What have I learned from making content for the internet? One thing is clear: you need search engine optimization (SEO) if you want people to find your work in Google.
Take this article as an example. If you search for “reverse engineer Google,” “seo secrets,” or “reverse engineering SEO,” this article is on the first page for each of those terms. Talk about meta.
SEO isn’t magic; you just have to know what to do.
Whether you’re new to SEO or have been doing it for a while, I think you should read this all the way through to learn how to get your content to the top of search results. It’s meant to be a solid base for SEO. There are a lot of important things to talk about and balance, and I’ll tell you what you need to know in plain English.
Come with me and we’ll try to figure out how Google’s search engine programmers analyze, judge, and rank content. We’ll do this by using a mix of intuition and logic, not necessarily by analyzing the facts.
What is the goal of Google and SEO?
Google, Bing, Baidu, Yandex, and other search engines are like librarians. They put many books (websites) in libraries all over the world into groups (indexes) (internet). It’s their job to help you find the exact book you want. They do this very well, which is why Google is the best search engine, and it is why you need a great SEO.
To get to this point, Google made a complicated algorithm (now called “The Algorithm”) with top-secret variables that evaluates websites based on their content and ranks them accordingly.
Have you ever done a search and found exactly what you were looking for? Then you started another search, and before you could type three letters, Google already knew what you were going to search for next, because of SEO. That’s why The Algorithm is so smart. It can even guess what you want based on what you searched for in the past.
Good SEO follows the rules that Google says are the best ways to get your content to the top. No one really knows what these variables are unless they work at Google. But there are hints that can help us figure out what they might be.
Quality in SEO rules in Google
“Content is King” may have been said to you. You can make as much content as you want, but that doesn’t make it automatically good. No, quality is the right word here. Quality rules. This idea should be clear and ingrained in your mind, and it should be the most important thing you think about when making content.
If your content isn’t doing at least one of these things, why bother? Start by making something that is useful and will last. Not some “mission statement” page, not some “about us” page. Actual. Quality. Content. You can follow almost every piece of advice on this page to the letter, but if the quality isn’t there, you’re on your own.
Google wants to show search results that are useful. Whether it’s a tutorial video, a funny article, or an amazing photo series, you can make something of high quality that helps both your brand’s bottom line and your audience. Win-win.
You don’t have much say over whether or not people share your content. You could ask (or pay) the people above to link or share, but the best thing for The Algorithm would be for it to spread on its own. That means getting bigger by getting the word out. And the best way to do that is to start with good content. (And a budget for marketing helps get the word out.)
Do Sharers Have Anything to Do with Your Content?
The second part of sharing is: Is your post being shared by other sites that are similar? Is your video, “The Future of Design,” being shared by designers and other creative people? Is your article, “A Possible Cure for Cancer,” being passed around by doctors and well-known medical institutions?
Putting Links to Your Brand
Crosslinking is a simple way to show that your brand is important. If you have accounts on multiple networks and want Google to know that they are all connected to you, you can link them together.
I only have one thing to say about this: don’t cross-link if your page is empty. If you link your Facebook page to your Twitter page, but your Twitter profile doesn’t have any tweets, that’s just bad UX (user experience). If you link to your platforms, make sure they have something to offer.
Keywords are Queen
Google uses search terms, or keywords, to index your site. Even though keywords are not as important as they used to be, they are still needed.
The words and keywords you use on your page are important. Each and every word. If you fill your page with search terms just to fill it, Google won’t care or find it helpful (and you’ll lose house points for lying, and you know I’m all for losing house points!).
“Keyword stuffing” used to be when words were used over and over again on a page to trick search engines into thinking that a site was about those words because they were used so many times. Now, no longer.
The title of your content is an important place to use keywords. The title needs to do more than one thing:
- Be clear and precise.
- be interesting enough to get people to click on it.
- Have search terms that are also words.
It’s not easy to get all three of these things. Don’t let this stop you from coming up with a good title, but do think about it. Use words that people are likely to search for in your title.
Whoever posts first wins
Google has caught on to people who copy and paste popular content onto their own sites (usually without permission) in order to get traffic and ad revenue (minus one hundred points in Life if you do this). You’ll get your AdSense money, but your site won’t move up in the search results.
If you make something that gets 1 million views and someone else shares it and it gets 20 million views (because they have a bigger platform), yours will still be ranked first because:
- Google remembers who put it up first.
Good thing there are timestamps. The original source is the person who posted it first, so they will be ranked higher. No matter how many people have the same content, they are all considered to have copied or shared it. Being first might not make a difference right away, but The Algorithm will change its course as time goes on and more data is collected.
If you want to post the same content on more than one platform, make sure you post it on the main site you want people to go to first, then post it on the others. Don’t worry too much about people copying your content. The Algorithm will figure out the right order. (Plus, if no one is stealing your content, it’s not worth stealing.)
Google doesn’t have time for books (websites) that say one thing on the cover (code) but are actually something else (not relevant). Don’t trick Google. Here are a few things you shouldn’t do. You don’t want to be on their blacklist, which means that they don’t know who you are.
The most important factors for search engine optimization are the ones listed above. Some you have control over, some you don’t. If you do everything right, you won’t have to worry about whether or not your content will be at the top of search results. It should get there on its own (and again, a marketing budget helps).