What is SEO Secrets For Ranking On The First Page Of Google SEO : Secrets That You Shouldn’t Know About SEO
Secret Techniques To Improve SEO: If you are the proud owner of an online business, be that business an e-commerce site, an informational website, or a niche site that affiliates to products and earns you a revenue, you are cognizant of how web traffic influences the success of your online business.
You are also aware of this fact: web traffic comes from many sources such as social platforms, direct traffic, other websites, and search engines. Out of these ways, the best way to drive tons of ‘free, unpaid traffic’ to your website or landing page is by optimizing your web pages for search. You do this by paying attention to ranking factors that search engines use to rank web pages, and by employing white hat SEO tactics to ensure your website places in the top 1-3 positions of SERP (search engine results page) for your preferred topic or search query.
For instance, let us assume you webmaster an acne niche site (yes, the acne site is a well-used cliché, but it is an awesome example). To drive tons of traffic to your website, i.e. ensure it is on the top 3 spots of Google result page, you need to optimize your website and content. How do you do that? Well, to land on the coveted first 3 spots of Google SERP, you need to pay attention to specific aspects of a website that Google and other search engines use to crawl and rank websites.
And how do you do that? Well, this post is the ultimate rank-first-on-Google blueprint. This post outlines aspects of a website that Google pays attention to, and goes ahead to show you how to tweak these areas of your site, make them search engine and user-friendly, and easily and quickly climb up the Google rankings to land on the first page.
There is a lot of redundant Search Engine Optimization information out there. This post is cognizant of that and only outlines the most relevant, up to date information. Information guaranteed to help you achieve better website ranking that results in more free (organic) traffic for your website and content which results in more success for your website. Rev your optimization engines because by the time you finish this post, you will be a qualified to work your own SEO
Here are some helpful guides to get you started:
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What Is SEO?
Search engine optimization, SEO for short is exactly what the name suggests: it is the aspect of optimizing/tweaking web text, images, and videos to affect their organic search engine visibility.
Now, you may be wondering “Why? Why should I bother with SEO?” Well, one of the reasons why SEO is such an important aspect of website traffic and why search engine optimization is a big bucks business is as follows.
Optimizing your website content, i.e. optimizing your text, video, and image content affects how search engine spiders (not actual spiders but a generic term used to refer to search engines algorithms (called web crawlers) that periodically crawl, and index web pages in order of relevance to search queries) view your website and the position they place it on their index. The more visible your content is to these ‘spiders’, the higher your website ranks on SERPs. The higher a page or content ranks, the more traffic it receives.
Search engine optimization takes into account what users search for (the keywords they type into their search boxes), how search engines index websites and the content therein, and most recently, how relevant and user-friendly content is to users and user queries.
In general, SEO involves optimizing your website design by making it easier for users to interact with content on various devices, using relevant keywords, creating links between your website and other relevant, high-quality sites on the same topic, and as of May 2015, the mobile friendliness of your site. We shall touch on each of these factors and look at how to optimize them for search.
Before we do that, let us briefly outline how search engines work.
How (SEO) Search Engines Rank Websites and Important Ranking Factors?
The World Wide Web is a vast information forest. Naturally, in a forest, it is easy to get lost: enter search engines. Using the forest as an example, search engines serve two major functionalities: create an index of all trees in the information forest, and provide forest visitors with a detailed path to the tree species they want. This sounds oddly technical so let us simplify it as follows:
Search engines use web crawler algorithms to crawl all information placed on the internet and create an index. Then, when users use search engines to search for information, search engine spiders take the keyword, match it to information on their index, and return the most relevant information within a matter of seconds. This resource by Google, aptly named “how search works” should give you further insight into the inner workings of Google search. If you are into visuals, this infographic by ppcblog.com should demystify Google search.
To determine relevance, web crawler algorithms use a number of factors.
