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How to Rank Your Small Blog in Search Engines in 2018

There’s no doubt about it – ranking in search engines is one of the most important ways to get traffic to your website. And it has been that way for over a decade now. The only difference is that it has become much harder to rank in search engines.

I am the co-founder of Bacic Media Group, which works on publishing in-demand data and educating the consumers. Most of our websites are content-based and powered by WordPress. So I’ve gotten a lot of experience in trying to perfect the best way to run these websites and optimize them for best SEO results.

If you have a big marketing budget, you can probably run PPC ads and get instant traffic right away, but for most of us small bloggers, we do not have that luxury. So we need to play fair but play hard to win if we want to succeed.  That’s where SEO comes in.

Despite what anyone says, SEO is still a way small guys can keep up with the bigger guys because it is not dependent solely on your marketing budget. If you put in the good hard work and monitor your results, you can actually end up on top.

Put in The Work

The main way we can put in the work is by making sure our website has the best content, most relevant and juicy (in SEO juice type of way) backlinks, the fastest possible loading speed, served on secure URLs, and implements the ideal user experience.

Content

The most important thing on any website is obviously the content.  If you don’t have great content, all the other work you put in can be a waste of time. So first, let’s start by writing great content or hiring someone that can do it for you.

When we talk about content being king and so on, a lot of people assume you just need A content. The thing is we need THE content. We need the content that’s going to light a fire under your readers’ behinds. Something that will really WOW your readers.

So how do we do that?

Start by writing about things you actually know about. Don’t try to write about things you don’t understand. If you’re a plumber, write about things that pertain to plumbing. Don’t try to write about fixing computers or food recipes.

The important thing is to establish early on in the article that you know what you’re talking about and aren’t just pulling random things out of thin air. That’s why writing your own content can be much better than hiring a random freelancer to do so because they most likely are not experts in your topic.

The next thing to keep in mind when writing is to cover the topic comprehensively. Cover everything from A to Z. Don’t leave any little details behind. You want people to use your content as a source or citation when they write articles or research papers. It doesn’t matter if your article contains 10,000 words as long as it is organized nicely and doesn’t repeat same stuff over and over again.

When you write about your topic, consider adding images and rich media. Don’t just let it be a wall of text. Text is fine, but sometimes it is easier to explain something in images, graphs, or diagram rather than in words.

For example, in one of our automobile websites, we use tables as a primary organization method of data on the page. Granted, our data is mainly tabular in nature, so that makes sense.

You definitely don’t want to use the wrong type of formatting for your data. If your data is best presented in a paragraph of text, then don’t force it in a table or diagram. Leave it as text.

And finally, all that great content you wrote needs to have a well thought-out meta description. Although meta description itself won’t help you rank, it certainly can increase the click-thru rate (CTR) on the search engine results pages. That in turn that cause your rankings to increase since it is considered to be relevant to the search term.

Backlinks

The next thing we need to work on is backlinks. It simply doesn’t matter how awesome your content is if you do not have any backlinks. Backlinks are still the most important ranking signal (and probably will be for a long time), so it is crucial to have a good backlink strategy.

Although Google is known to sometimes rank great content even without enough links pointing at it, it is pretty rare and it’s usually mainly for websites that are already authorities. In other words, they’ve been around forever and have tens of thousands of backlinks to other pages.

To build your backlink strategy, consider only white hat methods. That means don’t try anything sneaky or fishy. Don’t spam comment sections of other websites, don’t pay for cheap SEO services that create thousands of spammy wiki or bookmark pages, and so on.

Consider reaching out to bloggers in related niches and asking to write for their blogs. If you are an authority, you can quickly establish a reputation and blogs will love to get great content for their blog as well.

In return, most are happy for link to your website either through bio section or from within the articles you write. As long as you link to relevant and helpful web pages, no sane blogger or editor would complain about it.

It’s a proven fact that linking to relevant and authoritative websites can increase the reputation of the original article or website as well.

Website Speed

With the rise of mobile devices, the website load speed has become very important. Even though it was never fun to wait 10 seconds for a web page to load, today, most mobile users will not even give you that chance anymore.

I’ve worked on many websites, especially WordPress, and I’ve discovered that implementing a WordPress caching plugin is super important. It caches database queries, minifies code, and makes your overall website load much faster.

In addition to caching plugins, routing your website through a content delivery network (CDN) such as CloudFlare can have significant speed increase as well.

