What is good SEO?
Back in the late nineties when the Internet first started, it was easy for businesses to obtain SEO results. Set up a few backlinks, get the right words in your site meta tags, and boom, you could have a website ranking in Google in no time.
In the years since, SEO has grown to be far more complex. With the Internet becoming a regular part of our day to day lives, the digital world has never been more competitive. Google has now learned to detect deceptive, black-hat SEO techniques, and what worked twenty years ago doesn’t cut it anymore.
While it may be more challenging to take out the coveted number one spot in Google search results, there are three important aspects of SEO that have remained the same over the years. No matter what the latest trend may be, search engines are always looking for relevance, authority and trustworthiness, and to be successful in SEO, you need to nail all three.
But before we dive any deeper, let’s take a moment to go back to basics.
An SEO Refresher
As the name suggests, search engine optimisation is the practice of continually refining your website to ensure it ranks in targeted organic search results. Good SEO should increase the volume of quality traffic visiting your site by maximising the visibility and searchability of your online presence.
How Does It Work?
The goal of a search engine is to identify which web pages best match a given search query. To do this, Google needs to sort through all the pages it can find on the web. This is where search engine bots come in. Also known as web crawlers, spiders or spider bots, search engine bots are automated software robots that crawl, index and rank your site.
Crawling & Indexing
As soon as a search engine bot reaches your site, it will crawl through all of your discoverable pages and begin indexation. The bot will analyse all of the headlines, text paragraphs, images and videos that it can find on your site and store the information in its database.
When a search is performed, Google will access all the pages it has previously crawled to display a series of results in the SERP (search engine results page). All of the pages will be ranked according to what Google deems to be most relevant, with the most valuable results appearing on the first page.
How to Build Relevancy
One of the best ways to earn a strong reputation with Google is to provide high quality content. By filling your website with unique, informative content that demonstrates your areas of expertise, you are in turn building relevancy for search queries related to your business. It’s all about presenting and structuring your content in a way that that promotes the best possible User Experience (UX).
Keep It Current
It’s important to ensure all of your content provides the most up to date information. Google will not look upon your site favourably if it provides old or false content that is misleading to the user.
Rather than filling your site with lengthy paragraphs, break it up into smaller sections under clear headings to make it easier for the user to read. Include descriptive headings in a hierarchy from H1 to H6, with H1 being the main header of the page.
Provide SERP Context
When scrolling through the SERP, users will only be provided with a snippet of your content. It’s important to use meta tags and descriptions to craft an accurate overview of your page and ensure users have the right context before clicking through to your site. This will in turn minimise bounce rates and improve UX.
Link Your Content
Internal linking enables you to connect various pages of your website together to make it easier for users to browse and navigate your content. You can use internal linking to help guide the user’s journey, and to increase individual page authority by leveraging off high-ranking content on your own site.
Streamline Your Site Structure
It pays to have a well-organised website architecture with content grouped into clearly defined silos and URL structures. Remove irrelevant and unnecessary pages and categorise your content to make it easier for users to find the information they need.
Increase Authority & Trust
If Google has one priority, it’s to provide its users with the best possible search engine experience. When ranking various pages in the SERP, Google is not only looking for the most relevant content. It also wants to ensure the information is coming from an authoritative and trustworthy source. Here are some of the ways you can build authority and trust in your site.
Backlinks may not be the quick and easy win they once were, but a single backlink from the right site can have a significant impact on your SEO. It’s all about leveraging sites with higher domain authority than your own to associate your site with domains that Google already considers to be trustworthy. For example, government sites and major, longstanding brands could pass link equity on to your website, while spammy links from unreliable, low quality sites could have the opposite effect.
To aid in the process of obtaining quality backlinks, you can arrange to have your content republished on trusted, third-party sites. If you are an expert in your field, content syndication could be an effective strategy to distribute your content and leverage link equity from sites with higher domain authority.
Google Business Profile
Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business or GMB) can improve your authority by quite literally putting your business on the map. With a Google Maps presence and a detailed, up to date GMB profile that links back to your site, you are demonstrating that your business has credibility. You can further strengthen your authority with regular GMB posting as well as Google reviews from your customers, suppliers and stakeholders.
An easy way to build trust is to install a secure certificate (SSL) across all of your web pages. While Google has suggested a securely encrypted website is only a small ranking factor, most browsers will alert its user if a site is not secure. It may not have a major effect on what Google thinks, but your visitors will be likely to lose trust in your site and your brand.
Testimonials and Reviews
Testimonials and reviews from real life customers are extremely valuable. Positive reviews from verified sources prove to Google that your business is reliable, while providing prospective customers with confidence in your products and services.
Enhance Your User Experience
When improving your SEO, you always need to put the user first, rather than focussing on activities that may win you favour with search engine bots. By strengthening your UX and following SEO best practice, you will naturally end up with a search engine friendly site.
There are many factors that can impact your site and its UX. For example, slow page loading times and server speeds can cause frustration and negatively impact the user, potentially leading them to leave your website. When Google crawls and indexes your site, it will review a range of technical factors, including site speed to ensure it only has the fastest, most responsive sites on page one of the SERP.
It’s worthwhile having a UX specialist review your site and optimise your design to ensure you’re providing an experience that will engage real people, not just the robots.
The Key to SEO Success
While relevancy, authority and trustworthiness are all vital components of search engine optimisation, it’s overly simplistic to suggest that SEO is only comprised of three key factors. Much like the Google algorithm itself, SEO is complex and intricate, and it requires a certain level of finesse to really get it right.
The main takeaway here is that SEO trends come and go, but these three pillars will always remain. If you’re looking to strengthen your SEO and build a strong foundation of relevancy, authority and trust.
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