If you want any level of brand visibility, online marketing is a must. And if you want to compete in the marketplace, expert SEO is an even bigger requirement.
You’re probably already aware of this; however, what you may not know is just how SEO works…particularly in the world of Google, the world’s most significant internet search engine.
If you’ve been working with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for any significant amount of time, you may remember when keywords and keyword phrases were ‘stuffed’ into pieces of content at such a high rate that the content made little or no sense to the reader. Those were the early days, when Google was looking for keyword matches in volume. You may also remember some black-hat tricks that developed in response to those algorithms, including the placement of popular keywords into backgrounds of the same colour, so as to hide them from the reader but to attract the attention of search engines. There was even the rampant use of non-related keywords (like a random Fight Club in an article about the stages of toddler development), just the get clicks.
Much of this has been remedied by Google. Today, content that isn’t deemed relevant to its title is penalised…as is keyword stuffing. Measures are in place to detect black-hat SEO tactics, and to focus primarily on the relevance and reputation of content and websites.
So what does that mean for you, a business owner who needs online marketing in order to reach all the right people? Does it mean that you should publish organically written content without too much concern for tactics? Does it mean that you should forget about algorithms and focus solely on your ideal reader? The answer to both questions is YES…with a number of exceptions.
Allow me to explain.
Online Marketing Success, with RankBrain
People have made livings (and hobbies) out of trying to figure out the latest Google algorithm, so they can achieve high search engine rankings (or so they can profit from sharing its secrets). And so far, they’ve only been moderately successful. Every year, Google makes at least 600 changes to its algorithm, and we certainly don’t see 600 new pieces of advice associated with those changes. So far, Google is winning the mysterious award…but that doesn’t mean you can’t win in SEO.
Many SEO experts are calling RankBrain the latest and most significant ‘update’ to the Google algorithm, when in fact, it’s not an ‘update’ (in the traditional sense of updates) at all. It’s not an addition either. It’s an enhancement; a new, integrated part of the algorithm that’s probably not going away anytime soon.
Not much will change about the ways content writers and publishers get Google’s attention for their content. What has changed is the technology used to qualify those pieces of content for top viewing.
RankBrain is called Artificial Intelligence (AI) by some and Machine Learning Technology by others. Its technology differs from others that take human instructions and others that follow detailed programming in that it ‘teaches’ itself. It ‘learns’ how to seek out the best content (as related to any given internet search), and then banks what it ‘learns’ for more efficient future rummaging through web.
Why is this significant? Because it’s always evolving. It’s always ‘learning’ new ways to sort through and choose content that is most suitable for individual internet users’ needs.
RankBrain uses approximately 200 signals to qualify any given piece of content that seems relevant to a search, whilst giving consideration to more than 1,000 other variations and subsets of those signals.
Here are just a few of those primary signals:
- Keywords in Content: If your keyword isn’t represented, the crawlers can’t find your content.
- Words in Bold Type: This is why you’ll see headings in bold, as well as a bold keyword or two within the text.
- Current Search Ranking: This could be called a ‘track record,’ and it matters.
- Mobile Friendly Status: Because so many internet users are surfing on their phones and tablets, Google is going to give websites that recognise this the best chances of first-page rankings.
- Social Media Sharing: The more prominent social media users (and business sites) that share your content, the better your rankings will be.
- Load Time: Slow-loading sites lose.
- Vertical Content: Because this is a positive thing when viewing content on all types of devices.
- Location: In many cases, RankBrain will give priority to those sites located in the same geographical region as the IP address where the search initiated; particularly if the name of the location appears in the text and headings.
- Relevant Title Tags: Keywords should appear in titles.
- Keywords in URLs: Make sure they’re in there.
- Descriptions that Match Content: This helps Google to ensure that users are getting what they’re expecting.
- Relevant Header Tags: Headers should contain keywords.
- Keyword Density: There is no longer a percentage that matters; however, keywords should appear naturally, as you would write for the newspaper. The moral? Make sure they’re there, but not there in excess. Forget about calculating percentages, and just give your readers the best experience possible.
- Identity Verification: Google needs to easily see who owns the site and who has authored content.
- Hidden Words: Trying to trick readers whilst attracting Google is no longer a good idea. They’re on to you.
- Inbound and Outbound Links: Interconnection between your content and sites that are well-established and reputable will benefit your page’s rankings.
- Bounce Rate: Google wants to know that you’re working to keep people at your site. Delivering on your promises is a big part of this, so give them what they were hoping for and more…so they’ll stay at your web address for a while.
- Longevity: The longer your website has been around (and operating authentically and with white-hat tactics), the better it will rank. So if you’ve been putting off creating your brand’s website, I would suggest you start sooner rather than later.
- Ad Concentration: Lots of ads, especially above the fold (i.e. what’s visible before scrolling) will not contribute to an impressive page rank.
How many of these new SEO tactics do you think you’ll be able to integrate into your online marketing strategy this month? Some can be integrated immediately, whilst others will develop over time—and will develop healthily if you stick to delivering high-quality, relevant content that is optimized for visibility and learning by RankBrain.
Have questions? Of course you do. I invite you to connect with me on the How to Build a Brand Facebook page, in the How to Build a Brand Facebook group, or through our website contact form. I am delivering the world’s most valuable brand-building resource and my goal is to ensure that you will never have to go anywhere else for your branding and marketing needs. Sound good to you? Then get over here.