There is a great deal about confusion relating to just what it takes to rank highly in Google these days. This page offers 7 SEO tips for Google search ranking success, but also, more importantly, a framework that ought to be followed to long-term search engine results.
Search Engine Optimization – otherwise known as SEO – is the process of making a website more prepared and popular with the major search engines so that they will display it highly in their results pages when users submit queries.
When we write “major search engines”, let’s not kid ourselves, Google is the number 1 player in this market in most countries. In fact, they have over 90% market share in many European nations. While there are other very large firms in this market – such as Yahoo! and Bing – they are nowhere near as important for our needs as Google is.
It is also worth noting that so much of the industry is information behind closed doors and non-disclosure agreements, that there are a great many different SEO definitions. Your author knows of four different people that each use their own SEO techniques in different markets and have good success with them. In theory, such a range of approaches should not work, but it does. The level and type of competition for each keyword is very important and has an impact on just what will – and will not – work.
Google SEO Tips
1. It is vital to know what you are focusing on. In this case, the first SEO tools needed are for keyword research. The Google keyword tool (located within the Google AdWords interface) is a great place to start.
As a webmaster or marketer, it is your job to decide what phrases are appropriate to target for your site. This will take some research to understand what people are searching for and how likely it is that you will be able to compete with them (competition analysis).
If you are a small business, this might be easy. After all, if you sell beds and are based in London, it might well be that “beds London” is the most appropriate phrase for you. There are almost certainly other useful phrases to target as well (“mattress London”, for example) but the most important phrases should be obvious. This is what is known as either “local” or “offline” SEO.
On the other hand, this task might be quite complicated if you sell vitamin pills and have a license to sell them worldwide. Then there will be hundreds or thousands of possible keyword phrases to consider. This step alone can be days worth of work in a big niche.
2. By definition, a search engine is a mathematical system for comparing, rating and delivering relevant documents to users. Therefore, it makes some sense to spend a good deal of time thinking about the type and quality of document that your website hosts.
If you think that your site only needs to host $10 articles written by people in India or Pakistan, then you are sending a message to the algorithm. In contrast, virtually every major website now employs professional writers and journalists to create their content. When it comes to quality, there should be no competition and sooner or later the better articles will win out. Until then, the site publishing poor quality articles is living on borrowed time.
While this must sound like the absolute SEO basics, and is, most people overlook this area and churn out very similar rote content. If you hope to have the same mediocre results that most webmasters manage, you should do the same.
Here at TopSpotMalta, we use some pretty fancy search engine maths to design documents that are much more useful for visitors and liked by Google too. It would take a lot of effort to explain here – and to be honest, it is something of a secret sauce, so we would rather not explain it for free – but we think it is a very valuable element1 of Google SEO.
3. The structure of your website is important, but it is not easy to provide a one tip fits all guide. Very small websites have very different problems to very large sites (known as authority sites) and e-commerce sites are very different to content sites. In other words, you probably ought to take specific advice relating to the type of website that you have or plan to build.
Whatever your situation, take your site structure and internal linking seriously. Whilst on the one hand, site structure was something that bigger sites viewed as being SEO back in 2006, there are many sites (of all types and sizes) that are not structured very well even today. There are also potential problems if you have a network of websites – for example, you might have companies doing the same job in different countries, with websites in different languages. How these websites interlink and interact can be very important in the eyes of a search engine.
4. It is important to understand the potential risks that a focus on SEO might have on your business. Some of the large updates from 2011, 2012 and 2013 (known as Panda and Penguin) have had very major impacts on businesses. Many thousands of companies have had to make people redundant or even close, simply because they relied on Google traffic to generate leads and make sales. When the rankings dropped and the traffic stopped, income dried up. This happened overnight for many firms.
This means that how you “play the game” is important. The more you operate outside the rules and the more warnings you pick up in your Google Webmaster Tools account, the greater risk is being taken with your company’s future.
5. Many of the risks taken with websites involve the building of incoming links. On the one hand, incoming links are vital to the success of a campaign. On the other hand, there are many SEO tools that build hundreds or thousands of links with little (or no) regard for their quality. This type of approach was effective once, but has become less and less so over the years. Now these links can cause “legacy problems” that are hard to fix. It is easier, cheaper and safer to try and play broadly within the rules.
Risk management might mean that you have a second and a third website waiting in the wings, cooling it’s heels, in case of emergency. Or it might mean that you follow strict White Hat only guidelines for site promotion.
6. Do your best to keep score. A number of the best tools in the market for monitoring a website are free. There should be no surprise that Google Webmaster Tools is important to keep a watch on. It is also possible to use very high level technology for traffic monitoring – also for free – by using Google Analytics. Both will help you to understand how people react to your content, design, layout and site. If you happen to know a savvy business analyst, you will probably be able to glean a number of useful tips by following his or her advice.
7. Try not to follow the latest SEO tips for Google. The crux of SEO comes down to your ability to produce amazing documents, structure your site well, target specific keywords and somehow get other websites linking in to you. If you get that right, you’ll hopefully be fine. The rest is mostly just noise. Try and filter a lot of it out.
While guys like us try to find small advantages in processes and aspects of the algorithm, it probably is not worth trying so hard yourself – unless you are in a very competitive niche and plan to have an SEO career. We spend a great deal of time and effort researching the latest search engine optimization tips, but you probably have a real business to run… The reality is that both SEO and SEM are really difficult2.