Many people are often surprised about some of the factors regarding SEO and search engine rankings. So many things affect Google, Bing and others. Here are 10 secrets—some you may know, others you may not—that should affect your strategy and tactics when it comes to SEO.
Write to people instead of the search engines.
Have you ever seen a really annoying listing on Google—one that just blathers on with nonsense, over and over and over?
While you need to rank highly to get visibility on the product, service, or idea you are selling, remember that people use Google. Real people turn to search engines to solve problems, and when they find a solution, they buy. But SEO professionals often forget about people and only focus on what they think Google wants.
The secret: treat Google like the Yellow Pages of today. In the days of the Yellow Pages, we created beautiful ads with carefully crafted copy that stood out and drove awareness. Remember to optimize your Google listing, but don’t forget that people are reading it.
Real world relationships are valuable SEO assets.
If you’re not ranking as high on Google as you’d like, ask yourself these questions:
Do you have friends with websites? Does your university have an alumni page where you can link? Are you a member of organizations like the Chamber of Commerce?
Getting creative with links and finding real world relationships, whether personal or business, can get your website to rank higher.
The words you link are very important.
This is kind of an open secret, but it’s important. Google looks at the linked words like an endorsement. If you link “SEO agency,” users expect the site linked to it will be an SEO Agency. Google factors that into their algorithm. The more links that describe your product or service, the better, as long as they are natural links (don’t buy them).
Remember, don’t be shady with links. If you link to a website that isn’t an SEO agency but those words are linked, Google will see visitor reactions and not only devalue the link, but ding you. You will lose credibility with the algorithm. Honesty is the best linking policy.
If your site isn't usable or functional on a mobile device, Google simply won't send mobile searchers to your site.
Mobile experience can make or break your SEO.
SEO ranking factors include usability, and with a mobile or responsive design, it’s much easier to view your content. Google wants to deliver the best experience to its users, so having a non-mobile website in an increasingly mobile world can really harm your SEO. If your site isn’t usable or functional on a mobile device, Google simply won’t send mobile searchers to your site.
Social media impacts SEO.
Some small businesses don’t want to be on social. It’s just one more thing to have to manage, but what they’re forgetting is to protect their brand. Large or small, when someone searches for your brand, you want to have your results come up, not a competitor’s or news articles that you don’t control. By joining multiple social media profiles, you populate the first page of search results, because social sites are trusted by search engines.
Because only 10% of people even bother clicking over to the second page of search results, controlling what’s on the first page is very important. If you can populate the first page with your brand and your brand’s channels, why wouldn’t you? Social media not only allows for you to control your brand on search, but each platform provides a link, which is very important. Get social because it impacts search.
Make a keyword list.
While keywords aren’t as important as they once were, they still represent a sizeable portion of the ranking algorithm. Make a list of target keywords. Use SEO tools, analytics, and some common sense to create a master list. Track the position of keywords in your list to ensure that your current strategies are successful, and so you know which words to mention within content. It also sets up benchmarks for success.
Your site design affects SEO.
According to some research, a website’s design is 8% of the ranking factor. How your site flows; whether or not it has a high proportion of ads; if the content is below the fold; and so many different factors play into whether or not a site ranks well. The bottom line? If a website isn’t easy to use, and designed poorly, Google won’t rank it as well. That’s why having a clean, easy to use site is very important for SEO.
Content is more important than keywords.
Many of us have heard the phrase “content is king.” That phrase should be amended to read, “good content is king.” So many people start talking about SEO and then immediately focus on keywords. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. But I’ll let you in on one last secret: It truly stands for Content Optimization.
Quality wins over quantity.
Google and Bing are getting smarter and smarter each day. They are watching how website visitors react. Do they visit and then immediately leave? Do they spend a little or a lot of time on your website? Those are indicators of quality. It’s always better to have good meaty content because it simply ranks better, and it also delivers what the searcher is looking for. So when it comes to content, make sure it’s really good.
The same applies to links. If you go out looking for links, the easy way is to buy them. Unfortunately, those links are worthless because they come from junky sites. One good link from The Huffington Post outweighs all of them. When it comes to links, make sure the website linking to you is amazing. Quality over quantity is the secret.
Because only 10% of people even bother clicking over to the second page of search results, controlling what’s on the first page is important.
Links matter more than keywords.
In the SEO community, there is a surprising obsession with keywords. But Google has recently announced a shift away from keywords and is moving more towards a semantic search. What that means is this: even if you use the phrase “video production in Cincinnati” Google will show results that match “Cincinnati video production.”
This doesn’t mean keywords aren’t important. To the contrary. If you want to rank for a specific keyword, you must use it or a variation of it on your website, but links to your website far outweigh keywords. Links represent a large portion of the ranking algorithm, and while Google eventually wants to lessen their dependence on links, the fact remains that links are very important. If you want to rank for ‘Cincinnati Video Production’ or any other keyword, get other websites to link to you with that phrase. It’s a great way to rank.