It was 2009 when things weren’t as crazy. That was when I started getting my feet wet in the world of internet marketing. And very quickly, I realized that there were a lot of scams roaming around and throwing out crazy acronyms like SoLoMo, FOMO, etc. 9 years later, all those acronyms seems pretty normal to me.
In fact, I use them almost every day.
But the one acronym that stuck with me since day one was SEO or search engine optimization. This was the one thing that people were always confused about how to execute. And different people gave different advice on how to succeed in it.
And to this day, I see that no one really is confident about which SEO strategy they can use to be successful.
And that’s why folks, we will be breaking it down in this post. By the end, you will be able to improve your website along with your search rankings.
Giddy up pony.
What is SEO?
There is so much that you already know but you are not aware of.
If you have ever searched for anything on Google, then you already know so much about SEO. All you have to do is think about how the search engine works behind the scenes to give you those results.
Let’s say that you are searching for the best laptop covers.
Now there are a couple different things going behind the scenes that you don’t know about.
- You want to see the covers that you love (that make you look interesting and cool, etc.)
- Every search engine wants to provide you with the best, most relevant results possible. So that you will keep coming to search for more information.
- Any business that is selling laptop covers always wants to be the first search result that you see when you search (this helps them sell more laptop covers).
It is the search engine’s job to ensure that you get the best, most relevant search results possible.
Now there are a lot of strategies that SEO professionals use to make the website appear higher in search results. And that’s what we want to learn.
Because if you can rank higher, you will get a ton of new people clicking on your website and making you money.
And if people cannot find your website in the search results, then you will basically be handing over all that money to your competitors.
So now you might be asking yourself: what are the different factors that I can control that affect the search?
Great question. Here we go.
Factors That Affect Search Results
According to SearchEngineJournal, there are around 200 different factors that Google’s search algorithm takes into account before delivering the results for a search query.
Obviously, no one knows all of those factors, or else we would all be millionaires. But there are a lot of guesses. Which means that there are a lot of different ways a person can get their website to rank higher in the search results.
If you take a look at this nifty little image I took from Google’s interactive resources section, you will notice a couple of things.
What Is Your Question
The very first thing Google tries to understand is what are you trying to ask it. And to narrow down the meaning of your question, it uses a technology called the Knowledge Graph.
With the help of this technology, the algorithm finds out what your query is and based on that, it decides whether it should present you with a definition, a graph, a map or maybe something else.
You also might have noticed that Google tries to guess what you are searching for by showing instant suggestions. That’s one of the ways it is narrowing down your search query.
What’s Your Location
To take things up a notch, Google also takes into account your location. Let’s say that you searched for “authentic Chinese food” on Google. It does some thinking and decides that instead of showing you a brief history of Chinese authentic food, maybe you’d like to see a list of restaurants near you that offer authentic Chinese food.
This also helps local businesses who are up to date on their SEO strategies. Because when they optimize their website and social properties like Google Places, etc. their websites will show up in the searches when someone puts in such a query.
Who Created It
Google loves to reward people who create great content. And to be honest, that’s a great thing because a lot of energy and time goes into creating amazing content.
One way Google rewards content creators is once an author completes the Google Authorship verification, they get a special designation for all the authors who have verified Google+ account.
Once you do that, you will notice that in the search results, you will see a small author byline next to your content.
Isn’t that really cool?
Do Your Friends Like It?
Recently Google has been using this new factor that takes into account your social network. It’s called the “social search”.
What it does, is it finds content like blog posts, photos, restaurant reviews, etc. that were created by your friends and contacts. Google considers these people to be in your “social circle.”
The reason it does that is because you are more likely to click on a search result that tells you that Becky (your best friend) also likes Jimmy’s Pizza.
Why wouldn’t you click on that search result and try to find out why Becky likes it.
How Was It Shared
Google has been taking the social factors more and more into account lately. They try to see your social network to provide you with personalized results. Not only that, based on the social shares a content has received, also influences the position of where it will rank in the search results.
What this means, is that the more social shares like Facebook likes, and Google “+1s” a particular blog post gets, the chances of it ranking higher are pretty good.
And this makes total sense because nowadays people are spending more and more time on social media and less time reading content. In other words, they are spending more time on social media with their friends, instead of searching for something new.
And Google wants to make sure that whenever someone searches for something, they are providing the most relevant information so that people trust the search engine.
What Device You’re Using
You will also get different results based on what device you are using.
And this is a very practical thing.
Imagine you were trying to search for the best restaurants near you, but Google thought that you were searching from your home desktop. You wouldn’t get the best results.
If you are searching something from a laptop, it is possible that you are in your leisure time and want to see something cool. But if you’re on your phone, then you instantly want to see the phone number of that restaurant and get a reservation.
And when you combine all those search factors, you realize that our search results would be completely different. This is because of the people we know, who we are and what type of device we are using to search.
So What Is The Job of An SEO?
When everything is said and done, you want to know what your SEO guy is doing. Or maybe you just want to find out what you should be doing to achieve your goal of ranking higher.
Right off the bat, I’d like to say that there are a ton of ways SEOs can get a website to rank higher. Some are riskier than others but they get the same goal.
But, there are a couple of common practices that you will hear from every SEO:
Website Optimization, aka, On-Page Optimization
This is the beginning of the journey.
Every solid SEO strategy starts off by ensuring that the technical side of the website is taken care of.
Google finds information on your website by crawling it. And it is the SEO’s job to make sure that the Big G can easily find all the information it is looking for on your website.
Another thing that lots of SEO do, is perform a technical audit. This is the ensure that there are no other factors on the website that are interfering with the Google crawling.
Research and Optimizing the Keywords
The keywords that you search for, is what you are looking for. Let’s go back to the laptop covers example.
If you wanted your website to be considered relevant to that search query, then you would add exact, and related keywords on your website like “laptop covers”, “laptops”, “vinyl”, “Marvel covers”, etc.
To achieve optimal results, SEO's perform keyword research to find out which keywords they should be choosing to get the best results for your website. Once they choose a set of keywords, they make sure that they are repeated throughout your site enough times so that Google recognizes your website as relevant for those search queries.
Back in the day when there was no way to personalize search results based on what your friends like and your location, there was one primary way Google used to decide which was the best result: links.
And don’t get me wrong, links are still one of the main factors that can affect the rankings of a website. But in order to ensure that your website stays on top, you want to mix in the other factors as well.
Back to links.
When a trusted website links to your website, this is a signal that Google receives that your website is in a good company and because of that it should be ranked higher. And if the same thing keeps happening over and over again, then eventually Google recognizes your website as a trusted, high-quality website.
And once that happens, it ranks your higher and let’s more searchers see your website.
This also means that SEO’s will usually spend a ton of time building links.
Creating Great Content
One of the best ways to receive amazing links is by creating great content. Content that improves the lives of your readers and provides them with valuable information.
It doesn’t matter if you decide to create a blog post, a video, an infographic, etc. Adding value to your reader’s life, is your primary goal here.
And when they value your content, they will start sharing it with their friends and in their social circle.
Now you see how this will automatically create all the factors you will need to rank higher in the search results?
I will end this guide by saying that this is just the surface of what you should be doing to be on the good side of Google. In our upcoming articles, we will cover different things like, types of link building, avoiding penalties, creating social signals, etc.
In the meantime, if you just follow everything I’ve laid down in this article, you will be on the right path to dominating the search results.