If you have a website for your business, then it is very likely that you have heard of the mighty SEO! Anyone working in the online space has heard of these three letters being spoken over and over again, and that’s because they guarantee you a spot at the top with Google’s search engine results pages or SERPs. But, why does appearing in the search engine results matter? Well, when was the last time you were looking for an answer and didn’t immediately pull out your phone to “Google” the answer? That’s right, probably many years back when the internet wasn’t so commonplace!
So, when someone enters a query into Google’s search bar, you want your website to be the one that shows up on top; that’s the goal of an internet-savvy marketer. For that to happen, you need to follow certain protocols the search engine has in place, AKA SEO. Let’s take a deeper look into what SEO really is:
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. When you are using the rules set in place by Google to rank high on SERPs, you are essentially optimizing your website for the search engine. Websites don’t get ranked by chance on Google. There is an intricate system in place that chooses what content shows up first, what content shows up in the featured snippet, the answer boxes, and so on.
Why is it important to show up at the top? Almost 50% of all clicks go to the top three sites that show up as a result of a query; that would be the #1, #2, and #3 ranking according to SEO. That’s impressive for the first three results only, but the first page gets 95% of all clicks, which is even more impressive. Your website’s chances of getting viewed get lower and lower the further back it appears.
You’re probably wondering how Google keeps track of every single piece of content that is out there on the internet. There are about 1.5 billion websites already on the internet with new ones being created every day, and, within those sites, there are hundreds of pieces of content.
Google has created complicated and intricate algorithms that work together to sift through all these websites and come up with the best content. The internet giant focuses on user experience, making sure that its users are getting the best, most accurate, and truthful answers to any query that they might have. Google is constantly upgrading its algorithms to ensure that it is giving these results to the best of its abilities.
Now, this all sounds really complicated for website owners and content creators. How are they supposed to make sure their content and websites are what Google is looking for? Well, Google has been transparent about what it is looking for from these people and businesses to ensure that they get a high ranking. In fact, Google has an entire guide on what website owners should and should not be doing! Google’s primary focus is on improving user experience. So, let’s discuss what Google is looking for:
Google’s Emphasis on User Experience
User experience is related to how a person feels and experiences a certain website. This includes how easy it is to navigate a website, how they respond to the content, and everything in between. Google’s SEO guides ensure that websites that show up in their top rankings have great user experiences. Here are some of the things SEO focuses on:
The “S” in HTTPS that you see in your web browser stands for “secure.” Not only does your website have to be completely accessible to users and Google, but it also helps if it is secure too. First, make sure your site is built in a way that it is easy for Google to navigate through it easily. For this, you will need a good website builder and a proper sitemap. Then, you need to buy and activate a certificate that ensures your website is secure. Here is a simple guide on how to set up SSL for your website.
How fast your website loads once it’s clicked on really matters to Google. In fact, it is one of the most prioritized factors when Google is looking to rank sites. This doesn’t just apply to websites but to mobile sites as well. If your site doesn’t load fast, it loses favor in the eyes of Google. So, make sure your site is working fast and efficiently on all devices.
The world has shifted to mobile. As everything becomes easily accessible in the palm of your hand, why would you need to turn on a desktop computer or a laptop every time you want to visit a website? It is a fact that more people use their mobiles than their laptops. This is why Google puts so much emphasis on sites being mobile-friendly.
Overall User Experience
You may have a secure, fast, and mobile-friendly site on your hands, but is it easy to use? You need to make sure everything on your site is working as it should, with no broken links or errors showing up. It also has to be easy to navigate. When a person enters your website, they should have a good experience while being able to navigate from page to page without any confusion.
Google has put a lot of emphasis on the transparency of a website. You need to provide all information about your site to your visitors. The best way to do this is to have a detailed and comprehensive ‘About’ page on your website. It should list all the details about what the site aims to do, the site owner, and any credentials that might be relevant to the site. Don’t shy away from sharing any awards and accreditations that are related to your website’s subject matter and/or your expertise.
