The art of SEO is the ability to influence the position your website returns in the search engine results pages (SERPs). This was traditionally done using a number of techniques, much however has changed in recent years with regards to SEO. Primarily because Google was addressing those seeking to game the system through these techniques, which ultimately meant a bad experience for visitors who were reaching pages ranking highly but poorly performing in terms of answering their search.
There are many different indicators that Google uses to rank webpages, some with more weight than others. Including site speed, URL structures, the number of links & mobile friendliness. The weight given to some of these factors continues to adapt as technology and visitor needs change.
Create Great Content
Ultimately however it comes down to simply great content, no amount of SEO techniques are going to help you without it. Google is looking for rich content that addresses the visitors intent and their algorithms that identify such content are getting better all the time. So while some of the tips below are worth looking at, don’t loose sight of the fact that great content comes first.
Content should be interesting, well written and shareable. Remembering the medium you are writing for is crucial, people read differently on the web than they do when reading a novel for example. We are far more likely to scan read a on-line article, so make it easier for your visitors to do just that whilst still getting your point across.
That aside, once you have great content there are some extra things you can consider as part of your optimisation efforts.
Since the dawn of Google, the number links back to your site you had was always a strong indicator that your site was a good match for the visitors search. That led to many working the system to get as many links as possible, with so-called link farms, essentially websites that existed to create link upon links. Obviously these were not serving quality but quantity.
When Google updates their algorithm they tend to give these updates names, in 2011 their so-called “Panda” update cracked down heavily on link farms and content seen to be light on quality. The efforts of old and getting any old link could now actually hurt your ranking.
Several updates later this has continued with Google always seeking to improve their algorithm. It comes back to the fact that if you create great content then you are going to get quality links, whilst outreach seeking links is still important there is the need to be aware of the negative impact a bad link could cause. Should you have links to your site that are negatively affecting your ranking then you can disavow these using the Google Search Console.
One key indicator Google does look for is what happens when people click on your webpage in the results. They can’t tell what a visitor might do on your site (Even with Google Analytics installed, the two are separate). However what they can tell is if a visitor searches for something, clicks to your site and then shortly after clicks on another result. This would tell Google that your site didn’t answer the question the visitor had searched for.
Ranking for keywords that are relative to your content and for that content to be rich is the answer.
It is important your site is optimised for mobile. Google will give preference to sites that are mobile friendly to those searching on mobiles. If your site is responsive for example then Google will classify your site as being mobile friendly and if your competitors site is not then you will be returned above them for mobile searches.
You can check your website using the URL below to find out if your website is classed as mobile friendly.
Traditionally there were two key meta-data fields used by Google, these were the “keywords” and “description” tags. These allowed you to tell Google what keywords were relevant to the page in question and then a short description for Google to use in the search results.
These days the keywords meta tag is not used for Google, mostly because again this became over-used and there was a pattern of website owners stuffing as many keywords as they could into the tag. Now, Google is clever enough to scan your page and make up it’s own mind what keywords are relevant for your page based on the content.
In the past keyword density was a key metric (Repeating the core keywords as many times on the page as possible in a ratio to the number of words on the page). Following several updates, most notably Hummingbird this has moved on. The push to semantic search means Google not necessarily searching for the specific keyword the visitor searched but rather attempting to infer their intent from their search.
This means that once again great content is key and whilst ensuring your core keyword you wish to rank for is still important, it is likely counter-productive to repeat it. There is however a greater emphasis on synonyms, with Google now able to recognise and link them to the users intent from their search. So whilst keyword density in itself is no longer important, there is still work that can be done to ensure your page is seen by Google as relevant, just not at the cost of easy to read content.
You probably guessed by this point what our summary is going to say, yep… Great content!
Original, well written content that seeks to address the users intent is going to win every time.
Ensuring that your site is mobile friendly and has a good page load time is probably two of the most important factors after this but of course remember there are many, many other ranking factors.
Simply put, write it with the visitor in mind and they shall come.