If you’d like to understand search engine optimization, and how to rank high in Google, you need to take a look at Google’s rules, a history of Google, and how to get on the first page of Google in 2013. Reading that guide (the one just linked) will give you a good basis for what we’ll go off of. This guide will mostly focus on additional things you can do to improve your SEO and avoid penalties, instead of covering everything. I’ll be linking to guides throughout this article to help you.
If you checked out the guide linked above, you’ll understand that a large part of SEO revolves around having good content. It’s got to be readable. Yet, it’s not all about what you say – It’s how you say it. Take a look at Matt Cutts’ video about jargon vs. clarity in articles. Matt Cutts is an industry expert who works for Google. He says “I would try to make things as natural sounding as possible”. He even reads his articles out loud to make sure they come off the tongue easily.
Even with a flowing article that has easy readability, you need some backlinks. This is a pretty concrete aspect of SEO that doesn’t require much guess work. We know that backlinks are part of Google’s algorithm. Check out another one of Matt Cutts’ videos about what search results would be like without backlinks used in their algorithm. After watching that one minute video, you’ll understand why backlinks are important.
Having backlinks spread throughout the internet is important to your website, but how do you do it? Well, you need to focus on quality – Not quantity. You can’t do what I did a couple years ago, because you’ll get penalized.
Here are some tips for ALL of your links.
- Make sure you don’t always link to your own content.
- Only link to pages that are helpful to the reader, even if that means you can’t always link your own content.
- Give a brief explanation of the link so readers know what they’re clicking on. This also allows readers to skip links if they don’t have much time to read.
- Avoid excessive keyword use.
- Write your sentences first, and make sure they make sense. Go back and add links after. This makes sure your sentences are readable and high quality, and makes sure your article isn’t just a miniature link farm.
Guest Posting (For SEO) is Bad
Guest posting was the process of having another blogger post an article on your website because they offer a unique perspective that your readers can benefit from. However, it became a way for people to exchange backlinks and improve their SEO. Google caught on and now looks down upon guest posting. Sure, there are some people who do guest posting as a legitimate form of blogging, but the spammers and manipulators outnumber the ethical ones.
I don’t like linking to the same person over and over again, but Matt Cutts is truly an expert on SEO and specifically Google’s algorithms. Here’s his article about why you shouldn’t engage in guest posting. On the other hand, here’s a good article: 3 Reasons Guest Posting Isn’t as Dead as Matt Cutts Says It Is.
The last link goes to an article that will tell you how Google can’t always technically differentiate between guest posts and regular articles. It backs this up by saying that people spam to improve their SEO, but SEO isn’t dead. They also mention how Matt Cutts was discussing how we shouldn’t guest post for the sake of SEO. That doesn’t rule out guest posting entirely.
Don’t worry, not everything has changed. There are still some core methods that still work in 2014.
The Basics of SEO
This list will tell you what you should be doing every time you post an article or create new content.
- Make sure that content is high quality.
- Write sub-content. This is content that is on your own page, or other pages, that links to your main piece of content. Don’t interlink too much, and make sure you always focus on quality and the helpfulness it provides to the reader. I prefer to keep URLs for all my content handy, and I only link to my content if it’s beneficial to the specific article I’m writing. If it isn’t, I won’t link to it.
- Connect Google Authorship to all the sites you post content on (see below).
- Post a link to your content on your favorite social pages. Don’t spam!
- Write some forum posts, around various forums, about the same topic as your article and link to your article as the source, or as a helpful link. Again, don’t spam, and make sure you don’t do this 24/7 as forum administrators are not going to be too happy if you only promote yourself.
Google Authorship is a program that allows you to connect your Google+ account to websites. This lets Google see all your content, even if it’s on different domains. This can improve your SEO. Google may know that you’re a high quality writer that has popular articles, so it will give some priority to your newer articles in the search results. This is speculation, but it proves itself time after time for my clients and I.
Besides backlinks, meta descriptions, and social networks, there are industry standards that you should be aware of. For example, predictions have been made that mobile usage will grow to be larger than desktop/laptop internet browsing. Is your website optimized for mobile devices?
Keep up with the times, and make sure you remember all the tips I’ve included in this article. If you, or your company, can execute a solid plan for SEO, you’ll be fine. Just remember to never sacrifice integrity, or break Google’s rules (like Rap Genius did), for the sake of ranking high in the short run.