A Singapore Digital Marketer’s Guide To Getting Google First Page Ranking

Singapore business owners should pay close attention to Google’s most important ranking signals.

How do the SEO experts get their Singapore clients to the top of the search engines? There are over 200+ ranking signals that Google relies on, so it’s amazing that they have managed to comply with each one, right? Well, the truth is agencies don’t pay attention to every single signal that Google puts out. Instead, they do their best to comply with those that carry the most weight.

You see, the top ranking factors will depend on what your audience is searching for. So instead of trying to follow every single standard Google lays out, try focusing mostly on user search intent. This means that you should consider content, backlinks, experience of the user, technical factors, and on-page factors.

Content

Quality content is a cornerstone of SEO. Even if Singapore business owners are not creating quality content, they know that they should. This is the information that draws users to your site. Let’s take a look at the factors that you should keep in mind when creating content.

1. Keyword research

While keyword research has gotten a reputation for being outdated, it’s still very much a part of a good SEO strategy. And that’s because it’s what brings in the visitors. There are a couple of things you should keep in mind when doing your research.

Competitors

First, you should find out which keywords your competitors use as this will provide inspiration. Rank Tracker can give you a list of your competitors’ best keywords. Simple run the tool, open or create a project, and then go to your Keyword Research and paste their site into the search field.

Voice Search

Next, you should make use of voice search. As mobile search has increased in popularity so has voice search, which is different than traditional search. Spoken queries tend to ask questions that sound more natural and real so it’s a good idea to optimise for long-tail conversational questions keywords. Use Rank Tracker’s Related Questions features, paste in the keywords and then build your content around the list of keywords you get.

Featured snippets

These are the snippets that are known to rank in position zero. It contains short answers to queries as well as a link to its source. And this is the perfect opportunity for visibility. This is especially the case when it comes to mobile search where these sections take up more space on the screen.

Featured snippets require you to experiment with queries and find out if any of your keywords pull a snippet. If so, is there any way that you can add more value to this answer? You need to make sure that your content is snippable by including the most important information, details, and background information. You should also optimise the format so that it’s easy for Google to retrieve, meaning use paragraphs, tables, and lists.

2. Search intent

When it comes to search intent, Google takes it very seriously. In fact, this search engine shapes it’s results according to the intent of the user. So it’s crucial that you understand your audience and strive to offer the best results. The good thing is that you don’t have to guess what the user’s intent is. Here are a few ways in which you can find out what people are looking for.

If you’re doing keyword research and are planning the keywords you want to target then you simply need to understand what type of content you need to create for your keywords. So paste queries that you think should send visitors to your site into Google’s search engine. And then use organic listings, suggested searches and related searches to figure out user intent. The results may indicate that there are several intents. You might even have to reshape your content depending on the results.In the best case scenario, you will notice that there are gaps in information, which you can offer. And this will help to improve your ranking.

If you currently rank for several keywords, but aren’t quite sure if the content matches the search intent then take a look at your Google Search Console. Sift through all of your keywords that rank but have a low CTR. Are your bounce rates high? Add a bounce rate column to your Rank Tracker dashboard.There are some instances in which traffic will come to the same but from completely different queries and it can be difficult to identify which query it bounces from.

Once you find the keywords that match the wrong search intent, you can either re-write your ranking page so that it matches or create a new page that targets these keywords and intent. In the meantime, you can always use the current page for other search queries, however make sure you optimise them so that they don’t cannibalise other pages on your website.

Backlinks

No matter how many things change in SEO, backlinks will always be considered to be among the top Google ranking signals for Google. In fact, a quality link profile can be the number one factor in making it to the top. Unfortunately, link building can be challenging, especially if you’re trying to do it in a short amount of time.

3. Backlinks and linking domains

Google advocates for quantity links, but the number of websites linking to yours can really help you in the search engine. According to Google your link score is composed of the individual quality scores that are passed on to it by all of your incoming links. So the more links you have the higher your score, though links that come from the same domain carry very little weight because they’re often counted as one.

If you want to better understand your link score, take a look at your competitors’. Use a tool like SEO SpyGlass. Visit the Domain Comparison feature and add their sites to find out how yours compares. You can judge how much improvement you need based on Total Backlinks and Linking Domains. If you need improvement, use Link Assistant to search for prospects and perform email outreach.

4. Link authority

If you want to ensure that you’re earning quality links, then you need to perform regular audits. SEO SpyGlass is a great tool for this. Once you’ve created a list of backlinks, visit the Backlinks dashboard, select all of your links, and then select Update Factors. Go to the Link penalty risk tab and then select the Penalty Risk column. You should look into the links that show a penalty risk that is greater than 30%. Those above 60% are definitely considered to be of low quality and will result in a penalty.

