How to improve your SEO search rankings : [Download 2021 Guide]

Written by Fraser McCulloch.

Home : SEO : How to improve your SEO search rankings : [Download 2021 Guide]

Learn how to improve your seo search rankings and traffic in 2021; download this guide now.

Start with Google Analytics Goals

Before you can improve traffic from the search engines you need to take stock of where you are right now.

Go into Google Analytics and look at your organic traffic for the last 12 months.

Then look at the number of goals you have completed.

Then average your monthly traffic, your monthly goals and your monthly conversion rate.

For example, I had :

  • 26,134 organic visits
  • 2.37% goal conversion rate
  • 620 goals completed

If you don’t have access to this data or report, then ask your web designer or else you’ll have to do this manually.

So I’m average around 2,000 organic visits per month.

And my goal is to reach 3,000 monthly visits by the end of the year.

You may want to be more adventurous or aggressive with your goals.

  • Find out your current traffic levels
  • Write down your traffic goal.

Google Search Console

My first starting point is to improve the pages that I am already ranking for.

So I jump into Google Search Console to discover my top ranking pages, the search queries they rank for, the clicks they get and the current positions.

It is much easier and faster to improve existing page rankings and clicks than to wait 3 to 6 months for new pages to deliver new traffic.

Page maturity seems to be a ranking factor.

Here’s a couple of existing pages I recently improve and you can see the improvements.

I updated this page on the 31 December then traffic grow significantly in the days thereafter.

Find organic traffic opportunities

To find traffic opportunities with Google Search Console:

  • Click Performance
  • Click last 28 days
  • Click Pages

This report will show your top pages, the clicks and impressions.

There’s no right or wrong approach to choosing pages to improve but I would recommend focusing on your top 10 to 15 pages (outwith your home page).

Keywords on page 1

Alternatively you could focus on keywords that are already ranking at the bottom of page 1.

I’ve created this Google DataStudio report using Search Console data which displays search terms that rank on page.

Simply hover over a large bubble towards the lower part of page 1 and the seach query, impression and position will appear.

  • Identify a few page 1 opportunities
  • Find the page these queries rank for
  • Put the query and page url into a spreadsheet like this.

Keywords on page 2

Now look for search queries that your website ranks on page 2 of Google.

Within Google Search Console you can filter queries by positions 11 to 20.

Or use a Data Studio bubble report like mine.

The keywords that I focus on are those with an element of commercial or purchase intent.

So in order of priority focus on :

  1. Purchase Decision keywords
  2. Comparison or alternative keywords
  3. Informational search queries
  4. Problem recognition keywords

The search query “how to do seo yourself” at an average position of 12 would interest me because these are the type of people who may want a training course I sell to help them do this work by themselves.

Add the queries and pages to your spreadsheet.

User intent audit

Now that you’ve found some pages and keywords to work on, next you need to audit those pages to check if you are serving the intent of users who search these queries.

What do I mean by user intent ?

Search intent is fairly obviously.

If a person searches for “freelance seo expert” they are looking for an expert providing seo as a service.

User intent is that they want to HIRE someone.

Therefore the page content has to be geared towards hiring, not how to be an expert or a list of the top experts in the industry.

I made the mistake of creating a “how to” hire an seo expert in the first version of my page.

And I ranked poorly.

After auditing user intent I rewrote the page to focus on hiring me as an expert; I included case studies, testimonials, quotes, graphs and mentioned my years of experience.

Pages need correct content types

There are some common content types that are aligned with user intent.

  • How to Article – use this when the target query contains “how to”
  • Guide – this format format is typically used when people search “best” or “top”
  • Service Category Page eg: if you searched “seo services” Google will rank service category pages near the top
  • Service Page eg: someone searching “book keeping service”
  • Ecommerce Category Page – used when people search something like “mens black jeans”
  • Ecommerce Product Page – typically when they know the exact product eg: nike mens golf black hoodie
  • Review Article – when the user includes “review” in their search query looking for trusted reviews of a product or service
  • Comparison Article – when the user includes vs, versus, alternative in their search query whilst deciding between competing products
  • Calculator – when the user’s search query contains “calculator” they want to see and use a calculator on the top pages.

If your page has the wrong content type it’s going to struggle to rank higher in Google.

Place main keyword phrase at start of title

Ideally you want to put the main keyword that your page is targeting in Google at the very start of the title.

The simple reason being is that English speaking people read from left to right.

So, quite simply you earn attention and understanding quicker.

For local businesses such as an accountancy practice I will write their home page title as follows :

Whilst there’s no proof, it has been suggested the keyword in the page title is a minor ranking factor.