Google’s Algorithms and Their Effect on SERPs Rankings
Google has tons of algorithms working together to ensure that users are getting the best possible results for their queries. These algorithms are constantly updated and changed to keep up with how people search for and view the results. There are thousands of changes a year made to these algorithms, so you can see how seriously Google takes its user’s experience. One of the major updates that Google made that affected the rankings of websites and how they presented their content was called E-A-T.
This update completely flipped the way the search engine viewed content and what is considered important. Several major websites lost their top rankings while other websites flourished and rose to the top. Let’s take a closer look at the update:
Google E-A-T and Its Effect on Major Sites
E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. With this update, Google wanted to ensure that new websites cannot occupy top rankings with their content just because their content matches the query fed into the search engine. This update pushed website creators to make sure that their websites as a whole meet the standards Google is trying to set instead of just focusing on optimized content.
The update focuses mainly on content, but it also focuses on the content creator and how the content is produced. You will get a better understanding of this below when we break down what the E-A-T acronym. First, let’s discuss what this means for existing websites.
This update mainly focuses on websites that affect the user directly or, in other words, YMYL websites. YMYL stands for Your Money or Your Life. These words cover a whole range of different websites that include any website that gives advice on or affects the user’s health, nutrition, lifestyle, future happiness, financial stability, and safety. Huge names like LiveStrong, Pillsbury, and Travelocity, among many others, lost out big on website users when the algorithm was first introduced. With this in mind, websites quickly changed the way they were presenting their content to adhere to Google’s new rules. Let’s take a deeper look at E-A-T so you can make sure your website and its content rank well on SERPs.
This part of the algorithm focuses on the creator of the content and the website’s standing as a reliable source of information. It focuses on the knowledge present on the website as well as the credentials of the website with regards to the subject matter of the site itself.
This refers to the authority and credibility of the site itself. A site is seen as authoritative when it is referenced by other sites through links as an authority figure on a certain subject matter.
This not only refers to the truthfulness of the content and how much users trust it but also to the user experience and site safety.
E-A-T directs focus to a website’s content, and that is because a website’s content is most important to users searching for information.
Content is King
This phrase is brought up many times in such discussions, and it’s for a good reason. Content is the meat of a website. It is what makes up everything within the website, while the website itself acts as a platform that hosts the content. There are so many rules to remember while trying to optimize content for SERP ratings, but here are some of the most important ones:
If you’re working on your SEO, you’re going to hear the word “Keywords” a lot. Keywords are words or phrases that define what your content is about. The keywords that you use in your content have to be relevant to what you are writing about, they have to show up in your content enough times, but not too much, and they have to be a phrase that people use on search engines. There are several tools that exist for keyword research; check out SEMRush if you need help finding keywords for your content.
Relevance to the Subject
Of course, all the content you create for your website needs to be absolutely relevant to the subject matter of your website itself. For instance, don’t create content about cars on a website about plants. Make sure your content is completely focused on what your website is about.
Optimize your content and your site to adhere to E-A-T. Make sure you have complete transparency about your expertise on the subject you are speaking about. Add trusted links onto your site, and get other high-quality sites to link back to your content to increase your level of authority and trustworthiness as well.
Quantity and Length
The new E-A-T update is there to ensure that new websites can’t take over the top ranking positions on Google search results. Good quality content needs to be created consistently over time, and only then, Google sees you as an expert, an authority figure, and a trustworthy source of information. Also, to make sure that you are getting enough keywords into your content for Google to pick up on, Google now prefers long-form content, while, in the past, it used to prefer short-form content.
Make sure all the content on your website is reviewed systematically, so all data, facts, and figures stay updated. Take this time to remove any irrelevant content from your website. Having dead content on your site can decrease your site’s quality for Google.
Optimize Your Site
So there you have it, here are some of the basic instructions you need to follow to make it SEO-ready. Of course, Google has a much more extensive list of guidelines that it expects website creators to follow. However, as long as you get the basics down, you’re on the right path to becoming #1!