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How To Rank Higher On Google - For Free

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to increase your Google ranking for free, let’s have a look behind the scenes of Google first.


Google RankBrain

Google have been investing heavily in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) over the past few years. RankBrain is a ML system which they use to help rank their search results.

Quite simply, RankBrain is constantly monitoring how users interact with search result pages and web pages. As the system builds up intelligence, it re-ranks the organic search results accordingly.


How Does It Work

As an example, if a user searches for “ehs management software” and once the results are returned, the user quickly decides that #4 is the best fit and clicks on the link.

Google Rankbrain in action - how it works

When they visit that website and discover that it contains all the information that they were looking for, such as:

  • It told them how it would benefit them
  • How easy the software was to use
  • They were able to watch videos of the software in action
  • Read other customers testimonials etc.

The end result is that the visitor stays on the page for a long period of time. It also means they are less likely to reach for the browser “back” button. All the time, Google RankBrain is recording this interaction.

If this happens consistently with other searchers, the website in #4 should receive a ranking boost.

Google Rankbrain boosting SEO position

Conversely, if the same search is repeated, but this time the user clicks on the #1 search result by default and visits the website.

Then once on the website, they find that there is very little value, the content is sparse and there is nothing to retain their attention – they are more inclined to click the “Back” button and bounce off the site.

If this frequently occurs with other searchers, then the website in #1 should drop down the rankings.

Google rank brain dropping SEO positions

This draws us to two conclusions, RankBrain is evaluating two elements:

  1. The percentage of searchers who click on your link (Average CTR in Google Search Console) and its position
  2. How long a visitor spends on your page/website (Avg Session Duration in Google Analytics)

We know this to be somewhat true. In the past, a Google engineer included a slide in one of his presentations on how they were monitoring ranking positions, click-through rates and altering them accordingly.

How To Increase Google Ranking For Free - What Do You Need To Do

Firstly, this highlights the need to dedicate time to create eye catching Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions for every key page on your website. These are effectively your adverts, adverts which need to stand out from all the other websites in the search results.

You can do this yourself, so in effect it is free.

Meta Titles and Descriptions should be given the same, if not more, effort than goes into writing PPC adverts. Also, they should not be considered a “write once and ignore” task. They must be A/B tested to establish what performs best.

You can speed up the process of identifying what titles and descriptions attract clicks by performing a PPC campaign. If you allocate a small click budget to test which Titles and Descriptions in PPC adverts attract the best click-through-rate (CTR), you will identify a winner quickly.

Thereafter, the copy can be transferred to the page Meta Title and Description of your webpage to improve its CTR and improve its SEO rankings.

Secondly, it illustrates the importance of creating highly engaging and informative web pages. Your pages have to be more comprehensive, in-depth and authoritative than your competitors.

In addition to the traditional SEO elements such as:

  1. Title tag
  2. Description
  3. URL
  4. Image ALT tags (and filenames)
  5. H1 headings (and subsequent nested H2, H3 headings)
  6. And of course, the written content

Google are now giving much more emphasis on the context of the content.

Recent studies have shown that pages which contain in-depth content and can satisfy all aspects of a visitor’s interest, tend to rank higher.

Google rankings versus page word count

The studies calculated that pages containing 1,900 words or more ranked higher in the top 5 positions. Notably, content should not be written purely to “bulk-out” the page, it needs to be authoritative and unique.


Web Page Content

Trying to write authoritative and in-depth content for every page is a mammoth task. For certain topics, it simply may not be possible.

Your aim is to produce sufficient quality (and quantity) content which intrigues the visitor and guides them along the journey you want them to take.

Ultimately, you will probably want them to contact you to receive further information, to arrange a consultation, or to sign up for a trial or demo.

What Are The Different Types Of Content?

Google have publicly stated that quality content and backlinks are still the two main factors in their rankings. RankBrain has joined as the third most important factor.

Google Content Guidelines for webpages

Source: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/40349?hl=en&ref_topic=3309300

There are certain types of content which perform better than others.

Evergreen Content

When it comes to attracting backlinks, authoritative evergreen content works best. Content which does not date, or is not related to a specific event in time, or is not a current trend or fad will continue to gain links over a longer period of time.

