SEO today is nothing what it once was. As search engines age and the algorithms driving them become more advanced "the rules of search ranking" continue to be shaped. Where web masters could once-upon-a-time stuff keywords in white text on a white background to have bots crawl the page information, the act of doing such a thing now could see your site permanently de-listed. Also, the small fact that Google doesn't even consider meta tags anymore.
No. Today, today it is about information, it's about informing. It's about the quality of your content.
The better your content, the more people are willing to like, share, subscribe & link to your website. Despite having over 200 ranking factors in their algorithm, we understand that the 2 most important factors in determining search rankings in Google happen to be backlinks & content.
A good way to think about SEO, or more specifically, Google's search algorithms, is to picture them as a baby. You feed a baby quality nutrients to help them grow.
The baby here represents the ranking algorithms. 2 key factors:
- The baby knows nothing about anything really. You must 'feed' the algorithm information regarding your website
- It takes time to grow
Below we discuss some of the important factors surrounding SEO in 2018
When we talk about backlinks we simply refer to any website that links to your website or web page. At the very minimum, website owners should aim to receive links from relevant and quality sites that raise your credibility. Doing so helps to improve your credibility from the search engines perspective, helping to rank your site in search results.
Anchor text is the text in which the link is embedded. Another name for it is a hyperlink. For instance, we have linked to another website for the word backlinks above.
Why do backlinks matter?
Backlinks are important because they let search engines know that your website is credible. And, just like receiving backlinks are important, linking to credible sources is equally significant. Don't link to spammy articles and expect to be gifted #1 rankings. This is true for not only search engine algorithms, but for your audiences sake too.
None of the above-mentioned matters if you create content that appears to be of poor quality. To create content, think of what you can offer on whatever subject matter your website may be to do with. It doesn't matter if you are the bakery on the corner or Forbes, the quality of the content is what determines the ranking of a website. Think about it. If Forbes were to start producing exceptionally poor quality information, who'd read it? Their position as a credible source of information would diminish and they'd suffer the consequences drastically. This is exactly how you should think about the content you post to your customers/audience.
Here's a rough guide to start you off on the correct path:
- What industry are you in?
- Who are the people likely to be reading your content?
- Research and become a thought-leader (Here's an example of a potato article - Notice how in-depth the content is? They rank second for the keyword potatoes because of this)
- Link to reputable sources
The website linking to you also (generally speaking) has to be of 'good quality'. It should also be relevant to your industry. If I'm a GP clinic, a link from a landscaping business isn't exactly going to do wonders for my ranking.
Once more, content is king. Content Quality is crucial. Content that's unique, relevant, and of quality, is the absolute key to ranking success and the holy-grail first page.
We are keeping everything as simple, relevant and user-friendly as possible. As such, we will only cover the very fundamental underpinnings of modern on-page SEO. This is because a majority of our readers are small businesses, SME's and people just learning the ropes in the world of digital marketing. We will cover SEO in far greater detail in a future article that will be for the 'advanced' digital marketing experts out there.
Keywords are an exceptionally important variable in on-page SEO. For example, our keyword for this article is SEO (if you couldn't tell). Our home-page keywords are digital marketing, website design, SEO, SMM & SEM. If we were electricians, our keyword would be electrician. If we owned a plumbing business, the keyword for our home page would be plumber, or some variation of plumber, like 'best plumber'. You want to use your targeted keyword frequently on the given page, but don't overdo it. Google will penalise sites that go overboard. As a rule-of-thumb, keep it to about 1-2% of text (keyword/total words). Most importantly -make it appear natural!
This is the (generally) BOLD text that appears at the top of the web page, known in an acronym form to be h1 to h6.
The h1 tag defines your target keyword, the most important keyword to your website/business, with each ascending header tag being of lesser relevance. Header tags are used by Google as a relevancy signal (according to this correlation article).
We first mentioned that next to content, links are an equal second in terms of the largest factors determining search ranking. At its very core, links are important only if they come from "authoritative sites". And the idea behind gathering these links is to build your website to an authoritative position. You can think of links providing something we call "link juice". Link juice will 'flow' through from the linking domain to your domain. If you link your website pages together (example; buttons to contact page) the "link juice" will trickle to these pages, thus increasing their ranking.
Having a website that isn't responsive to varying device widths is a major red-flag in today's times. Google themselves (John Muellerl, Webmaster Trends Analyst) have said they prefer websites that have the ability to 'adapt' to different devices.
Page Load Time
The speed at which your website delivers content to its users is an important one. In fact, it is a ranking factor. At the core, you want to focus on these main variables when it comes to decreasing speed.
Your code that allows users to view, engage and interact with the content can be quite intensive, especially for websites built on website builders such as; Wix, Squarespace, WordPress, etc. If you have a website from one of these DIY builders, you will want to minify your code. The process of doing so will make it harder to read but will improve site speed drastically. As a testament to how much this can impact your website, our home-page has 31 lines of code, yet we've seen home-page's with over 30x this amount!
- Image size
By reducing the size of your images, the byte's needing to be delivered to your users can be reduced significantly. Before adding any images, compress! Check out this tool.
Search engine optimisation is a significant and continuing investment that you ought to invest in for the future of your business when operating online. SEO is ever-evolving, and over time, search engines-particularly Google-have been making a steady push for factors that are really essential in receiving an excellent search engine marketing score. Thus, go at your own pace and make certain that you do as much SEO on your website as possible.