I would be lying if I said I’ve never received a phone call from a friend saying they need help with SEO – they want to sky-rocket their business or to-be business to the top of Google’s search results in the shortest time possible, using strictly organic methods and by means involving the least amount of work. And heck, I don’t want to hinder their ambitions, but the reality is harsh: it’s Google – if it were as easy as they’d hoped than I’d imagine Ashley Madison would suddenly top the charts whenever someone searched the definition of adultery.
What is SEO and why is it important?
Before we can delve into the deeply mysterious and terrifying world of SEO, it’s crucial to first understand not only what SEO means but how it is applied in our modern technological age. SEO, the acronym for what is known as ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ is, in its most simple form, the practice of improving and promoting a website in order to increase the number of visitors that site receives from search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. It is a multi-dimensional system that, without sounding like a Sunday league football coach, serves to seperate the men from the boys or the flowers from the thorns.
It isn’t the intention of such harsh realities to scare you out of SEO, rather if you are able to understand and implement the fundamental building blocks of search, applying the correct SEO strategies with the goal of long-term success, it won’t seem so exhausting after all. In saying that, it’s best to focus on long-term results with SEO, as it’s pretty unlikely traffic to a site with no SEO will initially replicate more a quiet, back-country road in Alice Springs than a New York City Madison Square and Broadway.
Overall, the trick is consistency in all your SEO efforts. Google is smart, really smart – so don’t imagine drinking a Red Bull and telling him you’re ready to go on will be the answer to winning their trust, instead, the individuals that are willing to put in the time and effort, day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year are always the one’s who will achieve those long-term SEO goals of becoming one of Google’s top picks.
Basically the key to success lies in the creation and execution of a well-researched and well-rounded SEO strategy acknowledging the current trends, strategies and best practices of becoming Google’s best friend. Here we hope to equip you with the knowledge that not only brightens the dark arts of SEO, but inspires you to recognise, implement and execute consistent efforts to help your website and business slowly climb the ranks of Google ahead of your competitors.
With such a time-sucking relationship, a lot of people wonder why they should even bother investing efforts into this intangible thing known as SEO. Sure, it’s going to be a major pain in the arse and sometimes an unpleasant amount of work, but trust me when I say this, it will very much be worth every last effort when unlimited amounts of free organic traffic come rushing onto your website over time.
What are the best SEO practices for 2017?
See, Google is forever coming up with new ways they can filter and show the most relevant search results to each individual anywhere in the world. Trends and practices are always changing and what worked a few years ago may now be completely obsolete. Take for example link building – Jeff Deutsch, Ptengine‘s VP of Marketing wrote an entertaining article on his history and success with using black hat SEO tactics against Google for some years. And, while he became an illegitimately, successful SEO spammer millionaire, laughing hysterically at Google’s foolishness with his SEO spammer buddies and eating meals prepared by his personal chef, his success was always a ticking time-bomb. As Google continually changed the rules, Deutsch saw within 2 months his entire network of 5,000+ blogs completed de-indexed and dead, his $100,000 a month business finished when Google abolished what was known as ‘link building.’
The reason for the story is simple, everything Google has done over the years has been for the sole reason to increase relevancy. It’s goal is to display the most relevant results to its users in the fastest and most valuable manner possible. And, with an average of 3.5 billion searches per day on Google, it’s pretty important you and your business wriggle your way onto Google’s good side if you ever want your potential customers to find you.
Think of it this way SEO entails the three key components to Google’s analysis of relevancy. While there are over 200 various rules for relevancy dictated by Google, these three core components involve a mixture of signals that clarify how relevant your listing is to Google and the position in which you appear on its SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
Beneath all great SEO strategies is one recurrent theme, trust. Without Google’s trust, your website will not get very far, instead it’ll wither in the depths of page 10 beyond any known place visited by man. So, the key to consistently ranking higher on those illustrious first-page SERPs is trust. And, how one builds trust amongst Google is directed through the three core components of content, authority and age.
Adding value to the world is Google’s wish when you publish content to the public, particularly when it comes to written blogs. So, if you’re trying to bang out a week’s worth of content to simply fill holes, it’s likely the quality will suffer and Google will penalise. Think less is more. Content originality is key, keywords are important and combining all of these in a lengthy and engaging way will result in Google admiring your work and considering you more of a friend.