Important Google Ranking Factors
According to backlinko.com, one of the most proficient SEO websites, Google uses over 200 ranking factors; some of these factors hold more weight over others. In this sub-section, we shall outline the most relevant ranking factors Google, and other search engines use to rank websites in 2016 and in the near future. To make this list easier to follow, and to build up on how to rank first on Google aspects we shall look at later, we shall categorize these factors into three: on page factors, off-page factors, and site wide factors
On-page ranking factors refer to anything you can physically do to your web page or content to affect its search ranking. In this regard, some important things you should pay special attention to include:
Use of Keywords
Keywords are the search queries that users type into their search engine boxes when looking for information. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that Google would use keywords as an important ranking factor. While we shall take an in-depth look at keyword research and the subsequent use of keywords on different areas of your website for better ranking, you want to make sure you use relevant keywords in the title meta tag because the meta tag gives Google an accurate description of your web page or content.
Tip: For better, enhanced rankings, place your intended keywords at the start of the title tag.
You also want to have your keyword, or at the very least, a variation of your keyword placed in the Meta description tag. Further, because search engine spiders (again, not real spiders) crawl your content in its entirety when deciding where to place your website or content on the index, it is best to use relevant keywords on the H1, H2, H3, and H4 tags. It is also a good idea to sprinkle a good number of keywords within your content copy. The keyword can be used in various ways within the different sub-headings on a page. (H1, H2, H3, H4 tags) For example, if your H1 tag/keyword is “Carpet Cleaner”, your H2 tag could be “Local Carpet Cleaner” or “Experienced Carpet Cleaner” etc. The content following the Paragraph headings (H-tags) should include information supporting that heading and include the same keyword within the content. Using the keyword more than once in sensible combinations increases “keyword density” and increases the usefulness of the page.
Tip: The debate on the ideal keyword density is a hot topic. In the early days of search, keyword stuffing, i.e. the intentional over use of keywords on relevant areas of your copy and website was a dominant ranking factor. However, Google Panda, a Google algorithm launched in 2012 changed that. According to Neil Patel, whom Forbes places on their list of top 10 online marketers, “The Panda algorithm update changed the SEO world. It changed content strategy, keyword research, and targeting. It even changed how marketers build links since high-quality relevant links pointing to a webpage ultimately add to its value. By rolling out Panda, Google could now determine more accurately which sites were “spammy” and which sites would likely be deemed useful by visitors.”
Here is the truth, in 2016 and beyond, keyword use in web copy is not as relevant as it used to be (emphasis on ‘not as’ meaning it still has some relevance). According to this discussion on Moz community, (Moz is a highly influential SEO website and platform) there is no ideal keyword density value per web copy, and if your content is relevant to a user query, you can rank well by having keywords in your title and description tag, and minimal keywords in your copy.
That said, it is a good idea to sprinkle a good measure of keywords within your copy. The idea here is to use keywords in your copy only if the use of such keywords comes across natural and adds value to users (Google search is very user driven).
Content-Length and Duplicate Content
Google places a lot of emphasis on providing users with relevant and helpful results; something reflected on their mission statement: “Focus on the user and all else will follow.”
According to a research study by serpIQ that analyzed content length by domain age, name, new and old blogs, etc. longer content generally ranks higher than shorter content. The idea behind this ranking factor is simple: longer content= detailed content=equal to better answers for users, which as we saw, Google places a lot of emphasis on.
Google considers longer content more authoritative and informative. Thus, the longer your content is, meaning well-researched and user driven (there is no way you can write say a 5k word article for the hell of it or to rank, you write longer to provide web visitors sufficient answers), the higher your chances of ranking well.
Tip: As is everything SEO, the debate on the ideal content length is a hot one. Nevertheless, while online marketing experts agree there are no hard rules, the infographic below, courtesy of serpIQ details ranking in relevance to content length.
On the other hand, duplicate content is a negative ranking factor. Having similar content on various pages on your website will negatively affect your rankings.
