Sunday, 16 June 2013

How To Rank Highly On Google : The Non-Technical Version






I was recently asked by Christopher  Pernell Thames, CEO of  Knogimmicks, what my strategy was for this blog post  being ranked in first place on the first page on Google's search engine for over 4 consecutive weeks (as at June 16th).




It is a question I have been asked by others as well and one about which I have pondered a great deal. I initially attributed it to luck because five days after I posted the article, I manually typed in  a few key phrases in Google search box, (being the non-technical expert/'techie' that I am), and found the article in eighth place on the second page. Well, let's just say that I could not, for the life in me, keep this piece of good luck to myself. I promptly did what any newish, humble Blogger could do - I told everyone: family, friends, contacts, etc. Then I inundated my social media platforms with such news. I am surprised no one protested :-) .


 
After a moment of calm, which spanned a few days, I re-visited the article, added new insights and really examined every detail. I began to form an opinion about why the article was even visible on the second page.


About two weeks later, I typed the same keywords into Google's search box  and got the greatest surprise since I began blogging -  there the article was, in first place on the first page! Regular checks from May 15th- June 16th, revealed that it  mostly held that coveted position for over four consecutive weeks.





Now I am no search engine optimisation (SEO) expert, nor do I have an arsenal of technical tools, advanced knowledge or a great number of followers in influential circles. However, from my point of view and knowing the actions I took while writing that post and 'promoting' it thereafter, below are six reasons why I believe my post ranked highly on Google. This is the bona fide non-technical version:
 


1) It was relevant/current

 
Like  everyone  with  access  to CNN  and  other  international news networks, I tuned in on April 16, 2013 after I had heard about the devastating Boston bombings.  



I started writing the article the day after the bombings and kept abreast of news throughout the week for facts and 'research'. The more I learnt about the incident, the more intrigued I became about the way President Obama handled the media. From a communications point of view, I studied his speech and felt compelled to write about it.



The timing of the blog post was also crucial; it was published the day after Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured - in other words, soon after some major breaking news.



The article being relevant and current made it more likely to become visible during that period. However, other actions listed below helped increase visibility.





2) It had a simple, catchy title


I kept the blog title simple but catchy. I asked myself what people would want to know/learn from the President's speech and simply penned it. This was done without a deliberate attempt to pack the headline with SEO-rich keywords. To be honest, the title was the easiest part of the process. Sometimes, going  with your 'gut' feeling is best.  You don't need to 'over think' it.






3) It had passionate, heart-felt content


Once I began writing the article, I felt inspired. I wrote from the heart and excluding time used for editing, the main content flowed like milk. When you are passionate about something, it really shows and it makes a difference in how your article is received. People who read the article were kind enough to describe it as "deep", or said I "laid it down" and tended to pass it along to their contacts.



Write from the heart. Be passionate about your topic and be your own advocate; a cheerleader of your own opinion. People who notice would be inspired and would share your article in their networks.


 


4) It has a mix of internal and external links, as well as varied multi-media such as images and a video


  



Now the techies and powers-that-be on the Web would tick this box and would ecstatically explain why posting a blog article which contains images and videos and links to reputable sites such as CNN, creates more visibility. I am not one of those techies but I did notice that a single link to the video of President Obama's speech must have been instrumental in increasing the article's visibility, as were the images and the links. From the basic statistics of the article, I could see that people tended to click on the video link and other links and return to the blog to apparently finish reading the article. 'Backlinks' is the term I think the techies use and apparently getting more clicks back to your site is a good thing.







5) It was submitted to a credible website such as Knogimmicks



I have read about the infinite benefits of guest blogging for reputable websites or experts from experienced bloggers. It is a good thing because you build credibility in your niche, as well as increase your visibility on the web and drive more traffic to your website.



Now not all of us, (myself included), have a list of influential people to contact. Therefore, when Christopher Thames invited me to submit an article on the Knogimmicks' website, I was honoured. He believes that his website would  be  the next TechCrunch and I am inclined to believe him. The website has gained impressive traction in its less-than-eight-months’ existence.




So I promptly submitted my article. The visibility that action created was impressive. About a week later, my article became visible in the Bing search engine on the second page using the same keywords I had used in the Google search engine. As I write this post, the article on the Knogimmicks website is currently first place in Yahoo search engine as seen below:





     



It is also in second place in Bing; both under the search description - "Boston bombings what we can learn".







And all that came from a single submission on a fast-growing and influential website....





6) It wass constantly promoted on social media and other platforms to ensure regular views and backlinks



"Content is king" - as it is often declared in the Blogosphere.