If the quality is low, either contact the owner and ask them to remove the link or disavow it. To disavow links, simply put up a disavow file that follows specific syntax and formatting rules, and then upload this file to the Search Console. These files can be created in SEO SpyGlass by selecting the links you want to disavow, right-clicking your selection, and then selecting the Disavow backlinks options. To disavow on the domain level select Entire domain, visit Preferences, choose Disavow/Blacklist and then select Export in order to save your file and upload it to the Search Console.

5. Link anchor text

Anchor text may not be as effective as it once was, but anchor text that is keyword-rich still provides a pretty big signal to Google. The trick is to make sure that your anchor text is diverse because using similar anchor text could result in a penalty. Of course, there is no specific ration when it comes to anchor text, but if you want to make sure that your link profile looks natural, then in general your exact-match text should account for 1%, your topic-related text should account for 4%, your generic text should account for 5%, your naked URL should account for 20%, and your branded text should account for 70%.

However, it’s a good idea to refer to your top ranking competitors’ profiles as opposed to overall averages. So use SEO SpyGlass to compares yours to theirs. Navigate to Backlink profile and look at the Summary to get a better idea of which anchors are being used. If you notice a problem, reach out to sites that are linking to yours. You can speed this process up by exporting all of your links from SEO SpyGlass. Simply navigate to File and then Export, and import them to LinkAssistant. Select all of the backlinks you have imported and then select Update and Get Contact Email.

User experience and Safety

In most cases, when users can’t find the information they are looking for or become confused by the navigation of your website, they become very frustrated. This is especially the case if your site takes longer than a few seconds to load. Most users appreciate websites that are aesthetically pleasing and offer intuitive navigation. In fact, when it comes UX, they can be downright picky on both desktop and mobile. So it’s very important that Singapore businesses pay attention to a few key elements.

6. Click-through rate

Your click-through rate, or CTR, reflects the ratio of the exact number of times that a certain search result was clicked on to the exact number of times that it was actually displayed to the users. This ratio can have a huge impact on your rankings. In fact, out of all of the ranking factors, CTR has the biggest correlation with rankings. If done well, CTR can boost your website’s ranking in real-time.

If you want to check the CTR of your snippets, go to the Search Analytics report in Google Search Console and navigate to CTR and then Position to be displayed. Depending on the type of query, CTR values will vary for different positions in Google, however, expect at least 30% of clicks for the first result, 15% for the second, and 10% for the third.

If any of your CTR listings are well below these particular averages, then these are the areas you need to focus on. Work to make these listings click-worthy and more appealing. Use URLs that are descriptive URLs, not generic. Write snippet titles based on the formula: format + feeling + type of content + subject. Write your description as you would your ad copy. Use data that is structured–including customer ratings, star ratings, images, and additional product info. If you’re not a web developer, you could always use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper. Just remember to preview your snippets before adding schema markup.

7. Dwell time and bounce rate

Dwell time and bounce rate are closely connected metrics. Bounce rate reflects the percentage of sessions that are single-page, meaning visitors who only visit one page before they leave your site. And it doesn’t matter how long they actually spend on your page, if they leave after only viewing one it’s considered a bounce. Dwell time is the actual amount of time that a user spends on your website between clicking on a certain search result and bouncing back to the search engine results.

There are many SEO consultants who find the bounce rate metric to be a little untrustworthy due to the fact that the even if the user spends a long time on the page, it’s still deemed as a bounce. So they tend to rely more on the dwell time when checking out how relevant a web page is. There are no definite answers as to whether or not dwell time is a significant ranking factor. However, a Google conference in 2017 indicated that dwell time is used as a ranking mechanism.

If you want to increase your dwell time, you need to create better content. This means content needs to be useful in that offers valuable information or motivation. It needs to be entertaining in that it makes people laugh or surprises them. It needs to be accessible in that it skimmable and well-designed. It needs to make use of logical internal linking in that it connects the information to other pages on your website.

It should also be engaging. Consider adding pageless scrolling so that your feed is endless. Just make sure that it doesn’t harm your SEO and confuse the search engine crawlers. Break your pages into paginated sections.

8. Site architecture

Not only does good site architecture give crawlers the ability to index more pages, but it also allows users to quickly discover what they came for. And this is one of the most important factors in user experience.

So make your website structure is shallow meaning that all pages on your site are not more than three clicks away from the homepage. This can be a challenge if your site is large, but it’s not impossible. Use WebSite Auditor to check your site structure. Navigate to Site Structure and then Visualisation. You will notice a graph of your website’s pages as well as the connections between them.

