Many new enterprise SEOs ask me for advice on improving their search engine rankings quickly so their content can be seen in organic search.
Most tell me they’ve already been hard at work conducting keyword research, writing content, building links, eliminating technical issues on the site … There’s many things to take into account when Google uses over 200 rankings factors in their algorithm.
Seeing no immediate results, they’re wondering if there’s anything else that could help push their search listing further up the results page (and as soon as possible).
I always remind them that when it comes to improving rankings, nothing beats publishing quality content optimized for the target keyword, boosting its authority, or improving the user experience.
After all, when a user makes a Google search, you want to have your content be seen.
Here's the list of SEO tactics that I'll cover in this post:
- Optimize the anchor text for your internal links
- Improve meta tags
- Include content topics that top ranking pages include
- Reference the target page on the homepage
- Add semantic keywords to your content
- Include more keywords in the headline
- Engage the readers with multimedia
- Improve mobile readability
- Ensure a healthy site structure
- Incorporate the schema markup
- Earn backlinks
- Optimize your images
- Structure your content appropriately
- Optimize for the Answer Box
But, before we get started, let's make sure we are on the same page on what we are trying to accomplish.
A brief overview on search visibility …
What is Search Visibility?
Search visibility is the percentage of Estimated Traffic (keyword position CTR x Search Volume) divided by Traffic Potential (estimated traffic assuming all keywords are in rank position #1).
(You can find your site data in an analytics tool or your respective SEO platform, if it has the proper integrations set up.)
Simply put, a visibility score is based on how well your keywords rank in the SERP. This is just one of the metrics you should monitor to evaluate the performance of your content.
The higher your SEO visibility is, the more target keywords you have ranking.
Now that you have an idea of what SEO visibility is, let me show you how to increase it.
#1. Interlink the Target Page with Other Authoritative Content Using the Keyword in the Anchor Text
Sometimes the biggest challenge in acquiring better keyword ranking is getting Google to actually understand the page’s topic better.
Sure, many strategies exist that help communicate what the page is about to the search engine.
But occasionally, you might need to go one step further. And that’s where this SEO tweak comes in handy.
Why, because Google might use the anchor text pointing to a page to a.) discern its meaning, and b.) identify the most relevant keyword for which to rank it.
Here’s an excerpt from Sergey Brin’s and Lawrence Page’s paper, “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine,” published at Stanford, that explains it further:
Most search engines associate the text of a link with the page that the link is on. In addition, we associate it with the page the link points to. This has several advantages. First, anchors often provide more accurate descriptions of web pages than the pages themselves.
Naturally, the internal anchor text isn’t a huge ranking factor in itself. But you can use it to send a relevancy signal to help Google understand the keyword of the page.
This, in turn, might translate to slightly better rankings. Or at least, give you a better chance at increasing your search results further.
#2. Improve Meta Tags
There’s absolutely no doubt about it: meta tags (title tags and meta descriptions) provide Google with a strong relevancy signal. And in doing so, they help your content acquire better rankings on the SERP.
The other benefit of improving meta tags is a potential for higher click-through rates.
After all, our search behavior is changing. Often, we skip the first organic result in lieu of content that promises to deliver on our needs.
This would suggest that you could win in search results by analyzing, and then outdoing already ranking pages.
For example, using Content Fusion, our AI-powered content editor, I ran a quick analysis of the top ranking pages for the phrase “Florida rentals.”
This immediately shows me the title tags and meta descriptions for that query's top ranking content, as well as the ideal length and recommended keyword usage.
I can tailor my meta data to reflect that of the top ranking content; clearly they’re doing something right.
For further resources on meta data, reference the following articles:
#3. Include Missing Content That Other Top Ranking Pages Include
While it's important to outdo other websites, it's also important you ensure that your content is optimized to present the end user with all the information they need.
It's useful to see what other top ranking pages include in their content that you might be missing. This doesn't mean to plagiarize from other sites, but rather to get an understanding across multiple different ranking content what the user might be looking for.
Sometimes, you may have missed key content on your page, so review what top ranking pages include in their copy – if a handful of pages include it, it's probably important that you do too.
What's more – is to offer your unique perspective and your expertise about that missing area.
For content that is already published, periodically go back and see what others are including and how you can optimize your content to be the most authoritative on the web.
Focus on this tactic when your page is just missing page one on the search engine (typically we do this for pages that rank between position 8 and 20).
It's not worthwhile to focus on content that ranks beyond position 20 because, unfortunately, content ranking that high usually means you've missed the mark and optimization efforts won't make a substantial difference.
Maybe you didn't focus on the correct search intent. Or, it could be a combination of things like links, page speed, etc.
Sometimes, it can be the result of a topic area being so competitive, with so many people creating authoritative content, that it's just too difficult to break through.
#4. Reference the Target Page on the Homepage
I admit that this tweak works best for specific projects, rather than every page you’ve created. Projects such as:
- A new long-form guide you want to use to target a highly competitive keyword.
