I was with a client yesterday and I pointed out:
- As the site had NEVER been promoted online, even though they are a global brand who supply to blue chip companies, Google hadn’t picked up any decent hints what the site was about (keywords in anchor text links to their site) what I call the Primary Link Profile, their inbound link profile.
- Onsite navigation consisted of “home, about us, location, product info, company info….” – not one mention of their keywords in their internal link profile – or the secondary link profile, as I think of it.
- Each page of the site had the same page title “company name”, which meant, Google couldn’t even look at the tertiary link profile (this is how I think of page titles) to find keywords to rank the site for.
Google is also looking at page content on some level too, but I think it’s ranking those pages by looking in those link profiles above (and looking for trusted citations in that primary profile).
The type of website above is often what I am presented with (by even good web designers) who have little experience what Google is looking for or understand how Google goes about identifying relevant content and reward it with rankings – ie, by examining links, primarily. Then again, that’s not really the web designers remit is it, it should be the client.
Google can’t determine what a page of good content is ON ITS OWN, so just having a good copy writer do articles for you and hope it’s good enough to get picked up on social networks is simply not a economically viable solution for brands who aren’t famous online, or do not have famous product champions.
This is where Google’s algorithms are trying to help your content, but you got to give it some simple hints!
Google seems to be looking for keyword hints in (primarily) the above zones (add a bit of keyword rich / keyword diverse / related key term content to the page for good measure), and Google, once it knows about your site, will rank your pages better than those who haven’t bothered, and will rank your page against others based on the amount of trust Google has in your site and page overall / and or how much domain authority your site has as a result of this.
I like to address all of the above, and I am careful not to OVERDO it in any specific area, then I go and get decent links from real sites to my client sites. That’s because it’s my job to get websites relevant traffic from Google. I’m not manipulating things. I don’t obsess too much over no1 rankings or ranking reports but the simple fact is Google will give you tons of free traffic if you do certain things right over a certain period of time. Now, I never think this should be a replacement for a good product or a good service.
I am just trying to figure out why Google is rewarding some sites with top ten rankings, and try to emulate that for the sites I work on. It’s all there to research and work out.
I don’t see search engine optimization as a replacement for good design, good content or good marketing either – I don’t think designers should carry the can on their own for bad SEO or SEO carry the can for crap content (unless it’s keyword stuffed!).
Where To Begin?
If you are just starting out with SEO, I’d consider:
- Keyword Research – Identify the top, (e.g.) 50 terms driving traffic using Google keyword tool as a start point, and also look at the traffic you are already getting to your website
- Create (e.g.) 50 page titles for Google (70 characters or less) based on these 50 key terms – now you have a plan of the content you need to go in your pages
- Create (e.g.) 50 pages of content, each page focused on the keyword phrases in it’s page title you are looking to rank for (I use about 300 words per page to make sure I’m using synonyms / related terms for good measure but there is no limit to the amount of text on a page you need for Google – it depends on your domain authority/competition for the term how little original content you can get away with – try to make your pages AS RELEVANT AS POSSIBLE TO YOUR PAGE TITLE, because that’s what you will be ranking for! I like to ensure my CMS is plugged into Google, too.
- You already have your keyword list and content with good page titles, so just link them in your internal navigation with the narrow keyword terms you are looking to rank for. I shy away from large navigation systems and prefer to interlink my text in content.
- Take that keyword list again – those keywords can be used as links in articles point to your site using various linkbuilding methods (e.g. article submission and social media sites) – how many you need is dependant upon how much the competition is pumping out.
- Now get the marketing team involved to get some quality links from real sites Google trusts (newspapers (!), libraries, universities and partners/suppliers/clients websites – even url links (like http://www.hobo-web.co.uk/) will do from REAL quality sites as this is where you are mining for domain authority and trust…
…. and that’s about it for a lot of sites in especially less competitive verticals.
Good SEO is about giving Google what it wants – not spamming – I think social media should be the responsibility of the marketing department, and the designer can get on with making a good design, now the navigation and content has been laid out by the SEO.
This is not rocket science, is it. If you follow the recommendations above you don’t NEED to know that Pagerank decays or any other nonsense.
Some might claim a secret sauce to seo but a seo focused content strategy like the above will probably slap those seo in the rankings given time – seo who claim to have a secret sauce are talking bollocks…. and it’s totally white hat, with NO MANIPULATION OF GOOGLE INVOLVED, in fact you are giving Google exactly what it wants in 2010 – and a lot of the competition are still not doing it.