Meta description an extension of page title

The meta description is an html element or short paragraph summarising a web page that users see below the page title of a page in Google’s search results.

A meta description is not a ranking factor but a good description can encourage people to click your page result in the SERPs.

In a study by Ahrefs, they found that Google rewrite 62.78% of unique page descriptions.

So don’t worry too much about the meta description.

Check above the fold content on mobile device

Google use the mobile version of your page content for ranking so how your page appears on a mobile phone is crucial to ranking and traffic growth.

Recently I found that 63% of traffic comes from mobile devices.

In fact I have some clients where 90% of their total organic traffic comes from mobile phones.

In this guide I provide a very simple above the fold checklist to enhance the user experience of your website.

Grab your phone and open up a web page from your website.

  1. Can you read the title or header of the page?
  2. Can you read the first sentence of the page ?
  3. Is there a clear benefit before you scroll down the page ?

If you answer no to any of these questions then I suggest you speak to your web desginer or developer about improving this section of your pages.

Information gain scores

I use a couple of tools that help me improve my page relevance and see gaps between my page content and those of the top ranking pages.

For example, my organic traffic to this page was in decline for the last 6 months.

I identified some gaps; in fact there still are some gaps.

The topics highlighted in grey were missing from my page.

So that’s how you can add relevant content.

I’m working with a home improvement company.

They have a number of pages ranked on page 2 of Google.

I identified that their content could be enhanced by adding related questions on their product pages.

What is information gain scores?

Google have a patent which, if I summarise says, “information gain scores indicate how much more information one source may bring to a person who has seen other sources on the same topic.

Pages with higher information gain scores may be ranked higher than pages with lower information gain scores.”

In other words, what other unique content does your page have that other web pages don’t ?

Sub headings and passage indexing

Good writers use sub headings as they write a web page.

Subheadings help to break up a long answer to a question.

But recently, Google has introduced Passage Indexing.

What this means is that Google will be able to rank relevant passages of content from a long article.

This will improve long tail search queries that may provide more relevant answers that the top ranked pages.

Republish content on existing url

The page URL ie: /seo-for-small-business/ is a small but strong on page ranking factor.

When you rewrite or improve the content of a page republish it on the existing url.

Google favour mature, already ranked pages so you’ll see a faster improvement in rankings and organic visits by utilising the same url as before.

Add internal links

Internal links are links from one page of your website to another page.

Internal links are an overlooked tactic to help crawl your pages faster and boost your rankings and traffic.

You can use 2 tools to identify internal link opportunities; Google Search Console and Ahrefs.

Ahrefs will tell you exactly which pages to link to and from and the anchor text to use in the link.

In addition, their tool will identify orphan pages that don’t have any other pages linking to them.

Audit page load and speed

As mobile search traffic grows so your pages must load faster if you want to capitalise on organic search growth.

This is not something a non developer can fix; although WordPress tools such as WP Rocket can significantly boost loading time and site speed.

Learn how to earn links

Links from other websites in your industry are by far one of the strongest ranking factors.

There’s no such thing as “getting links” and buying links is frowned upon by Google.

So the way you earn links is through providing valuable, useful and linkable assets on your pages that other websites can use on their website.

For example, I just wrote an seo guide for small business owners.

When researching this article I need to include information about the number of small businesses in the UK and USA for page relevancy.

I searched Google and found 2 different websites with this information.

I used their information on my pages and out of courtesy linked to their page as the source article.

That’s how these other 2 websites earned a link.

  • Data Studies
  • Industry Studies such as salary guides
  • Statistics and quotes
  • Surveys
  • Graphs, charts, infographics

Of course outreach tactics such as guest blogging where you write blog post for another website, finding broken links and finding relevant directories can still all result in new backlinks.

Use the buyers journey and content gaps to reach your audience

I’m currently writing a bunch of new pages around the topic of “seo”.

I set my traffic goal and realised I need to expand the number of pages on my website to reach a broader audience.

Here’s the click forecast I created.

If I were to rank on page 1 for all these pages I would earn an additional 27,000 visits per month.

And I’m only producing half the pages on this list.

But these are really difficult topics to rank and earn traffic.

So I am pursuing the long tail keywords of these topics.

Typically I recommend to clients that they target people at the top, middle and bottom of the buyers journey like so.

But in my case I have a gap in content – I want to reach those people searching for seo questions

Next Steps

That is how you increase organic traffic.

It’s a significant time and money investment but your traffic will grow and compound over time.

If you need to fast track your growth, my training course will help you reach your goal faster.