Before we jump into the simple steps it’s important to understand how Google’s magic recipe is concocted to deliver the industry leading SEO results, it’s been constantly refined with hundreds and thousands of modifications for over 20 years and I think it’s fair to say they’ve been fairly successful at it. The great news is though, that it is actually remarkably easy once you understand the framework that Google creates and the core principles that Google founded its core algorithm are as true today as they were when they first started.
It has a deceptively simple set of rules, Google is essentially looking to score all web pages in 2 qualities, your Relevance and Authority.
It’s a fairly simple point and I’m amazed this is something I still have to educate business owners on but it’s amazing how often this step gets overlooked. The keywords you think you’re ranking for compared to the ones you actually are can be revealing and often says a lot about how your website is set up.
At the outset of any SEO campaign you need to make sure that the ship your sailing is headed in the right direction, there’s no point winning a race to the wrong place! You’re success in SEO will be defined here, so make sure you take the time to properly assess what are the right keywords for your business, not just the biggest searched terms but you also need to look at how competitive they are. There are often some absolute gems of keywords in the modified terms of the larger more generic phrases.
The search engines that crawl you site are just robots, the crawl the text on the page, they interpret the information it contains and then determine what the page must be about. The point is they won’t guess, “…I think what this guy is trying to sell is…” you have to make sure your web page is broadcasting the right signals based on your analysis from step 1. Think of it like trying to tune in a radio station.
As you get closer to the frequency of the radio station you can start to make out the song but there’s a lot of static and it’s a bit annoying, it’s only when you land on the right frequency can you hear the song perfectly. That’s the principle Google is ranking your site, is it going to tell its customers to go to a frequency close to the radio station or the exact frequency? The answer is obvious but we can take the analogy further, what about AM vs FM or DAB? You can listen to the same radio station in a number of ways these days and they have a range of qualities depending on the device and all things being equal we’ll choose the best device broadcast the signal the highest quality possible. The point is that as the keywords get more and more competitive these tiny fractions in how well we broadcast our signal will the make the difference in determining where we are likely to get ranked by the Search Engines.
There is a spine of content to each web page and this is usually the first place I’ll look to review what the on-page ranking factors look like and are they consistent with the desired keyword. **Jargon Alert** (I’m about to through some classic digital jargon way so without repeating myself here check out what they each mean in our digital jargon buster!). The key content signals for a web page are : Url, Page Title, H1, H2 & Meta Description. Check that they are all consistent and reflect what you want the crawl bots to understand what the page is about.
In early SEO, spammy webmasters would abuse this principle using keyword stuffing tactics, ramming the page with as many repetitions of the target keyword as possible and it did work… for a while. Unsurprisingly though Google clamped down on it and started handing penalties to anyone using these black hat techniques, it didn’t make onsite optimisation any less important just do it sensibly and a good rule of thumb is always ask yourself whether the changes you are making to the copy of webpage are improving the
Once you’ve established your credentials as a relevant web page and you’ve pushed your rank as far as you can in this dimension the battle will come down to Authority. How good is your content versus the remaining competition. Authority is determined in a number of ways and no-one knows for sure how Google is arriving at its decision. However we can look back in to history to get a good understanding of what it considers important.
Larry Page first conceived the idea for a good search algorithm whilst at college faced with the task of deciding what books from the library he should check out in order to complete his assignment. Faced with a huge library of thousands of books that might be relevant he stumbled on a rather ingenious tactic to pick the best books, he would simply look inside the front cover and see which of his peers and others he respected and also checked out the same books, he would check with the front desk and see which relevant books had been checked out the most and therefore the most popular with fellow students. Using these simple tactics he would quickly whittle the books down to 1 or 2 that must be good given those who had already used them. This concept of peer review is commonplace in science and is at the heart of how the google search algorithm works, simple eh?
Apply this concept to your website, how people talk about your content? How many other websites link to your website? Of those that do link to your website, are they high quality, do you have peers in similar industries saying check these guys out? The more times you can answer ‘yes’ the more likely you are to have good authority in the eyes of google. The key takeaway here is that having a beautifully optimised web page isn’t enough, you need others to qualify your page by being willing to link to your site and the bigger and higher quality you can make a backlink profile the more and more online authority you will get.
Moz.com provide a metric called the Domain Authority (DA) which is the gold standard in interpreting what your online authority, although it is important to note that they are an independent 3rd party. As a rule of thumb if your DA is below 30 you’re going to struggle to reach the top spots in organic search and you probably haven’t had a concerted effort and developing your off-site presence, so with a little direction and a consistent, sustained approach you’d be surprised the difference you could make.
I guess the final point to make is that SEO never stops, you won’t be successful in SEO by doing it sporadically and with a bit of effort here and there. The online is constantly changing, google is constantly updating its algorithm and new competitors and always entering the market. See it is a necessary task you do little and often.
If you want to talk to us about your SEO performance and how to take it to the next level, we’d be happy to talk to you and please get in touch!