Search engine optimization, commonly known as SEO, is evolving as quickly. What was cutting-edge a year ago may already be on the way out. That is why you need to constantly keep your finger on the SEO pulse if you want to put it to work for you and your business. Here are just a few of the most noteworthy Google ranking factors that you should bear in mind.
1. Link Building Isn’t What it Used to Be
Not so long ago, building links was viewed as one of the hottest ways to drive traffic to your site. It was accomplished in a variety of ways. You could write editorials, comments or articles and submit them to online sites, thus creating links that would bring people to your home page. Another method was to directly contact websites and ask that they include your link, perhaps in exchange for a free e-book or downloadable program that you might offer to their patrons. Finally, you could create links by signing a site’s guest book or forum or by commenting on a blog entry. Although these strategies have not totally lost their luster, the winds are changing. Now, experts point you toward creating substantial, relevant content that will attract visitors. Don’t waste your time on empty signatures or vapid comments; they won’t yield you any upward progress in the rankings anymore.
2. Don’t Forget to Mention Citations and Brand Names
Anyone who is using Google to conduct an online search wants quality information – and they want it to appear right at the top of the rankings. For that reason, Google is constantly employing strategies to keep spammers and purveyors of inferior or empty content far down the list, if not off the rankings altogether. To accomplish this goal, Google recently implemented the Penguin algorithm update. If a site has an overabundance of similar inbound links or sub-par, inferior websites, it results in an algorithmic penalty. Unfortunately, the practice of link building often leads to these spammy links, which is why we are recommending that you cut back on that once-revered practice. Instead, devote your energy to mentioning legitimate brands and linking to credible websites. It is much more difficult to fake this, and you just might be rewarded with a higher SEO ranking.
3. Let the Grapevine Work for You
It is absolutely impossible to over estimate the power of social media in today’s e-commerce milieu. Likes on sites such as Facebook and Instagram are better than gold to companies eager to sell their products. It just stands to reason that brands with a wide and vocal fan base will garner more attention and therefore more traffic. What’s more, social media sites are quickly becoming search engines in their own right. They host fan pages for brands both obscure and well known and should not be ignored for that reason.
4. Don’t Underestimate the Importance of the User Experience
In recent months, the smart people at Google have recognized that a user’s positive experience can make all the difference. One of the best ways to foster this is by making your website as intuitive and user-friendly as possible. When people enjoy their experience on your site, they are far more likely to make a return visit. Repeat traffic translates to quality in the Google algorithms, leading to the potential for a rise in the SEO rankings for you. Harness this by writing snappy and compelling title tags and meta descriptions that will encourage users to click through to your site when it comes up on the search engine. Pique their curiosity; lure them with genuine benefits; call your customers to action. Your ultimate goal in terms of optimizing the search engines is to keep your visitors on your site for as long as possible. The more unique and interesting you make your internal links, the more likely your guests are to explore them and to feel more and more at home on your page.
5. Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly
Increasingly, people are using their tablets and smartphones to access websites. If your company site isn’t set up to accommodate this trend, you won’t just lose mobile customers; you will also languish in the SEO rankings. These days, Google’s algorithm automatically elevates sites that can be accessed on mobile devices. Just do everything you can to ensure that your page loads quickly. If you aren’t sure how mobile-friendly your site is, you can easily test it by going to one of any number of websites designed for that purpose.
6. Don’t Forget About Local SEO
Thanks to Google’s Pigeon algorithm update that was unveiled in 2014, local SEO, always an important way to reel in customers, has gained even more prominence. With the refinements in Google Maps and other GPS technology, it has become even more crucial to have accurate location information about your business. This starts with your Los Angeles area business name, address and telephone number. Your website address should also be both correct and visible. Be sure to include your establishment on a Google My Business page, and take advantage of any other opportunities you can think of, including social media exposure, paid advertisements and customer testimonials.
In a nutshell, you and Google can now work together more smoothly than ever, with the goal of providing your customers with the most intuitive, content-rich and user-friendly experience possible. To the extent that you furnish these attractive elements, Google will reward you by elevating your site in the rankings. The bottom line is that Google and other search engines are getting a lot smarter. As long as you provide the quality links and information your visitors truly want, both you and your customers will win.