Search engine optimization or SEO is sometimes looked upon as some magic voodoo that only web gurus know how to create. But in reality, there are many basic SEO techniques that any small business can put into practice on their website. In this video, we clear the air about 5 myths of the search engines. Then we discuss several of the most important ranking factors to get your website found in Google and the search engines.
To learn more about how to get your website found online, check out our course, “Why Can’t Anyone Find My Website?”
Full video transcript:
So, how do you get people to your website? The majority of web visits start out as a search on a major search engine like Google or Bing. Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the practice of helping more people find your website by improving your positioning in the search engine results. There is no one single element of your site that is going to guarantee it’s placement at the top of the search engines. It’s a collective group of practices and principles that not only improve your site for Google, but also for your visitors.
But, there is a great deal of misinformation and misunderstanding in the business community about how search engine optimization works. In addition, many business owners have out of date information coupled with practices that have fallen out of favor with the search engines to get your site ranked. This adds up to a muddled mess and many websites that are suffering with poor search engine rankings and even search engine penalties.
Let’s start our SEO discussion by clearing up several myths about the search engines.
Myth #1: I should submit my URLs to the search engines. Submitting Urls to search engines is useless. They don’t use submissions anymore.
Myth #2: There needs to be a certain number of keywords on the page or a mathmatical calculation of keywords to the total number of words on the page, otherwise known as keyword density. In the words of our friends at Moz.com, keyword density is crap. This has absolutely no bearing on search ranking.
Myth #3: A Google Adwords campaign will increase your organic results. Too bad this one isn’t true. It would save us all a lot of work and we could just buy our way to the top. But alas, no. Paid search does not increase your organic results. Paid and organic are totally separate and do not impact each other.
Myth #4: Paying for links helps increase your search rank. Oh boy, if you really want to get the Google Police after you, try this one. Manipulative linking of any kind, including reciprocal link programs, link farms, paid links, and low quality directory links not only don’t work, but today the practices can get you penalized and banned from the search results. This is really a big no no.
Myth #5: Hiding text in HTML code will increase my rankings. Cloaking or hiding text or keywords in the code of your web pages so a visitor can’t see it is really, really bad and will get you penalized in a big fat hurry. Don’t do this and anyone who tells you that you should, run away from as fast as you can.
There are over 200 separate elements, or ranking factors, that Google uses to determine which web pages are returned in the search results in various positions. There are On Page ranking factors, that are the easiest for you to control, and there are Off Page ranking factors, that tend to be more difficult because they are not in your direct control. Let’s discuss the On Page ranking factors first.
On page ranking factors help search engines determine what a web page is all about. Your web pages must be relevant to the search being conducted. If your page contains words and terms that are relevant to the phrase that was searched, the relevance of your web page increases. Unfortunately, the search engines keep the exact algorithms for search ranking a secret. But every two years, Moz.com surveys the opinions of over 150 of the most respected names in search marketing who provide their opinions of the what they think are the most important ranking factors.
In the 2015 survey these included:
-Keyword Use: Putting your keywords in the title tag, in the main content of the page, using synonyms and close variations of the keyword, keywords in the page’s URL, in the headers on the page, in the anchor text, and in the image names and alt tags are all important in telling the search engines what your web pages are about. Keep in mind that every instance of the keyword on the page doesn’t need to be the same. You can use synonyms and connected terms to add value.
-Content Quality: The search engines also put a great deal of weight on the actual content on each and every page of your website, as well as the overall theme of each page. Google looks for content that is unique to your site. It looks at everything from spelling and grammar mistakes, to whether or not your are unnaturally repeating keywords over and over, to establish the quality of the content of your page and determine whether you are a trusted site. And, are you giving a visitor all the information that they need on the page or do they have to go looking around your site for more information? Your content needs to be comprehensive, clearly written, easy to scan, and it must include your keywords.
-Mobile friendliness is now a search ranking factor. If your website does not have a responsive design, this can hurt your search engine ranking.
-Page load speed is another search ranking factor that Google is paying more attention to. Page speed is so important to Google that it’s created a free Page Speed Checker for businesses to use to test the speed of their site. You can find it at https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
But just having the right keywords on your page isn’t enough for the search engines anymore. The search engines must deem your page to be important, as measured via citations or incoming links from other websites. Every site that links to yours, that the search engines trust, helps to increase your importance to the search engines and thereby your search rank.
Let’s discuss the most important ranking factors of Off Page Elements, according to Moz.com’s 2015 survey.
-Domain level link authority came in as the most important. This includes external links and how many different websites link to your overall website, the trust and authority of those websites as determined by the search engines, the rate at which new inbound links were added to your website, and whether or not the linking websites were relevant to your site. Were the sites in the same industry? Did they have the same general theme or did they have some similarities? If they did, Google will look more favorably upon them and value those links more than if the sites linking to you had nothing to do with your industry or website’s theme.
There are many, many other factors that effect search ranking, including what people do when they land on your website. Do they stay and visit other pages or do they hit the back button and leave immediately? Believe it or not, the search engines keep track of that behavior and use it as yet another ranking factor.
For the comprehensive list of the Moz 2015 Search Engine Ranking Factors, visit Moz.com.
So we’ve cleared up myths about the search engines and we’ve talked about various ranking factors that impact your search results, but where do you start?
No two companies will have the same SEO strategy. Search engine optimization efforts are unique to every company, big or small. As with any business effort, developing an SEO strategy for your website should start with planning.
Factors to take into account include:
-What product or service is your company trying to market?
-Who is your customer?
-Your unique selling proposition
-Current condition of your website
-Current content you have to work with (text, video, images, printed materials)
-Content you and other team members plan to create
-And last but certainly not least,What keywords do people use to find products or services like your company offers
Let’s take a few minutes to define what a keyword is.
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