When it comes to search rankings and search engine optimization (SEO), things seem to be constantly changing. And it’s true that, for even the savviest of us, it’s difficult to always know what Google is using for ranking factors during search queries.
Here’s an overview of what to do — and what not to do — to help move you closer to the top of a search engine results page.
Black Hat SEO — Don't Do This!
Black hat SEO is what companies use to try to "trick" Google into making their search rankings higher. It usually means using deception such as hidden text or strategic link building techniques like link exchanges to try to work their way up.
You may have already seen this in action through common tactics like comment spamming, duplicate content, and keyword stuffing. Such techniques may have been slightly more effective several years ago when they were new, but Google tends to catch up with such scams pretty quickly. And search engines are dolling out penalties for this kind of behaviour.
Rise Up with Social Media
Over the past several years, social media channels have reconfigured their own algorithms around searchable content, which means that companies, at least to some degree, have to consider how they are being searched for on social networks as well as on Google.
Social sites are key players in search queries, and this trend doesn't seem to be going anywhere. The biggest sites like Facebook and Twitter are constantly showing up on search results, showing that there is a link between social engagement and search engine rank.
Bear in mind that this does have to do with paid promotion strategies (such as Facebook Ads) taking the lead when it comes to searchable information.
Use High-Value Backlinks
Linking back to authoritative sites can improve your URL rank organically. Architecture-wise, there is a little bit of an art to this, and you want to make sure that you are up-to-date with various features before you start adding backlinks.
But as far as quality goes, the links you add should be informational, authoritative, and relevant to your field or industry. Only links that are genuinely high-quality will serve you in search rankings. That is part of the way that Google assesses and ensures that they are ranking the most informative, detailed, and trustworthy sites higher.
Prioritize UX (User Experience)
If you're finding yourself constantly confused by SEO, then there's one thing that will always remain consistent: Google will reward sites that offer a smooth and valuable experience to users. This focus on UX means that sites must be mobile-friendly, fast, and generally easy to use. They must contain useful content that is supported by an acceptable number of relevant keywords.
See SERP Results with Relevant Keywords
Keyword research is essential to your SEO strategy. When you do search queries, you can find out what comes up in the top rankings of your search engine rank page (SERP). Then, you can easily choose some keywords to work with.
To get an adequate amount of search traffic — that is, people who arrived at your website via searches specifically — you must know what keywords are, in fact, relevant and use them appropriately. Choosing a primary keyword along with some secondary keywords that are truly relevant for searches is critical.
Keyword research and implementation is one area of SEO that's difficult to keep up with in theory, but as long as you are clearly offering helpful content that solves a problem, you’ll be on the right track.
Title Web Pages Correctly
Your URLs need to be accessible to search crawlers so that they may sort (index) them appropriately through searches. They need to be designed so that spiders can understand what your content is about when they come to your search. They also need to be able to understand specific content that's embedded into the page. Each web page should be titled accordingly.
Offer Useful Snippets
Google continues to utilize page meta descriptions and titles as a crucial part of its search crawling, so these are key areas that must be optimized for search. Snippets are another element of SEO and should be configured to your prioritized search parameters.
They are additional pieces of code that can be added to your web page or content to give search engines a more detailed overview of what your page is about.
Make and Update Your Titles and Tags
A title tag is an important factor when it comes to SEO. You can find these within the HTML markup of a web page. They are the first bits of information that people see when they're coming to your web page, and they are also some of the first bits of information that search engines see when they are crawling.
A meta tag is a set of text that is a description of content, and it is also a part of the code. These are like the "tags" you'd use in a WordPress blog, but they are speaking to search engines instead of human searchers. They are categories that help search engines sort. These change all the time based on various Google trends.
Don't forget your image tags! Check out our article on optimizing your images for SEO
Create Detailed and Intriguing Meta Descriptions
Along with title tags, meta descriptions are also a part of the HTML in a web page that conveys relevant information to search engines. The meta description simply describes the page's content. It should be populated with appropriate keywords and added in the <head> area of the HTML code.
The meta description is used to communicate pertinent information to the person on the SERP pages. The richer this description is, the more likely it will appeal to the searcher.
Stick with SEO Basics
Unless you’re a technologically-oriented person who is immersed in the world of SEO, you probably won’t ever be able to keep up with every single aspect of Google’s constantly changing priorities. But when you have a handle on what keywords are going to make an impression, how to develop quality products, and how your traffic patterns look, you should be able to keep your page in good standing.