5 Secrets About SEO That Only a Handful of People Know
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Search Engine Optimisation is a mystery to many, including the SEO specialists who do such great work boosting your site’s ranking on Google! The reason? Google does not disclose what changes have been made to their algorithms. They might reveal that a big update has been released, but the specifics are kept under lock and key. It is up to the SEO community, then, to deduce what has changed and how to better their strategies to keep their client’s sites performing well.
So far, the best course of action is to prioritise quality. Quality content. Quality websites. Quality backlinks. The effort pays off, and everyone, from you to the internet users, are happier for it. After all, when the algorithm updates and improves, so too does the implicit trust in the sites that are ranked. Users rely on the first page of Google heavily, and getting to that coveted position becomes more lucrative as time goes on.
SEO is not magic, but it is difficult. To help you understand the secrets behind SEO you need to get behind the scenes to know what goes into a great SEO campaign. Knowing these top five secrets can help you attempt to build a campaign yourself, or, more likely, help you choose the right SEO agency to help you reach your goals.
Google’s Algorithm Updates Are a Mystery
As stated, the complete nature of Google’s algorithm updates is a mystery to everyone but the employees within Google. Think of their algorithm as an anti-virus program against spam. It wouldn’t be beneficial to them or to users to disclose this information to the public.
That is where the SEO community comes in. Though a specific run-down of what each algorithm update has done is not available, through analytics tools a lot can be deduced about what changes were made and what SEO agencies can do to improve their client’s ranking. Understanding what is known about this algorithm, and how it has changed, has helped specialists devise smart SEO campaigns and deduce future trends. To know the algorithm is to know SEO.
Google’s Algorithm Timeline:
2000 – 2003: Google launches its own toolbar, and thus, the world of SEO as we know it begins. From then till 2003 pages were ranked based on the “Google Dance” monthly update scheme. On November 1, 2003, the first recognisable update arose, decimating the ranking on all sites that rose to prominence due to 90s SEO techniques.
2005: Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft implement the “nofollow” tool to allow webmasters the ability to clean up their sites and to later submit XML sitemaps directly to Google.
2011: Panda Update. One of the first major algorithm updates you hear about often. This update cracked down on sites with thin content, content farms, and those that had a high advert-to-content ratio. Essentially, it devalued sites that were not valuable.
2012: The Penguin Update. This update targeted sites that contained spam content like keyword stuffing and ranked them poorly or penalised them directly.
2015: The RankBrain Update. Machine learning was officially disclosed to be a part of the algorithm.
There are hundreds of algorithm changes over the years, both to the search functionality and to the factors that the search engine algorithms use to find and understand data on the internet. By understanding the progress that these algorithms have gone to, you can deduce an overall pattern.
This pattern? Quality. Google wants to reward sites that offer users valuable and relevant information. By keeping a close eye on the smaller changes, you can then optimise this content to provide the greatest ROI.
The Affect Backlinks Have On Your Site
Backlinks are references on other sites that directly link to you or any of the pages under your domain. In the early days of search engines, any link was a good link. That is why spam was common. Keywords were stuffed, pages were not relevant, links found themselves in forums and comments en masse. All that changed, however, when Google’s Penguin Update arrived. Since then, quality has been the name of the game.
What this means is that, if you have any backlinks to your site from unsavoury domains, this could be holding your site back. It is important that you go through the links to your site and contact the webmasters directly to have them removed when the quality of their own site is in question. If the site has been abandoned, then you can submit a form to Google requesting for the link to be disavowed.
Next, there is link building. Link building is one of the most critical components that search algorithms look for to determine the relevancy and authority of your site. Unlike in the past, however, it is the quality of the links that they prioritise, rather than the quantity. This has made link building very difficult to get in to, which is why in most cases it is best to hire link building services instead.
There are many different ways link building tools will benefit your site. For one, they allow you to find websites with high domain authority, page authority, and trust flow within your given niche. You will also be able to determine where their links go to, to ensure that the placed links are diverse and Google-friendly.
The second benefit to using link building tools is for the opposite reason you would audit your backlink profile. By monitoring for brand mentions of your company, you can contact and ask webmasters to link to you in the articles they have already published. Doing so will boost your organic reach and improve your backlink profile all in one go.
