Our Guide to Rank on Google and Improve Your SEO

Boost your website's Google ranking with this comprehensive DIY SEO guide. Discover how to understand SEO, conduct keyword research, optimise content, improve user experience, build backlinks, and track your SEO progress.

Our Guide to Rank on Google and Improve Your SEO


Whether you're an entrepreneur, a blogger, or simply a website owner, having a robust online presence is a non-negotiable part of success in today's digitally-connected world. One of the cornerstones of building this online visibility is understanding and harnessing the power of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

SEO is more than just a digital marketing buzzword; it's the secret sauce that propels your website to the coveted first page of search engine results. In fact, research shows that websites on the first page of Google receive almost 95% of clicks, emphasising the importance of SEO in driving organic traffic.

But what if you're new to this? The world of SEO, with its constantly changing algorithms and technical jargon, might seem daunting. The good news is that you can absolutely develop and implement effective SEO strategies yourself, even without extensive technical expertise. This comprehensive guide is designed with that purpose in mind.

Google is the most popular search engine in the world and, if you can leverage your SEO effectively, you have a higher chance of ranking on the first page and ultimately increasing your potential for sales and conversions.

Over the next sections, we will demystify SEO, breaking it down into digestible and actionable steps that anyone can follow. We'll explore how to set up an SEO-friendly site structure, perform in-depth keyword research, create engaging content, optimise meta tags, improve page speed, build high-quality backlinks, and much more.

By the end of this guide, you'll not only understand the fundamental principles of SEO but also be equipped with the practical knowledge needed to improve your website's visibility and ranking on Google. So, whether you're starting from scratch or looking to improve your existing SEO efforts, this guide will offer invaluable insights and direction. Let's get to it.

Understanding SEO

Before delving into the intricacies of improving your website's SEO, it's important to start with a firm grasp of what SEO actually is and why it matters.

Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is the art and science of increasing the quality and quantity of your website's traffic through organic (non-paid) search engine results. In simpler terms, it's about making your website more noticeable, or 'findable', by the people who are looking for what you're offering.

Now, why is it important? Well, think about your own online behaviour. When you're searching for something on Google, how often do you click on results from the second or third page? Probably not very often, right? The fact is, the vast majority of online experiences begin with a search engine, and very few people go past the first page of search results. That's where SEO comes in. By optimising your website for search engines, you're helping your site appear higher up in those search results, making it more likely for people to find and click on your website.

SEO is often split into three main components: Technical SEO, On-Page SEO, and Off-Page SEO. Understanding these three pillars of SEO is fundamental to improving your website's visibility and ranking.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO relates to non-content elements of your website. It involves strategies to improve a site's foundation and back-end structure. Technical SEO is designed to improve readability and provide a good user experience by making changes to the website's infrastructure, code, and server configuration, which will ensure search engines can easily crawl, index, and understand the content. Aspects of technical SEO include site speed, mobile-friendliness, indexing, crawlability, site architecture, structured data, and security.

Here's a screenshot of our on-page SEO, including our Meta Description, and a preview of what our site looks like on the Google search pages.

On-Page SEO

On-Page SEO, as the name suggests, involves all the elements of a web page that are visible to readers and can be optimised to improve rankings and attract more visitors. It's primarily involved in optimising individual web pages to improve their search engine visibility and rankings. This includes keyword optimisation, where you strategically use relevant keywords in your content, titles, meta tags, and URLs. It also involves creating high-quality, engaging, and original content, and optimising your images and video using appropriate file sizes and formats.

Off-Page SEO

Off-Page SEO refers to all the activities that you do away from your website to raise your site's ranking with search engines. Off-page SEO involves building external signals and establishing authority and credibility across the web. The main aspect of off-page SEO is link building, which is the process of getting other websites to link back to your site, but it also includes things like social media marketing, brand mentions and influencer marketing.

While each of these SEO types involves different techniques, they all share a common goal: to make your website easier to understand and use, for both search engines and users. The result? A higher visibility in search engines, more organic traffic, and a better user experience. Now let's delve deeper into each of these areas, providing you with practical steps to optimise each aspect of your SEO strategy.

