03 Dec The Four Most Important Things You MUST Do to Rank On Google
Google began as a research project in 1996 at Stanford University by PhD students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, in an attempt to derive mathematical relationships of the world wide web. Since then, it has become the top search engine on the internet, followed by YouTube. SEO experts typically focus on Google, Bing, YouTube and Facebook’s Social Graph in their SEO analysis and campaigns.
Google has become a staple in our lives; the first place people go to search for answers online, giving us directions to our destinations and the driving engine for Android cellular phones. Its impact on our society is undeniable.
Standing out on the internet has become a science of understanding Google’s algorithms. However, to keep things interesting, and to keep sites from “gaming” the system, the powers give us guidelines, as opposed to exact rules. They leave the information vague. As the importance of search engines gained footing, people started to use different tactics to get onto the first page of search results – not all were “upstanding” efforts. Such “black hat” tactics are still sometimes used, but Google is well aware of these activities, and is cracking down, more than ever, on such tactics. If caught, “black hat” practitioners stand the chance to lose the ability to rank anywhere on Google forever.
In the struggle to find the most relevant search results for its users (after all, if you don’t get the answers that you are looking for, you may be inclined to try another search engine, such as Bing or Yahoo), Google has had to evolve. As more and more people and companies are entering and/or fortifying their web presence, the keyword itself, although it is the main driver, is not the only answer people want. People actually want the INTENT of the keyword. For example, if you were looking for a vacation spot to get away from the cold in the wintertime, you might type in “winter vacation spots” into the Google search bar. Google now has to “intuit” warm, tropical, beach, etc. Also, as media platforms change, search results need to adapt. We now have written articles, images, videos and social media posts, with many other evolving daily. All these results are relevant, and search engines have recognized this and need to deliver these in search results.
With so many potential search results, search engines often produce many pages of possibilities. Unfortunately, studies have shown that up to 95% of website clicks occur from links on the 1st page of search results. For an SEO campaign to be effective, you must rank on Google!
Here are four things that you MUST do to rank on Google!
To rank on Google, you must, more than ever, show relevance. This means you need to make sure that your website is using relevant keywords. The main and obvious keywords are most likely already well established and it will be next to impossible to get to the top of the search engine for these words. Look at long tail keywords. For example, if you have a store that sells hiking gear, don’t just focus on “hiking gear” as your keywords. Think more specific. The key to ranking on search engines today is not horizontal reach. It is vertical market penetration. You need to understand your market and find those places and interests that only your target market understands. Most people have hiking boots. All the big guys already rank for hiking boots. The REI’s, Amazons and Timberlands have been dominating hiking boots for years already. It will be very difficult for you to rank on the 1st or 2nd page for the keywords, “hiking boots.” You want to find the avid hikers who really need hiking boots. You want to find the hikers who hike along the Appalachian Trail or will be hiking in Nepal. THINK specific!! True, there will not be as many people looking, but your competition is much less and your chances of being seen on the 1st half of the 1st page of search results is much better (btw – 95% of web traffic comes from 1st page search engine results). Better to get specific traffic to your site, as this audience will be more likely to convert.
Along with this, Google is constantly on the hunt for quality results. One way to achieve this is longer articles. Some experts suggest at least 2,500 words. It depends on what you are trying to achieve and several other factors, but I’d say at least 600 words, as a minimum. In general, this means that an article about hiking boots that is 600 words will not be as rich in content as an article that is 2,500 words. If you are going to do this, be sure that you are producing true quality content, not just filler. In addition to bots, Google is now employing many techniques, even as far as having people actually read the content, to check for true quality. Instead of just an article about the hiking boots that you carry, write about various types of hiking boots, what situations certain boots that you carry are the most relevant. Tips and tricks, etc. Think deep!!
In all of my years of research on Google Search Rankings, I think that YouTuber, Lazy Ass Stoner, has the best analogy for the Google Search World: “Google is like the school playground.”
Google wants to know that most people will like its search results. One way to help assure this is to go with the popular kids; the ones with the most friends. In the digital world, that is translated to backlinks. You want to get as many outside sites to link back to your site as possible. However, not just any sites. Don’t forget, popular kids hang out with each other. Throughout the years, Google has established enough of a name for itself that everyone wants to rank well. It can afford to be picky now. It wants QUALITY. So, quantity of links is not enough. A few links from established, well known websites will be much more effective than many links from unknown and unpopular sites. At a minimum, utilize social media sites, such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., and link back to your website. Guest blog on popular sites with similar subject matters and link back to your website. Get creative!
And here is a relatively easy one. Title your images and videos with the same keywords as your articles. Google search results give you different types of results: articles, images and videos. That gives you three different chances to reach your audience. Take advantage of this. Many content creators get lazy and just attach an image or a video onto their blogs. They are missing out! Keywords are for ALL content, not just written blogs and articles. Each piece of content should come in three different formats: article, image and video. Not only will this appeal to the largest possible audience, but will increase your visibility on search engines.
Ranking well on search engines requires energy and creativity, but the results are worth it. There are several other factors involved in modern search engine algorithms, but these core actions will take you a long way towards landing on that first page of search results. Happy creating!