If you want to improve your results with SEO, it makes sense to go straight to the source of search engine rankings – Google. While Google is notoriously coy and indirect about discussing its algorithm, it does publish the closest thing to a blueprint for marketers. Google Search Engine Quality Rater’s Guidelines doesn’t reveal the magic formula for dominating the search engine rankings. The guidelines do, however, reveal some solid advice that should help you improve your results. So let’s review some of the top takeaways from the Google Search Engine Quality Rater’s Guidelines.
Write For People, Not Search Engines
Over the years, Google has emphasized quality content more and more. What, however, does this mean exactly? One of the simplest ways to think about it is to write content that people actually want to read rather than trying to game the search engines with clever techniques. It’s also helpful to remember two acronyms that Google considers important: EAT and YMYL (the latter is technically an initialism rather than an acronym, as it’s not really pronounceable).
EAT stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. These three similar ideas are hard to define precisely. However, there’s little doubt that some websites exhibit EAT more than others. Health tips from an MD, for example, are more authoritative than those of a random blogger. On the other hand, a blogger can raise his or her EAT factor by interviewing a doctor. Trustworthy sites tend to document their claims with reliable links and sources. YMYL stands for Your Money or Your Life. These are topics that lots of people care passionately about. It’s really quite broad, encompassing subjects such as health, nutrition, finance, relationships, and anything related to well-being or happiness.
Make it Easy for Google to Find Your Website
One fundamental SEO principle is to make it as easy as possible for the search engines to find your website. This includes not only your main page but all of your sub-pages. Optimize your pages by using keyword rich titles, meta-descriptions, and SEO-friendly URLs. If you use WordPress, it’s easy to do this by filling out the keyword, description, and permalinks sections. There are also SEO plugins that help you do this.
Links Are Still Important
While some people believe that backlinks are no longer relevant, this is not the case. Quality links are still one of the main signals to show Google that your site is relevant, popular, and authoritative. Similarly, outbound links to quality sites also help with SEO. Make sure you avoid blackhat or unethical link-building tactics, such as buying lots of low-quality links. The best natural way to get links is to create great content that people share and that other sites want to link to. Reciprocal linking, guest posting on relevant blogs, and web directory listings are some other valid methods.
It’s important that your brand is consistent across all platforms. You want to make sure that your style and message is similar on your website, social media pages, and anywhere else that you’re active. Pay attention to the writing style, layouts, images, and other content is consistent. This helps you build authority with Google as well as in your customers’ eyes.
Provide People What They’re Looking For
Factors that affect user experience are increasingly important for SEO. Google wants you to make it as easy as possible for people to load and explore your pages. Some of the most important points under this category include:
- Page Design – Place your main content in a prime position, above the fold. If the first thing visitors see on your page are ads and they have to scroll down to access your content, this is a bad sign.
- Page Loading Speed – If your pages take more than a few seconds to load, this adversely affects user experience. Apart from SEO, this also causes a high bounce rate as many people won’t wait for pages to load.
- Easy to Navigate – Make sure visitors can easily find the pages they’re seeking. A visible menu with accurately named pages is the best approach.
- Mobile-Friendly – As more and more people use smartphones and other mobile devices to search online, it’s essential to make pages responsive and mobile-friendly.
- Needs Met – Another criterion Google now uses to rank websites is Needs Met. When someone finds your website in the search results, how well does your content meet their needs? This largely comes down to relevance as well as EAT. Don’t create enticing, clickbait-y headlines that disappoint readers.
While it’s impossible to decipher Google’s exact formula, following these guidelines can help you improve your search engine rankings.
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