So, How Do I Improve My Search Engine Ranking on a Budget?

Every single month, ya’ll.

Every single month one of my web design clients forwards me an email from some company promising to make them rank on top of Google, for a pretty hefty price. My response is always the same:

“Google said in their most recent hangout on the topic that they want to see content-rich, relevant, websites, and they don’t want to see people trying to skirt the system by paying for better SEO!”

Google offers free (FREE!!!) workshops, called Hangouts, on a fairly regular basis in which they try to drill this into everyone’s head, and yet, everyone still runs around looking for a short cut, or even trying to sell someone a short cut for thousands of dollars.

There are no short cuts in Search Engine Optimization.

There are no short cuts in Search Engine Optimization. #SEO #homebusiness Click To Tweet


That’s not to say it wouldn’t be helpful to have a legit SEO expert look over your website to help you see where you might improve things, especially if this is all Greek to you. Having a neutral third party look at your “baby” with a fresh pair of eyes and no emotional connection to your business is never a bad thing, if you’re up for some tough love (I did it, myself). However, there are some simple things website owners can try on there own which is recommended by search engines.

What is SEO anyway?

You might be wondering, what on earth is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.

Basically, it means optimizing your website to be better noticed by the search engines, and thus rank higher when someone Googles keywords relating to your website. I discussed keywords for your website in more detail in another article on the topic here.

Bouncy or Sticky?

However, we don’t just want people to find the website, which might happen with some of these search engine optimization services.

We want them to stay there.

We want them to come back.

We want them to interact with your content, right? Leave comments, share content on their social media, tell their friends, book mark your site, maybe even click an ad or buy something in your online store?

That’s the point, isn’t it?

You can get people to show up, but you also want them to stick around.

The technical terms here really are sticky and bounce rate.

The Bounce Rate is the percentage of your visitors that leave without visiting more than one page on your website. You can find this out by installing Google Analytics on your website (a free service), and observing the details in your Google Analytics dashboard. Not only will you see how many people leave after one page, but you will also see how long the average person stays at your site.

A website is described as “sticky” if it’s done so well that people want to stick around. Usually you can help make the website a bit stickier by linking your content together, offering related content leads, and helping your visitors find their way around.

A website is described as “sticky” if it’s done so well that people want to stick around. Click To Tweet

I’m currently reformatting my own website, and the information architecture, to make my website stickier. I want people to stick around. After a few minor adjustments, my bounce rate dropped by 10% and the amount of time people spent on my website increased by 5 minutes on average. The larger changes I’m planning will hopefully improve this even more.

What does Google say?

It’s all about the content, honey. I like to think of it as the CURE. Say it with me. Content Rich. Useful to my Visitors. Relevant. Easy to Use.

It’s all about the content, honey. #SEO Click To Tweet

The SEO Cure for your Website

Content Rich

Create great content. Google and other search engines cannot “read” pictures and videos the same way it reads words on a page. By indexing your words, it gets a sense of what your website is about, and decides if someone searching for something should be pointed to your website. Think about this as you create your content.

Avoid jargon, cutsey words for things that others may not know to use when searching, and uncommon phrases. Think about what someone would type into a search engine to look for this exact content if they didn’t know about your site. Use that word or phrase at least once in the content.

Again, I’ve written more about what keywords are and why they are important here.

Useful to my Visitors

It’s not enough to create lots of great content. You need content that others find useful. People share useful content, and they link to it from their own sites and social media profiles, which only helps your seo. The more relevant incoming links you have pointing at your content from related sites, the more search engines like Google will see you as useful to visitors.


Create content that is relevant to your website’s purpose and goal. A website may have a broad scope (think Buzzfeed) but if it gets way too random, it becomes chaos. There should be some kind of common thread throughout the whole site, beyond the design.

Easy to Use

Make sure your content can be easily found, navigated around, and is laid out in a way that makes sense to your average visitor. Link within posts to related content for more information.

Part of this topic is taken care of in the design of the site’s template or theme. Part of this is in terms of interlinking your posts, and planning out your information architecture.

Again, the book Letting Go of the Words, Second Edition: Writing Web Content that Works is a great resource for this, as are the video courses on Lynda.com for SEO and Creating Content.