- A specific category page for which you want to gain better Google rankings.
- Linkable assets for your next link building campaign, etc.
With such content, you want Google to index it as quickly as possible, ensuring it doesn’t get lost in the crawl budget. Not to mention, give it more link authority too.
My recommendation: link to it from the homepage. Include a text link to the page in the footer, ensuring that it doesn’t end up site-wide or somewhere in the copy.
The reason: the homepage is the strongest asset you have on the site.
The homepage typically acquires the greatest amount of links and mentions. After all, most people referencing your organization will use its homepage URL.
As a result, the page quickly gains the strongest Page Authority. And it’s from the home page that other pages acquire their authority too.
Therefore, linking to your target page from home shortens the link juice distribution path. In turn, this increases the link authority it acquires and ensures it gets indexed much faster.
#5. Add Semantic Keywords to Cover a Topic In Its Entirety
We talked about semantic keywords in this post already, however, given their ability to show readers your true understanding of the subject matter at hand, I believe they deserve another mention.
Weave semantic keywords into your content to demonstrate its authoritativeness. When a user makes a search on Google, they are looking for the most relevant and knowledgeable listing on the SERP to give them an appropriate answer.
Since the search engine wants to please the end user, it presents them with the information most likely to answer their query. To do this, it is looking for an authoritative source for the given topic.
So not only do semantic keywords provide the search engine with more context about your page, they also prove you are an authoritative source on the subject and have covered a subject in its entirety, and so search engines may prioritize your page to the end user.
For example, analyzing the phrase "Florida Rentals” again, Content Fusion reports the entire list of phrases I should include on a page to properly cover the topic and demonstrate my knowledge.
(Content Fusion presents must use topics to include in your content.)
What’s more, all of these phrases appear on the highest ranking pages for the term. Including them in my content will make it more relevant to the phrase. It will also expand it with information the user expects to find there.
#6. Include More Keywords in the Headline
Typically, when writing headlines, SEOs focus on including the primary keyword. Ideally, they position it somewhere at the beginning. Since the headline typically appears in the H1 tag, its effect on rankings is irrefutable.
However, I know of a headline formula that allows adding more keywords there. Although I must admit, it works better for blog posts rather than pages with commercial intent.
For one, the resulting headline is too long for product pages or similar assets. Second, it’s hard to expand such a page’s title with additional information anyway.
The formula looks like this:
[Headline incl. primary keyword] : [Sub-headline incl. secondary keyword]
Note that, de facto, its structure is comprised of two headlines. The primary one including your target keyword, and a sub-headline offering more information.
#7. Add Engaging Openings and Multimedia to Keep Users Reading for Longer
In an earlier blog post on making content more relevant to the audience's needs, we said that irrelevance is the biggest problem with the content today.
This is still true. But I can also add to it that the effect of irrelevance goes beyond a lack of engagement (which is something of which my other post focused).
It also results in potentially poorer rankings.
Why, because anytime a reader a.) finds your content irrelevant, and b.) leaves the page immediately, it sends a low-quality signal to the search engine. Needless to say, this is not good for site visibility.
Similarly, people who stay on your page for longer periods of time communicate the content’s high quality to Google.
- Captivate a reader with a strong opening paragraph. Ideally, make it relevant to the very problem that drew them to your content.
- Include multimedia – videos, animated visuals, etc. – to retain visitors for longer.
Recommended Reading: 8 Tricks to Creating Engaging Content
#8. Improve Mobile Readability
My colleague, Tyson Braun, wrote in his article on mobile content marketing strategies:
As marketers, we emphasize mobile SEO in every aspect of our work today. We optimize our strategies to target mobile users first. We analyze which mobile devices send the most traffic regularly. We place our entire effort into gaining visibility in the mobile search. Yet, when it comes to content marketing, we still write and optimize copy with desktop devices in mind.
I couldn’t agree more. In spite of a strong push toward delivering an immense mobile friendly experience, we still create text as if users read it on a desktop.
We set it in small fonts. There's insufficient space between lines. We write sentences that are too long. And all of these things make the content look uninviting on a small screen.
Compare these two pages, for example.
One features long passages of copy. The other, shorter text coupled with formatting that highlights the most critical information.
Now, tell me, which one looks more inviting to read? Exactly.
And in the age of social media, where content is constantly being shared across mobile devices, it's imperative your content is optimized to be mobile friendly.
Given how much importance Google puts on the mobile UX, improving mobile optimization can only benefit your rankings.
Here are some ideas on how to do it:
- Increase the legibility of your content. Set it up so that users don’t have to pinch to read it. Also, make sure that they can scroll and still get the gist of the information.
- Improve mobile page speed.
- And display all content, without hiding any information behind accordions or other scripts.
#9. Ensure a Healthy Site Structure
A healthy site structure is key to any site and SEO efforts -- if a user can’t navigate your site quickly and efficiently, they will bound back to the SERP.
