dates to save time and focus only once per month instead of weekly.
Make Your Own Success
If you want success, simply improve your website the old fashioned way using the methods that have proven to work above. As always, Google changes its algorithm twice per day so these steps to success may and will change over time. Get serious about your SEO and see major improvements.