In this short article you’re going to find out the 4 simple steps we take to achieve fast ranking increases and extra traffic, to grab those quick wins almost straight away.
1. Find low-hanging keyword fruit & boost your rankings for it
You probably don’t know it but your website, right now, is sitting at the bottom of page 1 or on pages 2-5 for some nice search terms that could deliver good quality traffic. They are probably not really competitive search terms either and with a little work you could boost them up to page 1 (possibly top 3) with very little effort.
Optimising your website and ranking high for those big volume search terms takes time and this is where most website owners and amateur SEO people spend a lot of time and resources. For the longer tail keywords (3-5 word search phrases) however you can rank really fast and inexpensively. These search terms will bring in good quality traffic too as they are more targeted than your usual 2 word monster search terms.
To figure out what these quick wins are, you’ll need access to a few pieces of software.
FIRST – Google Webmaster Tools
Login to Google Webmaster Tools (you do have this installed right!) and then just navigate to the Search Traffic > Search Analytics section of Search Console.
Here, select all the check-boxes at the top so you can see the impressions, click and average positions of the search terms you site has appeared in the search result for. The position column here WILL NOT BE ACCURATE as Google doesn’t update this regularly, and it doesn’t tell you how old this data is. IT DOES HOWEVER show you keyword phrases that REAL PEOPLE have typed into Google, and your website at some point, has ranked high enough to get impressions in the search results.
This information is pure gold. We know our site (without any SEO work at all) has managed to get in the top pages at some point. With a little work we can now optimise our pages for some of these and grab some easy wins and traffic, really fast.
SECOND – Create Your Target List
The next step is to weed out any rubbish from this big list of searches and to do this you can hit the little download button in Google Webmaster Tools, it’s right at the bottom of the list. This enables you to get the whole list or search terms out and into a spreadsheet. Remove any search terms that are not relevant to you (Google shows your site for some odd searches sometimes) or any you just don’t think you want.
Now save this list and move onto the next step which will identify where our website is currently and which we can get a quick win on.
THIRD – Where Do We Rank For These Now?
We now have a great big list of search terms we know our site has ranked for already and that are relevant to our business. We now need to know which of these we are still in with a shot of getting easy wins with, and more importantly which pages on our website are showing up Google for the searches.
To do this we’ll need some software to track our websites rankings in Google. Most are now online and you can Google “rank tracking services” and there are tons out there. Most will charge you a monthly fee and steer clear of the ones that offer free tracking. It’s usually unreliable or they only let you track 20 odd search terms once a month or something.
We use AWR (click here to check them out) and they only charge $49 a month for up to 2000 search terms which will be plenty for this exercise. If you just want a one-off look at your rankings then you can cancel after the first month.
Once you have got your rankings results, you’ll know which of your websites pages rank in the top 5-10 pages of Googles search results. You have two options here moving forward. Both are right but one is slightly more tricky to accomplish so this is really your only decision to make.
1. You can sort your search ranking by highest first.
We’re looking ideally to get our website into positions 1 or 2 as this is where the majority of the clicks will go. Sorting by highest ranking tells you the terms you may be ranking in positions 3-10 for, and also those on page 2. These search terms will be easy wins for you and won’t take much work to get to the top as you’re virtually there anyway. Look at all the ones you are on page 1 for first. Are there any with decent search volume? If so, these are your number one targets.
Now move onto the search terms you appear on page 2 of the results for. Same again, any big volume keywords there? This method will usually give you a few search terms that if you optimise your site for, will give you a nice little traffic boost each month with very little work. More on that in a second.
2. You can sort by search volume of the keywords.
This is the tougher way to get the wins but it provides you with the highest volume gains. Look through the list from the highest traffic per month down and find any keywords that you appear on page 1 or 2 for. These search terms are your main targets, and as they are high volume, they may take more than just on-page optimisation to rank in the top 3 spots for. However with a little cash injection for link building you could get some serious traffic to your site for them. Well worth it in the long run.
Now comes the fun part, boosting our website pages up the search results.
