Google cares about three things in a website:
Is this website relevant?
Is this website popular?
Is this website current and up-to-date?
SEO is really about convincing Google that your website is all three. If you do it successfully, you’ll end up on the front page of a Google search.
There are a few basic rules.
1. Convince Google your website is relevant.
Here’s an important insight into how the Internet works: the words that people type into search engines are not the same as the words people write on their websites.
You can use this disconnect to convince Google your website is relevant. It’s a three-step process.
- Find out which words and phrases people commonly type into search engines when they’re searching in your specialty area: the “keywords”.
- Go through these keywords and phrases and select the ones that describe what you do best that aren’t being used by other websites.
- Use these keywords on your website.
Then when people search for those words and phrases, because no one else is using them, it helps your website come closer to the top of the search results.
This leaves you with two challenges: find the right keywords and then weave them subtly into the copy of your website.
How do you find the right keywords?
The “commonly searched for” part is easy. Lots of places on the Internet will tell you that for free like Google’s Trends. The challenge is finding the words that no one else is using. There are freebie tools such as Adwords Keyword tool to help you with this, but they’re not designed specifically for website keywords.
So you’ll get no more than a “close approximation” of what words will work for you. They’re better than nothing but nowhere near as accurate as paying an SEO specialist to use their sophisticated software to provide you with the good stuff.
How do you weave the keywords subtly into the copy of your website?
Hire a good copywriter.
2. Convince Google your website is popular.
Now your site has all the right keywords on it. So do twenty others. Or fifty. Or a thousand. How does Google decide which of these sites goes on the front page? They choose the site that’s most popular.
How do they determine if your site is the popular one? They look at how many other sites have linked to yours. The jargon term for this is “link juice” as in “wow, dude, your site’s really popular. It must have a lot of link juice.” If your site’s got the most link juice it becomes the site with the best search result.
I know. Link juice: it’s gross. This is what happens when you let engineers have access to the dictionary without proper supervision.
How do you get link juice?
There’s a good way and a bad way. The bad way to get link juice is you pay some guy in India or China who owns a link juice farm (I’m not making this up) who will provide you with as much link juice as you’re prepared to pay for. Google do not like this. This is not how they think the Internet should work. Someone is getting rich from search and it’s not them. If they catch you (and they will) you suddenly won’t be appearing on their search results anymore.
The good way to get link juice is to create a strong, informative website with interesting content that everybody likes to quote on their blog or post on Facebook and twitter. Google likes this.
How do you create a strong, informative website with interesting content that everyone likes to quote and create links to? Hire a good copywriter.
3. Convince Google your website is current.
Congratulations. You’ve got a site with all the right keywords and a lot of link juice. And so do thirty other sites. How does Google choose between you? Currency. They look to see who has got the most up-to-date content on their site.
This is why we’re all writing blogs now and Sally is hosting this one on her directory. Hi, Sally 😉
Of course, any new bit of content on your site adds to your currency, but this is where rules one and two come in again. Is this new content relevant and popular? Is the content full of keywords and phrases that are frequently searched for but are not frequently used on other sites? Is the content of sufficient quality that people will link to it from their highly regarded websites (think government or higher education), their blogs or post it on their Facebook or Twitter accounts?
How do you continue to produce new content that’s relevant and popular?
Hire a good copywriter who understands SEO.
Muchos gracias to Chris Talbot from The Reactor Digital for being a SEO Yoda and fact checking.