Just like we enjoy visiting and shopping at places recommended by friends and others, Google will analyse your site through other well-trusted Google friends linking to your site. As we talked about above, the days of spamming link building are over and creating endless dummy websites won’t do your rankings any justice. Instead, it’s again about quality, about respected websites linking to your site and shouting; “Hey, Google! These guys are pretty awesome!” Ideally, Google is aiming to see a strong link profile that tells Google you’re the real deal.
Growing older in real life sucks, but growing older in the eyes of Google is good. The third component of relevancy is based on your indexed age, the time not since your domain name was registered, but the time since Google discovered your webpage. Equally as important though is what your website has done in that time, simply having Google find you all those years ago isn’t enough. It boils down to that consistency over time, a combination of the links directing to your site and the content published over that time period. Think of it this way, simply standing there doesn’t bring indexed age, you need to leave footprints as you go.
Where can you start with your SEO in 2017?
Don’t cut corners and play nice
Google is aware of all the modern day tricks and trials that attempt to navigate the fact that if you’re new to Google, they simply will not trust you. The lesson is easy if you want to build trust and establish a healthy relationship with Google, do not try to bend the rules but rather think organically and how a long-term strategy will be more effective than trying to scam Google.
Think less is more
The aim here is quality over quantity, even if the internet told you to post three times a day regardless of how rubbish your content was – then you’re far from the money. Google can easily register your lack of quality and you’ll ultimately be penalised, doing yourself no favours in the process. The key is thinking less, even if it means one or two posts as week and making sure each piece is of high-quality and high-value to the user.
Make content your king
If Google’s aim is to provide users with the highest quality content in the shortest amount of time, then you’ll never stand a chance if you produce nothing but sub-par content. If we’re being completely honest, how often do you find yourself clicking past the first link on Google let alone the first page? It’s the reality – that top spot is crucial to being seen. So, by creating great quality content, content that users find extremely valuable, you get a lot closer to that top spot. Put the time and thought into everything you publish, because that’s what really counts. Ask yourself what value the person gets from reading your content or what question they wish to have answered upon reading your stuff. Remember consistency is key, continue to create great quality content to complement your already published great quality content.
Size does matter
This one is rather sad news admittedly, though it makes perfect sense. In a specific study done on Google’s rankings, it was determined that the first page of its SERPs holding the title of top spots all featured written content above 2,000 words. Currently, Google is in the process of trying to rid its SERPs of any website sporting what is known as ‘thin content.’ This is the content known as the bastard child to the superior, 2,000 plus word articles resting in the same searched keywords. In other words, you can’t expect to deliver high-value when skimping down on length – think laterally; high length equals high value – at least in Google’s eyes.
Good ole keywords
They haven’t alluded us yet keywords still play an important role in the world of SEO. There is a fine distinction between being a good copywriter and being a good SEO copywriter and the answer is in the keywords and LSI, or Latent Semantic Indexing keywords. Sounds terrifying right? The trick is to highlight, before you begin to write, the exact-match keywords for the content piece are, for example mine would currently be SEO, and to then identify similar phrases you might think relate to this primary keyword, try tools such as SEMRush or WordStream. It can be a difficult practice to do, but practice and persistence is key and it can be an extremely worthwhile exercise in the long run.
Mobile friendly is your friend
The truth is, mobile really needs to be your best friend, not just your friend. According to a report by Search Engine Land, nearly 60 percent of Google searches now come from mobile devices, meaning if your website isn’t optimised for mobile, people aren’t going to have a very good experience when they do eventually find you. Google is equally focused on the rising trend of mobile experience in it’s relevancy and value-adding ranking.
Let people know where you are
Ever noticed when you Google a particular term in a particular location you’ll always receive a particular result but it might be a different result somewhere else? Unsurprisingly, this is no coincidence as Google acknowledges location as a key component to relevancy standings. By aiming to reference your businesses location everywhere you can, you’re going a long way to boosting your search visibility as a local business. Even going as far as noting what section of town you’re in, what sports team plays across the street, or what park is around the corner will all help strengthen your relationship with Google.
While it’s easy to underestimate the time-commitment of good SEO practice, it’s also easy to be scared off by the complexity of it all. In reality, this is exactly what makes its entirety so inviting and exciting, at least for some. If executing good SEO practice in the eyes of Google was as easy as updating a few meta descriptions and installing the Yoast plugin on your WordPress site, then everyone would be doing it and finding valuable content would be near impossible. So let this be the year you knuckle down your SEO with consistent, high-quality and high-value content that is lengthy but not superfluous and keyword centric but not keyword saturated. Good luck!