34 Ways to Improve Your Google Ranking: 2024 Edition

Tuesday, April 09th
Content Manager

Mark Wilson

Ranking #1 on Google for relevant keywords is the holy grail of Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, at least for many businesses undertaking content marketing efforts.

Are you unhappy with your Google ranks? Do you think they could be higher? Or are you just starting out and wondering what it takes to get there?

The list of tips below is here to help. If you’re brand new to all of this, you’ll first want to check out our Guide to Content Marketing before reading the list below, which assumes you’re already putting out content.

And if you’re a seasoned SEO pro, not everything below is going to be helpful. But everyone should be able to incorporate a few new ideas into their SEO efforts from the list below.

1. Put Your Keyword in the Title Tag

The "title tag" is the HTML code tag that gives a web page a title. Every page on your site should have this tag, and it should include the most relevant keywords that describe what the page is about.

You don’t want to stuff the title with a ton of keywords. You want something short and descriptive, something that conveys the most important single idea about the page.

2. Title Tag starts with a Keyword

Put your most important keywords first. This is true of your title as well as things like body copy and meta description.

Again, you don’t want the tag to look spammy, because it will cause people to leave your page, which is disastrous for SEO. But you do want it to quickly include the most important topics.

3. Keyword in Meta Description Tag

If you’re unfamiliar with meta descriptions, talk to whoever manages your website. They should know how to include this. A meta description is a quick summary of your page. It can be anywhere from a handful of words to a few sentences long.

Anything longer than a short paragraph is too much, though. You want to focus on the central ideas covered on the page.

Your description tag directly impacts click-through rate, a significant ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. It quickly gives people browsing Google a sense of what your page is about, beyond just the title.

4. Semantic HTML Tags

H1, H2, H3 tags, and so on (up to H6) are secondary header tags. You can think of them as headings and subheadings on a page. This is how you can teach Google the hierarchy of ideas on your page. This structuring of content on the page refers to semantic HTML elements, of which header tags are only one type.

5. Content (and its length)

If you have a page that’s designed to convert customers (purchase, subscribe, etc.) you want your copy to be short, clear and direct. However, if you’re writing longer-form content that you hope to rank on Google with, length matters.

Longer articles consistently do better than shorter ones. Length isn’t the only factor that determines ranking. But, all else being equal, Google will select the more thorough

This again doesn’t mean spamming your article with “filler” content. It has to be useful, or you won’t keep people on your site and convert them into customers and clients.

6. Cover Topics In-Depth

When is a page or article done? The answer, perhaps frustratingly, is “when you’ve covered the topic thoroughly without redundancy.”

This is great news for meeting the length goals mentioned above, though, because usually covering a topic comprehensively takes a while and involves explaining new concepts to the reader.

This sort of treatment matters, because it helps to educate your audience, which in turn can build trust among your core demographics.

7. Duplicate Content

Having similar content on the same site (even slightly modified) can negatively impact a website's search engine ranking.

That said, things like your company’s slogan or contact information aren’t going to trigger anything bad. The important thing to remember is not to copy entire sections of pages over from others. At best, it’s not going to

8. Content Recency

Google rewards recently published or updated content, especially for searches happening right now. What's more, Google shows the exact date of a page's last update.

You’ll still find a lot of older articles that rank well because they’ve proven to be extremely valuable to searchers. However, you’ll also see the top articles of many popular sites get updated on a yearly basis to keep the content updated and fresh, and to let Google know that the information on the page isn’t in danger of going stale.

9. Keyword Prominence

Having a keyword appear in the first 100 words of a page's content correlates to first page Google rankings.

If you can’t cover your main ideas within the first 100 words, you might be better served writing about something else. However, this is a reminder that you can’t lose sight of what a page is about in your copy.

10. Grammar and Spelling

We’ll be honest, Google isn’t always going to be a stickler for small spelling errors. However, your readers will be! And Google ultimately cares about the user experience on a website.

If your grammar, punctuation and spelling are sloppy, people will notice, and it will eventually begin to affect your search rankings.

11. Stolen Content

Don't steal work. Google can recognize when you copy and paste from other websites; it's indexed in their system.

This one seems like it should be a no-brainer recommendation, but AI writing has made this area murkier than ever. Keep reading to see our full recommendations on AI-based writing for websites.

