How can I get better search engine rankings?

This is a question that people ask me all the time and, in all honesty, it takes more than a handful of SEO tips to get high up on Google search. These days the most important aspects of SEO involve a long term strategy and consistent work to create an excellent website. It might be contentious but I am pleased that the days of quick and easy rankings boosting tricks are behind us. I’ve never been a big fan of techniques that were designed to deceive the search engines because so many of them were detrimental to website users.

Many of Google’s new SEO “rules” are designed to provide users with excellent search results. Google doesn’t always get their algorithm right but I support the notion that we should strive to give website visitors a great experience when they visit our sites.

It can be very frustrating though if you know you have a great business but your rankings don’t reflect your offline prominence. If this describes your situation, you need to find out how Google sees your site and compare it with the factors that Google (and Bing) take into consideration. Unfortunately, they don’t just publish a nice checklist for us to follow! However, the good folks over on the Moz blog have reviewed an excellent piece of research from SearchMetrics and created a detailed analysis of what mattered most to Google in 2014. If you read this report, you will also notice how things have evolved in just a year, since the 2013 analysis.

So, you are looking at this page because you want to know how to rank high on Google - or Bing. When I start working with a client, I begin by finding out how their site performs against the most important ranking factors. This gives us a clear picture of what’s going on with their site and then they can begin to work through a prioritised list of activities. This is the first step of a 3 part approach to improving SEO rankings: Audit - identify what needs fixing and make a plan to fix it;
Fixing - we systematically work through a list which allows us to remove the barriers to improving rankings;
Building - with firm foundations, we can begin working on strategies to develop better rankings and establish the expertise and authoritativeness of the website.

This is the method I would recommend you always follow when working on your own site. Even if you’ve already had an audit, another one is worthwhile. There are 2 reasons for this. Firstly, SEO changes all the time so tips from 2013 might actually harm your rankings in 2015. Secondly, negative SEO exists and your site could be hacked or become a victim of a plagiarism attack or backlink dumping, for example. You need to monitor and respond.

In some ways, SEO is very like any other aspect of business. You already know what you want to achieve (better rankings) but you should find out where you are now. Then, make a plan, follow your plan and then check regularly that you are still on track.

What are your thoughts on SEO and the best ways to improve your rankings? Have you found this post helpful? I’d love to hear your views.

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