Good SEO isn’t about tricking Google into showing your website above all the others that are just like it. It’s about creating the outstanding content that people are searching and making it easier for Google to understand.
There is no comprehensive list of things to do that will ensure your website ranks number one for all the keywords you’d like – but there are some things that you definitely should do that will help.
Know Your Audience
Who is looking for what you are selling, and how do they describe it? People often write website content containing the words they use to describe their own products and services. But your customers don’t know your industry’s lingo and may not call it the same thing you do. Your knowledge and expertise in your industry is deeper than theirs. For example, I could write a ton of content about improving the visibility of websites by matching content to searchers’ intent – but most people are going to search something more like “make my site number one in Google”, so I need to use phrases like that. Google understands synonyms and is pretty good at understanding words and phrases with similar meanings, but it is best to make sure you use phrases that the people you are trying to reach would use.
This does not mean you should stuff your content with a single keyword over and over again. It does mean write for your audience – naturally and in terms they know and understand.
Just Answer the Question
Think like the searcher:
- What are they looking for?
- What are they trying to do? What are the problems they are trying to solve?
- Are they looking for information, or are they looking to buy?
Google’s main objective is to give its users the best search results for whatever it is they are looking for. That should also be one of the main goals of your content.
When you write your content be sure to give users what they are looking for. If they are looking for information, don’t create content that is nothing more than a sales pitch. Give them the info, along with the opportunity to learn how your service or product is of use to them.
The searcher’s query (keyword) is the question. Your content is the answer.
What to do:
Be useful by giving the searcher the answer to their query. Make it clear in your page’s title and meta description that you have the answer. The title should always match the content of the page. If it doesn’t, the visitor is more likely to leave quickly (bounce), which sends Google a signal that your content was not what they were looking for.
Reaffirming That Your Content Has The Answer
Google needs to know what your content is about in order to show it for the right search terms.
One of the main ways Google does that is through on-page signals. Simply put: If you want Google to show your page for a phrase that people use to describe your service or product, that phrase (or something very similar) should be on the page.
Internal links from related pages on your site using anchor text that is descriptive of the content are also important. If you sell Blue Widgets, the link to your page full of blue widgets should say “Blue Widgets”, not something generic like “Click Here”.
There are also off-site signals, such as links to your site from third-party sites. A third-party citation of your content from a reliable and relevant source tells Google that an actual person with a good reputation thinks your content is about blue widgets and it is good enough to cite it.
This idea that links are kind of like votes is where SEO went off the rails and earned a bad reputation. Short-sighted spammers manipulated those off-site signals by placing links anywhere and everywhere – often building sites just for the purpose of gaming the system. Because of that, Google has found several effective ways to tell the difference between a legitimate endorsement and “linkspam” which is meant to be deceptive. Links to your site do still matter, but it is all about quality, not quantity.
“Building” links is risky. “Earning” links is what you need to do.
What to do:
Reach out to bloggers and journalists at reputable websites to let them know about your content. That is easier said than done, but the important thing is if your content is well written and serves a purpose other than being a sales pitch, the writers and editors you reach out to will know if it will be of use to their audience or if it will add value to their own content in some way. Be sure to do a little research on the people and websites you contact so you can effectively explain why your content will benefit them.
Wrap it up in a nice package
All the great content in the world isn’t going to mean much if Google (and people) have trouble accessing it. Make sure your website not only functions well, but is easy for anyone to find their way around. Look professional Use interesting titles for your pages that accurately describe the content. Make your navigation menu is easy to use and understand. Make sure that each page on your website is not exactly the same as another page. Make it fast. Make it easy to read with clean, legible fonts and appropriate headings to separate sections of longer pages or blog posts.
This may sound too simple, like it is missing the secret recipe to getting top rankings. That’s because the main concept of good SEO really is simple: The more you focus on serving the searcher’s needs, the more you will benefit.
- The searcher gets what they want – a good answer to their search query.
- Google gets what they want – satisfied searchers who will continue using Google search because they got what they wanted.
- You get what you want – higher visibility in Google search, and the “free” organic traffic that comes with it.
The concept of good SEO is the easy part. If you need help with the harder parts – like finding and dealing with technical SEO issues, or promoting your content so the right people see it – we can help. Get in touch.