I’ve recently worked on a website where speed was of utmost importance, and it basically came down to implementing code minification, CloudFlare, and minimizing the amount of external resources that are loaded which includes ads, fonts, and other (mainly) JavaScript files.

Secure URLs

It’s no secret that Google looks at secure URLs more positively than those that are not. But other than that, it can also have a more positive user experience.

People are growing overly skeptical about online data collection and how it is used, so users feel safer if the website is loaded securely and fully encrypted. And it’s not just about how the users feel. Encrypted web pages are actually safer in real life as they help protect personal information even if it is leaked or intercepted.

User Experience

The last point is to make sure the user experience on our website is top notch. This covers pretty much everything from the way your website looks, to how it behaves and functions on all different devices. It also includes website speed, secure URLs, and other things that can have a positive effect on the overall experience.

If you are not a web designer, make sure to hire a good one. If your website is powered by WordPress, you could potentially get away with simply purchasing a high-quality theme that was designed by a great designer. But that still might leave you with making some crucial design and layout decisions when setting it up.

Monitor Your Results

Now that you’ve put in all the work, it’s time to monitor the results so that you know how effective that work was. I always find it amusing when people put in so much work and then skimp out on monitoring and tracking. It’s like getting half way there and giving up without knowing you’ve even given up.

A lot of the times, tracking can give us more tips and pointers so that we can make positive changes on our website.

Monitor Your Traffic

The first goal of SEO is to grow traffic on our websites. We don’t necessarily care about ranking and so on if it’s not pulling in any traffic. What good does it do to rank for a keyword that has 10 searches per month?  Not much.

Start by adding Google Analytics on your website so that you at least have the basic traffic information about your website users.

If you sell things on your website, you will definitely want to implement Goals and Funnels which helps to visualize how your users are browsing your website and where the sales process might be failing or succeeding.

Track Keyword Rankings

Since ranking in search engines for specific keywords is the main way to get SEO traffic, we also need to monitor our keyword rankings. This gives us an idea of how effective our overall SEO strategy is and whether we need to make any changes.

I’ve been using IntelliSerp for a while now and have been pretty happy with them. The prices are pretty low and it has all the features I want.

I personally group keyword by labels based on dates so that I can perform different SEO strategies on each group of keywords and monitor the effect of each strategy individually. Even though you can do that manually in a spreadsheet for free, it would take up a lot of valuable time you could spend working on the actual SEO.

Monitor Phone Calls

If you take phone orders or leads, you probably don’t have a very good way of tracking where those phone calls come from, or you have to ask the caller all that information separately.

Using a phone call tracking service such as CallRail can eliminate the need to ask the caller a survey. It works by allocating a different phone number to each traffic source, medium, or keyword.

From your end, it is all seamless once implemented as all the numbers are routed to your main company phone number. The best part is you can import all of that valuable phone call data into Google Analytics so that you gain even more insights.

Split Test Your Website

And finally, we come to one of the least utilized methods of improving your website – split testing. Split testing is a process of testing multiple versions of your web page or elements on the web page and coming up with a clear winning variation.

The best split testing service I’ve used is Optimizely. Although split testing probably won’t help directly with SEO, it could influence it by optimizing your web page to have lower bounce rate and higher CTRs.

You can read more about split testing your website and various other tracking methods the article I previously wrote on AllBusiness.

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Haris leads the creative and growth strategy at Bacic Media Group, a data publishing agency focusing on knowledge sharing and consumer education.

4 Comments

  1. Sadhan Pal Reply

    Hi Haris,

    Common tips you have effectively discribed and will be helpful to the new bloggers who are fighting a lot to rank their blog. Best wishes for your next post. I am very keen to read.

    Thanks
    Sadhan Pal

  2. Christine Reply

    What about small sites with few pages, how we can rank them ? Example, hotels, restaurant because in your article you are talking about blogs.
    Hope to reply on this question.

    1. Haris Bacic Post author Reply

      Are you talking about official restaurant or hotel websites? For those, I would say you need to try to rank for long tail keywords and be reasonable in your expectations. i.e. if your little hotel is close to a large hotel chain such as Holiday Inn, you shouldn’t expect to outrank it. Your best bet is to win over customers through booking sites by promoting lower pricing (or any other advantage you may have). Another way would be to publish useful travel-related content on the hotel’s blog and hope to rank for some non-transactional keywords in order to gain some of that traffic and hope it translates to customers.

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