How to Rank Higher on Google in 9 Steps

Professional sitting at desk optimizing a website.
Organic traffic can drive the most valuable traffic to a website.

According to Conductor, some industries see upwards of 40% of their website traffic coming from organic search.

And for some industries, like retail, the value of that traffic is estimated to be $21.8 million.

Graph showing average organic website traffic by industry. Source: Conductor.

By implementing the right SEO strategy, you have the chance to nab your share of this profitable organic search traffic.

But how? I’ll outline nine ways to start and more:

  1. Understand What Matters for Ranking on Google
  2. Invest in Reputable SEO Training
  3. Conduct Thorough Keyword Research
  4. Boost the User Experience Through Technical SEO
  5. Create Authoritative, High-Quality Content
  6. Dive Into On-Page SEO Best Practices
  7. Earn a Strong Backlink Profile
  8. Continuously Monitor Performance
  9. Keep Abreast of the Latest SEO Trends

1. Understand What Matters for Ranking on Google

Google’s algorithm is complex, and Google constantly refines it to ensure users get the most relevant and high-quality results.

If you want to learn how to rank higher on Google, know that Google’s algorithm looks at factors such as relevance, authority and user experience to decide which pages rise to the top.

Relevance starts with understanding what the target audience is looking for when they use Google Search — the keywords they use — and creating content around those keywords that hits the mark.

It’s not just about sprinkling these words throughout your site; it’s also making sure they align with what people actually need.

Authority comes next: Google measures this in many different ways, including the content on your site and links back to your site.

User experience is another critical piece of the puzzle — think about how easily someone can navigate your site on their phone or if they have to wait for a page to load.

Finally, understand that it’s not about beating the Google algorithm. It’s about beating your competition in the search results.

So follow the principles outlined in this section, and then keep your eye on what your competition is up to — and do better.

2. Invest in Reputable SEO Training

Ever tried to assemble a complex piece of furniture without a manual? You might get close, but chances are you’ll miss out on key details.

The same goes for learning how to rank higher on Google. Without proper training, it’s easy to overlook critical elements that can boost your website’s visibility.

So finding a solid SEO course makes all the difference. Here are some tips:

  • Start by looking at who’s teaching; seasoned pros with proven track records will give insights you won’t find anywhere else. For instance, our SEO training membership site is a great place to start.
  • In SEO, stale information spoils good strategy. Make sure what you’re learning reflects today’s trends, and that means checking when the course material was last updated.
  • Diving into reviews and testimonials also sheds light on whether a course walks its talk or simply talks big.
  • Make sure the course curriculum is strong and covers everything from strategy to technical SEO, on-page optimization, content, local search and more.
  • Dive into the format of the course — will it work for your needs? Do you like to watch static videos, or do you prefer to interact with a community? Maybe in-person training is more your style. These are factors to consider when choosing a course. homepage. homepage

For more, see my article on Search Engine Land: 5 Questions to Evaluate Any SEO Training Course.

3. Conduct Thorough Keyword Research

Finding the right keywords is critical. It all starts with understanding what potential customers are searching for and how they phrase their queries.

Using the Right Keyword Research Tools

You’ll want to use tools like Google Ads Keyword Planner as a launching pad, but don’t stop there.

Dig deeper with tools like Google Trends, Ahrefs Keywords Explorer or our own SEOToolSet®, which can give you insights into search volume, keyword difficulty and even what’s working for your competitors.
Analyzing competitors’ pages can help, too. Fortunately, there are all sorts of tools that can give you insights into what your competitors are up to, so you can learn how to improve your SEO strategy.

For more, see:

Choosing the Right Keywords

The goal isn’t just to find high-volume keywords; it’s about finding the right mix of terms that signal intent and align closely with your offerings.

User intent is crucial when selecting keywords because if you miss this piece of the puzzle, you could end up driving traffic that never converts.

Long-tail keywords might have lower search volumes, but they’re often more specific and carry higher conversion potentials because users who type them in are usually further along in their decision-making process.

Incorporating both broad terms that attract larger audiences and niche-specific terms targeting segments creates a balanced strategy to maximize reach and still capture qualified leads.


For example, you might draw in big crowds talking about “digital marketing,” but including “small business digital marketing strategies” can direct more focused visitors towards your site.

Here are a few more tips as you choose your keywords:

  • A balance between head terms (shorter) and long-tail phrases ensures you target different stages of the customer journey.
  • Diversifying helps reduce risks associated with algorithm changes.
  • Prioritizing relevancy over volume aids in attracting an audience likely interested in what you offer.

4. Boost the User Experience Through Technical SEO

Technical SEO can be an overlooked component of a brand’s SEO strategy, but that is a mistake. Here are three areas you want to get right …


More searches happen on mobile than desktops, making mobile-friendliness non-negotiable for high rankings. Sites optimized for mobile devices and those loading swiftly often find favor in Google’s eyes because they offer better experiences for visitors.