12. Reading Levels

Google, in the past, has displayed a page's reading level. Despite not showing it anymore, experts suggest a lower reading level is more appealing to the masses. You know your audience, so catering to them is vital.

This doesn’t mean “dumbing down” your content. But it may mean things like avoiding industry-specific jargon and breaking up ideas into separate paragraphs, sections of an article, or even into separate articles entirely.

13. References and Sources

Citing references and sources, as research papers do, is a sign of quality. Using references signals to Google that you are doing research and builds trust with your users.

It can also signal to Google what your content is about by referencing other, similar content. Remember, it knows nothing about your business except what information you give it. So if you’re referencing sources from similar industries, it will help guide Google to ranking you for the correct keywords and topics.

14. Numbered Lists

We are doing this one right now as well! Numbered lists break up your content for users, leading to more interactions with content and boosting your rankings.

This has actually become a little bit of a cliched strategy for content creation. “Listicles” are everywhere on the internet these days. The reason for that, though, is because they still work. But they can be overdone and can become annoying for your readers as well.

The best recommendation is to mix up your content styles to match the information being presented. We don’t use them too often here at Leadflask, for example, but when it’s a giant list of SEO tips, it makes sense to use that format.

15. Table of Contents

Good for the user, and makes it easier for search engines to understand the content on a page. It’s a win/win.

16. Page Loading Speed

You can check your website’s load speed using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

Some slower-loading elements won’t kill your ranks, but too many of them can present problems. Users famously click away very quickly when pages fail to load. So you’re turning away potential business if you have a slow website.

17. SSL Certificate

An SSL certificate is a security feature of websites, verifying ownership and encryption for web traffic.

Making sure your site has its SSL certificate is free, so there’s no reason not to do this. Your site can still be indexed and visited without an SSL certificate, but it won’t rank as highly.

18. Including Images

Make your page more visually interesting with images. These images can also provide opportunities for you to further your SEO efforts.

Every image should have a description file name and alt-text associated with it. Some should also have descriptive captions to better explain what they’re showing.

These are small markers that don’t do much for SEO individually. But if you’re doing it hundreds or even thousands of times on your website, it adds up.

19. Content Updates

Update your content to display the most recent and relevant information! If you’re only changing a few words, search engines will know this since they have the previous version of the page indexed in their system. So larger updates will make a bigger splash.

Once a website has a lot of content, it’s often more important to update existing content than it is to generate new content. The best mix of updates includes some of both, but it’s important that you don’t just forget about content as soon as it’s published.

20. Outbound Link Quality

A recent industry study suggests that linking out to high-authority sites helps send trust signals to Google.

This is similar to citing your sources, which we talked about earlier. The two can work hand-in-hand to strengthen your SEO profile and trustworthiness.

21. Mobile-Friendly

It’s a well-known fact that the majority of internet traffic now takes place from mobile devices. This trend is not going away any time soon.

Desktop experience still matters (as do tablet views, to a lesser extent), but a mobile-first approach to designing your website is a necessity. Anything less is simply courting failure.

Testing for user experience, load times, and navigability on mobile are some of the steps you’ll want to take to ensure your site is mobile-friendly. You can also test your site’s mobile friendliness in Google Search Console.

22. Mobile Users Deserve to See!

Don't hide anything on mobile! Content that is hidden on mobile devices may not get indexed at all, which hurts your SEO.

More importantly, though, not including everything on mobile means the majority of your site’s visitors won’t ever see it.

23. Multimedia Use

We talked above about using images on your website, but you don’t have to stop there.

Do you produce educational videos? Embed them on relevant pages.

Do you have a podcast on a particular topic? Give people a chance to listen to it instead of reading an article about it.

Got a fun TikTok page? Embed those too where it makes sense.

As with any of this, including relevant media is key. You want it to match the topic of the page, or you’ll lose the trust of your visitors and your SEO ranks.

25. Check Your Links

Broken links on your site can be an indicator that your site isn’t being actively managed.

If you have hundreds of blogs, for example, some broken links are inevitable and won’t kill your site’s rankings on Google. You should be auditing major navigational pages and popular landing pages regularly, though, to ensure that your site appears actively maintained and curated.