Tip: Define the nature of each web page and content you create for your website, and then create unique and original content. There are instances where having two URLs will have similar content. To make sure this does not come off as duplicate content, use a canonical tag. A canonical tag simply tells search spiders that one URL is similar or equivalent to another, which effectively lets Google know that these two URLs are not duplicate content and are in fact one.
Optimization and Content Update
When looking at keywords, we briefly touched on optimization. On top of optimizing your tags and content, you also need to optimize your images and videos. Remember that Google and other search engines index text, images, and video.
Tip: Optimize your images, videos, and other media by using relevant keywords and tags in the alt text, description, and image caption (we shall look at how to do that later in this post).
In terms of content updates, Google and other search engines are very gung-ho about fresh content. According to Neil Patel, “When you build a site today, you have to consistently write and publish in-depth content. This content must add value, be interesting to the reader, and solve a definite problem. If you fail to do that, you will not engage readers, and the conversion rate will be low.”
Thus, as part of your SEO strategy, it is best to have an effective publishing strategy in place.
Tip: Again, while there are no hard rules on how often you should publish, problogger.com advocates for 3-5 blogs per week, while the infographic below, courtesy of hubspot.com, indicates that publishing 16+ blogs per month (an average of 4 or more blogs each week) can get you better rankings and 3.5x more traffic.
Internal Links, Outbound Links, and Keywords in URL
Internal links are links that point back to a page or piece of content on your website. While their ranking power is debatable, interlinking pages can increase your ranking. Outbound links are links pointing to external sites. If you include links pointing to authoritative sites, Google takes this to mean your aim is to provide users with more information about a subject and uses this as a trust signal.
Outbound Link Tip: Avoid too many outbound links because too many of them will make your page appear as a bridge site, which will negatively affect your ranking.
Keyword in URLs is another ranking factor you want to pay special attention to; Keywords in URL here means for instance, if your site is permanentacnecure.com, titling your blog post something reflective of your keyword. For example, the title of your blog post could look some like permanentacnecure.com/5-ways-to-permanently-cure-acne
The above are relevant on-page ranking factors. As indicated earlier, Google has over 200 ranking factors. We shall look at other on-page optimization aspects in a later section.
02. Off-Page Ranking Factors
In indexing and ranking pages, Google also uses off-page factors. Off-page factors are factors outside your website. Important off-page aspects you should pay special attention to include:
Google considers links as votes of confidence: when different, high-quality sites link back to your website, it tells Google that other webmasters/users find your content helpful. Thus, it boosts your ranking because being helpful is an integral part of Google mission statement.
In terms of links, pay special attention to the following
- The Number of Domains Linking Back To Your Site: This one is major. Google uses backlinks as votes of confidence: more domains linking back to your site=better rankings.
- Number of Linking Pages: There are instances where one domain will link to you several times. While this may positively affect your overall rank, it is generally better to have multiple pages linking back to your site. Each backlink from a single page counts as a vote; thus, more pages linking back to your content=more votes=better rankings.
- The Rank of the Linking Page: Not all websites and pages are equal. Some pages and domains have a better rank. It is better for your website ranking if pages with a high PR (better-ranked pages) link back to you. As you build links, aim to have high-quality websites link back to you. (we shall delve into link building much later)
- Link Relevancy: Imagine this, your website is about acne, and then, a site talking about car repair links back to a page on your website; do you think Google would pay any special relevance to that backlink? NO. Links from pages relative to your subject hold the ranking relevance.
- Homepage Links: According to some SEO theory, links from a homepage carry much more weight compared to links to other pages on the same domain.
- Domain Authority: The authority of a domain linking back to your site is a ranking factor; links from authority sites will boost your rankings.
