I often get asked if there are SEO secrets to doing good or great Google SEO and ranking quickly. Many people still view SEO as voodoo or magic (even in 2021), but in reality, most SEO strategies boil down to 4 basic ranking elements for increasing Google traffic:
1. User experience
2. Crawl ability
3. Being contextually relevant with valuable content
4. Having enough authority (proof of contextual value) to prove that your website should rank above others in the search results.
Let’s quickly explore these “secrets of SEO” that will help your website earn rankings quickly.
What is SEO? Search Engine Optimization Explained
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SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the practice of optimizing a website or webpage to increase the quantity and quality of its traffic from a search engine’s organic results.
A. How search engines work
Search engines are like libraries for the digital age. Instead of storing copies of books, they store copies of web pages.
When you type a query into a search engine, it looks through all the pages in its index and tries to return the most relevant results.
To do this, it uses a computer program called an algorithm. Nobody knows exactly how these algorithms work, but we do have clues, at least from Google.
Speaking of Google, this is the search engine most of us use—at least for web searches. That’s because it has the most reliable algorithm by far.
That said, there are tons of other search engines you can optimize for.
B. How SEO works
In simple terms, SEO works by demonstrating to search engines that your content is the best result for the topic at hand.
This is because all search engines have the same goal: To show the best, most relevant results to their users.
Precisely how you do this depends on the search engine you’re optimizing for.
If you want more organic traffic to your web pages, then you need to understand and cater to Google’s algorithm. If you want more video views, then it’s all about YouTube’s algorithm.
Since each search engine has a different ranking algorithm, it’d be impossible to cover them all in this guide.
So, going forward, we’ll focus on how to rank in the biggest search engine of them all: Google.
C. How to optimize for Google
Google famously uses more than 200 ranking factors. There was even talk way back in 2010 that there could be up to 10,000.
Nobody knows what all of these ranking factors are, but we do know some of them.
How? Because Google told us, and many people—including us—have studied the correlations between various factors and Google rankings.
We’ll discuss some of those shortly. But first, an important point: Google ranks web pages, not web sites.
Just because your business makes stained glass windows doesn’t mean that every page on your site should rank for the query, “stained glass windows.”
You can rank for different keywords and topics with different pages. Now let’s talk about some of the things that affect rankings and search engine visibility.
Before Google can even consider ranking your content, it first needs to know that it exists.
Google uses several ways to discover new content on the web, but the primary method is crawling. To put it simply, crawling is where Google follows links on the pages they already know about to those they haven’t seen before.
To do this, they use a computer program called a spider. Let’s say that your homepage has a backlink from a website that’s already in Google’s index.
Next time they crawl that site, they’ll follow that link to discover your website’s homepage and likely add it to their index.
From there, they’ll crawl the links on your homepage to find other pages on your site.
That said, some things can block Google’s crawlers:
1. Poor internal linking: Google relies on internal links to crawl all the pages on your site. Pages without internal links often won’t get crawled.
2. Nofollowed internal links: Internal links with nofollow tags won’t get crawled by Google.
3. Noindexed pages: You can exclude pages from Google’s index using a noindex meta tag or HTTP header. If other pages on your site only have internal links from noindexed pages, there’s a chance that Google won’t find them.
4. Blocks in robots.txt: Robots.txt is a text file that tells Google where it can and can’t go on your website. If pages are blocked here, it won’t crawl them
63% of Google searches come from mobile devices, and that number is growing every year.
Given that statistic, it probably comes as no surprise that in 2016, Google announced a ranking boost for mobile-friendly websites in its mobile search results.
Google also shifted to mobile-first indexing in 2018, meaning that they now use the mobile version of your page for indexing and ranking.
In other words, most people will likely hit the back button when a desktop version of a site loads on mobile.
That’s important because Google wants to keep its users satisfied. Pages that aren’t optimized for mobile lead to dissatisfaction. And even if you do rank and win the click, most people won’t stick around to consume your content.
Pagespeed is how fast your page loads. It’s a ranking factor on desktop and mobile.
Why? Once again, Google wants to keep its users satisfied. If their users are clicking on search results that take too long to load, that leads to dissatisfaction.
To check the speed of your web pages, use Google’s Pagespeed Insights tool.
G. Search intent
Finding a keyword or keywords that you want to rank for is easy. Just paste a topic into a keyword research tool like Ahrefs Key
Despite the similarity between the two keywords, Google shows two completely different sets of search results. For “slow cooker recipes,” they show pages listing lots of recipes. For “slow cooker,” they show product listings and ecommerce category pages.
Google is interpreting the motive behind the query and showing results the user wants to see.
This is search intent in action. How do you optimize for this?
Look at the top-ranking pages and ask yourself questions to identify the “3 C’s of search intent.”
1. Content type: Are most of the results blog posts, product pages, category pages, landing pages, or something else?
2. Content format: Is Google mainly ranking how-to guides, list-style articles, tutorials, comparisons, opinion pieces, or something entirely different? (Note. This one applies mainly to informational topics.)
3. Content angle: Is there a common theme or unique selling point across the top-ranking pages? If so, this gives you some insight into what might be important to searchers.
Beyond this, you can also check for the presence (or not) of SERP features to infer intent.
Google’s ranking algorithm is based on something called PageRank. In simple terms, this interprets backlinks as votes. Generally speaking, pages with more votes tend to rank higher.
How do we know? Last year, we studied almost one billion web pages and found a clear correlation between referring domains (links from unique websites) and organic search traffic.
Long story short, backlinks matter if you want to rank for anything worthwhile.
The problem is that links can be challenging to build, especially to certain types of content like product pages.
There are tons of link building tactics but if you’re new to the game, aim to build links to your best informational content (e.g., a blog post or a free tool).
Source: Quora Digest
Gantari Citra Brahmanto