Google has said many times that there are over 200 different factors that their search algorithm looks at in order to determine how your website will rank in search results. Of course, Google will not tell us everything about their algorithm for 2 reasons:
1. Search marketers could take that information and find ways to rig the system, producing non-organic results, which would then devalue the use of Google.
2. Other tech firms could just duplicate their algorithm and give users alternative search platforms.
The good news is, we do know some stuff about the algorithm. Google has shared some information about the algorithm and well educated digital marketing folks have been able to decipher best strategies to help get the best results with the information we have.
Out of all the information out there, I wanted to share the top 3 SEO tactics that drastically effect the outcomes of your websites rankings. The first 2 tactics are common and you can find these listed on just about any site that talks about SEO. The third one is a little more interesting…
Links are huge. There are 3 types of links to consider for your website.
– Inbound Links
These are the links from other sites that are pointing at your site. When Google sees that reputable sites are pointing at your website, it signals that your site is valuable as well. Therefore you rank higher.
Now the question is, do you want quantity links or do you want quality links. The answer is both. The more links that you have pointing at your site, the better. However, you also want to make sure that the incoming links are from quality sites. Having a large amount of spammy incoming links from sites that do not contain any relevant information is a bad sign for Google. They are very good at being able to tell the difference between a quality link and a spammy link.
– Internal Links
These are links on your website that link to other areas on your own website. The purpose of them is to give your websites users (and search bots) a way to navigate throughout your content and understand what content is related.
By linking content within your site to other content in your site, you are spreading around the page rank value which helps more of your pages rank higher. If all of your Inbound Links are to your home page, but your home page doesn’t link to any other pages on your site, then none of your other pages will receive any of the page rank value from the inbound link. All of that page rank will be stagnant on the home page.
– External Links
These are links on your website that are pointing to external sites. The purpose of linking out to other sites is to connect your users to content that brings additional value related to the content that is on your site.
When deciding to link to external sites, it’s important to be selective and purposeful. Each external link dishes out a little bit of your pages rank to a different site. So having your content bloated with external links is not only spammy, but devalues your own site. So there is balance. Link out to external sites when it makes sense and brings value to the user to do so.
As the saying goes – ‘Content is King’.
When Google’s bots are crawling your website, they are reading your content and figuring out exactly what your site is all about. And they are very good at figuring out if you content is quality of if it’s spam. It reads your content like a human does, and if it’s over stuffed with keywords because you’re trying to trick the system, Google will know what you are doing. So when creating content, write it like a human is going to read it. Focus on making it quality for an end user. Give it value.
On top of making your content quality, it’s also good to have quantity.
With all other factors being equal… if Google looks at your site with 5 pages of quality content and then looks at your competitors site who has 50 pages of also high quality content… who wins? Sometimes this can be a challenge for businesses. Maybe you just don’t have that much content for your site and marketing efforts. Consider bringing in a professional copywriter to help you write large amounts of high quality content. Starting a blog is a great way to start aggregating content when it’s strategically added to your other marketing efforts.
RankBrain is less of a technical strategy but more of a user behavior strategy from Google.
This part of the algorithm is using Machine Learning to further understand strings of words – sentences – and putting together the pieces of information to help serve you the best search results. For example, one behavior it looks at is click through rates within a search result. Let’s say a user types in a keyword and your site shows up on page 2. Overtime, if users are consistently going to page 2, seeing you link and then clicking on it, Google is going to learn and adjust. It will recognize that users are skimming over the first page results and going to page 2 in order to click on your link.
It’s a signal to Google that your site has enticing information for the users to click on and it probably better matches what they are looking for when they type in that keyword. Therefore, instead of putting you on page 2, Google will start placing you higher in the results because it’s trying to give end users the best information it can as quickly as it can. This highlights the importance of having engaging content in your page titles and meta descriptions to encourage click throughs on search results.
RankBrain is a form of artificial intelligence. It’s using computers to watch for these types of trends and teach itself how to become better.