26. Coding Errors

Doing anything sloppy is terrible, but when the fabric of your site is poorly woven, it can lead to worse issues. Experts in SEO suggest that a well-coded page is used as a quality signal to Google.

More than that, elegant code can be a boon for your internal team as they make edits and updates to your site, so it’s a good usability practice as well.

27. URL Length

Excessively long URLs may hurt a page's search engine visibility. Several industry studies have found that short URLs tend to edge Google's search results slightly.

When creating a URL, don’t worry about including a complete sentence’s worth of words, or even every major keyword. Instead, pick the 1-2 most important keywords for the page and build a URL around them.

28. Priority of Page

The priority that a page is given in the sitemap.xml files will influence the Google ranking. Higher priority often correlates to higher page rank.

Sitemaps are important, but it’s not crucial to submit a new one every time you create a new page. However, periodically updating your sitemap, particularly if the site has undergone structural changes, can help to reprioritize your site in Google’s system.

29. Page Age

An older page that's regularly maintained and updated can outperform a newer page even though Google prefers fresh content. If you have a high-ranking page for a particular topic and are rewriting portions of it, consider updating the original page instead of releasing a new article or landing page. This will allow the existing SEO equity of the page to help it as you update the copy or design.

30. User Friendly

This may seem obvious, but it’s worth emphasizing. If users can't properly navigate a webpage, they will leave and go somewhere else, which is highly damaging to your ranking.

It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that websites need to keep the user in mind first and foremost. Marketers and web designers can worry too much about pleasing Google and forget that what Google is trying to rank for is the best user experience. Each of these tips can help with that, but on their own they are meaningless unless you have a user-friendly experience.

31. Parking on Domain Names

A Google update decreased search visibility of parked domains. Parking on a site domain is registering a domain name without it being associated with any services (i.e., email or a website.)

32. Does Your Content Answer User Questions?

We can talk about keywords, images, domains, and all the technical hoopla you can imagine, but more important than all of those is this: Are you answering the questions posed by your customers?

A lot of great content is as simple as doing this.

If you are constantly asked, "Why does x cost so much more than x?" does your site answer it? Structure your business and its marketing efforts to respond to and anticipate any questions an individual can ask.

This can build trust and can also save time for your sales or customer service teams who would otherwise be answering these questions instead of actively pursuing business in other ways.

Your website doesn’t sleep, so it can always be working for you to inform customers and bring in leads and revenue.

33. Scaled Content (i.e. AI Content)

What does Google have to say about content created with artificial intelligence (AI)? A lot, though they don’t always call it that.

Google’s baseline talking point in regard to AI content is that if it’s useful, properly cited and sourced, and engaging to visitors, it can rank as highly as human-generated content.

The reality has been a little different, even recently, when comparing apples-to-apples results between AI and human content.

Additionally, Google has also updated its algorithm to penalize what they refer to as “scaled content.” This is any attempt to release lots of content for the sole purpose of gaming the system, so to speak, and gathering search rankings through sheer volume.

AI tools are commonly used in such tactics, a tactic that is increasingly being viewed as spam.

So can you use AI tools to generate content? Yes, but it’s best used with caution and in conjunction with a trained content specialist who will be able to do all of the things that AI currently struggles with.

34. Google Business Profile

Your Google Business Profile doesn’t relate directly to your website, but can be an enormous boost to your overall search rankings. In fact, if you’re a locally-based company (e.g. restaurant, home services, etc.), your profile is arguably just as important as your website, since many customers will interface with you solely through Google’s business portal.

There are a lot of ways to optimize your Google Business listing, and doing these can help your SEO in tangible ways.

Take Control of Your Google Rankings

The entirety of Google’s algorithm is unknown, but the kinds of strategies that relate to success with Google have been known for years.

This is good news, because it means the only thing standing between you and better Google search ranks is gathering information and putting in the work.

Lastly, we want to again remind you that Google itself bases its many ranking factors on what it believes produces the best experience for users. If you keep the user experience in mind, you’ll already be doing a lot of things that relate to SEO. If you can engage your visitors and hold their interest, you will achieve success.

Want more help in crafting a website that not only ranks on Google but converts visitors into customers? That’s what Leadflask does. Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation to see if we’re the right fit for your growth goals.

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