Step-by-Step Guide to Help Improve Your Google Search Rankings in 2020

Ron Dodby Ron Dod

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For eCommerce retailers, sales are dependent on visibility. If no one can find a merchant’s website, they can’t purchase their products.

While social media can be a great way to interact with your audience, it doesn’t bring in traffic the way other channels can. The fact is that search tends to be the main source of traffic for eCommerce websites. Examining SEO statistics reveals that over 50 percent of website traffic comes from organic search and 10 percent is driven by paid search. Meanwhile, only five percent of site visitors arrive from social media websites.

Moreover, given that Google processes 5.5 billion searches per day, those who have earned a prominent Google search ranking position stand to generate a massive amount of sales, ultimately allowing them to scale their eCommerce business using SEO.

gerber onesies search results google

For those whose Google search rankings leave a lot to be desired, the reality is that other sites are putting more effort into their optimization efforts or possess a more potent strategy.

That’s what this piece seeks to correct.

For those who are tired of not having the visibility necessary to engender business growth, check out this step-by-step guide to improving Google search rankings in 2020.

Let’s get started.

Step #1: Elevate On-Site Optimization Efforts

While on-page SEO is one of the most effective optimization tactics that retailers can engage in, far too many sites neglect vital aspects of category, product and content pages.

The first thing that merchants should do in enhancing their on-page optimization efforts for higher Google search rankings is to ensure that the primary keyword the page targets is toward the beginning of the title tag.

This is a concept known as “frontloading.”

The fact is that Google places greater emphasis on the keywords that are closer to the start of the tags. Therefore, if a seller is optimizing a piece of content to rank for skin care products, their title tag might be written as “Top Skin Care Products for 2020.”

blog title area tiege hanley

The next thing to take into consideration is the length of the content presented.

A study conducted by Backlinko on Google search ranking revealed that the average length of first-page content is 1,447 words. Therefore, merchants should ensure that their content is a minimum of 1,400 words. 

Plainly put, long-form content can be an SEO boon as these pieces tend to cover a topic comprehensively, thereby being more likely to provide searchers with the answers they seek while also being rich in keywords.

Admittedly, not all pages can or should contain this much content. For instance, when optimizing category pages for Google search ranking improving product pages for SERP performance, 1,400 words would be far too much.

However, there are a slew of on-page SEO tactics for product pages that sellers can implement, many of which will be covered shortly.

The next step is to ensure that the target keyword is featured on the page a minimum of three times. Now, this isn’t a call to start keyword stuffing. Strategically inserting the target keyword is merely a means of alerting Google that a page is relevant to a given query.

However, it isn’t just the target keyword that should be present.

Step #2: Inject LSI Keywords

LSI keywords are keywords that are semantically related to the topic a page covers. For instance, if a page discusses beard care products, then some LSI keywords might include “facial hair,” “beard oil,” “grooming scissors” and the like.

lsi keywords quote

LSI keywords help to show Google that a page is actually about the topic that the primary keyword implies, thereby helping to elevate a page’s Google search ranking.

One of the great things about creating long-form content is that many of these types of keywords will naturally find their way into a piece. When discussing topics at length, it is almost unavoidable that LSI keywords will be used.

That said, retailers can utilize tools like LSIGraph, Google’s Keyword Tool or even autosuggestions from Google search to uncover great LSI keywords.

Step #3: Raise the Bar for Technical SEO

Technical SEO is hugely important for obtaining Google search ranking visibility. However, even among agencies, there are a variety of commonly missed technical SEO issues. Therefore, giving this area considerable love and attention is crucial.

In specific, there are three key areas in which sellers should double and triple check for optimization.

Firstly, merchants should ensure that their site is optimized for mobile devices. Mobile optimization is highly important in 2020, as the world has been on a mobile-first trajectory for the better part of a decade.

Thankfully, Google makes uncovering a site’s friendliness easy with its Mobile-Friendly Testing tool. However, don’t mistake friendly for optimized as these are two different things.

