What is SEO and how do I get my site ranked on Google?

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for those that don’t know is the term us marketing people use for anything involving getting your website to rank on Google (and the other search engines) without buying advertising. Also know an organic search as you rank on Google ‘organically’ ie by not paying and relying on the Google algorithm

Even if you know the basics of SEO it will no doubt make you go cross eyed at times trying to keep up with all the conflicting and ever changing information out there. Do keywords still count, how many do I need or is it all about context now? Can I still pay people to link back to my site? If I make a mistake will my site get buried with horrible Google penalties?


Where Google is going

Google’s aim is to continually make their results as close to the intent of the searcher as possible. This will never be perfect and so the way Google ranks websites will continually change as the algorithm is updated.

People will also continually try and game the system as it evolves. So SEO will always be changing and if you want to take it seriously either you follow the latest developments in SEO or you pay someone you trust to do this for you

You can see for yourself how it is evolving. When you search for things like ‘best restaurant’ ‘best hotel’ or ‘best tv’, back in the day you would have got a bunch of individual businesses coming back in the search results. You had no idea if you could trust these guys and how helpful is that?

Instead now if you try these searches you will get helpful articles, comparison and reviews dominating the search results. Much more useful, right?

Sorry to say this but though your business means everything to you, it means nothing to the users out there. They just want the best information delivered in an easy to understand way. So you need to make sure you can match your business (and on SEO, your page specifically) as the solution to their problem.

The #1 thing you can do to get your site ranked

We’re going to run through some of the important ways Google has changed and what this means if you want to rank on Page 1 but let’s just neatly summarise it first.

Forget all the technical things you hear about (though they count) if you had to start your SEO from scratch and focus on one aspect of it, then the biggest signal you can send to Google your content deserves to be ranked, is creating long form (think 1000 words+), quality, well written content, specialised around one subject (rather than trying to cover as many keywords as possible).

But like the tree falling in the forest that noone hears, Google needs signals that people are finding this content relevant. The biggest signal is a link back to your content from a relevant site that is that is already considered an authority by Google. The greater the authority rank of the site, the more the link counts. For example a link from the BBC is worth 20 or 30 links from small blogs with not much quality content. Maybe even more

Put those 2 together and you will see a bigger impact on your site than all the other factors combined

Brian Dean, one of the leading SEO experts out there (and we have done his excellent SEO That Works course) recently did an analysis of over 1 million search results and found the number of links coming from other unique websites had the strongest correlation to a websites position on Google

However the content on your website that these sites are linking to needs to be comprehensive and long – this send the signal to Google that your content is high quality and thus will provide more value to the people searching for it Also there was a strong correlation between word length and Google position. The average word count on a first page result on Google is 1,890 words. So next time you want to churn out another 500 word blog post have a think if it’s worth the effort in creating a longer post that has a much better chance of being ranked on page 1

Forget even about technical issues and algorithms. If you create awesome content that blows existing articles on the subject out the water, people will naturally want to share you content, sign up to your email list and generally treat you as an authority. It’s win win.

Site usability in 2016

In another post we’ll cover the essentials you need to have on your site to help you rank. They haven’t changed but have lessened in importance. If you’re not so familiar with this, these include:

  • Making sure the right keywords are distributed intelligently through your site
  • That you have a well thought out way of using hyperlinks to link all the various pages of your site (especially if it’s a big site)
  • Putting keywords in your page titles, headings etc
  • And many smaller ones (there are over 250 signals Google looks at for each website!)
  • Speed of your site
  • The mobile experience (have you checked if your mobile site is approved by Google?)

But one significantly growing factor we want to share with is how searchers interact with your site once they find it on search. Moz, another very respected source of SEO information did a big survey of SEO agencies recently and asked them what they thought were key SEO signals that were on the increase. The general opinion was how users interact with your site (ie how much time do they spend, what do they click on etc) is becoming a more and more important signal, while the more traditional signals are either static in importance or decline

Google gives you a wealth of information about how your users interact with your site. You want to optimise your underperforming pages for what users are actually searching for, rather than what you thought they were searching for. There is always a gap and this is why constant review of your web traffic is essential.

These are the 3 questions you want to ask
  1. Is my content matching the intent of the visitors I’m receiving?
  2. Based on this intent, is the way I appear on search results enticing users to click?
  3. Does my page allow users to complete their task?

So take a look at some of your under performing pages (your pages that are doing well on the rankings you can always go back and optimise at a later date) and the key things you want to review:

  1. Page matches the searcher’s intent: The page has a high probability of being what the user is actually looking for.

Use Google Search Console or any similar tool and look for pages with a good amount of impressions on the search results but a low click through rate – people are seeing your website on the results but something is holding them back from clicking on it and you can fix that.

Take some time to think about the user intent and make sure the content is completely relevant to the searcher’s intent. Then you can update the following on your page so it is far more enticing to users to click it on the searches

  1. Title tag
  2. Meta description
  3. Page title and headers
  4. Body text
  5. Call to action

Don’t worry if you don’t know what all this means, it’s really easy to update and we’ll be doing an in-depth guide to this soon. Make sure the actual keyword queries people are using in the search feature in your search results information

The more people click on your site the stronger to Google that your page is relevant plus you get more traffic.

  1. Task completion on your page. Once people arrive at your site, are they able to complete the task that they were searching for the solution to?

In many cases the answer is ‘no or with difficulty’. Then they’ll bounce off your site and you lose a potential customer forever and it’s a negative signal to Google

So you need to re-evaluate your page and make it both clear and immediate how your page will solve the user’s problems.

A good way to look at this is ‘Will the user’s needs have been completely answered by my page or will they need to go back to Google for more information?’

If the answer is yes, the interaction will send signals to Google that a user spent time on your page, they completed a task and there was not a need to go back to Google and search for similar sites. And it’s these kind of signals that are growing in importance

Let’s take this back to the ‘best restaurant’ example. If you own a restaurant, there is no point trying to push you restaurant on someone searching  for this as they are looking for a range of options.

However, if you’re willing to put yourself out there as an expert and put out an objective list (remember think long form, comprehensive and quality) with reviews, hours, maps and reviews from TripAdvisory, Yelp etc etc then you’ve given the user what they wanted, you have a great piece of content you can share on social media, positive signals sent ki988`\to Google and if you’re really thought ahead you will have the page optimised so people will join your email list.

We hope that’s given you some good ideas on how to make sure your sites rank in 2016. We never said it would be simple but if focus  on being an expert and creating awesome content that matches what people are searching for you will be on the right path.

You can book a free consultation with us anytime and we’ll happily take a look over how your site is currently performing on Google and give you some helpful advice you can implement right away