For anyone who’s interested in increasing the amount of organic traffic to their website, ranking on the first page of Google is a must. But how can you increase Google rankings with a low domain authority?
If you’ve recently started a new website and you still have a relatively low domain authority, reaching the top end of the search engine result pages (SERPs) becomes difficult.
What is domain authority?
Who better to ask than the developers themselves – Moz.
Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs).
Domain authority is scored on a logarithmic scale up to 100. That means it’s significantly harder to grow your score from 60 to 70 than it is from 20 to 30.
DA is calculated using over 40 factors. However, it’s generally considered that backlinks are the most important.
Google needs a way of measuring how popular a website is and therefore how high it should rank. They use a vote based system to better understand the popularity of a website and consequently how valuable it’s information or service is.
If your website is relatively new, not many people are likely to know about it, you won’t have many backlinks and your authority in Google’s eyes will be quite low.
High rankings are still important
However, ranking on the first page of Google is still a must if you’re looking to increase your organic traffic.
It’s no secret, the higher you rank, the more traffic you’ll have to your website.
90% of web traffic never look past the first page of Google results and of those, most stick to the first three results.
The first position on Google gets about 30% of all clicks. Let’s put that into a real life example – If you ranked first for a keyword that was searched for 1000 times, your website would receive roughly 300 clicks.
Compare that to the number of clicks the 10th search result would receive and you’ll soon see why high rankings are vital to increase your organic traffic.
Furthermore, this graph below helps visualise the importance of high rankings.
CTR* (Click-Through Rate)
If you’ve researched SEO before, you’ve undoubtedly seen graphs like this one from Advanced Web Ranking showing how important the top three spots are on Google SERPs.
You can see that the number one spot on Google receives nearly double the click through rate of a number 2 spot.
The graph shows an obvious trend; the amount of traffic you’ll receive if you’re at the top of the SERP is exponentially higher than the other positions on the results page.
Why top positions have high click through rates
Over the years of Google dominance in the search engine industry, users have come to trust that Google provides the best results for their search term.
It doesn’t happen all the time. There are still occasions when we have to go back to our search query and reword it as the results aren’t quite what we’re looking for.
People have also become increasingly lazy. Users are happy for Google to do the work for them and just click on that first result.
People used to go the library and search for the answer to their question, nowadays that’s completely changed. People generally want the answer as quick as possible.
That’s why we’ve seen Google introduce rich cards and snippets to provide the answer searchers are looking for as quickly as possible.
If you type in ‘time in Australia‘, Google now show you a rich card with the answer directly in the results page.
You’ve probably seen similar rich cards and snippets in your own searches.
Whilst this isn’t possible for the majority of search terms, you can see where we’re heading.
4 strategies to increase Google rankings with a low domain authority
So we know high rankings are vital to a successful SEO strategy, but how can you rank increase Google rankings with a low domain authority?
We’ve put together 4 tips to help you reach the top end of Google SERPs with a low DA.
Tip #1 – Pick keywords wisely
Picking your keywords carefully is one of the most important parts of ranking highly and increasing the amount of organic traffic to your website.
New sites invariably have a lower authority than older, more established sites and therefore find it harder to rank for short tail keywords with higher search volumes and more competition.
Short tail vs long tail keywords
Short tail keywords are those that contain one or two words. Long tail keywords are those with more words but still contain the main key term – they’re usually longer, more phrased based queries.
An example of a short tail keyword is online marketing.
And an example of a long tail keyword is online marketing for small businesses.
The search volume for online marketing will be considerably higher than that of online marketing for small businesses.
But that’s what we want.
Less volume means fewer people are chasing the long tail keywords which makes it easier for you to rank with a low domain authority website.
There’s another benefit of chasing long tail keywords over short tail keywords – search intent.
Users who type in more specific search queries are usually more interested in a given topic and therefore more targeted.
Look at these two search terms below:
Outwell camping equipment for sale
If your website sold camping equipment, which keyword would you prefer to target?
The users who type in the second search query are much further down the line to buying and it’s far more targeted traffic if you were selling camping equipment.
Tools to help pick the best keywords
There are a number of ways you can conduct keyword research.
Google keyword planner
The keyword planner from Google is a great place to start as it’s free to use and incredibly easy to use.
You’ll need to sign up for a Google AdWords account before you can access the tool but it’s worth it.
Whilst the tool doesn’t suggest many long term keywords, it’s still a good starting point.
Another great tool you can use is KWFinder.
Similar to Google keyword planner, this tool provides search volume data along with cost per click data straight from Google Adwords.
One of the things I really like about this tool is that it gives you a score on how easy it will be to rank for a certain keyword.
This is great for finding longer tail keywords, with less search volume that remain untapped.
Tip #2 – Check out the competition
Once you’ve found some longer tail keywords which you think you can rank for, it’s time to start checking out the competition.
When I’m researching articles that are already ranking for a specific keyword I like to look at what type of media they use.
Are they using a lot of text, images, video etc.
I often jot down some of the sub-headings on competing pages to ensure I cover the topic in as much depth as possible.
I’m not copying these headings word for word – that would be plagiarism and Google hates nothing more than copied content.
However, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel – the competition must be doing something right as they’re already ranking for that keyword.
All we need to do, is make our version much better.
Easier said than done, but it helps if we have good knowledge of what’s already working and what we need to outperform.
Tip #3 – Outstanding quality content
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase content is king.
In fact you’re probably tired of hearing it over and over…
However, never has it been more true that outstanding content really is a must for your organic search strategy to be successful.
With so much competition on the web, it’s becoming harder for Google to differentiate between pages.
Remember, Google’s aim is to provide the best and most relevant result for a user’s search query. The better they achieve that, the more popular Google becomes.
Whilst it’s impossible to optimise for every one of their ranking factors, of which there are over 200, we need to optimise for the ones that have the highest weighting.
One of those is content.
And that doesn’t mean any old content. There’s absolutely no point in producing content for the sake of it.
You may as well stop what you’re doing.
Google is after content that thoroughly answers users questions or provides them with the correct products.
If Google spots that a user clicked on your page and then hit the back button soon after, what are they going to think about your site?
- Either the page was too slow to load
- The content wasn’t what they were looking for
- Or the content wasn’t good enough and didn’t answer their query
It doesn’t matter what the reason is, the Googlebots will now have a question mark around this page which may ultimately affect your rankings.
Tip #4 – Optimise for your keyword
Once you’ve written an outstanding piece of in-depth content that covers every detail, the next step is to optimise it for your desired keyword.
For some of you, this may be a completely new process. But not to worry, it’s very easy.
After content, the meta title is the single most important aspect of on-page SEO that directly affects your rankings.
A well crafted and targeted SEO title will stand you in good stead when it comes to ranking for a given keyword.
The aim is to get your main keyword as close to the start of the title as possible.
Let’s use the keyword online marketing.
This is one of the most competitive keywords out there so you’d expect the top results to practice the most effective methods.
This result from Neil Patel’s website is one of the top results and he uses this exact method.
This leads on to another tip when creating your SEO title tags – always try to include your brand name.
Whilst this has less effect on SEO, users are likely to notice your company.
They may not click on your result the first time, but are more likely to on the times thereafter.
Another tip is to maximise your SEO title length. This is important as you want to make the most out of the SERP, so don’t waste any white space.
Typically you want your title tag to be between 65 and 70 characters in length.
Any longer than this and Google will likely truncate your title with the dreaded ellipsis…
The meta description is another vital part of on-page SEO. Whilst this has no direct impact on your page rankings, it’s still worthwhile to carefully craft your meta description.
A well thought through description that accurately reflects what’s on the page is a vital part of SEO in 2018.
This helps with click-through rates (CTR) which indirectly help your rankings.
The Googlebots are incredibly clever, however, they still can’t see an image the same way humans can.
That’s why we need to use alt text (alternative text) to help the search engines work out what the image is showing.
The aim is to describe thoroughly what an image shows. It’s also beneficial if you can add your keyword into the alt text.
Sprinkle your keyword
Another part of a successful on-page SEO strategy is to include your keyword in the content itself.
However, that doesn’t mean you should stuff the keyword in as many times as possible.
This is now seen as a black-hat SEO method and one that you should stay away from.
In the old days of search engine optimisation, a key ranking factor was how many times your keyword was mentioned in your content.
Webmasters would stuff their page with keywords in white font so users wouldn’t see them but Google would.
It’s safe to say, the Googlebots are now much more intelligent and they will penalise sites implementing such techniques.
All in all, don’t keyword stuff…
Only add keywords where it makes sense to and flows naturally with the rest of the content.
Use LSI keywords
A better alternative is to use LSI keywords.
LSI keywords (latent semantic indexing) are keywords that are closely related to the main term. We’re basically looking for other ways people search for similar terms.
Over the last few years, Google has increasingly placed more weight on these kind of terms.
Finding LSI keywords is incredibly easy.
You can either use Google’s pre-emptive search function in the search bar…
…or the similar search terms function at the bottom of the SERP.
Another great place to find LSI keywords is LSI Graph.
Whilst you only have three searches per day, it’s still well worthwhile checking out.
Using an SEO plugin
If you’re doing you’re SEO in house, there are a number of plugins that can help you with the process. One of the most popular is Yoast.
This tool is incredibly helpful for the beginners and the more experienced alike.
If you have a WordPress site, you can install and activate Yoast for free.
Yoast scores each blog post/page in terms of readability and SEO.
The tool even creates a sitemap for you that updates whenever you add new content.
I can’t recommend this tool enough.
Write for users over Google
This is possibly one of the most important aspects of on-page SEO.
It’s imperative you write for users rather than the Googlebots.
Google is incredibly good at scanning and analysing a page like a user would, so don’t write content specifically for Google.
If users like your content, Google will reward you with higher rankings.
It’s as simple as that.
Let’s recap our 4 tips to increase Google rankings with a low domain authority.
- Pick keywords wisely
- Check out the competition
- Outstanding quality content
- Optimise content for your keyword
Increasing your Google rankings as a new site is not easy and it will require time and patience.
But keep at it and your rankings will soon increase along with your organic traffic.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below and stay tuned for more articles.