If this is the case, Google will start to pick up on these metrics and will see that your site doesn’t help the end users. This, in turn, can damage your ranking and lead to a decrease in search visibility.
To have a healthy site, pay attention to things like page speed, site taxonomy, etc. that all impact technical SEO. To find potential site issues, you can run a site audit to check for the most common technical issues.
Recommended Reading: The Best SEO Audit Checklist to Boost Search Visibility and Rankings
#10. Add Schema to Your Content
A great relevancy signal for Google, schema allows the users (and the search engine) to have a better understanding of what your page is about.
When Google fully understands your page and its contents, it will be able to match that page to the appropriate queries.
Adding schema to your pages is a simple way to increase search visibility and CTR. The FAQ schema, for example, presents answers to questions directly on the SERP, which draws the user’s eye and the click.
Here’s an example of what the FAQ schema looks like.
(FAQ schema on a SERP listing takes up more real estate space.)
Plus, with the free Schema Builder Chrome extension, building, testing, and deploying structured data becomes as simple as point and click.
For a more in-depth look at the benefits of schema, I recommend watching our Technical SEO Best Practices: Schema Webinar (or reading through the transcription).
#11. Earn Backlinks
Backlinks are a great way to demonstrate your authority and increase your search visibility. Backlinks are an indicator that other web pages find your site valuable enough to link to it.
Although earning backlinks is outside of your direct control because it’s up to the discretion of another website’s SEO or editor, there are ways to monitor mentions of your brand online that can clue you in on backlink opportunities.
Google Alerts (one of many free SEO tools we recommend you use) allows you to monitor key phrases that appear on the web, and will notify you when that phrase or name has been mentioned.
If you set up an alert for your brand name, you can easily monitor when people write about your company. If there is a mention but no backlink attached, you can reach out to the editor and ask for a link back to your site.
This simple gesture can go a long way in demonstrating your authority on a topic and driving your online visibility.
Note: Some SEO platforms have backlink profile features, which allows you to monitor the status of your backlinks. seoClarity’s Link Clarity shows backlink growth, top domains, and new and lost backlinks for nearly any domain globally.
Another way to ensure backlinks is by creating high-quality, authoritative content. Others will start to see the value of your work and link to your site. There are ways to tweak your content to demonstrate your authority. For writing great SEO content, reference the below articles.
- What, Why, & How: Write Authoritative Content to Win Traffic
- SEO Content Writing: Creating Copy That Both Google and Users Love
#12. Optimize Your Images
More goes into content than text. Multimedia is useful to break up long blocks of text, plus it helps to explain a concept in another way which provides value to the user.
Images, for example, are great additions to any web page, but it’s also important to optimize them.
When uploading images, pay attention to the image names and formats. Some content management systems will use the image name as the alt text by default.
Alt text is a detailed description of a picture that is useful for those with visual impairments, and search engines that are trying to learn all they can about a page.
Really, this small tweak gives your site a relevance boost.
If your CMS doesn’t use the file name as the alt text, most content management systems make it easy to change the alt text of an image. (Adding a caption under your image can also provide value as it’s another place to add a detailed explanation of the image to provide context to the user.)
File format is important to ensure the page can load the images correctly. Large files can slow down page load times, which will cause users to bounce if they have to wait too long.
#13. Structure Your Content Appropriately
Since having users stay on your site longer can translate to higher rankings (because of the relevancy factor) it’s important to have a logical structure to your content.
Few users will want to stay on a page that isn’t pleasing to the eye or where information can’t be easily found.
To offer a good user experience, structure your content with the appropriate H1 and H2 headings that give a page a clear format. Consider adding anchor text or a navigation menu to make it easier to navigate a longer webpage.
Although these tweaks won’t have a direct impact on your search visibility, they do have an impact on how the user behaves on your site, and that is a huge tell for Google about which site deserves the higher ranking for a query.
#14. Optimize for the Answer Box
To have your content be seen at the top of the SERP, you can optimize for the Answer Box/Featured Snippet. When you secure the Answer Box you guarantee that your URL will be seen.
Quick adjustments in your content can help you win the Answer Box. Be sure to answer the who, what, why, when and how of a question or topic in your content.
Searches that contain these words tend to be informational (where an Answer Box may appear), so Google will try to directly answer these questions by pulling text straight from a webpage.
Clearly answer the question to better your chances of having your content pulled and presented in the Answer Box.
You’ll also want to give the answer explicitly — don’t use more words than necessary or offer excess content that doesn’t answer the question at hand. The Answer Box is designed to offer a concise answer and is ideal for shorter attention spans, so be direct in your copy.
And That’s It…
It's everyone's goal in digital marketing and SEO to have content be seen.
And although these tweaks may not have a huge impact on your keyword rankings, they should certainly increase your content’s chances of ranking higher (i.e. better search engine visibility!).
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in August 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.