Logically, other website owners will not want to link to a page on your website from 3 years ago which is clearly out-of-date, they will want to link to pages which “appear” to be current.

When drafting content for your own pages, consider what content visitors (potential customers) wish to find and read, and also, what other website owners would be happy to link to.


Content That Answers Questions

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is also becoming referred to as AEO (Answer Engine Optimisation). For several years, users have been using longer-tail phrases in searches.

Traditional two or three phrases searches have evolved into questions – “What is a....”, “How to make....” etc.

For example, a question people ask on Google is “how to improve google search ranking?” – websites which answer this have a good chance of appearing on page 1.

With the explosion of voice activated assistants including: Amazon Echo, Apple Siri and Google Home, voice searches are almost all of a “question” manner.

Google inform users what other “People also ask” when they have searched for a particular phrase. In these scenarios below, when “ehs management” and “ehs management software” were entered, it was easy to spot the common questions that were also being asked.

Google People Also Ask RankBrain

People Also Ask on Google

If you were a company offering EHS products, you would aim to answer some of these questions when drafting content for your pages. For example, on an EHS Management page, these could be added as new sections (broken up with H2 headings) on the page, such as:

Why is EHS important?

It is important to make every effort to prevent incidents in the workplace......

How can health and safety be improved in the workplace?

Recording and benchmarking health and safety incidents accurately allows management and employees to.....

The more compete your answers are, the more likely that Google will rank you higher on the search results. And, you have a better chance that other website owners will link to you.


Featured Snippet (Position #0)

Featured snippets are the best organic position to improve traffic growth. Located directly below PPC adverts, they are shown in an expanded view and are outlined to ensure they stand out.

If you are on the hunt to increase google ranking for free – then this is one for you.

In most instances they are “answer” style snippets. In the example below, although the phrase “ehs management” was searched for, it was the question “What is EHS management?” and the corresponding answer from Hitachi that secured the prominent featured snippet position.

Google Feature Snippet and Position 0 ranking

Recent studies have shown that these snippets contain between 40-60 words, and these are extracted directly from your web page.

Therefore, when you are drafting your questions and answers, ensure that the question is tagged as a H2 or H3 heading and the answer is 40-60 words long contained within a paragraph tag.

Where possible, locate this content towards the top of the page. Google has always put more emphasis on content located higher on pages.


Content That Attracts Links

Following on from the earlier question ofhow to rank higher on google?”. Let's first recall that the purpose of any web page is two-fold:

  1. To engage visitors and to encourage them to take an action
  2. To provide reference material for other website owners to encourage back-linking

It also allows search engine bots to determine the topic and context of the page for ranking purposes.

Studies have shown that different types of content attract varying levels of shares (backlinks). Certain types of content, such as infographics, fit more naturally within blogs. “How to articles” will align themselves with website resource sections.

Type of content that work on Google

The key is to inject internal hyperlinks within this content to other related pages on your website. These links should contain targeted keywords.

For example, assuming a “How to “ article was produced for EHS Management and located in a blog section, several hyperlinks within the article should point to a page on your website which tells the visitor about your EHS solution and how it is of benefit to them.

No matter what industry your are involved in, you should look for opportunities to create “List”, “What”, “Why” and video content.

“Lists” of benefits and how your products/services can help your clients provide two advantages:

  1. They allow readers to quickly scan content - eye tracking software has proven that bulleted lists are easier to read than blocks of text
  2. Google also extracts lists from web pages to insert into their feature snippets, therefore helping you gain more exposure


In Summary

If you feel comfortable doing this yourself, then you don’t need to hire expensive marketers or copywriters to boost your websites SEO or rankings.

Everything that has been discussed here can be done by you for free (except for PPC click charges). All it takes is a bit of time.

So if you were asking the question “how to increase google rankings for free” - then the answer is above.

If you need a bit of help without incurring massive costs, then our membership plans are a great starting point. Our most economical plan will get you going for the small price of £37 per month when you pay annually.


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Category: Marketing

About the author

David Reid

David Reid

David previously worked with Europe’s No.1 Marketing Agency & the World’s No.6 biggest Integrated Marketing Agency, seeing first-hand how £150 million+ campaigns are executed to create household brands. Now he is the CEO of YewBiz and is focused on helping small businesses.

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