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15 tips to improve your website's Google Search ranking

A prospective customer searching on Google

Struggling to reach the holy grail of a Page 1 Google Search ranking? Tell me about it... 😉

The savvy companies managing to achieve a first-page Google website ranking are set up for success:

And if one of those searchers lands on your website, they might buy from you. That’s the value of strong SEO right there.

The challenge is that getting your website to the top of Google isn’t straightforward. There are only 10 results on the first page, excluding those in the extra bits like ‘People also ask’ and so on.

Some copywriters or digital marketers may claim that they know exactly how to get your business to show up on Google first. In reality, it greatly depends on your brand’s performance and reputation.

Alternatively, those saying they know how to make your website appear on the first page of Google may only do so for terms that very few people are searching for.

That said, there are lots of ways you can optimise your website’s content and achieve a higher Google Search ranking:

1. Primary keywords

Find the main terms your audience is looking for, then include them several times in your content.

Don’t resort to keyword stuffing, though - Google will penalise that and your readers will stop reading quickly.

In a blog article, these are good places to include the primary keyword:

  • Article title (H1)

  • The first sentence or first 100 words

Some digital marketers also estimate that it’s worth including the primary keyword:

  • In an article subtitle (H2)

  • Several other times in the article

You may see diminishing returns for this though. As long as you don’t have a primary keyword density of more than 1-2% (once or twice per 100 words) then it shouldn’t count as keyword stuffing.

2. Secondary keywords and more

There are also secondary keywords you can target, by including once or twice per article. These don’t have as much SEO value as primary ones, but they play a useful supporting role.

They are long-tail keywords, at the end of a volume curvy looking at search volume versus the number of keywords. These are usually longer, more specific, or more niche phrases - therefore, they’re easier or less competitive to achieve a ranking for.

To find keywords, type your category into the Google Search bar and see what comes up. For more keywords, try the likes of:

Instead of secondary keywords, you could alternatively focus on natural language processing (NLP) phrases - if you have the tools to do so e.g. by using Python.

Google introduced its bidirectional encoder representations from transformers (BERT) algorithm, an NLP framework, in 2019. It’s an attempt to better represent the intent and context behind search queries.

3. Quality content

No reader wants to take in badly written, boring, generic content. Google Search doesn’t want to promote it either.

Blog articles need to add value. They should be interesting and share information in an engaging way.

Content that looks like spam - for example, due to keyword stuffing - will be treated like spam by Google’s algorithms and penalised in the results accordingly.

4. Featured snippets

A featured snippet is a box that stands out on the first results page, usually with a descriptive answer to the searcher’s query.

Having one of your website’s pages linked in a featured snippet box, along with some of your written content, is a great way to separate yourself from the first-page pack.

If you win the right to it, that is. While a clever copywriter knows how to boost your chances of landing a coveted featured snippet, there’s no way of guaranteeing it organically and you can’t pay for it either.

5. Meta descriptions

These are brief written summaries for web pages. A good meta description, adhering to Google’s best practices, can improve a page’s click-through rate.

Use a meta description to tell searchers more about what they can expect to see on the page, beyond what the page title already suggests.

To learn more about the dos and don’ts around meta descriptions, check out this short guide from Moz.

6. Interesting images

While written content is the priority - it’s what searchers will go to your website for and what Google will primarily rank your page on - images can help seal the deal.

Many people will click on an article just because the thumbnail image looks interesting! And in some cases, a picture is worth a thousand words, particularly if it’s a diagram explaining a complex process.

Just make sure you:

  1. Don’t compromise your website’s loading speed by adding too many images, or an image with an unnecessarily high resolution - Google penalises slow website loading times

  2. Include ‘image alt text’ - this helps Google to crawl, index, and rank your content

If needed, you can source royalty-free stock images from the likes of Unsplash, Pixabay and so on.

7. Internal links

In a blog article, include hyperlinks to other relevant pages from your website. This can help to improve your Google Search ranking.

It also boosts the user-friendliness of your content, helping readers to navigate their way around your website.

Don’t overdo it though, otherwise, it will look like spam and put off your readers.

8. External backlinks and backlinks

Also include a few relevant links to other websites, such as those of trusted independent sources (but not your competitors).

They can help add credibility to your content and show signs of well-researched material. In doing so, you also create a backlink for other websites i.e. you may help increase their traffic.

Ideally, you also want your website to become a backlink magnet, with other websites linking to yours and using your content as a trusted independent source.

9. Socially sociable

The more people share your content, the more likely some will link it too if they think your material is credible, authoritative, and adds value.

Over time, this should result in more external backlinks. So, it’s a good idea to promote your content on your social media channels - and ask your colleagues to do this too.

Make your content easy for readers to share, by including social sharing buttons in your blog posts.

10. Proofreading

Keeping your blog free of obvious errors is a good way to earn readers’ trust and increase your content’s shareability.

Check the writing for:

  • Spelling

  • Grammar

  • Verb tenses

  • Sentence structure

  • Style guide consistency

  • Unnecessary jargon

  • Consistency

  • Formatting

  • Flow

  • Tone

  • Proper nouns (in particular, for your own brand and product names)

Google Docs and Microsoft Word have built-in spelling and grammar checkers, but for a more comprehensive review, try Grammarly.

11. Consumable content

People are more likely to read and share your content if it’s easy to digest. Break up longer articles with subheadings and bullet point lists.

Also consider if your content could be shorter, more concise, or just basically get to the point quicker!

That said, there are good reasons for having long articles on your website. According to Backlinko, articles between 1000-2000 words long receive 56% more social shares than those that are shorter.

12. Word count

Here are two other word count considerations to keep in mind as well:

  1. If an article is too long, people won’t read it

  2. If it’s too short, it may not be authoritative enough or share the required level of expertise

For the first scenario, consider turning your content into a downloadable thought leadership report or an ebook, with chapters and page numbers. For the second, use competitors’ articles on the subject as a guide for how long your content should be.

13. Updates and optimisations

Regularly check your content to see if it needs updating. Make sure the information it includes isn’t out of date.

Also be prepared to add extra material to high-performing content to keep it fresh, relevant, and useful.

In some cases, it may be worth optimising your old content for better SEO. A good way to do this is by making sure it’s targeting the right primary keyword and secondary keywords.

14. PPC

If you don’t mind having your content clearly labelled as an advert, or sponsored, here’s how to get on the first page of Google - pay per click (PPC).

The downsides are that it can cost a lot of money and many searchers will try to avoid clicking on Google Ads, preferring to look for organically promoted content instead.

However, while you’re aiming to improve your organic Google Search ranking, you could consider paid advertising as a more immediate way to see results - budget permitting.

15. Other advice

Overall, there’s a wide range of other Google ranking factors, some proven and others open to debate.

Other criteria influencing your Google Search ranking include:

  • Page speed

  • Mobile optimisation

  • Map listings


  • Location

There are many more granular tips I could share - such as watching out for broken internal links and fixing them - but arguably, the ones above are the most relevant and interesting.

Final thoughts: Improving your website’s Google Search ranking

Hopefully, this guide has given you some new tips on how to improve Google Search ranking criteria for your written content.

However, if you’re looking to learn more about how Google algorithms fetch results for searchers’ queries, you can hear it straight from the horse’s mouth - here’s how Search works.

Lots of services are available if you’re looking for help improving your website’s Google Search ranking.

While no copywriter or digital marketer can take a website from nowhere to a first-page ranking based on their work alone, there’s plenty a good one can achieve.

I can strengthen your website content, giving you a much better chance of a high Google Search ranking - please get in touch to find out more.


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