In-depth Keyword Research and Competitor Analysis

One of the cornerstones of a successful SEO strategy is keyword research. Keywords are the words and phrases that internet users type into search engines when looking for content like yours. By understanding and utilising these keywords in your website content, you can improve your visibility in search engine results, drawing more organic traffic to your site.

So, how do you go about finding the right keywords for your website? Let's break it down into practical, easy-to-follow steps.

Conducting Keyword Research

Identify Your Niche Topics: Begin by identifying broad topics that are relevant to your business or website. These topics should be areas that your target audience is interested in and that you want to rank for in search engine results. For example, if you run a vegan bakery, relevant topics could include vegan recipes, cruelty-free baking ingredients, vegan diet benefits, etc.

Using a tool such as the Google Ads Keyword Planner allows you to find the most effective keywords for your business or niche. Don't just guess.

Use Keyword Research Tools: Tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, or SEMrush can help you find keyword ideas based on your niche topics. Simply enter your topics into these tools, and they'll generate a list of related keywords, along with useful data such as search volume (how often the keyword is searched for), competition level (how many other websites are ranking for this keyword), and more. Ideally, you want to find keywords that have a high search volume and low competition.

Choose Your Keywords: Based on the data from the keyword research tools, select keywords that align with your content and have a good balance of search volume and competition. These should be a mix of 'head' keywords (short, general keywords with high search volume and competition) and 'long-tail' keywords (longer, more specific phrases with lower search volume and competition).

SEMrush is a great tool for market research, keyword searching and then helping you implement that into your marketing.

Conducting Competitor Analysis

Knowing what keywords your competitors are ranking for can give you valuable insights into your own SEO strategy. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

Identify Your Competitors: If you're not sure who your online competitors are, Google your chosen keywords. The websites appearing on the first page of search results are your main SEO competitors.

Analyse Their Keywords: Use a tool like SEMrush or Ahrefs to see what keywords your competitors are ranking for. You can also look at their website content and meta tags for keyword ideas.

Evaluate Their Backlinks: Backlinks are a critical factor in how search engines rank websites. Tools like Moz's Link Explorer can help you see who's linking to your competitors' sites, giving you potential backlink opportunities.

Learn From Their Content: Look at your competitors' top-performing content. What topics are they covering? How do they structure their content? Can you spot any gaps in their content that you could fill?

By combining keyword research with competitor analysis, you can develop a robust SEO strategy that helps your website rank higher in search results, driving more organic traffic your way.

Creating Engaging, Keyword-Optimised Content

Content is the heart and soul of your website. It's what your audience interacts with, what search engines crawl, and what compels users to take action. Therefore, creating high-quality, engaging, and keyword-optimised content is essential to your SEO strategy.

So, how do you make your content SEO-friendly while still being valuable to your audience? Let's walk through this process.

Once you've figured out the keywords you need to mention, you'll need to figure out where to put them. You want the keywords to flow with your content, you don't want them to stick out and feel awkward.

Incorporating Keywords Naturally

Having identified your keywords through diligent research, it's time to use them effectively. Here's how:

In the Title: The title of your page or article is the first thing users and search engines see. Make sure your primary keyword appears in it. For instance, if you're writing about vegan cake recipes, an optimised title could be "10 Unbelievable Vegan Cake Recipes for Every Occasion".

In the Meta Description: The meta description is the brief summary of a page that appears under the title in search engine results. Include your primary keyword here as well, ensuring the description remains compelling and informative.

In the Content Body: Aim to use your primary keyword a few times throughout your content, especially in the first few paragraphs. Don't overdo it, though. Your writing should always feel natural and make sense to your readers.

In the URL: Include your primary keyword in your URL. This helps search engines understand what your page is about and improves your chances of ranking for that keyword.

The URL slug for this blog.

