Continued from page 1
Rule #1 -- Always Work To Gain Google's Trust
If you want to succeed in SEO, you need Google's trust. This has been true for years now, but too many people overlook this guiding principle. However, the question then becomes, how do you get Google to trust you? Clearly, it isn't easy. Let's think about any relationship here for a moment. How does anyone trust anyone else in this world?
There are plenty of dimensions to Google's trust, but to take a real-world scenario for a moment, let's briefly look at the plight of a new business that opens up shop. Let's just say for a moment that this new business needs working capital, and the founder walks into a bank for a meeting with the bank manager.
Being a new business, this company will naturally face some bias. How can they expect the bank to give them a loan for their business when they have no track record? This is somewhat of a Catch-22, isn't it? In order to start and grow the business, it needs capital, but in order to get that capital, it needs to have been in business for quite some time, with a proven track record.
This is the same dilemma that will face any newly-formed website or domain on the internet. If Google just found out about you, no matter when you first registered that domain name, it's going to look at you with suspect. It won't trust you, thus, you won't rank high, no matter what strategy you attempt to implement.
This is the greatest barrier to entry in SEO that possibly exists, but there's a method to the search engine's madness, and much of it has to do with those unsavory characters who were so hell-bent on bending the rules. Today, Google knows about all your schemes, so don't even bother with them if you're looking to build its trust.
Rule #2 -- Age Always Comes Before Beauty
Your website's age if more important than its beauty. No matter how good your site looks, what Google is really looking for is link-consistency over time. How much time? We're talking years here. Even if you have a healthy link profile and your site looks amazing, loads quickly and is easy to navigate, it will fall short without age.
What do I mean really when I talk about age? I'm talking about the indexed age of your site, its content and the links that are pointing to it. It's an amalgamation of all these factors that relate to age. What's the velocity of links being created over time? How much high-quality content is linking to your site and on what schedule?
Whether you're just learning SEO in 2017, or any other year for that matter, what's important to keep in mind is that Google's algorithms are always logging, analyzing and judging any behavior related to your site, its links, content and so on. If you do a lot of work for a month or two then completely abandon your site, you won't help your efforts, you'll hinder them.
This has to do with both the freshness of content, and the indexed age of the site. If Google only recently found out about your site within the last 2 years, but you haven't developed a healthy link profile, you still won't have Google's trust. Remember, trust is the first rule. But building trust comes through age.
Think about one of your oldest friends whom you've known for over ten years now and that you trust with your life. Did you trust that person on the day you met them? How about a few months after? What about a year after that? Trust develops slowly and it comes through age. Keep that in mind and don't get discouraged in the short term.
Rule #3 -- Quality Will Trump Quantity Every Single Time
When it comes to doing anything on the Web, one of the steadfast rules is that quality trumps quantity every single time. Don't focus on doing something so many times, rather focus on doing it the right way enough times. For example, don't worry so much about pushing out a certain amount of content every singled day; worry about pushing out good content every single week. That's what Google cares about -- quality.
When it launched its Panda algorithm, Google was really going after quality through the user experience. Most importantly, it was looking for poor quality user experiences, or sites that were simply meant to garner traffic and then deceitfully push visitors through some means to buy a product or a service through an affiliate link, or to bombard them with advertisements.
Google wasn't too happy about that. It wasn't happy about it then, and it certainly won't be happy about it in 2017 and beyond. In fact, as the web ages, it's Google's aim to increase the overall quality of not just its search engine, but of all the information on the web. It's cleverly devised these rules and ranking factors to ensure that quality increases over time rather than decreases.
No matter what type of SEO strategy you want to employ, no matter what type of link-building efforts you're looking to engage in, ensure that it's about the quality not the quantity. Don't use link-generating software, article spinners, or anything else like that if you're serious about achieving any respectable rank on Google's SERPs. Put in the work and put in the time, elevating quality over quantity.
Rule #4 -- Content Will Always Be King
The underlying content of a site will always be king. If the content falls short, so will the SERP rankings. Google's aim to deliver the most relevant results in the quickest manner possible has much to do with delivering the best possible content. If the content is no good, how can it be relevant?
Keep in mind that most people have now automatically become reliant on Google, knowing that the first result will likely be the best result. In turn, everyone wants that top spot, but you simply won't get it if your content isn't good enough. The truth is that great content is shared often. Everyone wants to share something that delivers real value. So put the time into the content, because that's what counts.
Yes, other factors matter. But, without great content, you can forget about your chances to rank. I'm not just talking about creating great anchor content on your site. I'm also talking about going out there and building equally-great content that links to the great content on your site -- also known as content marketing.
Clearly, in order to succeed with content marketing, you need to deliver enormous amounts of value. You need to genuinely assist people with answering a question or understanding a topic. You can't do that if you skimp on the content. Great content can come in a number of forms, but I'm primarily speaking about written content here.
Great content, when crafted the right way, can send you skyrocketing up Google's SERPs, but only if you stay consistent. You can't deliver great content one week, subpar content the next week, then not deliver anything for a few weeks and expect to rank. Learn how to write compelling copy that sells, but also copy that delivers enormous amounts of value.