One of the things that makes a site optimized is to make it lightning fast. Given that page speed is a Google search ranking factor on both desktop and mobile, getting a website to load as quickly as possible is vital to earning visibility.

There are a variety of tools sellers can use to determine their site’s speed performance, including:

pingdom website speed test page

Finally, merchants should ensure that all of their pages are correctly indexed, as well as check that those that should not be indexed are indeed absent from the SERPs.

To uncover this information, compare the site’s XML sitemap with Google Search Console’s Coverage report. Not only will this report show merchants if the engine is having problems indexing pages, but it will also reveal potential bloat issues if far more pages are indexed than are present within the sitemap.

Given that technical SEO optimization can require the knowledge of a skilled professional, retailers might opt to partner with an eCommerce SEO team to ensure that these areas are handled properly and produce the maximum impact in the SERPs.

Step #4: Optimize Content for Intent

Google’s BERT algorithm update was touted as the most significant adjustment in the past five years. Prior to this update, it was RankBrain that changed the search game for Google.

Through the implementation of RankBrain, Google became far more capable of establishing the most relevant results for a given query, based on the intent of the search.

By watching how users interact with various pages (if a searcher leaves and goes back to the engine and looks at other results or if the person ends their search, etc.), Google can now determine if a page met a person’s needs. If it does, that page can receive a boost in the SERPs. If it does not, the inverse is likely to occur.

Therefore, it is critical for merchants to tailor the various pages of their website to not just rank for keywords, but to service the intention of the user’s search.

This means that the key to elevating Google search rankings is to establish the intent behind a user’s search.

For instance, if a shopper searches “cloth vs. disposable diapers,” they are likely still in the information gathering stage and want to narrow down their choices of potential purchases. Given this intent, retailers will want to optimize a piece of content for this search term and help the consumer find the information they want.

gerber informational blog post

Alternatively, if that same consumer searches, “Gerber Cloth Diaper 6-pack price,” they are likely in the market to buy. In this case, sellers will want to optimize a product page to rank for this search term as the intent is to convert.

To achieve better Google search rankings through targeting intent, retailers must take the time to analyze the search intent of the keywords their pages surface for and optimize those destinations to serve the end user’s desires.

Step #5: Reduce Bounces

When an individual bounces from a site, this shows Google that the site didn’t meet the user’s wants or needs.

Like, not even a little bit.

When a visitor bounces from a site, Google is likely to take note and demote that page in the SERPs as it was clearly irrelevant to the user’s intent or was simply incapable of meeting their expectations.

One of the best ways to ensure this scenario does not come to pass is by optimizing pages to align with search intent, as discussed earlier.

Outside of that, there are some other strategies that merchants can use to reduce their bounce rates.

The first is to analyze the above the fold section of each page. If the content (or lack thereof) that lives in this area does not clearly indicate that the searcher is in the right place, it increases the chances of a bounce.

Therefore, it is wise to push the most relevant page information to the top, immediately followed by the second most essential details.

If this is a product page, retailers will want to follow the title of the product (which lives above the fold) with images and additional information.

spanx leggings product page

If sellers are optimizing their content for lower bounce rates, then following the title with a table of contents is advisable, as this lets visitors know the broad strokes of the piece and gives them a way to get to the information they desire quickly.

Moreover, no matter if one is discussing product pages or blogs, no one wants to read a wall of text. Therefore, it is crucial to intersperse images, infographics, videos and other visual elements throughout a page to keep a user’s attention and prevent a bounce.

Finally, be sure to include links to other relevant pages to help reduce bounce rates and pull shoppers deeper into the site. If the user lands on a product page, show them complementary items. If they are busy reading a blog, highlight other popular content or pieces related to the one being read.

While we are on the topic of content…

Step #6: Craft First-In-Class Content

Everyone knows that content must be “unique,” “valuable” and other such hollow aphorisms.

These kinds of statements have been made ad nauseam. However, they rarely address what these things actually mean.

valuable content quoteWithout going into a full-blown keynote, unique and valuable content means publishing pieces that are of higher quality (read: more informative and engaging) than the best article available on the topic.

A tall order, right?