In Image Alt Text: If your content includes images, don't forget to use your keyword in the image's alt text (the text that appears if an image doesn't load or is read by screen-reading software).

Creating Valuable Content

SEO is not just about pleasing search engines; it's also about providing value to your audience. Here's how to ensure your content is valuable:

Understand Search Intent: Search intent is the reason behind a user's search query. Are they looking for information ("what is vegan baking"), looking to make a purchase ("buy vegan cake mix"), or looking for a specific website ("Vegan Bakery London")? Your content should satisfy the user's intent.

Write High-Quality Content: Quality is paramount. Ensure your content is well-written, informative, and offers something unique to your audience. This could be your personal experiences, case studies, or new insights into a topic.

Use Headlines and Subheadings: Headings and subheadings make your content more readable by breaking it up into manageable sections. They also give search engines clues about your content's structure and main topics.

Updating Content Regularly

Search engines love fresh content, so regularly updating your website with new blog posts, articles, or news can help improve your SEO. However, it's not just about adding new content. Reviewing and updating your existing content can also have a big impact. Maybe there's a new development in your field, or perhaps you've learned something new that could enhance an old post. Regularly revisit your content to ensure it remains relevant and accurate.

By prioritising engaging, keyword-optimised content that provides real value to your audience, you can improve your SEO and turn casual visitors into loyal fans.

Improving Website User Experience (UX)

User experience (UX) is a crucial factor in SEO that often gets overlooked. Search engines like Google aim to provide their users with the best possible results, which means not only relevant and high-quality content but also websites that have a pleasant, smooth browsing experience. Thus, the more user-friendly your website is, the better it is likely to rank. In this section, we'll explore practical ways to improve your website's user experience, focusing on two essential aspects: mobile-friendliness and page speed.

Making Your Website User-Friendly

A user-friendly website is easy to navigate, pleasing to the eye, and straightforward to understand. Here are some tips to achieve this:

Logical Structure: Your website should have a clear, intuitive structure. This means a well-organised menu, a logical page hierarchy, and internal links that guide users through your site.

Readable Text: Ensure your text is easy to read. Use a clear font, break up large blocks of text with headings and paragraphs, and use bullet points or lists where appropriate.

Appealing Design: An attractive, professional design can make your website more enjoyable to use. Pay attention to colours, images, and layout.

Input your website URL into Google's free Mobile Test tool to see how effective your website is on mobile devices.

Making Your Website Mobile-Friendly

With over half of all internet traffic now coming from mobile devices, having a mobile-friendly (or 'responsive') website is no longer optional. A mobile-friendly website is one that looks good and functions well on mobile devices.

You can check whether your website is mobile-friendly using Google's free Mobile-Friendly Test tool. Just enter your website's URL, and it will tell you whether your site is mobile-friendly and offer suggestions for improvement if it's not.

Improving Your Website's Page Speed

Page speed, or how quickly your website loads, is another crucial factor in user experience and SEO. A slow-loading website can frustrate users and potentially lead them to leave, which can harm your SEO.

You can test your website's page speed using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix. These tools provide comprehensive reports on your website's performance and practical recommendations to improve page speed.

Here are some common ways to speed up your website:

Enable Compression: Use a software application for file compression, like Gzip, to reduce the size of your CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files.

Reduce Redirects: Each time a page redirects to another page, your visitor faces additional waiting time. Try to keep them to a minimum.

Leverage Browser Caching: Browsers cache a lot of information (like images) so that when a visitor comes back to your site, the browser doesn't have to reload the entire page. Use a tool like YSlow to see if you already have an expiration date set for your cache. If not, set one up.

By prioritising user experience and making your website more user-friendly, mobile-friendly, and faster, you'll not only boost your SEO but also make your website more enjoyable for your users.

Acquiring High-quality Backlinks

In the realm of SEO, backlinks — which are simply links from other websites to your own — play an integral role. Google views these as a signal of your website's credibility and authority. If other sites are willing to link to your content, it suggests your site provides valuable information worth sharing, which can significantly improve your SEO. But it's important to remember: not all backlinks are created equal. A few high-quality backlinks can be far more beneficial than a large number of low-quality ones. So, how can you acquire these coveted high-quality backlinks? Let's delve into it.

