Welcome to the first in a four-part series offering worthwhile SEO tips and advice that beginners can actually use! You can read a more in-depth introduction to the series to find out exactly what will be covered by clicking here.
We’ll start by dissecting the beast itself; Google. What are their goals and motivations? Only by answering that question can we hope to offer them what they want. After all, as web site owners we are effectively just third party suppliers in the relationship between search engine and searcher.
At first glance it seems pretty obvious: Google aim to deliver relevant search results. Results that people want to see. The fact that they are so secretive about their algorithms shows their commitment to that cause; they don’t want ‘spammers’ diluting the quality of their results.
It’s interesting, actually, that Google invests so much in their natural or ‘organic’ algorithm given that they only make money from selling ‘sponsored’ results, which are something completely different from organic results. These sponsored ‘Pay-Per-Click’, or PPC, adverts use a much more transparent algorithm – essentially just cycling through the results that have paid to appear for a given search term. However, when you find out that 88% of searchers are only really interested in seeing organic results when they make a search (presumably because that algorithm works so well), the reason for Google’s seemingly disproportionate investment becomes apparent – How else would they boast the search traffic required to sell their PPC advertising!
This still raises further questions though. How do they decide what people want to see? Or what is ‘relevant’ for that matter? After contemplation it becomes clear that defining the value within web content is actually the core of Google’s function. It’s only a small logical leap from there to assume that by regularly posting fresh, new, topic-focused content, you are more likely become recognised as a potential source of valuable web content. Furthermore, you can safely assume that Google will look at the popularity of content on social media sites to gain further insight.
A blog, a ‘News’ section or new images or videos on your site can therefore be very effective ways of drawing Google’s attention to your web site, particularly if you utilise social media tools such as ‘Like’ and ‘Tweet’ buttons. Most importantly, just so long as the images are labeled the right way and the content contains the right ‘keyphrases’, you’ll be attracting the right kind of attention. We’ll get into all that later, though. The main thing to take away here is that merely by being active on your site and being honest and thorough with your ‘labeling’, your web site can compete on a much higher level.
Moreover, as this is the first in a series or articles introducing SEO to beginners, I want to stress the importance of the idea of ‘value’ in all SEO work. It can be easy to get distracted by the minutiae of the code or bogged down by the volume of content you feel must be pushed out, but it’s important to remember that the most successful SEO is always centred on the delivery of truly valuable content. Therefore, the notion of deceiving the search engines should be dismissed entirely; not because of the threat of being omitted from results if you get caught, but simply because it’s bad strategy. Just give the engines the value they want so desperately instead!
Before we go any further, you may have noticed I’ve made an assumption: We’re talking about Google. Yes, it’s true that every search engine uses a different algorithm to index and retrieve web sites for searchers. But the crucial thing to remember is that they are all ultimately trying to uncover that all-important true value in web content in order to deliver it to their searchers. So you needn’t worry because true progress in one should reflect in the others. As the clear market leader, Google simply sets the current standard.
So now we understand what Google and other search engines aim to deliver: Value. In order to accomplish that feat, they use a very clever indexing system; and that is what we need to concern ourselves with. In the next installment we’ll show you the parts of your web site that Google uses to index your content; and how to make sure your web site is being indexed correctly.