3 Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tips For Better Ranking

Brief on Search Engines

Search engines take the users search and look through their index to find the content that best answers the users query.  The order of the search results is known as the ranking.  In general, the higher the page ranking, the more relevant that the search engine thinks the result is to the search.

It is important to make sure that search engines can properly access the content on your page.  It should also be noted that it is possible to block a search engine from indexing part of your page.  We won’t cover robots.txt in this tutorial, but you can find more information about it here (https://developers.google.com/search/reference/robots_txt).

Search engines use algorithms, a process or formula, to determine which information to retrieve and how to order it.  These algorithms are living software and see many changes to improve the quality of search results.  Google, for example, makes adjustments to their search algorithm every day.  Some are minor tweaks, others are targeted to fix a specific issue.  Check out the Google article on How Search Algorithms work for a more in-depth dive.

1. Write Compelling Content

Content is not just the words on your page; it corresponds to anything meant to be consumed by searchers.  Content can consist of images, videos, and text.  Search engines use your content to determine relevance to searches.

When someone performs a search, there are thousands or millions of possible results.  Search engines need to determine how well every result matches the searchers intent.  Think, does this page match the words that were searched and would it help the searcher accomplish their task?

There are no strict benchmarks on how long your content should be, how many times it should contain a keyword, or what you put in your header tags.  They all play a factor in how well your page performs in a search, but the focus should be on the users who will be reading the content.

Search engines use hundreds or even thousands of ranking signals to determine search relevance, but there remain 3 that are most consistent:

  • Links to your website (think 3rd party credibility)
  • On-page content (quality content that answers users searches)
  • RankBrain
Brief on RankBrain

RankBrain is the machine learning component of Google’s core algorithm.  Machine learning is a computer program that continues to improve it’s predictions over time through training and observation.  It is always learning and therefor constantly improving search results.

If RankBrain notices a lower ranking URL providing better results to users than higher ranking URLs, it will adjust the results, moving the more relevant results higher and demoting the lesser relevant pages.

Machine learning can get complex very quickly and apparently even Google can no longer explain how RankBrain makes it’s decisions.  Read the article

2. Keyword Optimize

With a basic understanding now of how your page will show up in search results, let’s dig into how to determine the strategic keywords needed to to satisfy both users and search engines.

You need to understand your target market and how they will be searching for your content, services, or products.  Sadly, this is where many companies fail.  Market research is time consuming and most business owners feel like they already know what you want to rank for.

The reality is often what the business owner thinks they should rank for and what their audience is actually looking for are vastly different.  Focus on your audience and then use keyword data to hone those insights to tailor the content to match.

Let’s take a look at an example.  Richards Bodybuilder Meals has heard about search engine optimization (SEO) and wants help improving how often he appears in organic search results.  In order to help Richard, we need to first understand a little more about his customers.  We might ask questions such as:

  1. Who is searching for bodybuilding meals?
  2. When do people search for meals?
    1. Are there seasonal trends?
    2. Do consumers go through phases?  (ie. cycles)
  3. Why are people looking for body-building meal prep?
  4. How do people search for body-building meal prep?
    1. What words do they use?
    2. What questions are they asking?
    3. Are Richards consumers using mobile devices?
  5. Where are the customers located?

The most important take-away is, how can you help provide the best content about meal prep to cultivate a community and fulfill what those people are searching for.  Asking questions is a crucial planning step that will guide your keyword research and help you write better content.

Keyword Discovery

You probably have a few keywords in mind that you would like to rank for.  These are likely things such as your products, services, or other topics that your content addresses, and are a great starting point for keyword research tools.

After entering your keywords into a keyword research tool, you will be able to discover other keywords, common questions, and topics for your content that you might have otherwise missed.

Let’s use the example above and put it into our keyword research tool.  Typing “meal prep”, and “meals” into a keyword research tool can help you discover highly relevant, and highly searched for related terms, such as:

  • meal prep for weight loss
  • meal prepping for beginners
  • meal prep for muscle gain
  • meals ready to eat
  • meals delivered

 

It is important to choose relevant keywords for your content, you will also want to choose a balance between keywords with a high search volume and keywords lesser searched.  The high search volume keywords will be highly competitive and difficult to maintain a ranking, choosing some lower volume keywords may be advantageous.

Here are the 5 Best Keyword Research Tools

  1. Soovle – Get suggested keywords from Google, Amazon, YouTube, Yahoo, Bing, and Wikipedia all in one spot.
  2. Jaayx – Get thousands of related keyword ideas
  3. Google Search Console – Find hundreds of “Opportunity Keywords”
  4. Ahrefs Keywords Explorer – Make intelligent keyword decisions
  5. SECockpit – Keyword research for SEO professionals

3. Great User Experience

Your content should exist for a purpose.  Content should help answer searchers’ questions and guide them through your site, and it should also help them understand your contents purpose.  With limited guidelines on how to write good content, let’s take a look at a few tactics to avoid.

Thin Content

Having a separate page for each keyword that you are trying to target is an old tactic that people used to use to increase their ranking on search engines.  In 2011 Google release Panda targeted to specifically demote the ranking of websites with thin content.

Duplicate Content

Just as it sounds, it is very bad practice to have content duplicated across multiple domains or even pages on the same domain.  Duplicate content also includes content that is illegally taken from other sites and re-published, or modified slightly without adding originality or additional value.

For legitimate reasons for content duplication Google recommends using “rel=canonical” to define similar or duplicate pages.

When Google identifies duplicate versions of content it will make a decision as to which URL is canonical and crawl that, all other URLs will be considered duplicates and crawled less often.  Using “rel=canonical” you can specify to Google which URL is canonical, otherwise Google will make the choice for you.

Cloaking

Search engines rely on the crawler getting the same content as a human visitor would.  You should never hide text within the HTML code of your website that human visitors cannot see.

When you hide text in your HTML code, search engines call it “cloaking” and they aggressively take action to prevent those pages from ranking.  It is considered a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.  Bad news.

Auto-Generated Content

Automatically generated content is created by computers and is usually intended to manipulate search rankings and not help users.  Google will take action against this content and demote it.

Let’s take a look at what auto-generated content can consist of:

  • Text that is garbled, but contains keywords (ie. lorem ipsum)
  • Text that may have been translated from another language without human review
  • Text generated using automated processes (ie. Markov Chains)
  • Stitching or combining content from different pages without adding sufficient value

 

We encourage you to take a look at Google’s Quality Guidelines to ensure that your content is not going to violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Thank you for reading!  We hope that article helps you to improve the content on your website and further improve your search ranking.

We include SEO in all of our website development projects.  We utilize a combination of Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and the Google Webmaster Guidelines to create content that ranks well and converts for our clients.

We’d love to hear from you if this content was helpful.  Please drop us a line and we’ll give you a shout-out below 👇.

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