Google is used for around 90% of all the UK’s search queries. If your website doesn’t rank well in Google, you could be losing out on a lot of business.
While you may understand the importance of ranking well in Google, knowing what to do to achieve that is a different story.
Did you know that some things could actually harm your site? There is a huge list of Do’s and Don’ts. In fact, Google releases Quality Guidelines, which is a comprehensive, 170-page document. However, understanding the correct strategy can be quite confusing.
Unlike a PPC strategy, which yields immediate results and support from Google, you’ll need to figure out SEO for yourself. It’s more of a long-term investment, but the traffic is free and it needn’t cost you anything.
There are several key factors that Google uses to determine rankings. While the core principles stay the same, Google is always making improvements. There are roughly two slight changes every day but sometimes, the changes are bigger and these are usually made public, giving the SEO community a chance to discuss their impact.
The key factors Google uses to determine rankings are:
Even in 2016, links remain a significant factor in determining rankings. They’re becoming less so, with the advent of AI and user metrics (see below), but links are still important.
It’s no longer 2005 when every link counted and people were openly buying, swapping and exchanging links. That was before Google released its Penguin update, which targeted link schemes and programs. Since then, there have been several more updates, which have targeted many great websites. Now, links need to be earned, not bought.
More importantly, links have more impact the more authoritative the site is and the more relevance the link has.
Producing content is key for several reasons. It can help improve your relevance and help convert potential visitors to your site but more importantly, quality content can generate links.
A lot of people claim they can obtain high-authority links to your site, but they never show examples. Well I like to be open and honest, so I thought I’d create an example for you here.
I’m a huge football fan. I love most sports actually but especially football (much to my wife’s annoyance!). I’m also an SEO and data geek. So for my example, I combined my two loves.
I noticed that nobody had ever analysed the Premier League sites, to see how each club ranked according to its website traffic. So that’s what I did and you can find it here.
While this was a useful exercise and very interesting to do, it was the high-authority links I was after.
There are many links to smaller sites but as you can see, I have two great, authoritative sources linking to my content.
And I can do the same for your website.
I will create a campaign, build the assets, speak with the relevant media outlets, launch the campaign, and make sure the journalists link back to your website.
How relevant is your site?
Google can work out the topic or niche that your site is in. So if you suddenly add a page that isn’t relevant, you’ll struggle to get that page to rank.
Say you are a builder in Doncaster. Google will know this and will rank you in the Doncaster area. If someone searches for a builder in The Highlands, you won’t rank anywhere in the top 100. But if they’re searching in Doncaster and you have good site authority, you’ll rank well and attract more visitors.
Google recently announced that its third biggest ranking factor is Machine Learning or AI.
Historically, ranking factors and signals were decided by humans and they did a good job for the first few years. But now, Google operates globally and has seen so many different queries, it knows that every person wants something different.
Google has responded by using machines to determine rankings based on user experience. There are many experiments that have proved the effectiveness of AI, so getting positive signals to your site can quickly boost your rankings.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is having the potential to rank, but not setting up your site correctly. You could have a brilliant website and a great content strategy with some amazing links pointing to the site, but a lack of technical ability could be wasting all that potential.
When I start with any new client, the first thing I do is a full technical audit of your website, to fix any errors. This can take several hours, depending on the size of the site but without it, we could struggle to rank.
I will provide you with a full report that shows you the errors, gives you a priority list of errors to fix, and explains what I’m going to do to move you forward.
If you’d like to find out more about technical SEO here are some of my latest articles.
If you would like to improve your rankings in Google and grow your business, please get in touch for a chat.