Anyone who has tried to rank a website always asks this question:
What Does Google Want?
Some of the answers can be surprising. We keep hearing all of these do-don’t-do pieces of advice from all over the web, but how reliable are they really? Is there a “formula” for ranking? Here’s a couple hints from some SEO-savvy blogs that use very detailed metrics to show, in a “normalized” way, what current tops sites use to keep their rankings. SearchMetrics Produced a New Infographic that outlines several factors you may not have taken into account.
- Branding. The bigger brand, the better (and the easier). Most of the big brands have a big social presence (as you would expect), and Google sees it. This means their actual websites dont; necessarily have to be “perfect”, or even that good. They can survive on reputation alone. Lesson: If you’re not a big brand, and if you don’t have s super spectacular websites, make sure you make your social presence known. (Hint: Google+)
- Social Media. See #1.
- Backlinks and Headings (and keywords.. oh my). H1 headings (and titles) have always been the most prominent on-page SEO factors. Now, Google seems to be – not discounting, but at least de-emphasizing keywords when found in H1 headings. So, what does this mean? It means that great article you titled using all of the best keywords related to your topic, may not have the oomph it once had. And, the title length is problematic now – too long of a title is not good. Lesson: Keep it simple. Use simple keywords and keep the title short. Don’t try to oversell your title. And, keep up the backlinking. Just do it as naturally as you can.
- Exact Match Domains. This is a tough one. Keywords in your domains should be there for a reason – to describe, to the visitor, what your domain is about. It doesn’t really matter if there is less of an SEO boost with EMD now, does it? If your site is about “picnic baskets”, wouldn’t picnicbaskets.com still be the best option? Lesson: Use keyword-rich domain names when possible. But, don’t expect it to be an SEO panacea.
- Quality Content. Sigh. We’re back to this again. One “guru” says quality doesn’t matter, another one says its the “cat’s pajamas”. Since Google is always monitoring bounce rates and time on site, it just makes sense to conclude that if you have crappy content, you’re losing visitors. I vote on the side of at least trying to make your content worthwhile and interesting. Lesson: Try to make you site something you’d like to visit and read.
An SEO “Formula”?
Unfortunately, these tips are far from being a “formula”. The common SEO suggestions still stand the test of time:
- Readable title based on interesting keywords (H1 tag)
- Other heading tags scattered around the content. Also bold and italics
- Good content with well placed images
- Pay attention to social signals
- Appropriate backlinks
Keep these in mind when you are writing a blog post. Other than that, it’s just all smoke and mirrors.
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