This guest post was written by the team at VisualWebz – a web design, SEO and online marketing agency based in Seattle.
Most successful businesses may already be on the ball when it comes to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategies. But are they effectively investing in the right SEO strategies? Maybe there is too much focus on social media marketing and not enough on the website itself?
When it comes to building a site for business or professional, there are so many little things that go on behind the scenes that the average person would not necessarily think about. One of those being Google ranking factors.
Google is the top search engine and landing a spot on its first page of listings can be competitive but not impossible. For example, when a user enters a search query, Google returns the best possible results. At this point, the potential customer or website visitor will decide if the search is valid or not.
With that said online marketing specialists, SEO guru’s, and web developers always take into account how best to rank high, drive traffic, and engage visitors. These are all part of SEO investments. After all, these factors can make a huge difference in whether or not a website or marketing campaign is serving its purpose.
So how do you decide where the SEO focus should be? Some of the areas all businesses should consider when being competitive in their fields should include:
- On-Site Linking
- Topical authority
- Quality and accurate content
- Local SEO
First, let’s take a look at backlinks. Backlinks are also known as “inbound links” or what SEO experts may also call “off-page SEO”.
Basically, placing a link back to your site from a third party website. This allows visitors to other sites the opportunity to visit your site and search engines to better understand the relevance. Simply put, backlinks are links between sites.
If someone links to information on your site then, you have a backlink and it serves as a sort of citation for their statements on their site. If you link to information on someone else’s site then, you are creating a backlink and it serves to drive traffic to your web page.
Importance of Backlinks
Backlinks imply that you find the information valuable to the topic that you are presenting. Therefore, when someone creates a backlink to your site, it lends credibility to the information at hand.
They make your site more discoverable. If you start getting a lot of sites creating links to your site, it lets search engines know that you have something worth looking at on a specific topic. An example on backlinks would be “advertise your website on a blog.” This provides the reader with an opportunity to better understand off-page optimization from another credible posting.
Types of Backlinks
There are two types of backlinks: internal and external. We are looking at the external backlinks since that is what counts the most between the two. A good backlink shows relevance and authority.
Relevance would be regarding how your backlink relates to the topic at hand. If a site that creates a backlink to your page is filled with spam and loosely relates to the subject, that would be a bad backlink.
Should your backlink come from a site that is working towards legitimate and quality information, that would be a good backlink.
Good external backlinks suggest that your information on the topic is worth looking into and the more sites that link to good quality content results in better authority.
Link Building vs. Link Earning
Backlinks can be either built or earned. Link building is associated with low-quality backlinks and therefore, is frowned upon by search engine companies like Google.
Some backlink building practices make you look like a spammer. Think of the times that you have looked at the comments section of an article on some forum you follow. When you see someone dropping links in the comments section and advertising the link, it looks like your site looks untrustworthy.
However, if you are mentioned in an article and a backlink is created to your site, that lends authority to your site. Here is a great example of an inappropriate link building posted on MOZ.
With so much content on a website, webmasters, and online marketers pay great attention to not duplicate the content. In fact, they cross-link to related content.
Duplicate content not only has an impact on ranking but can be frustrating for website visitors. In addition, two identical web pages with similar to identical content will start to compete with each other. This makes it hard for Google to decide which page to rank.
For example, we have a “Seattle Small Business Website Design” page. There is only so much we can put on this web page when it comes to various web-related and online marketing services. Hence, why we have a list of services for visitors to click on and further explore. Rather than having to navigate on a single page and try and find the right content this layout makes it intuitive and easier in terms of browsing.
Being an authority and being able to pass and share knowledge with the public matters greatly.
In fact, becoming an authority on a subject involves having plenty of content based on that subject. Not just any content but, good, quality content that has supported data and/or research.
An example of a site with topical authority would be St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital who presents itself as a world-renowned cancer research institute.
If you were looking for information on pediatric cancers, you would not be going to the likes of the American Kennel Club for information. You would look for a site that is established and has authority.
Importance of Topical Authority
So, what makes topical authority important to Google?
The more your site is perceived as having topical authority on a subject, the more likely it is going to land on the first page of a search.
Just to show what I am talking about, think of a subject and do a Google search. Let’s say we do a Google search on the topic of a specific breed of dog, a German shepherd. I would expect to see sites such as the American Kennel Club (AKC) at or near the top.
The AKC is a recognized leader on information regarding many different breeds of dogs including German shepherds. Topical authority represents a site you expect to have the information you are seeking on the given topic.
Another example is finding a “Seattle SEO Expert”, you will see that the top local SEO agencies/experts will be displayed at the top due to what Google finds relevant to your search.
Content Accuracy is a big factor for Google. After all, Google built its search index on the premise to organize web content and make it available as efficiently and as accurately as possible.
Think about it, why is Google found to be reputable by many? You wouldn’t trust a search engine if you searched for something only to find out that it didn’t give you good options with good information on it.
If Google wants to continue to be the “go-to” for web searches then, the content that ranks the highest needs to be delivering trusted information. Especially, as the likes of Google are trending to more natural results and ironing about black hat SEO techniques.
Importance of Content Accuracy
Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) pages are pages that impact the quality or happiness of your life or your future.
Google has a stricter content accuracy for these types of pages due to the effect they can have on a person or those around them if they provide bad information.
These types of sites include financial institutions such as, Bank of America, and informational health sites, for example, WebMD, pages that offer advice and information on major life decisions, and those that solicit personal information.
If you were to use Google to find and access one of the pages and you got bad information you would seriously wonder, why would Google’s search engine list them as an option for reliable information?
Google would have never gotten as far as it has if the algorithm for its search engine allowed sites that fed bad information to the user.
All the information regarding your dental practices should be carefully placed on the website.
Most businesses will serve local customers, or customers close to physical proximity. Hence why local SEO and marketing to the local customer base must not be ruled out.
In fact, if your site is not optimized for local SEO, you are missing out on many potential customers since four out of five consumers find information on local businesses through local searches.
Some key areas to include when it comes to local SEO should be:
- Set up Google My Business
- Have a consistent NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number)
- Optimize content based on local keywords
- Get local customer reviews
Takeaway on SEO Investment
The SEO strategies covered are not a comprehensive list of all the different factors Google takes into account the higher search results and more website traffic. But are a great start when it comes to what you should be doing for your business to succeed online and get the ROI.
There are many more factors that go into determining what pages should appear at the top of the list. These strategies help any stakeholder in achieving a chance of being on the first page of Google search results.