Guest Blogging

Guest blogging, or guest posting, is a proven method for obtaining quality backlinks. The idea is simple: you write a blog post for another website in your industry, and in return, you get a backlink to your site.

Find Guest Blogging Opportunities: Look for authoritative websites in your industry that accept guest posts. A simple Google search such as "your industry + guest post" or "your industry + write for us" can yield some promising results.

Pitch Your Ideas: Once you've found a website you'd like to write for, it's time to pitch your blog post idea. Make sure your pitch is personalised, demonstrates your familiarity with the website's content, and explains why your blog post idea would be valuable to their audience.

Write Quality Content: If your pitch is accepted, ensure you deliver a high-quality blog post. The better your post, the more likely the website will be to accept future posts from you.

Creating Compelling Infographics

Infographics are a powerful tool for generating backlinks. They're visually appealing, easy to understand, and highly shareable, which makes them a magnet for backlinks.

Create an Engaging Infographic: Use a tool like Canva or Venngage to create an infographic that's both informative and visually appealing. Make sure it offers valuable information that others in your industry would find useful.

Promote Your Infographic: Share your infographic on social media, your newsletter, and your own website. You can also reach out to other bloggers or websites in your industry and invite them to share your infographic.

Using Broken Link Building Techniques

Broken link building involves finding broken links on other websites, creating similar content on your site, and then suggesting to the website owner that they replace the broken link with a link to your content.

Find Broken Links: Use a tool like Broken Link Checker or Ahrefs to find broken links on websites in your industry.

Create Similar Content: If you find a broken link to a piece of content that's similar to the content you create, write a blog post or article on the same topic.

Reach Out: Contact the website owner, inform them about the broken link, and suggest your content as a replacement.

Remember, building high-quality backlinks takes time and patience, but the benefits to your website's authority and SEO are well worth the effort.

Leveraging Google Analytics and Google Search Console

While SEO can seem like a complex process, fortunately, there are tools available that can help you navigate it more effectively. Two of these, provided by Google itself, are Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Both platforms can provide valuable insights about your website's performance and reveal opportunities for SEO improvement. But before diving into the data, you need to set these tools up. Let's discuss how to do it, and how to use them to track your SEO progress.

Setting Up Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free tool that allows you to understand how users are interacting with your website. Here are the steps to set it up:

Create a Google Analytics Account: If you don't already have one, go to Google Analytics and click on "Start for free". Follow the instructions to create your account.

Set Up a Property: A property represents your website and is where your data is collected. After creating your account, set up a new property by entering the details of your website.

Install the Tracking Code: After setting up your property, you'll receive a tracking code. You need to install this code on every page of your website. If you use a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress, there are plugins available that can simplify this process.

Setting Up Google Search Console

Google Search Console is another free tool that helps you understand how Google views your site. Here's how to set it up:

Add Your Website to Google Search Console: Visit Google Search Console and click on "Start now". Sign in with your Google account, then click on "Add property" and enter your website URL.

Verify Your Website: Google needs to confirm that you own the site you want to monitor. There are several methods for verification, including uploading a file to your website, adding a meta tag to your homepage, or using your Google Analytics account.

Using Google Analytics and Google Search Console for SEO

With both tools set up, you can start digging into the data. Here's how to leverage these tools for SEO:

Track Your Organic Traffic: In Google Analytics, go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels. Here you can see how much traffic comes from organic search, which is primarily due to your SEO efforts.

Find Your Best-Performing Pages: In Google Analytics, go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages. Here you can see which pages get the most views, helping you understand what type of content your audience finds valuable.

Monitor Keywords: In Google Search Console, check out the "Performance" report. Here you can see what search terms (keywords) people are using to find your site.

Identify Crawl Errors: Google Search Console also shows if Google has had any problems crawling your site. If there are crawl errors, it means Google can't view your pages, which could harm your SEO.

