Ranking on the first page on Google for keywords related to your business and the services you provide can be a complete game-changer for you and your business.

Many of my clients have gone on to make 7 figure yearly incomes as a direct result of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and I started my journey in the digital marketing world by building, growing and selling websites that ranked high on Google, before even social media properly existed.

Although SEO has changed a lot in recent years, the main principles still remain the same.

Learn the basics

The first step to truly create a winning SEO strategy is to educate yourself. You need to understand how it works, what you need to do and why Google ranks different websites higher than others.

At Skyline Social, my goal is to make growing your business as easy as possible.

When it comes to SEO, contrary to popular belief, you do not need to be a rocket scientist or need a degree in computer science, to understand how the Google algorithm works.

In this article, I’m going to share with you 3 principles that will help you rank higher on Google (and other search engines) that will stand the test of time – regardless of any future changes in the Google algorithm.

Principle #1: Build a strong foundation with an SEO friendly website

Good SEO is a lot like building a house. Like any house, it needs to be built on strong foundations.

With SEO, your website is the foundation.

A good search engine friendly website will make it easier for you to be found by Google. A website that is not search engine friendly will make everything else you need to do to rank higher on Google much harder.

There are lots of things you need to keep in mind when building an SEO friendly website.

Here is a simple checklist to make sure your website is as SEO friendly as possible – try to answer “yes” to as many of these as possible:

  • Is your website responsive and mobile friendly?
  • Are the pages, text, etc crawlable by Google?
  • Do you have an SSL certificate on your domain?
  • Have you made sure your website doesn’t have duplicate content?
  • Have you optimised the META Data for each page on your website?
  • Is your website user friendly and easy to navigate?
  • Do you have a blog and/or lots of pages for your content?
  • Have you made sure you have no broken links or other error pages?
  • Is your domain a good few years old? (older domains tend to rank higher than newer ones)
  • Have you optimised your images, headings and other features on the different pages of your website?

Top tip: To ensure your website is SEO friendly, be sure to install Google Webmaster Tools. It’s free and it will tell you if there are any errors or things that could be affecting your rankings negatively.

Principle #2: Create content answering your customers problems

The more content you create, the easier it will be to rank higher on Google and the faster you will get results.

But not just any content – it needs to be high quality content and content that your potential customers are searching for in Google.

You can use keyword research tools to help you find the best keywords to target for your content.

Top tip: If you try to target 1 or 2 phrase keywords (e.g. “social media”) it will be much harder to rank because there is going to be more competition. On top of that, the conversion rate will be lower. For example, if we ranked for “social media”, it doesn’t necessarily mean people will be searching to hire a social media agency. Maybe they are a competitor or a student doing research for a school project on the topic of “social media”.

Whereas, if we ranked for “lead generation social media packages” (which we are currently ranked #1 for), even though it might get less people searching for it, those that do search for it are likely looking to buy lead generation social media services.

Remember the more specific you are on Google, the easier it is to rank for that search term, and the better your conversion rate will be.

Ranking for keywords with more than 3 words are called the “longtail keywords”.

A good SEO strategy, is to rank for as many “longtail keywords” as possible, by creating as much content as possible for every possible phrase that someone looking for your services might type in Google.

Principle #3: Get other websites talking and linking back to your website

Google uses a “voting system” where the more links a website has from other websites the higher it ranks. Each hyperlink from another website is kinda like a “vote”. And it’s not just the amount of “votes” (or links) that helps you rank. It’s also the quality of those votes (or links).

For example, if you got a link from the BBC going back to your website, it would be worth a lot more than a link from a small blog that no one has heard about.

Why? Because the BBC has a lot more authority – and lots of websites talking and linking back to them as well.

In short, if you want to rank higher on Google, you need to build more brand awareness so that other blogs, websites, social media channels, etc are all talking about you and linking back to your website.

How can you get other websites to link back to you?

Here are some effective ways to do that:

  • Create high quality content – if you create good content that provides value to people, other websites will link to it, and share it
  • Promote your content on social media – If you create content, but no one knows it exists, then you won’t get many links back to it. By using social media to share your content with other bloggers, influencers, website owners, etc, you can increase the amount of people that share and link back to your content
  • Write on other people’s websites – another common tactic is guest blogging. Many large websites and even smaller blogs, will allow you to write a guest blog post on their site, and in return they usually let you leave a link back to your website. Don’t just write on any website though.
  • Reach out to strategic partners – chances are there are suppliers, partners, clients, etc that you provide value to. Can you provide them with something of value – such as high quality content – in return for a link back to your website?

Top tip: The quality of links is extremely important. There are websites that will allow you to “buy links” from directories, dodgy websites or websites that are built for the sole purpose to manipulate the search results. Don’t do this! Not only is it against Google’s rules, if you get caught, it can do more damage than good and potentially even penalise you completely from Google’s search engine. It’s best to focus on generating links naturally and organically by producing good quality content. It takes more time to do this, but the results from this strategy will make your website rank higher for much longer.

Be patient and reap the rewards

Although you can get short term results by targeting long-tail keywords (see principle #2), SEO is ultimately, a long-term game. The success and speed of your results is largely down to the amount of high quality content you create and how well you can promote your business and its content.

SEO isn’t the type of marketing strategy where you create content, generate a few links, and you suddenly rank higher on Google over-night. Most start seeing results after 1 year of content creation and social media content promotion.

There’s an old saying that says “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time to plant a tree is now.” It’s similar with SEO. The sooner you start, the sooner you will be able to get results and reap the rewards of free targeting and high converting traffic from Google.