Google has wised up. Forget trying to cheat your way to a higher Google ranking. It wants to deliver relevant, fresh and interesting websites to its users. Recognise that and you are halfway to the top of the search results.
In SEO circles it’s often said: “The best place to hide a dead body is on the 2nd page of Google”. Research by Backlinko showed that less than 1% of Google searchers clicked on something from the second page.
If you want a first-page ranking you’ll need to be nice to Penguin, Panda and Pigeon. These are the names given to the latest algorithm updates used by Google to rank your website. Here’s how to make them happy…
1. Create a rich site with useful information
Position your organisation as an authoritative thought-leader. Comment on trends in your industry and offer tips and short-cuts to improve the business of your audience. You probably have more expertise than you realise.
Conduct research. Lots of research. Survey your audience to get statistics on the market sector(s), then deliver it back to them in the form of reports, quick videos, infographics, PowerPoints and blog articles. Check ‘A practical guide to content marketing‘.
2. It’s not about you; it’s about your audience
I worked at a company who optimised their website for the phrase ‘sales acceleration’. They were convinced it was a winner. It wasn’t.
While they were searching for ‘sales acceleration’, their audience was looking for ‘B2B telemarketing’. To prove my point, I used Google Adwords to get figures on the number of people searching for these phrases in the UK. Approximately 4,000 people per month search for ‘B2B telemarketing’… and just 40 searched for ‘sales acceleration’.
I changed the website to optimise for B2B telemarketing and the visitors flooded in. It’s not about you; it’s about them. Use tools such as WordTracker or Google Keyword Planner to discover the popular words and phrases your audience is using.
3. Important words should be text, not images
Google likes pictures, but it cannot read them. It can read the text associated with the pictures (see below), but not the image itself. So any important words should be text.
If they are really important words make sure they are highlighted as H1 or H2 in your HTML – Google still associates importance to these tags even though they are as old as the Ark (which in internet terms is probably 20 years).
4. Add descriptions to image names and attributes
If you are going to use images, then name and attribute them correctly. So if you have an image on your site offering a 10% discount on all smartphones until the end of August, don’t give the image a title of ‘smartphones.jpg’ or worse ‘photo100816.jpg’. Name it ‘smart_phone_sale.jpg’ and add an alt tag ‘Smart Phone Sale 10% discount ends August’.
5. Make pages for humans not for search robots
More than anything, Google wants to deliver what it calls ‘natural’ websites. Sites that are written for humans. Sites that are easy for humans to digest. Sites that will encourage humans to return because they had a good experience.
If you write for robots and search algorithms, your visitors will find it difficult to read. Your repeat visitors will drop, and your bounce rate will be high. Google monitors these stats as well as scoring your use of natural grammar. Picture a typical customer and construct pages for them.
Avoid using tricks designed to get you a higher Google ranking. Google knows what they are and will deduct points if you use them. Always ask yourself “Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?” If the answer is Yes, you are producing the type of natural website that Google now loves.
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