"How To Achieve Top Ten Google Rankings In 2014"
**UPDATED March 2014**
Let's start at the beginning......... You are not looking for SEO (search engine optimisation), you are looking for more website visitors (traffic). Ideally, targeted traffic, made up of people who are already pre-qualified because they are actively looking online for the products or services that you offer.
You have two options, we can position your site at the top of Google, or you can learn how to SEO your website yourself:
When you found us, you most likely searched for "How to SEO a website?" or "How to get to the top of Google?" or even just "search engine optimization", and that is the essence of optimization, being found for what you do, not for who you are.
SEO has undergone massive changes in recent times, from a process of keyword manipulation, to a process of reputation and authority manipulation. This has been driven by Googles move from traditional search algorithm indexing towards semantic indexing of website content and information... read more here
Google is, (in most western countries) the most significant driver of search traffic, with a dominant share of search, so if you are going to achieve the traffic volumes that you need to make money online, you need to understand how Google ranks websites and which are the most significant factors that control your rankings.
Google offers large volumes of highly targeted traffic, which is why so many website owners want to appear in the top ten search results for their highest traffic search terms.
Googles Ranking Algorithms measure three core areas;
- The quality of your site content
- The quality of the back-links pointing at your site
- The quality of your social engagement
These are measured using four algorithms (graphs);
- The Knowledge Graph - What is the Knowledge Graph
- The Engagement Graph - What is the Engagement Graph
- The Link Graph - What is the Link Graph
- The Social graph - What is the social graph
If you want to rank at the top of Googles listings then you need to have a clear picture of what Google want to see.... and then give it to them.
In an effort to prevent sites low quality spam content sites from ranking well, during 2012/13 Google refined their Panda algorithm which filters low quality page content as well as their Penguin algorithm which is focused on filtering low quality 'off-page' back-link spam.
They also introduced the Hummingbird algorithm in October 2013 which deals with complex search queries using semantic search. The move by Google towards semantic search has forced business owners to totally rethink their web strategy. Semantic search is governed by what Google call their 'knowledge graph' which works in a fundamentally different way to their traditional keyword ranking algorithms.
Before the introduction of these quality measuring algorithms, all you had to do was to cram your keywords onto your pages, fill plenty of back-links with keywords and up the SERP's (search engine rank positions) you would go. It is no longer that straight forward, because Google now include quality and social metrics in their ranking process to filter out the less desirable sites from the top results.
Search today in 2014 is about meeting the requirements of four different Google search algorithms, in Googles new world, these are the four metrics that you need to influence in order to succeed in search.
If your web content cannot easily and willingly be created, shared, commented on and reshared by other people then it contains little real value and as such will lose its place in Googles search results pages.
3 Step Website Strategy For Top Rankings:
Google are measuring your site for authority, reputation and trust using quality, relevance and popularity as their prime measurables.
- Original, high quality written content
- Error free html and CSS
- Fast Loading Pages
- Low bounce rate, interactive content
- Does this content offer value as a resource?
- Is the content relevant to the query?
- Do other trusted, authority sites link to this content?
- Social media sharing, likes, retweets etc
In essence, if you are going to achieve top rankings, then your website needs to have good quality, original content, that is written naturally using different terms and phrases related to your subject without keyword spamming. Your pages need to be free of coding errors, grammatical mistakes, dead links and bugs. Your pages need to load fast and the people that land on your site need to ideally visit at least one other page, and stick around for a little while.
In addition, your page needs to offer value to the reader, refering to specific documents on other valued sites as and when required. Your content must cover your subject matter in detail and offer a relevant solution for Google to provide for its users. Google uses a semantic graph to associate words within your content and better understand the meaning of your text, as well as learning from your site visitors experience of your site and adapting their results based on the outcome. Semantic search is a complex topic and we recommend that you read this book Google Semantic Search - David Amerland which covers the subject in great detail.
Latent Sematic Indexing (LSI) is a different issue to Semantic Search, however the two are connected. The shorthand definition of LSI is that your content needs to avoid over repetition of your main keywords and instead you should use a variety of different terms and phrases. The more you push a keyword through repetition, the less likely you are to rank well for it.
As we move closer towards voice operated devices that actually work (trust me, it's closer than you think!), the more search engines and computers will need to comprehend verbal speech. While you may well type 'Search Engine Optimization' into your browser, you are more likely to say 'Find me some SEO Companies near here'.
Google is using its Hummingbird algorithm to interpret spoken questions and to be able to return accurate, relevant results. Your job as a website owner is to provide the content that Google considers valuable and relevant, backed up and supported by social proof, reputation and authority.
If you are going to rank well then you still need links. However, there are several differences between then links that used to propel a site up SERP's and the ones that you now require.
Good links need the following attributes;
- On Google indexed pages
- On non orphan pages
- Link text density needs to conform to 'natural' expectations
- Links need Relevance
- Originate from different IP addresses
Many link sources have been devalued in recent years as the SEO industry learned how to manipulate Googles results. Forums, Blog comments, link networks (link farms), many directories and some article sites have all been devalued and offer little benefit to you as a website owner. Google has a few simple rules that will ensure that your links comply with its expectations.
If the page you want a link from isn't indexed in Google then you will gain no benefit from the link.
If the link is on an orphan page then you will also derive little advantage from the link. This means that if you are creating a new page on an indexed site, you need to get other sites to link to it too before you will be rewarded with a benefit from the link.
Link text should be shared in these approximate ratios;
- 70% Brand and URL links
- 15% Junk links
- 15% varied longtail search terms
This will give your site the natural linking profile that it wil need to rank well.
Your links need to come from related content. Links on totally unrelated pages are worth far less. Image that a Wikipedia page is discussing brain surgery and it references a specific tool that you make, linking to your product page. That is a relevant, topical link. A link in the comments section of dog training blog on the other hand would be classed as a non related link. If you were Google, which would you value higher?
There was a time when link networks used to work well for promoting sites up Googles listings. They were cheap and time effective, so Google had to find a way to negate their impact. One of the methods it uses is to track the IP address of all your links. Many link farms used to put many URL's on a single server (to reduce hosting costs) but the downside was that they all then shared the same Class C IP address. Google instantly distrusts websites on shared servers, so it devalues the links from them (if they go to the same website).
There was a time, not so long ago when all you needed was 100 site wide links on 1000 page websites to rank well. With the introduction of Penguin, those 100,000 links you once had, supporting your rankings suddenly turned into just 100 IP derived links. Many sites dropped in SERP's as a result of this change.
From a linking perspective, this was one of the biggest factors that has affected rankings.
Social Media Popularity
Social media is used in all its forms by Google to ascertain the quality of your content. If no one engages with your content at all, then they conclude that it is low quality, offering little value to potential search traffic. If on the other hand your visitors comment on your blog posts, share your content, like it, re tweet it, and assimilate it through their content network then it is much easier for Google to conclude that people like and value what you have written.
Engagement in all its forms is the key to creating authority within your niche of expertise.
As we have already discussed, gone are the days of simply choosing some keywords, applying them to your pages and linking using 'exact match anchor text'. Today you need to forget that as your web strategy and instead think of Branding and content marketing as your core activities online. The old view of SEO as a keyword implementation process, followed by a linking campaign needs to be replaced by think of the internet as moving from being a web of pages, to being a web of people.
The ways in which real people interact with your content allows Google to evaluate what you have written and to give it a perceived value and authority.
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