Google has fine-tuned its algorithms many times over the years, making it a challenge for businesses that rely on web search referrals to keep up. The truth is, unless you play by Google’s rules, you won’t achieve a top spot in the search engine results which many companies rely on to make their website and blog profitable. Here are four tips that will help you get up to speed.
1. Content must be well written and relevant. Gone are the days when a webmaster could stuff a lot of keywords into an article to get the search engine spiders’ attention. Now, it will get spiders’ attention, but may actually result in a lower site ranking. The Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird algorithms all focus on encouraging webmasters to provide relevant, high-quality web content over the spammy stuffing of keywords. What constitutes quality content in Google’s eyes? Here are a few quality control questions according to the Google’s Inside Search blog.
- Is the information trustworthy?
- Is it grammatically correct and free of spelling and factual errors?
- Do the topics line up with the interests of the site’s visitors?
- Will people want to bookmark, share, or recommend the page?
- Is the content above the fold, or does it take second place to ads?
- Have you situated yourself to be the best source for the information?
- Are the articles lengthy and full of useful information, or are you still using the old-school shallow content style?
2. Your keywords should attract legitimate buyers. You could bring in lots of web traffic by using broad keywords. But what good is it if these visitors don’t buy anything or take the next step? There are two types of people searching online: those who want free information and those who want to make a purchase. Which would you prefer?
Google has caught on to internet marketers who load a site with buyer keywords, and then don’t give searchers what they’re looking for. For instance, if someone searches for “buy a red leather chair,” and lands on your site to find an article about something else, they’ll click away in a heartbeat. And in the new world of Google, a site that gets too many bounces will suffer in the rankings.
Instead of trying to game the system, Google wants you to use the keywords to improve a buyer’s experience with your site. If you don’t sell red leather chairs or provide buying guides to purchasing leather furniture, don’t use keywords that give the impression that you do. And if you do sell them, make it easy for visitors to see your red leather chair options.
Here are some buyer keywords that, if used correctly, can help visitors find your content.
- Lowest price
In today’s environment, the customer’s experience needs to be your focus. If the keywords make things easier for them, Google will reward you with a higher ranking. If not, you could see your site’s ranking decline.
3. Titles are more important than you think. The title of your webpage or blog post is the first thing people see, and it’s critical. According to analysis conducted by Takipi, blog post titles that make use of certain patterns or words rank in the top 20 percent of viral shares. Here are some of the highlights from the research.
- Shocking words get more shares. Words like “kill,” “fear,” “dark,” and “bleeding” tend to rank as most shared. For instance, a TechCrunch post titled “Why We Need To Kill ‘Big Data’” was one of the top five shares of the year.
- Negativity rules. Negative words such as “not,” “without,” and “don’t” do better than their positive counterparts.
- Numbers in a title make posts go viral more often. According to the study, the higher the number the better. It also helps to start your title with the number — in digit form, not spelled out.
- Piggyback on big brands. If you reference Twitter, Google, Facebook, Apple, or other hot brands and topics in your title, your content stands a better chance of getting shared. Amazingly, about a third of the most shared posts weren’t even about the brands themselves, but the author included them in the title to create interest.
4. Content should drive social shares. A QuickSprout infographic shows that when a website received 100 Google+ followers to its Google+ business page, it experienced a 14.63 percent increase in its search engine placement.
Moz.com’s 2013 Search Engine Ranking Factors study revealed that social signals, particularly Facebook shares and Google +1s are important. Here are some ways you can convince visitors to share your blog or other content.
- How-to and list posts get 47 percent more shares.
- Post content when your site experiences the most traffic so more people will see it.
- Adding a thumbnail image to an article headline increases click engagement and content discovery by 27 percent.
- Write content for the humans who engage in social media — not the spiders.
- Make sure you have the social media buttons within easy reach of visitors.
Google has changed its search engine to keep up with internet user demand for relevant, engaging, shareable content. If you can provide this on your website and/or blog, you and Google just might become the best of friends.