 



I have learned from the social media techies that  great content  is very important for credibility and visibility.




However, it  must be promoted and shared on the vital social media platforms so as to drive traffic to your website. The added benefit, for those with an entrepreneurial mindset, is that increased traffic can be converted to sales as explained by Lilach Bullock of Socialable in this postBy the way, being 14th on the Forbes' list of Top 20 Women Social Media Power Influencers, means that she obviously knows her onions.





So rather early in my blogging journey, I cultivated the habit of sharing each blog post on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, StumbleUpon etc. I also registered my blog on the influential blog directory Technorati,  (the official authority in  blog  rankings  at  that  time,  which  unfortunately no longer provides the service), and signed up for Blogupp. (This is a blog promotion service that promotes authentic blogs for free).



I also ensured that I set up Google Authorship for my articles, which helps to credit me as the author of published content on the Internet. Another important tip: don't forget to tag all your articles with relevant labels to increase visibility.




These actions I believe have helped to create a lot of visibility and clicks on my blog. The page views might be modest but still very encouraging. Besides, there is a plethora of other tools which are available to increase visibility online - all which could be learnt from the various techies and thought-leaders  on Twitter...



Conclusion


 



No doubt the techies would have long drawn-out explanations for being ranked highly on Google and other search engines. However, what I have realised is this - write great content; take certain actions recommended by the experts; include  the ones listed above, and watch your visibility (and credibility) increase online. And you do not need to be technically astute to do so.


 

You do however need to be serious about keeping abreast of evolving trends and about taking note of numerous tips meted out by the techies...usually for free in their blog posts. Start by following a few of the professional Bloggers and experienced content creators who are extremely credible in their niches,  on Twitter. I suggest  that you follow, at the very least, Jeff Bullas;  Lilach Bullock of Socialable;  and  Marya Jan of Writing Happiness - which is what I did. You'd be surprised at what you'd learn and how useful you'd find their advice.




Remember - being ranked highly on Google is not an impossible feat and you do not have to be a powerhouse to make the top spot. It helps nevertheless if you are proactive, determined and willing to soak up information like a sponge.





So what other non-technical tips could you share about being ranked highly on Google or on other search engines? Kindly post your comments.








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N:B- Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net. Images of search engine rankings supplied by author.







10 comments:

  1. The internet is full of people who's ill informed articles choke the web making it hard to find the actual truth you need to solve a problem. This is one of those articles - it is technically and factually wrong in a number of places - and worse than that it falsely attributes position in Google to behaviour which will have almost no effect on google ranking. Google publish quite clear guide lines on what affects google ranking and how their search algorithm works I suggest the author reads them. The most glaring howler in the article is the initial suggestion that typing an exact phrase in and it then producing a page that matches that exact phrase is a sign of success. The real skill to Google is getting your page to appear when people don't type exactly what you labelled your page - and simply put that takes time, reciprocal linking from highly ranked sites, perfect page structure in terms of headings and links and regularly updated content. The only sense in this article is that social networking will in some cases increase the visibility of a site but the author doesn't know why... it's just a happy side effect. Less waffle more fact please.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @ Anonymous:


      First of all, many thanks for your comment. I welcome varied viewpoints and definitely found yours interesting. You could have been brave enough to state your name though.


      Now to the points you raised. Brace yourself for this would be a long reply...


      1) You would have noticed the title of this blog post. I am broaching this topic from the non-technical angle, based on my perceptions. I cannot stress that enough.


      I do not claim to be a techie nor do I have the "long drawn-out explanations" mentioned in the post, about what goes behind the scenes in the Google ranking process. This was already stated and you might want to refer to that section.


      What I noticed however was highlighted in the points which I raised in the article. And although you might not consider it a "success" that typing, as you have stated, "an exact phrase" in the search engine produces my page, I would like to clarify a point. The search description I used:


      'Boston bombings what we can learn'


      was quite a useful and relevant phrase, obviously used by a lot of people for that period as it produced millions of hits, including hits from articles from reputable sites such as CNN, Quora, CBS etc. which did not rank in the first place. You might want to manually type this phrase in the search engines to view the hits. It's simple really - after breaking news, people generally use variations of that search description for quicker results. So logic demands that using such keywords in your title, (again coupled with other actions), is likely to get your article more visibility. And surely, increased online visibility is related in some way to rankings....


