How to Improve Google Search Ranking in 5 Steps (to Drive More Leads)

93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, according to Martech

Wondering how to improve Google search ranking? You’re not alone. Many businesses are investing in search marketing to bring in more leads and customers online–and NOT just drive traffic. Organic leads can be highly qualified, since they are actively seeking out a vendor and kicking off the sales process. Without the right learning, testing, and strategy, organic leads could be a bad fit.

To improve your Google search ranking for qualified leads, you will need to focus on search engine optimization (SEO) & improve your content strategy. SEO is an umbrella term for several tactics that help you identify and then rank for key terms, but you must ensure these terms align to your ideal customer profile.

SEO includes activities such as content writing and publishing, marketing strategy, and technical development. So to succeed with SEO and rank in Google for your chosen terms, you will need skills in content, digital marketing, and website development. But anyone can learn and apply the basics and see an impact.

Our initial recommendation before we dig into the 5 tips is to focus on “white hat” SEO efforts and ensure that the content you create has real value. Don’t try to game the system. You won’t gain anything in the end.

Here are 5 major steps to improve your Google search ranking:

1. Identify a keyword strategy

2. Create and publish content

3. Optimize for on-page SEO

4. Check for and fix any technical errors

5. Measure and optimize based on analytics

While there is much to learn about ranking in Google, we will cover the basics here, from keyword ideation to analysis and refinement.

1. Identify a Keyword Strategy Based on an Ideal Customer Profile

To improve your Google search ranking, first you need a plan. A keyword strategy helps you find and identify keywords that you should be targeting. 

The main idea is to find keywords that will lead to more business. Choose key terms that have a high monthly search volume, and that are not too competitive. There are many free and low-cost tools to help you analyze keywords, like Keywords Everywhere. However, you still need to be relevant to your business and your ideal customer profile. So think critically about even popularly searched terms, and ask, “Will MY audience search for this?” What does my ICP care about? What are their real needs? Too many SEO shops just pursue traffic, which is a pointless exercise by itself.

Your website may already be ranking for some key terms, or you may need to start from scratch earning a ranking position. In any case, try to identify several dozen key terms to keep at the top of your mind, and then choose a smaller handful to focus on right away. 

Be open to the idea that some great keywords are not in your vernacular right now, or that your idea of good keyword targets might not turn up many search results. Keyword research is all about finding what your audience searches, and how they phrase it — not in dictating exactly what you want to say.

Begin to document keywords and phrases based on interviews of customers, prospects, and within commercial circles of influence. Use tools like SEMRush to look for keyword search volume once you have a sense of buyer interest and intention–not before.

See below for an example of how SEMRush and similar tools allow you to research volume and compare related keywords.

SEMRush

2. Create and Publish Content (for Humans)

The importance of publishing content to rank in Google searches cannot be understated! Content marketing — and lots of it — is a major factor to seeing your rankings grow and grow. Content marketing can take several forms:

  • One is your website page copy, which you probably already have. You can optimize website page content by adding keyword instances to the page, especially in important places like the headers.
  • You can also create new pages dedicated to a key term, often called an SEO page. SEO pages include a form and are built for lead conversion.
  • Also important is blogging for SEO. A blog is a great way to publish content consistently around key terms. And Google likes to see that you have fresh content. Try to publish once per week or more, with key terms in mind. 

By creating topic clusters, you organize many content pieces around one central target keyword. When you write SEO copy, please make it clear that you are writing for people–not robots. We know that many SEO firms merely focusing on short-term results–hacking your way to #1 rankings. This short-term thinking comes with long-term pain. Keep it simple: write for humans. Good content is critical.

3. Optimize for On-page SEO (Be Sure You Prioritize)

On-page SEO refers to actions you take on your website pages and content to improve visibility for a certain keyword. You can optimize both new and old pages in this way. Before you start, identify your pages that have the most opportunity based on the needs of your buyers. There is no way around it… You must actually talk to your buyers to understand their needs. Companies that don’t set priorities for optimization simply spread their resources too thin.

Some on-page tactics include updating your coded headers (h1s and h2s) and your image “alt text” around keyword targets. You can also add more keyword-rich language to the page. Updating content on high-priority pages is also recommended. Read the content first and ask yourself, “Is this content good and useful to our buyers?”

Finally, link between pages using keywords in your anchor text. For example, “For more, explore [keyword]” is better than “For more, [click here].” Optimizing for on-page SEO makes your pages more visible for key terms when Google crawls them, meaning a better ranking for you.

We use SEMRush for identifying pages to optimize. There are other great tools too, such as Agency Analytics or SpyFu.

4. Check for and Fix Technical Errors

No matter how hard you try with content marketing and on-page optimization, if you have technical SEO errors on your website you will be held back from ranking in Google. You can run basic SEO tests using Google’s PageSpeed Insights or HubSpot’s Website Grader. 

Some technical issues you may reveal include: 

  • A slow-loading page
  • No mobile-friendly site
  • A “nofollow” or “noindex” signal in your robots.txt file, which Google reads when crawling your website
  • Poor mobile design
  • Too much Javascript or too many server calls
  • Large data requests–poorly coded SQL requests
  • External dependencies

Make sure that you hire a knowledgeable developer when building and updating your site. If you find technical issues through one of the auditing tools mentioned above, your developer can help you fix it. Sometimes it’s as simple as downsizing images or reorganizing the code on the page.

5. Measure and Optimize Based on Analytics

How do you know if your efforts are a success? Track your keyword rankings with a tool such as Agency Analytics. By tracking performance week over week, you can see which actions have a big impact. 

For example, maybe a series of blog posts you published around a keyword is performing really well, so you might opt to create some more just like it. Or your might find that one keyword ranking is slipping this month, leading you to strategize and optimize there.

In addition to keyword rankings, you should track the number of new leads that come in from organic search. This will require a CRM tool with built-in attribution data, or some custom filters in your Google Analytics dashboard. 

Make sure to assess: How is the quality of your leads? Are people coming, and then leaving without becoming leads at all? The analytics will help you adjust your strategy by focusing more on keywords that are business-related with clearer sales intent and lead generation potential.

Conclusion

Every step in this 5-step process is equally important to improving your Google search ranking. You will see traction after following this process for some time (as long as you focus on buyer needs and buyer intention). Once you start to put these practices in place, you’ll definitely become addicted to strategizing and ranking for more keywords!

Sources:

Martech quoting SEO Tribunal, June 2018 “Organic Search Statistics for 2018”



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Ironpaper is a B2B marketing agency and lead generation agency. Ironpaper integrates design, technology and marketing for the web to drive meaningful results for clients. We are based in New York City and Charlotte, NC.