Looking for a simple step by step guide to help get your blog to the top of Google? You’re in luck…
8 steps to get your blog to the top of Google
- Make sure your blog is using https not http
- Decide on a focus for the whole blog and work towards that
- Check your Homepage has a relevant H1
- Update Meta Descriptions for your static pages as well as your posts
- Do some keyword research around your focus topic
- Create properly researched and engaging content
- Format your posts for SERP Features
- Check your blog’s speed and mobile optimisation
If you’re reading this blog, then there’s a good chance you’re struggling with the same problem that most content creators are; how to get more visibility on your blog. It’s a really tough one to solve, and the truth is – we can’t all be at the top. That being said, if you follow these simple rules, you have a good chance of getting your content to the top of Google.
So, the big question is…
How do I get my blog to the top of Google?
I have been working on other sites for a few years now, and it occurred to me that I haven’t been applying my experience to my own poor old blog. I hadn’t secured my site using https, my content was sporadic and extremely varied and there was no forethought to what I was writing and why I was writing it.
So, I decided I wanted to test myself and try and get my content to rank at the top of Google.
Spoiler alert: I did it; here’s how.
Using https instead of http
If you spend a few minutes Googling some common words and phrases you start to notice a pattern. Between 9 and 10 of the 10 organic results on Google’s SERPs are now https. It’s no secret that Google consider https to be important within their ranking factors, in fact according to some sources it’s one of the most important.
There’s no real excuse not to be using https in 2019. It’s no longer just the remit of sites taking payment transactions, now all sites should be using SSL certificates to protect their users’ identities and details.
You’ll probably find, depending on your host, that https is a paid extra on your package, but if ranking in Google is important to you, then you simply can’t ignore this step. It’s fairly safe to assume that the small percentage of http sites ranking well in Google are only ranking for pretty niche, long tail keywords. Assuming you’re going after something with even a little competition, you’ll need to secure your site as a first priority.
If you’re using WordPress then there’s a plugin called Really Simple SSL that will make sure you’re redirecting traffic to https versions of your pages and content. If you want to find out more about https (where the ‘s’ stands for SSL – Secure Sockets Layer) then you check out MOZ.
It’s also worth noting that most modern browsers now show a fairly prominent ‘Not Secure’ warning on http sites. If you want visitors to trust your site, and therefore your content, that is not a good start. Remember, users bouncing because they see a ‘Not Secure’ message will not help your ranking either!
Create a focus for your blog
This might seem obvious, but if you want your blog on cooking to be taken seriously, you’ll want to write more cooking posts. My blog was and still is unfocused. But I’ve made an effort now to redirect my efforts into marketing posts specifically.
Why? Well, Google and users are looking for sites that offer relevant information to search queries. By creating a consistent series of marketing posts I stand a better chance of getting backlinks to my site, being able to create internal links between my posts and have a considerably higher chance that users might click from one post to another on a similar topic.
All of these act as signals to Google that your site offers quality and relevant information to users and will help with ranking.
H1s and Meta Descriptions
If you’re not using Yoast (or similar) on your blog, then you should install it right now. It will help you get your posts up to scratch in terms of keyword focus, titles, formatting and readability.
What is easy to forget with a blog, is that your static pages and more importantly your homepage needs a good Title and Meta Description too. In my case, I realised I hadn’t given my blog an H1 or description at all.
Spend some time going through your existing posts and pages and make sure you’ve got two green lights on your posts. Remember, it’s relevancy that counts here, so don’t bother stuffing irrelevant or meaningless words and phrases into your Meta Descriptions.
Keyword Research is arguably the most important part of this process. I’ve had people ask me before “How do I get to the top of Google?” and my response is always “For what?”
It might seem pedantic, but most indexed content will float to the top if I search for a long enough query. You need to be clear in your mind what it is you actually want to rank for. Once you have this clear in your mind you need to find out what users are actually searching for.
One of my favourite tools for this is Answer the Public. The free version will only allow for a handful of searches a day. But put simply it gives you questions, prepositions, comparisons and related topics to any word or phrase that you want to research.
For example if you enter ‘cupcakes’ among hundreds of other questions you’ll find ‘can cupcakes be frozen?’ as one of the searched questions.
Create relevant and engaging content
This brings us on to the content creation itself. Once you have selected a topic to write about, you need to produce content that genuinely answers that query. Google monitors the behaviour of visitors to your site, and if they show signals of not finding what they were looking for (bouncing for example) then Google will assume the content did not answer the query, and it will have a negative effect on ranking.
So, for ‘can cupcakes be frozen?’ you will need to produce a piece of content that will enlighten your visitors as to whether or not they can freeze cupcakes, and how to go about doing it.
Format your blogs for SERP Features
The final trick is to try and conquer the world of SERP Features. You can find out more about these in my blog about How to win SERP Features.
Essentially, these snippets of content appear prominently on Google SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and therefore give you a much better chance of getting clicks. In the case of Featured Snippets, your content will appear right at the top in ‘Position Zero’. To achieve this, you need to be on page one already, so this is not a shortcut that can get you to the top of Google regardless of any other step of this process.
Site Speed and Mobile Optimisation
Of course there’s always room to look at some of the other 200+ ranking factors that Google considers important. Site speed and mobile optimisation are two that are up there in terms of importance.
In my case, thanks to the vast choice of great WordPress themes, my site was already mobile friendly, and my GoDaddy hosting offers reasonable speeds. That being said, it’s worth spending some time testing your site on multiple devices, and there are some great free tools out there for testing page load time.
Not using WordPress? Read my initial thoughts on WordPress Gutenberg to find out more!
Final thoughts on getting to the top of Google
Search is a fickle area to work. You might find yourself at the top of Google for a fleeting moment, then back down in fourth a few days later. The more competitive the queries you’re going after, the tougher it will be to get there, and stay there.
So, aim for the long tail queries that have genuine relevance to your content. At the end of the day if you’re selling cupcakes in Guildford, you’re not going to appeal to someone searching for cupcakes in Quebec. So you need to make sure you are doing that keyword research and creating content appropriately.
It can be really easy to overthink these things, but my little blog, which got little to no traffic, had an almost non-existent link profile and lacked any kind of focus managed to get up above the likes of SEMrush, MOZ and The Guardian just by following the 8 steps above.