- Link Diversity: The variety and types of links pointing back to your site matter a great deal. You should aim to create a variety of links. Thanks to Google Penguin, too many links of a similar type may appear spammy and negatively affect your ranking. For instance, having too many homepage links and no other page links may also appear spammy. One thing you should note is that Google does not advocate for link building. Instead, they advocate for natural back linking that provide value to their customers.
- DoFollow vs. NoFollow Links: Google does not count NoFollow links. If you have a ton of NoFollow links and minimal DoFollow links, it is bound to affect your ranking.
- Link Anchor and Contextual Links: Links placed within the body of content hold more relevance when compared to links placed on the sidebar. On the other hand, keywords on link anchors can appear spammy and negatively affect ranking.
Today, any website or company worth its salt has an active social media voice. Social mentions such as Facebook likes, shares, Tweets, re-tweets, Google+ 1s, LinkedIn shares, and shares on other social platforms such as YouTube, Pinterest, and social bookmarks is yet another off-page ranking factor.
Trust and Authority
As a search engine ranking factor, trust and domain authority have evolved. In the early days of search, domain age was an important ranking factor. Fast forward to today, since Google web crawlers and search algorithm have evolved, so has domain trust and authority.
Today, things such as brand and author recognition have a hand in website ranking. However, it is important to point out that you do not have to be a large brand or an authority figure for your website to rank well.
To increase website trust and authority, employ author and publisher tags on your content, be active on social media (social mentions), and liaise with influencers and invite them to publish content on your website/platform. Another ideal way to build trust is to have a central publishing voice on your website or blog, i.e. one-person developing content, publishing it, and promoting it on social media platforms.
Tip: According to Google, to nail your off-page ranking, concentrate on on-page SEO by producing great content that others want to link back to.
3.Site Wide Factors
Also known as site-wide optimization, site-wide ranking factors are factors about your entire site that negatively or positively affect your ranking. Some of the things you should look at here include:
A sitemap is a simple, yet effective way to let Google know of the number of pages on your website. This makes it easier for Google to index your site.
Cognizant of the fact that most users access the web from their mobile devices, in the week following April 21, 2015, Google made mobile friendliness one of their ranking factors. Today, having, or failure to have a mobile optimized site is surely bound to affect a website’s rank.
How slow or fast your pages load greatly affects if users bounce off, or stay on your website. If your server location is further away from a user, pages will load slower causing a greater bounce rate. To avoid this, you can use a CDN. (more on this later)
Webmaster Tool Integration
Integrating your site with the webmaster tool, i.e. submitting your sitemap, verifying your site, and using the webmaster tool to monitor your site and implement tips tailor-made for your website can greatly affect your page rank position.
As we indicated earlier, Google has 200+ ranking factors. It is impossible to outline all of them here. Nevertheless, we have done our best to outline some of the most significant ones that are bound to have a large effect on ranking.
That just about does it for this section. The next few sections will outline how to tweak different aspects of your website to improve ranking. Let us start with an important aspect: Keyword research.
Section 2: The Ultimate Keyword Research Guide for Better Google Ranking
Any SEO worth the name (SEO is the name given to search engine optimization experts) will tell you this much: keyword research is perhaps the most important aspect of SEO. While Google may not outright state it, their algorithm pays attention to keywords, perhaps not their chronic use, but their placement on different areas of your website elements, and how helpful your keyword-optimized content is to the users.
All user searches start with a keyword: that is the nature of the search. For instance, let us assume a user wants to learn more about natural acne cures. He or she will fire up his or her browser, go to Google, or that browser’s search window (except IE which uses Bing, most popular browsers use Google as their default search engine) and type “natural acne cures,” in this instance, the keyword/s are “natural acne cures”.
As we saw in the first section, to appear on the first page of Google SERP (search engine result page) for the keywords “natural acne cures” you have to optimize your website content around this keyword/s to ensure Google spiders pick up these keywords, index and rank your site for them.
Keywords and their use are the epitome of search engine optimization. Without keywords, the Google index would be non-existent. What exactly are keywords?
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