Are your competitors outranking you? If they are, it’ll have a negative impact on your business, blog, or whatever kind of website you run. The reason is position one on Google gets 28-31% of clicks, position two 14-16% of clicks, position three around 9%, and the figure continues to decrease as you go down the page rankings. It’s safe to say the higher up on the SERPs you get, the more traffic you get, the greater the chance of conversions, and so on.
You’ve probably got the basics down. You may have some real estate on the SERPs but you’d like more rankings and, of course, higher rankings. So at this point, it’s a matter of getting into some advanced SEO strategies. We’ll teach you our best, most actionable tips and the help of Semrush’s powerful suite of SEO tools.
CrazyEgg’s Favorite Tools for Improving SEO Ranking
Semrush is undoubtedly the best SEO tool for most but it isn’t the only option. Here are three of our favorite alternatives:
Google SEO Tools are vital for monitoring the key SEO metrics that contribute to your rankings. Get Search Console and Analytics for free.
AnswerThePublic helps you find tons of long-tail keywords for SEO content research. Try AnswerThePublic for free.
Ahrefs is an incredibly useful tool for keyword research and link building. Sign up for an annual plan and get two months for free.
More Top SEO Tools
An SEO tool is a necessity given that SEO is one of, if not the most important marketing channels for brands today. The only trouble is, there are a ton of SEO tools on the market. Thankfully, SEO is a forte of ours. We’ve tested, analyzed, and reviewed a bunch of SEO software. Our reviews look at the best use cases for each of the top tools. So we’ll help you decide which is most suited to your business goals. Take a look at how we rank the best SEO tools.
Step 1: Get Started with Semrush
Semrush is a user-friendly, all-in-one SEO tool that offers keyword research, competitor analysis, SEO content planning, analytics, and much more.
But what really makes the tool stand out is the way it guides you to the best opportunities for meeting each of your goals. In other words, you aren’t left to analyze a lengthy and complex set of data by yourself. Semrush shows you exactly who your competitors are, which keywords to target, which pages to optimize, what content to create, and so on. You can dig deeper and apply advanced settings, however, if you need to.
Semrush covers both sides of the SEO coin – technical and content. So you have the means to improve your rankings on both fronts. Its auditing tools, in particular, show precisely where there’s room for improvement. Furthermore, there are rank reports that show your current standings, giving you the ability to track positions daily. Hence, you can monitor progression.
As Semrush is the best tool to improve rankings in our experience, we’ll highlight some key features and how to apply them using the tool throughout this post. Get started with Semrush right away with a seven-day free trial.
Step 2: Improve Page Speed
There’s evidence for and against whether page speed is a Google ranking factor. Either way, decreasing the time it takes pages to load improves the user experience. Site visitors are more likely to stick around for longer and less likely to bounce. And experts agree the way users interact with a site impacts rankings.
Page speed refers to the time between a user clicking a link and the first screen of your site loading. View your page speed metrics using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. Simply input your URL and you’ll see a performance score out of 100, plus more precise data points such as how long it takes your site to become fully interactive.
The tool also provides diagnostics and a list of opportunities that’ll improve load times, along with potential time savings:
Here are some of the main changes you can implement to improve page load speeds:
- Compress and optimize image files
- Reduce page redirects
- Choose a hosting provider with fast servers
- Remove unused code
- Use browser and page caching – information is stored so pages don’t need to load from scratch every time
You can go in and make these changes manually. If you don’t have the skillset or resources, however, you can install an app or plugin that takes care of many of these tasks for you such as W3 Total Cache for WordPress sites.
Step 3: Find Keyword Gaps
Keyword research is at the core of any good SEO strategy. There are a few ways to go about it. But if you want to improve your rankings, the best way is to find the keyword gaps, i.e. keywords that your competitors rank for but you don’t and vice versa.
Target these keywords and you’ll prove to Google you’re more of an authority in your niche than your competitors and thus boost rankings overall. Google values authority and expertise as it wants to provide users with the best possible search results for their queries.
Use Semrush’s Keyword Gap tool to compare your profile with up to five competitors. Enter their domains, Semrush also lists top competitors here for you. Then you’ll see a chart that maps keyword overlap and a list of Top Opportunities.
These Top Opportunities show missing and weak keywords, and as described they represent the best opportunities for you to target.
View other areas in which your keywords intersect (or don’t) with competitors to find different kinds of opportunities. For example, “untapped” keywords that one of your competitors ranks for but you don’t.