While this is not an easy thing to do, the skyscraper technique lays out the exact strategy for executing such lofty goals.

In a nutshell, the idea is that sellers will use a tool like BuzzSumo to identify a piece of content that has generated tons of backlinks. Then, create something even better and aim to steal those links for one’s own site.

Some of the ways that retailers can improve upon an already exceptional piece of content are to:

  • Expound upon the original points and provide additional context and information
  • Update any outdated information
  • Ensure that the new piece is more visually appealing than its predecessor

By utilizing this tactic, merchants can earn a significant number of backlinks from authoritative sources, thereby improving their Google search ranking.

Some alternative ways to generate a slew of valuable backlinks include:

Create Long-Form Content

This strategy was discussed earlier and is also a component of the skyscraper technique.

However, while we won’t continue to argue at this point, it is essential to remember that length for the sake of length isn’t the objective. Instead, aim to produce genuinely informative pieces that speak to the intent of the search.

Produce Visual Content

Things like videos, infographics, charts and other visuals are fantastic for generating backlinks.

mens hairstyles graphic in blog

Therefore, creating a blog that features an embeddable infographic for others to utilize is an ideal link building tactic.

Publish Original Research

Using original research to drive backlinks is a powerful technique for increasing Google search rankings as the data presented is only available through a single source. As a result, it is likely to receive copious amounts of links, assuming the data is valuable and interesting.

tiege hanley skin care research blog

After publishing the information, reach out to industry bloggers and journalists, and post it in a variety of relevant social media destinations to get the ball rolling.

Step #7: Work on Building Backlinks

As is implied by the outreach efforts just mentioned for getting original research noticed, content has to get seen to build better backlinks and rank higher in Google.

The fact is that untold millions of pieces of content are published daily. Therefore, for a piece to get the attention it deserves, merchants must work to get it seen.

While this can be done through email blasts, outreach campaigns, social media posting and promotion, there are other means for retailers to get backlinks to their site that don’t require the time-consuming process of producing the best content possible and then getting it noticed to boot.

Some of these strategies include:

Guest Posting

Guest posting is a long-favored (albeit controversial and debated) SEO strategy for earning better Google search rankings.

rent guest post feature

While this is a great way to get backlinks, it shouldn’t be a merchant’s go-to tactic.

Using Resource Pages and Directories

There are tons of resource pages and website directories that still have value where retailers can gain links to their sites and content.

As far as resource pages are concerned, these are destinations in which someone has compiled a list of resources related to a given topic.

While finding authoritative pages for each will likely require a bit of time and effort, doing so can be worth it for the added link juice the site will receive.

Building Broken Links

Retailers can scan relevant and authoritative pages across the web for broken links using the Check My Links Chrome extension. After finding a dead or broken link, retailers can reach out to the page’s owner with a personalized message, kindly pointing out the link and pointing them to a resource from the retailer’s website that could fill the void.

strategies for building backlinks graphic

Step #8: Track and Monitor Progress

All throughout this process, retailers should continually keep tabs on their progress. This can be done in a variety of ways with tools like Google Search Console, Google Analytics, Ahrefs, Moz and similar SEO tools.

Some things that sellers will want to monitor include:

  • Keyword rankings
  • Organic traffic
  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • Organic leads
  • Organic sales

All of these metrics will help a retailer establish how well their SEO efforts are performing and if they are seeing improvements in Google search rankings.

Final Thoughts

Search engine optimization is an internet mainstay. Retailers cannot succeed with online Google search ranking positions on the second page and beyond. To truly succeed in the eCommerce arena, SERPs visibility earned through SEO best practices is a must.

However, it is also important to remember that SEO is only one component of the search engine marketing puzzle. Running ads on Google–be they Shopping ads, standard search ads or the like–are also an ideal means of earning traffic and sales as these often appear above the organic listings.

If your brand wants to bypass the arduous journey to earning Google search ranking position number one and score sales through high-performance Google ads, reach out to Visiture’s eCommerce PPC masters.

We can help your brand earn clicks from the top of the SERPs while it is busy climbing the organic rankings.

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