Mobile share of organic search engine visits, 4th quarter 2013–2019. Source: Statista.
Mobile share of organic search engine visits, 4th quarter 2013–2019. Source: Statista

Using Google’s Lighthouse tool lets you see if pages meet the mark for smartphone users.

If you don’t pass with flying colors, look into responsive design solutions, because this factors into how well you rank in search results.

For more, see: The Mobile-Friendly Site and tips from developers at Google.

Site Structure

A well-organized website makes it easier for both humans and search engine bots to find their way around.

SEO siloing is a technique we invented many, many years ago. Siloing structures a website’s content by grouping related webpages in hierarchical categories based on how people search.

The goal? Make a site relevant for a search query so that it has a better chance of ranking.

One benefit of siloing is making your site a subject matter expert, which can help with E-E-A-T (part of Google’s quality guidelines from its Search Quality Rater Guidelines manual).

There’s a lot that goes into this step, so I recommend reading the following articles for more:

Core Web Vitals

Core web vitals use metrics to mirror real-world user experiences, covering everything from stability during loading to interactivity.

One important piece of this is site load time. Google reports that when a site meets core web vitals thresholds, users are 24% less likely to abandon page load.

And there are all sorts of other stats about how optimizing the performance of a website helps businesses.

Core web vitals optimization can be an intensive process, so prioritize this when you feel it’s a necessity. You can see Google’s Page Experience Update: A Complete Guide for more.

5. Create Authoritative, High-Quality Content

Creating high-quality content requires more than just peppering pages with keywords — it demands substance.

That means diving deep into topics with original research or presenting familiar concepts through fresh perspectives.


And, aligning content with search intent not only boosts engagement but also sends positive user experience signals back upstream to Google. Check out Ahrefs’ guide on Search Intent.

The truth is quality content requires a mix of many things, including mastery over your subject matter.

I could write many articles on this subject alone (and I have!), so I suggest you read the following for more information:

6. Dive Into On-Page SEO Best Practices

Simple things like meta tags, heading tags and other, seemingly small, SEO tasks can have a big impact.

For example, title tags are one of the first bits of information that the search engines encounter on a webpage to learn what it’s about. They also serve as the headline for your organic search listing, so they are the first thing searchers see as well.

In addition, the meta descriptions serve as an “elevator pitch” for your page — almost like a movie trailer, but for web pages. Then we have header tags, which bring structure and clarity to your webpage content.

But these are just a tiny sampling of all the ways you can optimize a webpage, and you can learn more on our Always Up-to-Date SEO Checklist.

7. Earn a Strong Backlink Profile

Although backlinks don’t have as much weight as they used to, you can still invest time and effort into content that is so valuable and trustworthy that other authoritative sites want to link to you.

Remember, today it’s not about quantity of links, it’s about quality. We have seen sites with fewer quality links rank higher than sites with a bunch of links that aren’t as quality.

The bottom line is that we no longer focus on link building, rather link earning. For more, see The New Link Building Manifesto: A Complete Guide to Earning Links That Count.

8. Continuously Monitor Performance

SEO is not a one-and-done initiative. SEO strategy demands flexibility and adjustment.

By keeping an eye on your site analytics, you can pinpoint what works and what doesn’t. This process isn’t just about numbers; it’s understanding the story they tell about user behavior and search engine reception.

So let’s break down which metrics should be top of mind. Start with organic traffic — it’s the lifeblood of SEO success, indicating how often users find your site via search engines. A sudden drop or spike here could signal major shifts in ranking or user interest that demand attention.

For more on this, be sure to read: 5 Things to Know When Your Site Loses Rankings.

Bounce Rate and Session Insights

Next up is bounce rate, the percentage of visitors who leave after viewing only one page. While not inherently bad (sometimes people find exactly what they need quickly), high rates might suggest content mismatching user intent or poor navigation design, leading to frustration.

Diving deeper into bounce rate gives us clues for improvement: Is it specific pages driving people away? Maybe those pages need better content alignment with targeted keywords or clearer calls to action. Or perhaps load times are dragging.

Finding patterns in session durations helps gauge if you’re hitting the mark on relevance—a long read time paired with high-quality backlinks might show Google that others value your insights too because good things get shared more often than not.


You might be great at driving organic search traffic, but not so great at converting visitors. While the goal of SEO is to drive targeted traffic, it’s the goal of the website to convert those visitors.

Set goals for your pages, and test, test, test. With a little more effort, you can make the most of the organic traffic flowing to your site and turn that into more revenue.

For more, read: SEO and Conversions: Two Halves of a Pie.

9. Keep Abreast of the Latest SEO Trends

Staying on top of SEO trends is like trying to hit a moving target while riding a roller coaster. To truly excel in search marketing optimization, you must embrace change with open arms and an eager mind.

The first step? Make reading industry publications part of your daily routine. With Google’s algorithm updates coming faster than ever before, resources such as Search Engine Land offer invaluable insights into the latest shifts in ranking factors and user behavior patterns.