2. Optimize your existing website pages for the search terms
Now we have our list of search terms we can get quick rankings for, and we know which pages on our website rank the highest for them too. The next step is to get our existing website pages optimised for the search terms by doing on-page optimisation. This is basically making sure our meta tags and page headings include the search terms, and also making sure the search term appears in the content of our page a few times. Instead of reinventing the wheel by writing new content for our site, you can get some quick SEO wins by optimising the existing pages that are already ranking for those search terms we targeted. We’re just looking to “nudge” them up from the bottom of page 1 or page 2 into those top spots. We’re already ranking high without doing a load of SEO work so often just on-page optimisation is enough to do the trick.
Make sure your pages have the following on-page SEO best practices carried out:
- Title tags
- Alt tags
- Meta descriptions
- Body content (keywords inserted)
If you don’t know how to do this part we can help with this and have a complete on-page SEO optimisation service. Now onto the bit that can really make the difference to your results. Getting some free links to those newly optimised pages.
3. Fix your 404 errors if you have any to get free link building
Now your websites pages are optimised for these quick win search terms they may well just rank on their own. If that doesn’t happen however and they need a little push you’ll need to do some link building to them. Google uses the links that point to your website pages as a form of voting system to determine how important they are. If you don’t have any links it’s still possible to rank high but a few juicy links will make it much easier.
If you’ve ever had your website re-built at any stage or changed all the content it’s quite common for the old pages to have not been re-directed by your web company. What this means is you will likely have links on other websites, that point to old pages on your site that no longer exist. These are called 404 errors. Now these links are very valuable and help with rankings so we want to point them to the existing live pages on your website to help with SEO.
We want to see if there are any free links using this method that we can get, before we rush out and use a link building service to give our pages a boost. If you use WordPress (like the majority of site owners now) then this is easily achieved by installing a little plugin called redirection. This handy plugin shows you all the 404 errors on your site in a log and updates in real time. It also allows you to redirect these errors to any page on your site quickly right there in the WordPress admin. No coding or web designers needed here, just you and a plugin to get free links to your website. How good is that? That’s how we’re going to get our free links.
Check in here every few days for a week or so and see what 404 errors show up. There will often be 1000’s of web spiders like Bing and Google crawling the old pages. This makes it a little tedious sometimes to go through all the 404 errors but it’s well worth the time. Ignore these and look for links coming from real website that you can re-purpose to our newly optimised pages.
If you don’t have WordPress you can still find your 404 errors in Google Webmaster Tools. Navigate to the crawl errors part or the site and you’ll see a list of 404 errors there. You’ll need to create all the redirects manually on your site and the most common way of doing this is using 301 redirects which you place in your websites htaccess file. This is probably one for your web company to sort out for you once you’ve identified them.
4. Wait, monitor results, start building links
Now that’s all done it’s a case of just waiting to see what happens. If you’ve managed to get lots of re-directions and your pages were not optimised at all before we started this process, you’ll likely find your site jumps significantly for those search terms you worked on. We often find this process can get 3 or 4 pages of an established website ranking high for 5-10 different search terms on page 1 of the search results.
You just need to check your rankings every week for the first 3-4 weeks and see how Google has interpreted your changes. If you’re happy with the results it’s time to move onto more optimisation and get even more traffic. If you’ve fallen a little short however there is a sure fire way to boost those pages further. They will always move up but sometimes not quite enough which is where link building comes in.
As we mentioned earlier Google loves links and they are the number one way to increase your websites rankings in the search results. If you are now teetering on the bottom of page 1, or on page 2 for some of those search terms, a couple of months link building will likely see those pages jump to the top of page 1. Link building isn’t something you have to do forever with these quick wins. They are often long tail search terms that just need a push to start with, and once you get top the top you can just sit back and the rankings usually stick.
If you have some tough search terms with high volume that are close to the top spots, then there are some amazingly powerful links you can get that rarely fail to rank even the toughest search terms. These are called media placement links and they are the most powerful type of link building money can buy. We’ve managed to rank search terms with 100,000+ monthly searches in the top 3 nationally with this SEO strategy. They aren’t cheap but if you stand to make a lot of money ranking at the top they are the best investment you can make in SEO.