How SEO Really Works
The Basic Idea – Give the people what they want.
All search engines have the same goal: just give people what they are looking for. It sounds simple enough, but when the competition is tight quick decisions need to be made on the part of the search algorithm.
Search Engines can change their algorithms on the fly, so what works today may not work tomorrow. They are constantly hunting down sketchy SEO tactics and and cutting out the worst offenders.
Here are the 5 main areas we focus on when trying to build a quality site’s reputation and improve search result ranking.
A sites’ overall traffic is a great indicator of quality. Facebook, for instance, has billions of regular users. Same with many major national brands.
Trying to directly compete for an audience using the same exact keywords as a national brand is a stretch. In this case, find your niche and provide the best results. Your rank will grow from there.
From the viewpoint of search engines Traffic = Quality. So even though the traffic may not all visit the same page, getting traffic to your site either by sharing on social media, adding links to email adverts, or using an on-site client portal can help improve your reputation compared to others.
Time on Page
This parameter refers to how long a user stays on a page. What a search engine cares about is: how long a user stays on a page after using a specific set of keywords.
This provides feedback as to the quality of the content on the page. Better content, a more engaged user and a better answer to the search. This adds up and several variations of search keywords and user types helps to paint a clear picture of the quality answer your site provides.
Bounce rate is the frequency that users visit and quickly leave a site. This comes back to time on page, if you spend more than 30 seconds on a page, there is a good chance the user found something they were looking for. If it’s only a matter of a few seconds, then the page probably didn’t match the search terms or it was too difficult to navigate. This looks like a giant NOPE for search engines when it comes to particular set of search terms.
Lose as many annoying pop ups, oppressive ads or padding content that can destract from a particular topic. Quickly tell the reader what they are looking at. Then give details to keep them reading.
Keywords are pretty straight forward, of course, a search engine is also saying, “humm, here’s what I think this individual means by this,” not just based on one search, but search and browsing history.
It’s really not just words either it’s actually keyphrases in today’s terms. This is especially influenced by voice-activated searches such as using Siri or Google Home. It is far more common to actually type questions such as “what is the best” or “how do I” versus just “hamburger restaurant” or “change a tire.”
There are also suggested searches, those little tips that show up as soon as you start typing that influence what a user actually selects.
Any way you look at it, the final keywords come down to knowing your audience. You may have the answers, but if you are not using the same terms as your audience they will have a hard time finding you and maybe understanding your answer. Research, ask questions and learn to speak their language.
The last element we are going to discuss has several points involved all affecting a user’s experience and interaction with your site. Search engines want to help users stay safe and enjoy their service so these add up and can totally break a 5/5 rating.
- Site Speed
- Reference Links
- User Experience
- Secure Connection (SSL)
- Device Optimization
Site Speed – When do we want it? Now! If it’s slow to load, a user will have a poorer experience, especially on slow connections.
Reference Links – Do other quality websites also refer to this one? Yes..perfect! If no, please refer to poor quality site.
Monitor your site links, if a poor quality site links to your page. Disapprove the connection.
User Experience – Easy to navigate and ADA friendly. No intrusive pop-ups demanding you sign up, share the content, buy the product…yea I lost you a while ago. Just don’t.
Secure Connection – PCI compliance requires an encrypted connection when passing credit card information to a processor. But it also shows any information you enter in contact forms is protected and browsers do prefer sites using a secure or https:// connection. Makes the search engines feel a little better.
Device Optimization – Does it respond on different screen sizes? If the answer is no, about 60% of internet traffic will pass by a site, because it matters in SEO.