The Google Factor(s) – Part 2
By: Todd Withrow | December 19th, 2016
Google’s dominance of SEO can’t be understated. Rather than being the elephant in the room, Google is more like a herd of elephants in the room when we discuss the search giant. What kind of effect does Google have? Well, just for a figurative perspective, the average African elephant can stand as tall as 13 feet at the shoulder and weigh up to 7 tons. Thus, your success in earning high search rankings for your site and specific pages requires you to be nimble and strong.
Last month, we looked at the domain and content factors that can affect your rankings – or have little to no effect on them. This month, we want to focus on keywords, tags and other identifiers, and on links, which by itself is a large category of Google factors.
Keying in on Keywords
- Keywords go beyond content. We always make sure that everything we want our website visitors read and watch contains the keywords that triggers their interest – and that of the search engines. Get your keyword for a page into the title; better yet, start your title tag with the keyword. Statistical studies show title tags that start with keywords perform much better than those with keywords at the end. Google generally shows the first 50 or 60 characters of your title tag in search results, so it makes good sense to get your key messaging point out in front of potential customers and search engine bots, all of which have equally short attention spans. A couple of secondary points are:
- Get your keyword in your description tag
- Get your keywords in your H1 tags (secondary title tags). Doing this will send a relevancy signal to Google, and those relevancy signals can add up to better search results.
- Use your keyword in your content. Although you may need to walk a fine line between getting your keyword in there and overusing it, using it often has a number or advantages. In addition to making it a relevancy factor, having it appear more times within an article or on a webpage can increase the keyword density and help – up to a point – with its relevancy. Density is a consideration, but so is content length. Google prefers an article or page with a greater depth and breadth over a shorter article that it might value as superficial. But, again, you need to be conscious of your visitors’ attention span. Making sure your keyword appears in the first 100 words of content is good, and getting the keyword in the front of compelling phrase sends a stronger signal to both humans and bots.
- Here are some other keyword considerations:
- You can avoid meta tag spamming if you don’t stuff keywords into your meta tags. If Google’s algorithms determine that you’re trying to game them adding keywords, they’ll smack you down. Most SEM’s say don’t even include meta tags anymore, but if you are going use them, use fewer if not just one.
- Having a keyword in your url (website address) sends a strong relevancy signal to Google. This may be a little tough to do if you are in a mature or highly competitive business – and you don’t want to be so far out that nobody will recognize it’s you – but if a good opportunity is there, grab it.
- If you have a WordPress site, WordPress tags can be helpful in relating a group of posts to each other.
- Quality matters for outbound links. It helps if you have links to what Google considers to be quality websites. It also helps to make sure the links are relevant to the reasons you’re using to attract visitors to your site. If you are looking to get people to your site for a specific product – let’s say it’s 4K TVs – you’ll do better with outbound links to pages that specifically discuss that product instead of linking to pages about TVs in general or electronics. This will help Google determine your page is about 4K TVs, and it will narrow down to searches for the product you want to sell. if you want to cite out a specific source of relevant information, you can use dofollow links that will make Google recognize you as a hub of that specific resource – which makes you rank higher in the long run. But use dofollow links only when the targeted pages deserve it. Otherwise, you can dilute their strength.
- Have strong internal links. Internal links with authoritative pages within your site have a stronger effect than pages with no page ranking or a lower one. Also, the number of internal links to a page indicates its importance relative to other pages on your site.
- Fix broken links. Too many broken links on a page can signal a neglected or abandoned site and lead to a downgrade of a homepage’s quality.
- Here are some other linking factors:
- Backlinks from older domains can be more powerful than links from newer domains. It plays on the idea of associating with a site with a proven track record.
- Don’t go overboard on affiliate links, or Google may start to look at other quality factors for your website.
- Avoid links to sites of poor or bad quality, sometimes known as “bad neighborhoods.” Penguin takes a close look at them. All backlinks are not equal. Having backlinks to your site from bad sites can actually hurt you.
Building an SEO program requires you to integrate a slew of moving parts in an ever-changing environment. We can help you set up a program, monitor it on a monthly basis and make the changes required to keep you up to date with Google and ahead of your competitors. 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.