Google takes into account a wide range of factors when ranking pages – more than 200 data points according to some reports – which can make it hard to understand how, exactly, you can ensure your website is the first result people see when they conduct searches related to your business.
The first thing you need to be aware of what Google rates most highly. While Google doesn’t make this information easy to come by, the main search ranking factors, according to most industry reports, are:
The third, RankBrain, is Google’s machine learning system, which you can’t really influence, but the first two elements are within your control.
For content, you need to be creating relevant, helpful material that answers the key questions potential customers are asking about your products – you can find out what they’re looking for by conducting your own research and examining the most common Google searches related to your keywords (Google Trends is a good resource to help with this).
For backlinks, the equation is a bit more tricky.
In summary, you want as many high profile sites as possible referring to your domain – so you want sites saying your business is great and providing a link back to your page.
But how do you know who to target to boost your rank?
One of the best ways to do this is to study what your competitors are doing – and why they’re ranking higher than you (assuming that’s the case).
1. Conduct a backlink analysis
A great way to get an understanding of why a competitor is ranking in Google search is to examine the domains that are linking to them.
You can do this in BuzzSumo – using their Backlinks Analysis option, you can enter any website and get a report on exactly which pages are linking to their site.
The report also shows how popular each linking page is, giving you a clear idea on which ones, specifically, are providing their page with the biggest SEO boost.
Using this, you can get an idea of what you should be targeting – and you might even find some sites to target to provide links to your business.
2. Check out social links
BuzzSumo also gives you the ability to look at which social platforms are driving to most traffic to any site.
Using their ‘Most shares’ content research element, you can enter any URL and get a listing of all the social shares each of their posts has had. Based on this, you can get a better understanding of the social platforms driving the most traffic to this site.
While Google doesn’t factor in social signals themselves when ranking pages, social shares do relate to website traffic and subsequent links, which are ranking factors.
By understanding where they’re getting more traffic from, you can get an understanding of where your target audience is most likely to be, and where you should be paying attention.
3. Check out which keywords drive traffic
Another great tool is SEMRush, which will show you (among other things) which keywords are driving the most traffic for any websites.
In SEMRush, you simply enter the URL you want to examine and it’ll give you a listing of that page’s top keywords.
Based on this, you can get a better understanding of what’s leading people to visit a particular site, which can then help you develop your own keyword and content strategy by focusing on the same search terms.
These are some basic ways to get a better understanding of SEO and how to get your site to the number one spot for relevant searches. At the same time, SEO is very complex – you may need additional help to get you on the right path and ensure you’re maximising your efforts.
If that sounds like you, get in touch.