Do you remember the days of Myspace top eights? The daunting pressure of being publicly compared by level of popularity. We all dreaded the day that we would log in only to see that were given the boot from a highly coveted position in your crush’s inner circle.
What if I told you that search engines execute the same process?
Psst… I’ll give you a hint… *SEO*
The number one goal of search engines is to deliver relevant and useful results to users. Websites compete for attention and placement in the search engines, and those with the knowledge and experience to improve their website’s ranking will receive the benefits of increased traffic and visibility. You bet Google will be this year’s prom queen which means everyone will be fighting for the top ten.
Now that Google has over a billion monthly users, SEO has become a critical component to any growing business. Search engine optimization refers to techniques that help your site get ranked higher in an organic search on sites such as Google or Bing. (Don’t worry Bing, we’re still rooting for you.)
Even with the modern advancement of search engines, they still can’t understand websites as much as humans. As marketers, we must be empathetic and ask ourselves what our consumer is looking for in order to help out the search engines. Are they searching for information? Or are they hoping to book a hotel for their trip to Bali?
Its not about getting more traffic to your site, its about getting the right traffic to your site. Focusing on the consumer can help our content get found by consumers that actually give a damn.
Search engines rank sites based on popularity and relevance. How do we ensure that our site will make the cut? There are a couple of tricks of the trade that give us the leverage to improve our SEO.
We all know that search engines retrieve matches based on the words we input in the search bar. Whether you’re searching for the newest Guardians of the Galaxy trailer or Kim Kardashian West, keywords are the building blocks for language and search.
The best way to narrow the competition and improve your ranking is to make sure these keywords are included in titles, text, and metadata of your website.
Now don’t misinterpret this as instruction to shove your keywords anywhere and everywhere on your website. Make sure that your keywords are placed naturally and strategically.
Search engines are smart enough to figure out when sites are being disingenuous. The point of keywords is not to rank highly for every keyword, but to rank highly for keywords when visitors want what your site provides. This means you need to do your research to see what topics and content your customers care about.
Meta tags allow you to build a proxy for information of your site’s content which give search engines the capability to streamline the search process. For example, meta robots can control search engine crawler activity. (i.e how search engines crawl through your site)
You can also utilize meta descriptions which are short descriptions of page content. This small snippet of text is used beneath the listing results which draws your readers to your site. This shortcut provides you with the opportunity to optimize your search engine results.
Search engines constantly search for unfriendly HTML elements that would cause the content to be disrupted for consumers. Another way to increase your organic search results is to include rich snippets in your HTML.
Rich snippets allow you to markup your content so that search engines can easily identify what type of content it is. This growing adoption will give you the advantage needed to leverage your content. Not sure how to get started? Google provides a simple guide to embedding rich snippets within your website.
Since search engines put a heavy emphasis on providing links that are useful, usability is an important factor in the algorithm. If you missed my post on UI/UX design, check out for tips on how to build a user friendly website. Moz found that search engines look for sites that are:
- Easy to use and navigate
- Provide direct and actionable information
- Professionally designed and accessible to modern browsers
- Deliver high quality, legitimate, and credible content
Creating a thoughtful website will increase potential share-ability as well as encourage return visitors. Search engines monitor usability by checking up on engagement metrics, site ratings, and linking patterns.
Each search a user performs is with the intent to either “learn, solve, buy, fix, treat, or understand.” Aiming to meet these objectives will help you craft original content that meets your typical user’s expectations.
If you take a look at Moz’s search ranking factors, you can see that link features play a huge role in search engine algorithms. Taking links into consideration allows search engines to consider how trustworthy the sites are because trustworthy sites tend to link other trustworthy sites.
Not only do search engines rank links based on authenticity, links are also ranked based on popularity, anchor text, freshness, and social sharing. Continuously updating content, remaining active on social media, and monitoring our progress can drastically improve our link ranking.
Moz found that there are a few ways that you can build your links in order to improve your SEO. All of these methods spread your content and increase the likelihood of getting noticed.
- Get customers to link to you
- Create a company blog
- Create content for natural linking
- Be newsworthy
Now that we know the basics of building a SEO strategy, what can we expect for the future? Search engines are constantly advancing which continually changes organic search. Hubspot predicts that search patterns will drastically change over the next several years due to mobile search, social search, and voice search.
Even though web search remains the top search method for users around the globe, we must constantly analyze and monitor our progress. What’s working for your business and what isn’t?
If you want to pave your way to Google’s top ten, I highly recommended planning in advance. Finding innovative ways to optimize your website design, usability, and links will keep your business popular AND relevant regardless of the search methods in the future.