Google does not automatically blacklist link building. You need to go through the effort to ensure that the sites you partner with are high quality, well regarded, and highly engaged with. Guest posting can be very beneficial to your organic reach and to your ranking on the SERPs, but it is imperative that you commit to fully researching who you are posting with.
How Your Website Affects Your Ranking
Just as the quality of your backlink profile could be holding your site back, so too could your website itself. To optimise it, you need to audit it, clean it up, and commit to a strong content marketing plan in the future. Only once you fix your website so that it is both user and algorithm friendly can your website, and any other off-site and link building efforts start to truly pay off.
Think of improving your backlink profile and your website as getting out of debt. As long as there are these factors holding you back, you cannot make significant progress towards your savings, or, in the world of SEO, towards greater visibility and engagement.
To start bettering your website, you will need to do a few audits:
- A Website Audit
- A Content Audit
- An SEO Audit
Though there are three audits, that does not mean you cannot do them all at once. The goal is to clean up your website, optimise it, and make it as attractive and easy to use as possible. To start, go through your website and make a note of any broken pages, lost pages (for example, pages that exist but cannot be accessed through any link on your site), broken links, and other confusing layout issues. The cleaner your site structure is and the better it performs, the easier it will be to use. Depending on how large your site is and how long you have been using it, this could take time. If needed, Click Intelligence offer SEO services that specialise in large volume audits.
The next step is to audit the content and any on-site SEO. This is critical if you implemented any now blacklisted techniques in the past. Keyword stuffing, irrelevant content, invisible keywords, and so on can all severely hurt your site’s ranking and could even have resulted in a penalisation. As for the content itself, update it, ensure it is relevant, and optimise it with white-hat and currently acceptable SEO techniques.
Only once you have completed the audit and have made the necessary improvements can you move on. Your site needs to be easy to use, fast, secure, and have relevant and engaging content. Done right, your site should appeal to both algorithms and users alike. Once done, send an XML markup to Google to make parsing through your site and updating their searches faster and easier.
SEO Is a Piece of Your Digital Marketing Efforts
SEO is not separate from your digital marketing campaign. It is a part of it. In fact, SEO should be a part of every single action you take online. Yes, some tactics are more commonly associated with SEO than others. Link building, for example, is a notable “SEO” strategy that often requires the professional touch to execute correctly. What is also SEO, however, is creating great content that has a healthy amount of internal and external links, and even creating strong captions for when you share that content on social media.
You need to adopt SEO into every practice you do online and offline. You can turn a launch party into an opportunity to boost your local SEO if you know what you are doing. By always considering and implementing search engine optimisation tactics into everything you can do, you can benefit more from your marketing efforts moving forward.
Think of it like this: if you integrate SEO into your digital marketing, you will benefit from organic reach and traffic now, and in the future.
SEO Is a Continuing Process
Finally, the last secret that far too few people know and understand is that SEO is not a one-and-done process. You cannot expect one month of SEO to improve your ranking drastically, nor can you expect your ranking to stay for long. You will be up against competitors who are investing in SEO themselves. The internet is dynamic, and, though SEO is a long-term solution, it won’t be as effective until you get to the first page.
Consider how you yourself use Google. You insert a search query, and then very likely will choose the first result. If it isn’t what you what, you might go down to the bottom of the page. How often have you actually gone to the second page? 75% of all users will choose a result on the first page. A third of those users will go for the first result.
These top positions are coveted for two reasons. One, for the immediate traffic boost to your site. The second, less obvious benefit is that it gives you a position of authority. When you have that authority, you boost your chances of gaining more backlinks from reputable sites who are looking to boost the authority on their own content. This positive feedback loop can help you stay at the top of the search for the foreseeable future. Just remember to update that page regularly to keep it fresh and relevant.
Before you can get to this top spot, however, you need to invest in an ongoing SEO campaign. You wouldn’t stop advertising or using social media to boost visibility and generate more organic engagement, and neither should you stop your SEO efforts. This will help you keep your presence optimised throughout every algorithm update and help you boost your traffic through a variety of avenues.
SEO is an evolving practice that takes dedication and data-driven strategies to implement. The more effort you put in to ensure every tactic you use offers quality to users, the more likely your efforts will continue to pay off in the future. Knowing not just what Google is looking for, but how the SEO process works, can help you find a qualified SEO agency that can take your business to the heights you have always dreamed. It won’t be instantaneous, but the goal here is immortalisation in Google’s SERPs.