Well, you’ve tried everything. Your SEO plan is solid, your website has a rock-solid foundation with strong keywords, and you’ve been around long enough to gain a bit of search power. You may even have some high-value back links.
But, despite all that, your site just isn’t reaching as high on search engines as it should. So, it may leave you wondering if there’s anything you can do to push it just a little higher.
Search engine optimization is a complex topic, and properly optimizing a web page can be a challenging ordeal. The search ranking of a website can be influenced by numerous factors, and it can be an immense challenge for even the most experienced content marketing guru to make a perfect page.
Even if your content is well-optimized for search engines, and your keyword density is perfect, there are still ways to further raise your page’s rank.
So, without further ado, here are a few quick tricks to increase your website’s search ranking.
Search engines such as Google find headers incredibly important, more so than any other piece of text on a page. You can leverage this to rank higher for your desired keywords by placing them in the title. This works especially well for more specific long-tail keywords.
When search engines are determining the relevance of your web page to a particular search term, they’re not only looking at your page’s raw text but also at its formatting.
If the relevant term is in the header of your page or article, then it will make that page seem more important to that search engine.
However, you should still remain cautious when using this method, as overuse can actually hurt your ranking. You should try not to have multiple headers with the same keyword, as search engines will often see that as an attempt to manipulate search ranking.
If used properly, headers containing keywords can be a powerful tool for increasing the search engine optimization of your content. So, if you’re trying to eke out as much SEO as you can, then this is one tried and true for giving your page just a little bit of a boost.
Strong keywords are keywords surrounded by a specific HTML tag that makes them appear bold. (e.g. <strong>strong text</strong>)
When you’re writing your web page’s content, it’s wise to place those tags around the first instance of each keyword you’re trying to rank for. In much the same way that search engines will look at your page’s formatting to determine if you have keywords in your headers, it will also look for strong text. Search engines will see any strong text as more important than regular text.
You can take advantage of this with your content by surrounding the first, but only the first, instance of each keyword with the tag. This is because the first instance of a keyword is seen as the most important by search engines, and strengthening it will provide a greater boost to your site’s ranking.
However, over-using it can result in your site being given a lower rank or even being de-indexed.
If you’re planning to surround your entire page with strong tags, then that’s probably a bad idea. Although, if used properly, in conjunction with strong content and other good practices, this can be a great tool in any content marketing arsenal.
Relevant Meta Description
A meta description won’t increase your search ranking much. However, it does have a small effect, and, more importantly, a well-written meta description can vastly increase your click-through-rates, and get your site more visits. So, what is a meta description, and why is it so important to your website?
When potential visitors use a search engine, and they see one of your pages, they will see its 150-160 character meta description. Setting a meta description that’s relevant to the search keyword and explains the page itself will attract more visitors.
However, setting a meta description longer than 160 characters could cause it to be truncated, and shorter than 150 could cause it to appear too short to potential visitors. If your website is already indexed, it may be a good idea to search for your page after setting its meta description to make sure it displays properly and reads well.
It’s important to have a unique meta description for each page of your website that relates to that page in specific, as well as the keywords you’re trying to capture, as keywords may be highlighted in meta descriptions, depending on the search engine.
Overall, meta descriptions are a great way to bring in more traffic, which can bump up your search ranking on its own. It’s highly recommended to use relevant meta descriptions to your advantage. However, as is the case with all of these tricks, keyword stuffing can actually hurt your site’s rank, not to mention driving potential visitors away.
Any website worth their salt will have images. However, few will have their images properly tagged with relevant alt-text. It’s a little-known fact that search engines will read the alt-tags of images, and will use them to help determine the relevance of the content, and, subsequently, the search ranking of your page.
It’s a good practice to provide every image on your website with an alt-tag. However, trying to manipulate search engines by stuffing your alt-tags with keywords will only hurt your ranking, so keep that in mind as well.
When it comes to the usage of alt-tags, bigger isn’t always better, and shorter alt-tags will contribute more to your page. So it’s recommended that you use short, relevant alt-tags that actually describe the image or the page. For example, if you’re using a product image, it would be wise to make its alt-tag the product’s name.
Overall, alt-tags can be a great addition to a balanced SEO framework and can contribute to your search ranking more than you’d think. However, over-use and abuse will only lead to lower rankings, and solely relying on alt-tags for your SEO needs is just asking for trouble.
So, while you should always use alt-tags, using only alt-tags can actually hurt your page.
It’s common knowledge in SEO circles that links are powerful. A link to your own site from a reputable site can provide your site with a huge boost, and too many links from disreputable sites can hurt your rank or even get you de-indexed.
However, not many know that while linking to another website will give them more importance in search engines, it will also take some of your own away.
At first glance, that may not make much sense, considering that there are sites containing hundreds, or even thousands of links, that still manage to show up at the top. One example of this is Reddit, which is built around linking to other sites. So, how do these types of sites maintain their search engine ranking? It’s simple; they use “no-follow” links.
When you post a link on Reddit or almost any other social media site, it will turn that link into what’s called a no-follow link. A no-follow link is a link that isn’t taken into account by search engines. No power will be given to the page linked, and no power will be taken from the page providing the link.
Using no-follow links is extremely important for your SEO if you use a lot of links, such as in the case of an affiliate marketing website.
Overall, no-follow links are important for maintaining your SEO. However, there are some cases where it’s more desirable to have normal links, such as in a link-exchange with another site of a similar size.
So, now, you’ve battened down all your hatches. You have all your affiliate links set to no-follow, your images all have perfectly calibrated alt-tags, your meta-descriptions are set up for maximum keyword highlighting, and your headers are relevant and punchy.
So, what now?
These tricks aren’t a quick route to the number one spot on Google. Any single one of them has a very small impact on average and even combined, they merely provide a bit of a boost. There’s no quick route to perfect SEO, and whether you’re a veteran or fresh onto the content marketing bus, making your website seem important to search engines is still a lot of work, and takes time.
This guide isn’t meant to bring your site to the top instantly. These tricks are meant to act as small additions to an existing SEO plan. Without a robust core plan, they won’t help you much.
Remember to pay attention to the other aspects of your SEO strategy as well, and not to linger too long on these tricks. However, they’re still extremely useful, and they might be able to provide your site with just the little boost it needs.
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Updated: Originally published March 24th 2018