Rule #5 -- Regardless Of What You've Heard, Size Really Does Matter
One of the things that Google has been battling against on the web is something called thin content. Thin content is content without much meat on the bones. Not only is it short on length, but it's short on value because of it. You can't expect to deliver big on value when you write a 500-word article. Even when you write an article that's less than 1,000 words, it's hard to compete against those who are delivering far more than that.
One specific study on Google's rankings determined that the first page of its SERPs with the top spots were all above 2,000 words. In fact, I rank #1 for so many of the most competitive searches, and almost all of those articles are over 2,000 words. But they're not superfluous.
The goal isn't to simply write 2,000 words of rambling content. No, size matters, but so does the quality in that size. It needs to be well written for starters, and it can't go off on tangents. The content has to be laser-focused. Writing substantial, laser-focused content can be difficult even for seasoned writers.
There's an enormous difference between being a great writer and being a great SEO writer. The latter requires the former as a prerequisite, but it's a far more developed skill. Sure your prose needs to be on point. But if you're serious about search engine optimization in the slightest, the content also has to be specifically tailored for a given topic or keyword.
Rule #6 -- Keywords, Keywords, Keywords, But Don't Overdo It
Creating great SEO content in 2017 has so much to do with keywords, but also so little to do with them. Google wants content made for humans. But you also have to tailor the content for search engines like Google. The distinction here, however, is a very difficult one to make, and it's very easy to cross the line.
What often ends up happening is that people overstuff keywords in an effort to rank. This triggers Google's Penguin algorithm, which can decimate your listings on its SERPs. You don't want that. What you want are not only exact-match keywords in your article, but also Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords.
Google's Hummingbird engine uses LSI as a way to determine the similarities between words and phrases. So, something like "best diets for losing weight quickly" would be semantically similar to "top weight loss diets that work fast." LSI keywords are relevant and similar keywords that make the writing more organic in nature.
Your aim? Make your content keyword-centric, but don't bombast the exact keywords over and over again. Use a healthy ratio of 70 to 80% LSI keywords to the 30 to 20% of exact match keywords. What you want is your content to sound natural and organic, and not have to force keywords. But you also want to ensure that similar phrases to your primary keyword appear enough times.
Yes, it can be difficult to do. But with practice comes perfection. With over 200+ factors involved in Google's core algorithms, it's easy to get overwhelmed. But if you stick to creating amazing content that delivers enormous amounts of value, and is also lengthy enough to clearly convey the purpose or the answer to the questions that people are seeking, you'll win the ranking game over time. Not overnight. Over time.
Rule #7 -- Step Up Your Mobile Game
Today, if your site doesn't have a mobile design and it's extremely difficult to navigate or load the content on mobile devices, you're essentially shooting yourself in the foot. Mobile searches are now outpacing desktop searches, and Google is furiously focused on mobile.
In fact, it's so focused on mobile that it's helped to launch the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project into the mainstream. What you'll notice on most mobile devices, is a little tag that says 'AMP' meaning that the post adheres to the AMP specifications, which you can find here.
This is similar to Facebook's push into Instant Articles. What this should all convey is the importance of a mobile-first design and to ensure that your site is responsive across a number of platforms that include desktop, tablet, and of course, mobile. Select a theme, or develop a design that will work seamlessly across any device and platform.
By building a mobile-first design, you're looking into the future and ensuring that you're conforming to Google's wishes. Those wishes are steeped in reality because mobile devices have become so important in our lives, that you simply can't overlook mobile usability when thinking about SEO, especially when talking about SEO for the future.
Rule #8 -- Location, Location, Location (Of Your Links, Of Course)
In real estate, they say that it's all about location. Well, when it comes to SEO, it's also about location, when speaking about your links of course. You want people that are linking to you from all over the world, but you also want to ensure that relevant, high-quality content is linking to you rather than low-quality garbage.
What websites those links are coming from is extremely important. For example, a link from Forbes is far more valuable than thousands of low-quality links, especially when that link is coming from relevant content. That doesn't mean you need a link from Forbes to excel with SEO, but it certainly doesn't hurt to find authority domains that will link to you.
Building a healthy link profile is a difficult thing. If you focus your efforts on great content, those links will come naturally over time. It might take a very long time, but they'll eventually come. However, you also want to help speed things up if you're looking to make faster progress.
The number one strategy that I used to propel my site, Wanderlust Worker to number one on hundreds of the most competitive searches, was content marketing. Sure, I developed excellent anchor content on the site. But I also worked tirelessly on developing external content on authority sites that I would then link to my content, delivering enormous amounts of powerful link juice.
Focus on the content, but also focus on the links. Not low-quality links; high-quality authority links from amazing content. It's not easy. Not by any means. If it were, everyone would be doing it. No, it's going to be a massive headache and tremendous amounts of work, but very much well worth it when near-limitless amounts of free organic traffic come flooding into your site over time.
R.L. Adams is a software engineer, serial entrepreneur, and author. He runs a wildly-popular blog called Wanderlust Worker and contributes to Entrepreneur, Engadget and the Huffington Post