Whether you offer SEO services to your own clients or you’re in the market for a new SEO consultant to help out with your organic rankings, there are a few things that you need to know about search engines.
There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding the search marketing industry – specifically around search engine optimization. With things changing all the time it’s hard to keep on top of what’s happening in the industry. Here are a few constants that you can always rely on regardless of the latest “thing” in the SEO world.
1. Relevance and quality are the most important content factors
This is something you need to continuously remind yourself of when you’re developing any search marketing plan. Search engines want to return the most relevant and the highest quality content based on the keywords that are being searched. There are all kinds of different things that you can do to help increase your website’s rankings in search engines but at the end of the day you won’t rank well for any search term if you don’t add value to potential visitors.
It’s also important to note that the page you are trying to rank needs to be relevant to the keywords you are ranking it for. So many people want to rank for a wide variety of search terms but the keywords aren’t found on the page at all. Google can’t read minds (yet). You need to be sure that you tell search engines what the page is about by using proper titles, meta data, and relevant on page content.
2. Search engines are just math
Some people think that SEO consultants are some sort of magicians or that we can communicate with technology in a secret language. The fact is, Google and other search engines are just math. Complicated math, absolutely, but they are still powered by algorithms.
The tricky part is that no one knows exactly what that algorithm is and that it is constantly changing. There are hundreds of ranking signals. Factors such as meta data, on page content, incoming links, anchor text, social signals, author rank, domain authority, domain age, and literally hundreds of others are all weighed appropriately in this robust algorithm to return the best list of websites possible based on a search query.
Good search engine optimization is based on a lot of tests. Because it’s only math, I can test tactics and changes to on-site and off-site elements to see how they will influence rankings in a specific search engine for a certain keyword. Good SEO consultants build strategies based on countless experiments – I isolate and test these above ranking factors to find what works. I find the best combination of on-site keyword density, placement, relevance, and off-site linking, anchor text, social signals, and so much more. I combine the experience and results with factors specific to your industry to put together strategies that result in higher rankings.
The end result and strategy may vary a little depending on what factors are shown to be most important, but the process is just math.
3. Nothing is permanent: neither algorithms nor rankings
Since I know that search engines are simply math-based it is safe to assume that changes I put in place that impact rankings one way or another, can be removed or changed back to have the opposite effect. If I change something on the website and it decreases rankings, it’s not the end of the world. I change things back – or to something different – and wait for the site to be re-crawled and updated.
However, the same thing should be noted for your top ranking keywords. Just because you rank #1 today, doesn’t mean you’ll stay there forever – it’s not a permanent thing unless you’re keeping up with what’s going on in the industry. There may be other competitors in your industry that are promoting their websites more aggressively or developing better content, or something may change that places less or different weight on what was causing your website to rank in the first place.
This is the last time I’m going to say this. SEO is an ongoing thing, not a one-time thing.
4. Search engines change constantly but not instantly
Google updates its algorithm over 500 times per year. That’s more than one update every day. Most of these updates are very minor and don’t impact many search results – they are just tweaking and testing in order to get the best results possible for every search query. If your site bounces around a little bit or is fluctuating between positions on a day by day basis – don’t fret, that’s just how it works. You can expect your rankings to settle over time but expect a lot of movement early on if you’re starting to do any sort of website promotion.
It’s also important that you understand that as awesome as Google and the other search engines are, they do need a bit of time to crawl and index your website. Search engines are crawling and indexing the entire Internet. You’ll need to forgive them if it takes a day or two for them to properly display the changes you made to your local business website. This process can sometimes take well over a week – especially if your website was not updated for a long period of time.
If you require overnight rankings or need your SEO to pay off right away then you don’t understand the process. It’s not going to happen. If you find a company that tells you it will, chances are the risk won’t outweigh the reward.
Despite what people say, there are some constants in this industry – things you can rely on to be true regardless of what Google or other search engines throw at you. If you’re feeling lost in the world of SEO just come back to these four things. Hopefully they’ll let you approach things with a little more confidence.