In the SEO world, it’s pretty easy to find a massive number of different tricks and techniques, all of which promise to improve your search engine ranking. The job of a seasoned SEO is to figure out which of these techniques are things which Google truly cares about, and which things are simply “tricks” which exploit a weakness in Google’s present algorithms.
The danger is this: If anybody relies too much on exploiting algorithmic weaknesses, then they inevitably get left behind when said weaknesses are corrected. If Google de-indexes your site, it’s not the end of the world, but it takes time and a massive overhaul of your site to undo the damage.
By trying to work within Google’s ideals, rather than trying to profit off weaknesses, we believe that, as web crawler algorithms become more sophisticated, this approach to SEO will result in a website ranking that stays consistently high, regardless of algorithmic changes. This approach focuses on eight basic SEO concepts:
1. On-Page SEO Practices
Most of the time, an SEO company will be making sure that your website’s HTML code is web-crawler-friendly. This means stuff like ensuring every title tag has keyword content in it, and that your company website is communicating with Google in an uninhibited manner. By ensuring that your keywords are relevant to your target audience, and then incorporating those keywords into meta data such as title tags, you’re setting your site up to get noticed.
2. Inbound Links
Link-building is the practice tied to this concept. The truth is that, for better or for worse, Google has determined that links are a useful measure of a site’s relevance on its topics, and the structure and quality of these links is also a factor. The best way to get links on the web is a combination of networking with other businesses and marketing high-quality content. This means having content which portrays you and your business as an expert in your field.
Today, authority is governed primarily by social media. With the only authority ranking factors being Google PageRank and social media outlets, it’s important to network with high-authority websites and on social media in order to satisfy this piece of the overall puzzle. This is also the piece which Google is most likely to punish if a site is trying to manipulate search results through algorithmic exploitation.
4. User Experience
Do you have a website that people want to visit? Google cares about this, and so user experience is a factor in how well you rank. Google likes informative, well-designed websites with lightning fast load speeds. Thus, Google factors these aspects into a given search in order to deliver results which are not only relevant results, but high-quality results which satisfy the user’s search query completely. If your site has a high bounce rate, is difficult to navigate, or is slow to load, Google is either already punishing you in the search rankings, or is trying to figure out a way to do so.
This is also known as relevancy. If you aren’t keeping up on the latest in your industry, then you aren’t really a strong resource for those wanting to learn more about that industry. Imagine trying to teach from a history book which was written in 1960. It doesn’t work too well! A lot has happened since then, and a lot of new work on earlier topics has come up, some of which conclusively refutes an earlier position. The last thing you want is to present an out-of-touch image for your business!
A lack of freshness is a sign that a business is not as engaged in their industry as another business might be, and this lack of freshness is something which potential clients will keenly pick up on. That assumes that they even find your site: Google is now rewarding the freshest sites with a SERP boost, which means your old content will very quickly get buried. To make matters worse, in the online world, “old” doesn’t mean what it used to mean. A one year-old article is ancient today, when that might have been considered acceptable in old print forms. The result is that you need to be updating your content regularly to maximize “freshness.”
No, this does not mean that your business has to be minority-owned in order to be successful in the SERPs (well, at least, not yet). Rather, it is a concept which Google uses in determining what kinds of content to display on the first page. Google tends to prefer having a wide variety of different media (photos, video, blog posts, web content, etc.) in the first page results. So the more of these media that you can use to convey your marketing message, the more likely it is that something will wind up on the first page that is tied to your company website.
7. Device Compatibility
Your website will only be found on the results of a Google search if the website is well-optimized for the device that is conducting the search. This means that if you do not have a mobile site, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to attract customers to your website on any device other than a computer or tablet. While the hype surrounding mobile use is a little bit overblown, it is on the rise. A good mobile website will ensure that you are ahead of your competition as mobile use becomes more prevalent.
This is something which most people tend to forget: Google does, as a matter of fact, use real, live humans to evaluate how their algorithm is doing. These people evaluate results on a wide variety of different factors which help Google determine whether the best results are truly being put at the top. As such, even a perfectly optimized site must be built with the end user in mind, because Google uses the end user to tweak their results!
These are the eight things which are most likely to stay consistent in Google’s ranking algorithm, and as such, we focus on them as much as possible. While there may be SEO companies who claim to do things fast and cheap, they are doing so by exploiting the algorithm. As a result, any gains they manage to make on behalf of your website will be short-lived. What’s worse, these attempts to exploit the algorithm may result in your website being punished when Google updates, as they are known to do multiple times per month.