Furthermore, you can filter keyword opportunities by position. So, for instance, you could find the top opportunities where you rank 11-20 and use these to get you on the first page of the SERPs.
All in all, this is a simple, quick, and effective way to find the best keywords to boost your rankings.
Step 4: Refresh Content
You need to update content to better serve your audience. Google knows this and therefore includes “freshness” for certain types of queries in its Quality Rating Guidelines, e.g. requests for current information, breaking news, product queries, and information on recurring events.
So if you find that your content rankings have dipped then certain pages may be in need of an update. It pays to refresh older content on a regular basis anyway to ensure that rankings don’t diminish over time.
To find content that needs updating, carry out a content audit using Semrush. The report will split your pages into four categories. These are:
- Rewrite or remove – 24+ months old, viewed less than 15 times in past 30 days
- Need to update – 6+ months old, viewed less than 15 times in past 30 days
- Quick review – less than 6 months old, viewed 150+ times
- Poor content – less than 200 words
So essentially Semrush combines current performance and age to help you discover what content to refresh. This means you don’t waste time refreshing content that’s still performing nor do you lose rankings by refreshing the wrong content.
Prioritize the right content. Then go in and update by cutting information that’s no longer relevant, linking to more up-to-date sources, adding new, relevant information, and so on.
Step 5: Improve Internal Linking Structure
Internal links, between the pages of your site, provide direction to both users and Google. They indicate the relationship between the pages of your site and where each page stands in the informational hierarchy, i.e. how important a page is.
Plus, an internal link from one page to the next helps to spread SEO value. In other words, if you link from a high-ranking page to a lower-ranking page, you pass on some authority from the high-ranking page.
One of the best internal linking strategies for boosting content rankings is to create topic clusters. First, choose four or five pillar pages on different topics, the most comprehensive guides in your catalog that target broad, high-volume keywords. For instance, your main topics might be “wedding photography,” “wedding videos,” “wedding websites,” and “wedding invitations.”
Then link out from these pages to subtopics that target long-tail keywords related to each pillar page. For example, these might go from “wedding photography” to “wedding photography costs,” “make wedding photographs personalized,” “cheap wedding backdrop ideas,” and so on.
This passes authority from the main page to the sub-pages. Furthermore, it shows the thoroughness with which you cover these topics. This indicates to Google that you’re an authority in your niche and therefore boosts rankings.
Step 6: Increase CTR
A quick reminder, click-through rate or CTR refers to the number of clicks your links get compared to the number of impressions on the SERPs. It’s considered a ranking factor by experts because when people click, it proves to Google that your page is a good match for their search term.
To increase your click-through rate you must first find the pages you need to work on. Go to Performance > Queries in Google Search Console and check CTR.
Once you have the pages with the lowest CTR, there are a few things you can do to improve them. Go in and optimize your meta descriptions. Sometimes, Google chooses the meta description for you depending on how your page relates to the search query. Others, your paragraph will show up on the SERPs.
Treat your meta description like a shop window—make it super alluring for users to click. Make it benefit-driven, i.e. show users what they’ll achieve if they click. Here’s a good example:
You may also want to consider improving your headlines. This doesn’t mean making them clickbait-y. They need to be enticing but also an honest description of the content inside or else you’re just going to get bounces and that will hinder your SEO.
Step 7: Get Featured Snippets
A featured snippet puts you at the very top of the SERPs even if your content ranks a little lower.
You may wonder if chasing featured snippets is worthwhile given that some will find the information they need without the need to click. Yet, there are different types of featured snippets and in many instances, users will want to click to seek out more information, as in this example:
You can also track featured snippets and find new opportunities using Semrush. Go to the Position Tracking report and set up your domain. Here you’ll see the number of featured snippets you already have along with other metrics such as how much traffic these drive to your site.
Scroll down to the Opportunities section and you’ll see the keywords that you’re most likely to get a featured snippet for given your current SERP position. You’ll see the page that currently has the featured snippet. And the keywords closest to the top of the opportunities list represent instances when you rank higher than the current owner and thus have a good chance of getting the featured snippet if you optimize your page.
To optimize for featured snippets, first take a look at what kind of featured snippet appears on the SERPs. For instance, it may be an information box or bulleted list. Then ensure the formatting of your page meets the requirements of the featured snippet. For example, if it’s an information box, you may have an H2 that answers a basic question with a short piece of text, usually “What Is [Search term]?”
HubSpot does this particularly well:
All in all, it’s a simple matter of finding the right opportunities and giving your content the best chance to achieve a featured snippet by optimizing the page.