The Google Factor(s) – Part 1
By: Todd Withrow | November 2nd, 2016
Probably nothing affects your online fate more than Google. Regardless of if you use it personally when searching the web, it impacts you and your business – because it is the world’s standard-setter for determining website rankings.
You may have read our post on Penguins, Pandas and Google SEO Animals, which talks about some recent adjustments to Google’s algorithms for measuring website quality. As digital marketing and SEO professionals, we make it a point to stay up to date on everything Google does. However, Google guards its algorithms as closely as Coca Cola guards its secret formula. With that caveat, we’re beginning a series this month on the myriad Google factors (one pundit listed more than 200 of them) and how they can affect how people can find you.
For this article, we’re going to focus on website characteristics and content. Factors in each category can vary in significance – or insignificance – and we’ll give you our insights what should be important.
- What’s in a name? If you’re wondering about your domain’s name, it likely plays a greater role in humans’ brand recognition than Google’s – or any search engine’s. Getting a keyword into the beginning of your domain name gives you an advantage for the search engines, but it’s not as important as the number of visitors you get and the quality of your content.
An “exact domain match,” such as our own “nichelabs,” can be helpful when someone is looking for you specifically and may not recall whether we’re a “dot.com” or a “dot.org,” for example. People and search engine robots can figure out pretty easily, in this case, that you’re looking for us. If our name was “seoexperts,” it would be different. While people who know you will pick you out of a page without any trouble, the search engine bot will look at strings and other identifiers associated with any site that bills itself as SEO experts. If you are not one of the most-visited websites associated with that string, others, including competitors, may show up higher. Our best advice is to make yourself as obvious as possible to search engines instead of trying too hard to be cute.
A related question has to do with the country code in the Top Level Domain (TLD). It matters more when you are looking for business in a specific country, and it can help the search engines direct potential customers to your site and improve your rankings in that country. Otherwise, it can be a limiting factor.
- Is there value in how long a name has been registered? The short answer is no. Nor is there any value in how long you have owned a name. The real value lies in two factors: 1.) how long you have been using the name in a quality, functioning website and 2.) how many years until your registration expires. We always encourage clients to register their domain ownership for as long as possible and to renew it three to five years before it expires. This shows Google you intend to remain in business, and that prospect of stability factors in for rankings.
- Does it matter if the “Whois” info is public or private? If there are trust issues with a website, it could be an issue. Whois info includes the owner’s name, a technical contact’s name and the contact info for each of them. Some website owners keep their Whois info blocked to avoid spam. Most website visitors don’t care about this as long as they trust you and your products and services.
- What can tarnish King Content’s crown? When we think of content, we think of writing. However, content involves the quality of everything, including images and videos. Again, Google is using algorithms to measure quality, and you need to heed them. Otherwise, Google will lower your score and page rankings.
- What about keywords? Keywords determine the success of SEO campaign – and online advertising, too. They are the hints you drop for the search engines to direct people to your site. You can use a Google keyword search to find search terms associated with your business, but here’s a caveat: Everyone else in your space is using the same list. So, you need combine the science with some art. What keywords will resonate with niche buyers in your market and tie them to your product or service? What keywords can you effectively tie an online advertising program? How can you rank those keywords in your content to raise their visibility?
- Does my content speak to my target? Think of your content as a conversation with your target audience. Your language, images and even outbound links need to speak to the people you want to reach. Your content needs to let them know that you and your products and services are relevant to their needs. Google considers relevancy, and that’s science. Your customers and prospects make emotional connections to do business with you, and that’s an art.
We’ll talk more about how Google factors can influence your digital marketing efforts in future posts. If you’d like to start a conversation now, we invite you to contact us at 888-978-9254, or by sending an email using our website contact form. We can help expand your universe with a granular-level SEO program that gets down to the specifics of your relationship with your clients and customers. We can also help you with an updated website and news coverage. We love to talk about marketing, best practices for SEO programs, brand messaging and content strategy.