      For example if you use this format - "What can we learn about XXX" - or other variations of it, following a crisis, disaster or some other breaking news, you will get hits from reputable websites which are ranked highly. You could even try a few examples such as:

      a) "What can we learn about Tsarnaev brothers?" (Topped by the Huffington Post on Bing ranking) or

      b) "What we can learn about Newtown" (topped by CNN on Google).


      So I disagree with you. I believe that certain 'standard' keywords/search descriptions such as the one stated, are at a minimum, relevant to online behaviour/visibility.


      Moreover, I typed only six words of the eleven-word title and not the title in its entirety. I also excluded an important part of the title - which was President Obama's speech - in the search description, even though the entire blog post was based on that crucial theme.



      2) You also stated that my blog post "is technically and factually wrong in a number of places".


      Well this fact remains - the article DID rank in first place for a few weeks on Google, (and more recently on Bing) and was still number one at the time I posted the article. So something must have triggered it to become that visible. It is my opinion that the actions I took, which I listed in the article, did help in that respect. I would concede that there may be other factors involved which I didn't mention. That would be the work of the techies. However, I had written other articles in the past which didn't get to the first position on Google, even when certain phrases or keywords relevant to them were typed in the search description.


      So as regards to that particular article being visible in the Google rankings, I took new actions, (including a video and links to CNN for example), which I hadn't done with other articles and those helped increase visibility. And that is my point.


      Finally, you are of course entitled to your opinion and I, mine. I had clearly stated that I regularly read and learn from other experts and even cited a few whom I follow on Twitter.


      So let's agree to disagree on this issue.


      Cheers!

      Delete
  2. Great write-up. Content really is king. A short, catchy, title tells Google your article is very direct and is more likely to trust it. SEO is really a game of sincerity and originality. The fastest way to kill your SERP ranking is to copy and paste content from else where.

    Take your time to write your own content, unique to your site, and see your search engine rankings tending towards single digits!

    -Jonas E. (Lagos, NG)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank Jonas for your comment. You sound like one of those 'techies' I mentioned in my post :-)

    I do agree that original articles are crucial for increased visibility. In fact, I plan to limit my original blog content being distributed to many websites.

    Thanks again and do come back soon.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Chinelo Okeke (via LinkedIn)18 June 2013 08:48

    Please I need some help with my blog site, it is dormant. How do I attract people to the site?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Chinelo,

      There are numerous actions you could take which would drive traffic to your site. I suggest you read my blog post as I have highlighted a few I used.


      There are basics which I learnt:

      - Post original and good-quality content regularly, complete with images and varied multi-media if you can. Experts recommend a few times a week but due to the quality and length of my blog posts, I do this monthly.

      - Leverage the power of social media. So join the usuals such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and promote your articles there. There are others such as StumbleUpon, Reddit, Digg, etc. You would need to engage a lot on social media platforms and over time, you begin to build credibility and visibility.

      - Follow people such as Jeff Bullas, Lilach Bullock, Sonia Simone etc on Twitter. These people are experts and you would learn a lot from them.

      - Be consistent with good, quality content; be original and be determined. Results might be slow in the beginning but you would need to persevere. I am stil learning new things.


      Here's a link which would help, supplied by Lilach Bullock - a checklist of what to do on social media platforms to increase visibility:

      http://yourfreegift.socialable.co.uk/

      Good luck!

      Delete
  5. Hi Lucille, thanks so much for the lovely mention:)
    I loved the article and the "non-technical" approach - it's so great to see your article on the first page of Google searches, not to mention the first in the list and your tips are very useful!
    Thanks again:)
    Lilach

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lilach and welcome to my blog!


      Many thanks for taking the time to comment and it was indeed my pleasure to mention you in my article as I have referred to you elsewhere as an "encyclopedia of all things social media" :-)


      Kindly spread the word about this blog. It is on track to becoming very relevant in the niche of business communications.



      I hope you have a nice day.


      Cheers!

      Delete
  6. Thanks Lucille,

    This article was very informative. I know that there is a scientific explanation for getting your article to appear at the top of the Google search. But I must preferred your explanation which was in layman's terms and easy to follow. I will definitely use your tips and try it for my self!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hello Gail!

    Many thanks for your comment and you are certainly right - there are other 'scientific' or technical explanations for being ranked highly on Google.


    Like I have stated earlier, the article simply highlights a few actions I took which I believe, helped to create more visibility. The tips are in no way exhaustive but could be used in conjunction with other tactics.


    Let's also not forget, (as I have been constantly told), that Google loves blogs and regularly-updated sites. Therefore being a Blogger and regularly posting original (and great) content increases your credibility, more so if you leverage your content with the power of social media.


    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete

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