When working on your site structure, you should apply user-friendly navigation, with categories and subcategories. Create a hierarchical structure by using a couple of menus on your page, using drop-down menu features for every category, instituting a site search box, and creating an FAQ page for users who have questions.

9. HTTPS sites

Singapore businesses don’t have to switch to HTTPS, as HTTP won’t negatively your site. However, since Google deemed HTTPS a ranking signal in 2014, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Since the beginning of 2017, Google now flags websites that collect credit cards or passwords s as “not secure.” And starting in July of 2018 Chrome will mark all of the HTTP websites as “not secure”.

The problem with switching over to HTTPS is that it brings a lot of canonicalising issues if you don’t do it properly. If you’re already using HTTPS encryption, perform an audit to find out whether or not you have issues with mixed-content. This can be done with WebSite Auditor. Simply navigation to Site Structure and then Site Audit.

Technical factors

The technical aspect of your website is important for both SEO and your Google ranking. The great thing about technical SEO is that it gives you a lot of control. Let’s discuss the most important factors for ranking.

10. Mobile friendliness

Google has officially instituted mobile-first indexing. This search engine now analyses mobile pages, not desktops, when ranking your site. So being mobile-friendly is no longer an option. Google recommends using a responsive design. Luckily, you can find a lot of documentation on adapting this type of design. It may take a considerable amount of time, but if you want to make sure it’s done properly, then it’s worth the investment.

Use WebSite Auditor to check the usability of the mobile version of your site. Navigate to Content Analysis, Page Audit, add the page that you would like to analyse, and then enter the target keywords. When your check is complete, you can switch to Technical factors and then scroll over to the Page usability section to find out if there are any warnings or errors.

11. Page speed

Page speed is a huge ranking factor and in July of 2018, it will be considered a ranking factor for mobile searches. It can have an impact on your SEO and indexing, as search engines have an allocated crawl budget and they tend to crawl fewer pages when the page loads slowly. It can also lead to higher bounce rates.

So try to aim for a load time of less than 2 seconds. Make sure that your content is compressed. Perform a speed audit in WebSite Auditor. Navigate to the Content Analysis module and switch to the Technical tab. You should see an exact list of factors that are speed-related. Pay attention to those that have a Warning or an Error status. Does you page have uncompressed images?

For mobile pages, consider applying AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages. AMP gives mobile content the ability to render practically instantly. Just remember that it’s not enough to simply install the plugin, you need to invest some time into making the AMP version almost identical to the average responsive mobile pages.

You should also track the performance of these pages. This can be done by setting up the tracking in Google Analytics or on WebSite Auditor. With WebSite Auditor, simply navigate to Site Structure and then Pages. You should then click the “+” button and create a new workspace. Use the filter so that it only includes pages with AMP in the URL. Add columns for canonical URLs, robot instructions, status codes, and broken resources for deeper analysis.

On-page

On-page optimisation refers to the technical components that are taken care of in the background. It can have a big impact on your website’s indexing as well as user experience.

12. Metadata

HTML tags can give Google a better idea of what your pages are all about. Though the influence that HTML tags has on rankings has decreased over the years, they can still
enhance user experience, let search engines know where to find the most important parts of your site, and make search engine snippets appear more informative and attractive.

When working with HTML tags optimise your title and description tags so that your snippets look more appealing, use your header tags wisely so that it breaks up your content and makes it easier to read, use the alt tag to target your keywords, use Open Graph tags to enhance the performance of social media links, and pay attention to canonical tags to tell the search engine which pages are most important and which are not duplicate content.

13. Internal linking

The purpose of internal linking is to drive visitors from one place on a website to another. When your internal linking is done in logical order it can double the effects on your site. It influences engagement metrics, which includes time spent on site, the number of page views per session, as well the conversion rate. It can also boost your rankings and bring in more organic traffic.

Use Website Auditor’s Visualisation tool in order to check the authority of your pages. Navigate to Site Structure and then Visualisation. Once the graph is complete, select Internal Page Rank in your drop-down menu. Here the size of the nodes will show you how much authority your page has.

Do your most important pages, such as your main categories and homepage, have the highest Page Rank? Luckily, you can boost authority by directing the flow of traffic from your higher ranking pages to the lower ranking pages. Just remember to use keyword-targeted anchor text whenever you link internally to your other relevant pages. Avoid generic anchor text, such as “click here.” Use WebSite Auditor to audit your anchors. Simply click on the Links from any page to see every link along with the anchor text or vice versa.

Conclusion

Whether you are working alone or with an agency, you need to be aware of which factors affect your ranking. Sure, there may be over 200 factors, but there are a handful that carry more weight. So take a look at this list and tweak your marketing plan as necessary.

July 05, 2018

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