And if you haven’t already, I highly recommend subscribing to the Bruce Clay Blog.

Screenshot of the Bruce Clay Blog.

But don’t stop there. Monthly or quarterly webinars ensure you hone in on a particular aspect of SEO, while annual conferences like SMX are goldmines for up-leveling your search engine optimization and networking with peers.

Your learning should mirror how SEO evolves: dynamically. A mix of self-education through articles, hands-on experience by testing new strategies on your site (hello trial-and-error) and professional development via online courses will all fortify your expertise so you can adapt quickly to market changes.

To thrive in this fast-paced world requires more than just keeping pace; it demands foresight and agility, too, because today’s best practices could be tomorrow’s old news.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to rank higher on Google takes time and effort.

But remember: The job of SEO is not to beat the algorithm, it is to beat your competition. To rank higher on Google, focus first on what users need. Then, look at what your competition is up to, and do as good or better than them.

To sum up:

  • Remember the core principles: Relevance, authority and user experience.
  • Dive into SEO training — it sharpens your strategy to push your content up the ranks.
  • Invest time in technical SEO to boost performance. Quick loading times and mobile friendliness aren’t just nice to have, they’re essential.
  • Create content with purpose; authoritative content wins every time. When you do this right, backlinks follow naturally — quality always trumps quantity here.
  • Track your success closely because numbers don’t lie. Stay ahead of trends to keep climbing.

We’ve helped companies rank higher on Google for over 28 years — and we can help your business, too. Schedule a free 1:1 consultation today.

FAQ: How can I improve my website’s visibility on Google and increase organic traffic?

A strong online presence is essential for businesses to thrive in today’s competitive marketplace. One of the key factors in achieving this is improving your website’s visibility on Google and increasing organic traffic.

Let’s explore various strategies and techniques that will help you accomplish just that.

Optimize Your Website: Optimizing your website is the first step to boost your visibility on Google. Start by conducting keyword research to identify relevant terms and include them strategically in your website’s content, meta tags and URLs.

Create Engaging and High-Quality Content: Producing content that is both informative and engaging is vital for attracting organic traffic. Focus on creating well-researched articles, blog posts and videos that offer value to your target audience.

Leverage On-Page SEO Elements: Maximize your website’s visibility by optimizing on-page factors such as title tags, meta descriptions, header tags and alt tags. Ensure that these elements accurately reflect the content on your pages and incorporate relevant keywords.

Harness the Power of Backlinks: Building a strong backlink profile plays an important role in achieving better visibility on Google. Seek opportunities to collaborate with industry influencers and fellow websites to earn valuable backlinks.

Enhance User Experience (UX): Google values websites that provide a positive user experience. Focus on improving your site’s speed, mobile responsiveness and accessibility. This will not only satisfy search engines but also captivate your visitors.

Utilize Local SEO Strategies: If your business has a physical location, optimizing for local SEO can significantly boost your website’s visibility. Claim your business on Google My Business, optimize your listings and encourage customers to leave reviews.

Engage with Social Media: Social media platforms are powerful tools for increasing organic traffic. Share your content on relevant social channels, engage with your audience and encourage them to share your content with their networks.

Monitor and Analyze Your Performance: Regularly monitor your website’s performance using tools like Google Analytics and Search Console. This will help you identify areas for improvement and track the success of your efforts.

Implementing these strategies will effectively improve your website’s visibility on Google and increase organic traffic. Remember, search engine optimization is an ongoing process, so stay up to date with the latest trends and make necessary adjustments to continue reaping the benefits.

Step-by-Step Procedure:

  1. Perform keyword research to identify relevant terms for your website.
  2. Optimize your website’s content, meta tags and URLs with targeted keywords.
  3. Create high-quality and engaging content that resonates with your target audience.
  4. Optimize your website’s on-page elements such as title tags, header tags and alt tags.
  5. Build a strong backlink profile by collaborating with influencers and relevant websites.
  6. Focus on enhancing user experience by improving site speed, mobile responsiveness and accessibility.
  7. Utilize local SEO strategies to boost visibility for businesses with physical locations.
  8. Share your content on social media platforms and engage with your audience.
  9. Continuously monitor and analyze your website’s performance using tools like Google Analytics and Search Console.
  10. Stay up to date with the latest SEO trends and make constant adjustments to improve visibility and organic traffic.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (4)
Still on the hunt for actionable tips and insights? Each of these recent SEO posts is better than the last!

4 Replies to “How to Rank Higher on Google in 9 Steps”

Thanks for sharing your knowledge! I’ll definitely be recommending this post.

Keyword research is at the heart of that SEO strategy.

Your information is like a treasure trove of wisdom. Thanks a bunch for sharing!

Blog “how to rank higher on google in 9-steps” is very informative and the whole 9 points are well explained. I will try to include it in my SEO strategy. Good!


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