How to rank high in Google

“Could you please write a post with a clear path on just what to do to rank high in Google?” “What should I do to make sure I’ll outrank my competition?” “Could you write a clear, step-by-step to-do list on how to rank high in Google?” Although I completely understand these questions, answering them is really, really, really hard. It’s almost as hard as ranking high in Google. However, in this post, I’ll do my very best to answer this million-dollar question: How do I rank high in Google? I’ll give an honest – and lengthy- answer, but I’ll also share some quick wins!

Be the best result!

All SEO advice we give to the users of our plugin or the readers of our blog boils down to the same thing: just build a website that’s awesome. Google wants to give a user the best result for a certain search query. If your SEO strategy is focused on being the best result, and creating the best website possible, you’re probably on the right SEO-track.

Technical SEO must be flawless

WordPress actually is an SEO-friendly platform, so most technical aspects are already covered. For all things that aren’t, you can install the (free) Yoast SEO plugin, which fixes some minor issues WordPress has. Installing the plugin and using the default settings already improves your SEO significantly. If you make sure to run all updates of our SEO plugin, all major technical SEO aspects will already be covered.

Site speed is one of the factors that determine whether you get a good ranking in Google. While site speed was historically not the most important one, it’s growing in importance more and more. A slow website will result in a slow crawling rate; Google takes longer to fetch pages on your site and therefore might take longer to index new content. Making your website faster is a relatively easy way to increase the chance of getting high rankings in Google. You can use the Speed report in Google Search Console to check whether your pages load fast or slow.

Site structure is clear

A clear site structure improves your chances to rank in Google. Search engines, like Google, follow links. So, how you structure your website, and the way you internally link your pages to each other, is of vital importance. Pages that have lots of links pointing towards them will appear important to Google, while pages that don’t have many links will be less significant to Google. Think of the structure of your website as a guide to Google, and therefore very important.

Content is still king

SEO copywriting is both a key element and a big challenge in every SEO strategy. As search engines spider web pages, the content of your website should be fine-tuned to the – ever-changing – algorithms of search engines. In addition to that, you should aim for quality content, and write clearly so that your audience both enjoys and understands your website. And we know that readability ranks!

Read more: Rank tracking: why you should monitor your keywords »

Quick wins?

This post doesn’t contain a step-by-step manual on how to rank high in Google. And I fully understand that people do desire such a manual. I am very sorry, but such a manual simply doesn’t exist. That being said, I can give you some practical tips on how to improve your rankings!

1. Solve orphaned content

Orphaned content has few internal links from other pages or posts linking to it. Google will consider this type of content to be of less value. So, if an article is important to you, you should make that clear to both Google and your visitors. Link to that particular article from other relevant content. Linking to it from articles that generate a lot of traffic in the search engines will help Google and your audience get to your blog post. You can identify your orphaned articles with Yoast SEO. Plus, you can now easily fix your orphaned content issues using our new SEO workout too.

2. Tackle keyword cannibalization

Keyword cannibalism can occur if you optimize two (or more) posts for focus keywords that are not exactly, but almost the same. For Google, it is hard to figure out which of these articles is most important. As a result, you could end up ranking low with both articles. Your internal linking structure could solve a part of your keyword cannibalism problems. Think about which article is most important to you and link to it from the less important long tail articles.

In many cases, the best way to solve keyword cannibalization problems is auditing and merging your content. Find articles that focus on similar search queries. If two articles both attract the same audience and basically tell the same story, you should combine them. Rewrite these posts into one amazing, kickass article. That’ll improve your rankings and solve your keyword cannibalization problem. After all, Google loves lengthy and well-written content.

3. Improve your site speed

Speed is a crucial aspect of SEO. Google just likes fast websites. You can improve your site speed through (better) hosting or by installing a caching plugin. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, by doing both. Read more about site speed in our article on how to improve your site speed. 

4. Fix those Google search console errors

The Yoast SEO plugin integrates with Google search console. If you want to improve your SEO, start by solving the errors that Google search console found on your website. Read our posts on Google search console to get started.

Conclusion: SEO stands for Seriously Effortful Optimization

SEO just is a lot of work. I cannot give you an easy answer to the question ‘How to rank high?’. SEO is a long-term strategy, and it’ll only work if that strategy focuses on creating an incredible website. As Google continues its quest to help users as best they can, you should focus on everything: awesome UX, flawless technical SEO, great content, good site structure. Our Yoast SEO plugin will help you optimize your website, making things a little bit easier for you. But you’ll have to put a lot of effort into it for it to be successful. SEO just stands for Seriously Effortful Optimization. Good luck!

Keep reading: How to become an SEO expert »

Coming up next!

8 Responses to How to rank high in Google

  1. Preventivo
    Preventivo  • 3 years ago

    Great article guys. I have a problem with keyword cannibalization on a client website. In essence are 2 pages: “estate agents in xxx” and “estate agents in xxx city center “. The client want to maintain both pages… On “estate agents in xxx city center ” page I set up canonical URL “estate agents in xxx”. Do you think this will fix the issue?

  2. vipul sharma
    vipul sharma  • 3 years ago

    I use it too and it is good. You can link to sites that go offline or the webmaster will change where their posts are and so on. I suppose the longer your site is online the worst this problem can become. It’s also irritating for readers to click on a link that doesn’t work. so this gives you a way to fix it easily .

  3. Jubayer Hossain
    Jubayer Hossain  • 3 years ago

    Thanks for sharing. First of all, I think it would be better for everyone if we rephrase “Content is King” to “Quality, Engaging Content is King”. Every website got content but the point is how good it is. And yes technical SEO has become more important than ever.

  4. websteve
    websteve  • 3 years ago

    Regarding orphaned content, if I have a sitemap, doesn’t that compensate for any orphaned pages?

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 3 years ago

      Hi! Unfortunately, content with links from your sitemap (or from category or tag pages for that matter) is still considered orphaned content if it doesn’t have text links pointing to it. Text links provide your users and search engines with context and therefore, add more value. You can read more about orphaned content here:

  5. Alex Sanfilippo
    Alex Sanfilippo  • 3 years ago

    Solid post! Thank you. It’s always a good refresher for me.

  6. Luis Alberto Cabrera Huerta
    Luis Alberto Cabrera Huerta  • 3 years ago

    Marieke, I do understand your point of view.

    SEO means hard work (and cleaning the mess if you started without knowing the basics).

    Thank to Yoast SEO plugin my site is getting better results but I do have a question for you.

    What is the specific difference between Standard and Premium SEO plugin?

    My blog would rank better if I jump to premium?

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 3 years ago

      Hi Luis! You’re absolutely right, SEO takes a lot of effort! Great to hear our plugin is already getting your site better results!
      As for your question: Yoast SEO premium offers you even more tools to improve your site’s rankings. Features like the redirect manager, the orphaned content filter and social previews (to name but a few) will help you build and maintain an awesome site. Not to mention that, with Premium, you can optimize for related keywords and word forms! Find out more here: