Growing your organic traffic from Google is the holy grail for most bloggers. Even if you do all the right keyword research and make sure you get all green check marks in Yoast, it doesn’t mean anything unless it actually helps you get more traffic. The Yoast green check marks help you do two things – 1) it helps make sure your post has the right structure and keywords so Google knows what your page is about, and 2) it helps you craft your meta data so users feel inclined to click through to your site in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
The trick of course, is to rank high enough in the search results so users actually see your site so your on-page SEO efforts start paying off.
Google ranks sites in search results based on quality of content. So how does Google know if an article or post is of good quality? Google determines quality using a variety of factors, some of which will be near impossible for the average blogger to achieve (like Direct Website Visits). But the ones that matter most to bloggers are time spent on a page, and number of pages viewed, as can be seen from this SEMrush report. There other minor factors, but these two give you the most bang for your buck if you can implement them in your content, and help drive the other factors like Bounce Rate, Content Length, and Videos on Page.
Here’s how you can increase your Google ranking in search results:
1. Write Longer Posts
Google tends to prefer longer posts over shorter ones. Yoast may tell you to get at least 300 words, but if you can get that up to 1,000 words or more then Google will usually give you more ranking credit.
Of course, don’t add words for the sake of hitting a number. If your post only warrants 300 words, then don’t start stuffing words to inflate the count. This is not the point, and could hurt you rather than help you. You want to make sure your content is interesting and informative to the reader, and that they want to spend the time reading to the very end. Stuffing words and repeating yourself will only drive your site visitors away and is counter-productive.
Make sure the post length is appropriate for the topic. A longer, well written, interesting post, will help keep readers on your page longer, letting Google know your content is of a higher quality.
2. Add Videos
If you also have a Youtube channel with content related to your post, then embed a video or two to keep viewers on your page longer. Make sure it’s relevant though, and have content on your page (see #1 above). A long video alone will not help your ranking. Without written content, Google won’t know what your post is about, so you won’t rank.
The point of adding the video is to get visitors to stay on your post longer, which in turn Google interprets as higher quality. But visitors will only stay longer if the video is related to the content of the post.
Remember also to link to your blog or post in your Youtube video description, this could help drive more traffic from Youtube.
3. Internal or Cross Post Linking
This is where the number of pages viewed comes in to play.
You want to link to other posts on your site (where relevant) from within a post, like this link on moving your blog from WordPress.com to Self-hosted WordPress so you can use the Yoast plugin, for example. There are several advantages to doing this, but in terms of SEO and ranking, if viewers like your content, you want to make it easy for them to view other relevant content on your site in the same visit. This decreases your bounce rate metric in Google Analytics and Google interprets this as quality content.
Remember to add “related posts”, “top posts”, etc in sidebars, footers, or at the end of your posts. Some themes have this, WordPress’ Gutenberg now has a Related Posts block, or you can use a plugin to achieve it. Don’t over complicate or stuff your site so it’s distracting, but make sure your visitors have the opportunity to easily click through to other content on your site.
4. Post Structure and Formatting
Structure your posts with relevant headings and sections. This makes it easier for google to understand what your content is about, and when to show it in relevant search results.
When your site shows in relevant search results, there’s a better a chance viewers will read your content all the way through, spending more time on your page, and clicking through to other pages on your site, which google then sees as higher quality content, ranks you higher, and so the cycle continues and you keep ranking higher and higher.
For your main headings, use an H2 header (your page or post title will be H1, and you ideally only want one H1 header), and H3 for sub-headings etc. Don’t stuff keywords into your headings, if a reader finds it annoying, they’ll leave your site, defeating the purpose and penalizing your ranking in the process.
On really long articles, say 2,000 words and up, consider putting a table of contents with anchor links to each section. This makes it easier for your site visitors to navigate a long post, and as well helps with indexing and getting your site in relevant search results.
Don’t write your content with the intent of ranking on google, it’s counter intuitive. Keyword stuffing, fake traffic, and all the old tricks went away a long time ago. Google is much smarter than you think. Write good quality content for humans, content that visitors will want to read, and that is all you’ll need to start increasing your ranking in search engine results.