Google, the phone book of the internet. Ranking in the first page of google can have a drastic effect on your web traffic. Bringing you from a few visitors a month to thousands but it’s not as easy as registering with Google and showing up on the main page. Google’s search business is setup to bring the most relevant and useful content for any given search.
The Convenience of Google
To keep you coming back to Google any time you have a question or are looking something up they need to ensure that the first results are the most useful to you. They develop their search algorithm with that in mind and are always adjusting to make Google’s search results better and better.
Some “SEO Specialists” try to use loop holes in this algorithm to get their site to rank. For instance, way back when Google was just a toddler, it relied heavily on keyword density on a given site. That means if you type in “Apples” and Google knows of a site that has “Apples” on it 300 times it should be fairly relevant. But this leads to the “specialists” using a technique called keyword stuffing. This involved listing a keyword that they are looking to rank for as many times as possible on a given page. You’d look in the footer and it would say Apples a few hundred times there even though the site was more Orange centric.
Google is continually adjusting their algorithm to adjust for these loop holes and ensure when you search “Apples” you get not just a website about “Apples” but one that others have found to be useful when they searched for “Apples”.
What Is Google Looking For?
Google is continually updating their algorithm but their are a few things that seem to hold constant. Let’s use an arbitrary measure of SEO points to demonstrate Google rankings.
1. Domain Reputation
If your domain (.com/.net/.ca…) has been in use for a long time and has been in good standing, Google awards you SEO points. Good standing means there hasn’t been any flagged activity on the domain. This can be anything from a known spam location to illegal activity. Get a relevant domain name and you can check the history using online tools like web.archive.org to see what kinds of mischievous activity may have been conducted on the domain before.
2. Page relevance
This is fairly complicated but basically your page should have the relevant keyword and other keywords searched in conjunction with a given keyword. When you look for “Apples” and end up with informational site on the benefits of eating an Apple a day but you were looking for an online distributor, your next search may be “Apple distributor”. If this happens often, your page will rank fairly high for “Apples” if you also have “Apple distributor on your page”. Be careful of keyword stuffing. Your text should flow normally and you shouldn’t have Apple as every second word. Google is getting smart and they will deduct SEO points, if they feel like you are keyword stuffing.
Google’s keyword planning tools are a great FREE resources for planning out your sites keywords. https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner
This should really be broken into sub categories but Google likes a few types of links:
- Links from one page of your site to another. This tells google that your site is well interconnected and will most likely have a nice reader flow. It also makes your site easier form them to crawl and read all the content.
- Backlinks. These are links from other sites that point to yours. The more links and the more reputable links, the more useful Google sees your site. A backlink from a small blog is worth a fraction in SEO points to backlink from a large site like the New York Times that has a ton of traffic and a ton of SEO points themselves.
The traffic your site gets every month is also a good indicator of how useful your site is perceived to be.
This is kind of a self fulfilling prophecy in that as you get better at everything else, your site traffic will increase and as it increases it will help your Google ranking, which will help your traffic. So it’s a positive feedback loop and can help grow your traffic fairly quickly.
There are tons of other criteria that Google will use to rank your site’s relevance for a given keyword. Including other site’s ranking for that keyword, the highlights on given keywords (is the keyword in a title or hidden in the footer), the relevance of the rest of your site to the search or related searches, is your site for a business that could be carrying what the searcher is looking for and how close in proximity are you to that person……
Google is ever changing it’s algorithm to ensure they bring you the most relevant content. The biggest thing to keep in mind is to make sure your website’s content is useful and helpful in some way. You want visitors to find value in what they find, even share your site with others.
Keep an eye open for an upcoming post on how to rake in the SEO points and give your site the best chance of having a high rank in the Google search results.
Keep an eye open for part 2!