By regularly monitoring and analysing this data, you can uncover what's working well, identify areas for improvement, and ultimately make informed decisions to improve your website's SEO.

Staying Updated With SEO Trends and Algorithm Changes

In the ever-evolving landscape of SEO, staying up-to-date with the latest trends and algorithm changes is critical. Google continuously tweaks its algorithm to provide users with the most relevant and high-quality search results. Consequently, what works today in SEO might not work tomorrow, and methods that were effective a year ago might now be obsolete. But fear not, for there are several resources that can help you keep abreast of these changes. In this section, we'll discuss how you can stay informed and adapt your SEO strategy accordingly.

Following Google's Announcements

The first place to hear about major updates to Google's algorithm is often from Google itself. Google occasionally shares important updates on its various blogs, such as the Google Search Central Blog and the Google Webmaster Central Blog. You might also want to follow key figures from Google on social media, such as Danny Sullivan, Google's Public Search Liaison, who often shares updates and clarifications on Twitter.

Keywords and SEO in general are aspects of website management and overall marketing that are constantly updating. You've got to keep up to date on what's going on so that you can regularly update your website and keep ranking on Google.

Subscribing to Reliable SEO Blogs

There are several blogs dedicated to SEO that regularly publish in-depth articles and analyses about the latest trends and changes. Some reputable ones include:

Search Engine Journal: This publication offers a mix of news, guides, and expert analyses. They also offer a free newsletter, making it easy to get the latest updates directly in your inbox.

Search Engine Land: This is another great resource for staying updated with SEO, as well as broader digital marketing trends.

Moz Blog: Known for its comprehensive articles and easy-to-understand guides, the Moz Blog is a favourite among many SEO professionals.

Participating in SEO Forums and Communities

Online forums and communities can also be excellent places to learn about the latest SEO trends and get advice from seasoned professionals. Sites like SEO Chat and Webmaster World host discussions on a wide range of SEO topics. Reddit also has a couple of active SEO communities, such as /r/SEO and /r/bigseo.

Attending SEO Conferences and Webinars

Finally, attending SEO conferences, webinars, and workshops can provide valuable insights into the latest trends and best practices. Many of these events also offer networking opportunities, allowing you to learn from other professionals in the field.

SEO is a field that rewards those who stay informed and adapt to changes. By regularly engaging with these resources, you can ensure your SEO strategy remains effective, regardless of how the digital landscape shifts.


We've traversed the broad and intricate landscape of SEO together, taking an in-depth look at each crucial facet that contributes to a successful strategy. It's important to remember that mastering SEO is not just about understanding its individual components, but about weaving them together into a cohesive plan that works for your unique website. We've discussed the importance of understanding SEO, conducting rigorous keyword research, creating engaging, keyword-optimised content, enhancing your website's user experience, acquiring high-quality backlinks, and leveraging Google Analytics and Google Search Console for continual improvement.

But SEO is not a 'set and forget' process. It requires continuous learning, testing, and adjusting. That's why it's vital to stay updated with the latest SEO trends and algorithm changes. Remember, at the heart of SEO is the aim to provide valuable, relevant content to your users, satisfying their search intent. If you keep this at the forefront of your strategy, you're on the right path.

We understand that the world of SEO can be daunting and there may be times when you feel like you need a little extra help. If you're struggling to implement these steps or if you're unsure about anything, don't hesitate to reach out to us at ThinkStory. We're here to help you navigate through your SEO journey and drive your website to the top of the search results.

Remember, SEO is an investment in your website's future. It may take some time and effort, but the rewards — in terms of increased visibility, organic traffic, and user satisfaction — are well worth it.

Written by
Kiara Stent
Kiara Stent is a creative and energetic Digital Media Developer at ThinkStory, with experience in web design, development, and marketing. She works across all projects and has a bubbly personality that makes her a pleasure to work with. Kiara's skills and dedication are evident in everything she does, making her an invaluable member of the team.