If you have a website, you've no doubt asked yourself at one point in time, "how do I rank better in Google". If you don't quite understand, by rank I mean showing up when someone performs a search on Google. Ideally you will show up for search terms that are related to your product or service in some way so that if that searcher visits your website from the search, you can provide an answer.
Also if you are like most people you realize the importance of ranking higher (or better) in Google as you probably don't go too far past the first page of results, if you do at all.
Before I get too far, there is one point that must be made. You must rank well, yes...but rank alone shouldn't be a metric used to determine the success or failure. If you rank #1 for a term you thought you should rank for but it results in no leads, it's worthless. You must rank to get traffic, but the focus of that traffic must be on generating leads, sales, or whatever conversion you are hoping to achieve. That's not saying to ignore rank all together. By having a grasp on where you are ranking and for what terms you are ranking for, you can use that information to help steer your overall strategy.
Now that you understand the importance, let's move on to actually improving your Google rank!
First let's start with the organic rank. In the image below, organic results are in the pink box. When I say organic, that means that you cannot pay to be listed in those positions, you have to earn them. So the first step in ranking better on Google is understanding how to earn those positions. This isn't a technical post, so I'm not going to get into the dirty stuff, but instead the big picture ideas.
When it boils down to it there are only 2 ways to rank better in Google.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) are tactics geared towards helping a website rank ORGANICALLY for related terms. SEO takes time and you will not rank with a flick of a switch. A good SEO strategy should focus on several areas:
How your website is built.
The funky looking HTML code that lives behind your website matters. It is the foundation of your website. A poor foundation can only get you so far.
How your website performs.
Google wants their users to have a good experience, so you can understand why they would be hesitant to send people to a website with poor usability. This means it loads fast, renders well, works on mobile, doesn't throw back errors, etc.
The content on your website.
With SEO, content is still king. It's important however to understand it cannot be just a bunch of fluff. Your website must contain good content that is readable and helpful to HUMANS. An SEO consultant should look carefully at your existing content and recommend new content.
Google is getting really good at understanding relevancy and even user intent. Getting away with garbage content and still ranking well is ancient history.
You'll need to create not only more content, but better content. The best outlet for this is a blog!
The "best practices"stuff.
If you've skimmed articles about SEO in the past, these are probably the things you've read about. Page titles, meta descriptions, URLs, headings, alt tags, etc.
The external stuff.
SEO is more than just things that you have direct control over. A good SEO should also look at inbound link quality, volume and opportunities. Keep in mind, this is not the same as shady link building. Your inbound links should grow naturally because you have great content, but that doesn't mean that there are not link opportunities out there without spamming people begging for links.
SEO is also about the Google algorithms. Algorithms are the science behind how Google ranks things. This changes over time, so it is important to pay attention.
This is the second way of ranking better in Google and it focuses on the paid rankings. Through Google's ad platform called AdWords, a website can be ranked in Google in the areas set aside for sponsored ads. The term that a website ranks for is chosen by the advertiser. They can rank for as many keywords as they want, choose the ads associated with those keywords, and even choose the page in which the searcher arrives when they click the ad.
Technically you don't pay to rank, you pay for the click. AdWords runs on a cost-per-click basis, meaning you only accrue ad spend when your ad is clicked, not shown. It works on a bid basis so advertiser A says, "I am willing to pay this each time someone clicks", advertiser B says, "I am willing to pay this"...it's like an auction for ad space.
Unlike SEO, using AdWords advertising you can rank in Google almost instantly. You'll be ranking as quickly as you can come up with keywords, write some ads, choose some pages, and enter billing information. That doesn't mean you will be successful by just throwing a campaign together and launching it. Success will require a good strategy, extensive planning, quality implementation and ongoing monitoring and adjustments based on the data.
If you already have a website, those are the 2 main ways to rank better in Google. If you're looking for a long term return-on-investment, go the SEO route. If you're looking to generate quick leads, go the sponsored ad route. If you are looking to destroy your competition...do both!