Google is all about relevancy – how relevant it thinks your site is to what the user is searching for. This used to be just about how many keywords you had vs your competitor, but that was a LONG time ago. While no one except Google knows the exact details of their algorithm, we do know that they use hundreds of factors to determine relevancy. Here are a few of the most important in no particular order.
Say you are searching for a pair of binoculars. Google will almost always return a page that has a large amount of quality content on it vs a page that has little content (i.e. a product page). Here’s Google’s search result for the term ‘Best Binoculars’:
You’ll notice that the top of the page is taken up by paid links – either AdWords or Google Shopping. Then you get the lucky site that was selected as the fearured snippet which is selected by Google as the ‘best answer’ to the question posed by the user. No, unfortunately you can’t buy this, it is selected by Google.
So after all of that, you get down to the actual organic results. The key thing to notice here is not a product page in sight, these are all either review sites or category pages that have a LOT of content in them. The bottom line is that Google isn’t going to show your product here, no matter how many times you add ‘best binoculars’ to your copy.
So as a general rule, you should have at least one paragraph of keyword-rich, well-written copy on EVERY page of your site. Don’t stuff the keywords and make it unreadable, but work them in as best you can while still writing for an actual human. The more copy you add the better, as pages thin on copy will never do well in Google, even if it isn’t as big a factor as it used to be.
Google likes quality backlinks. There are certain criteria of backlinks that are beloved by Google-
1) Backlink should be placed on authorized website
2) Link should not be come from porn, gambling or other low quality website
3) Link should be placed on websites that have high da and good alexa score.
4) Link should have relevant anchor text
5) Links should be placed on webpages that have relevant content
6) Link should not be mentioned on footer or sidebar
7) Link should not be taken from websites those have same IP address
If you use Google Analytics (hint: you should be), you’ll see a metric called bounce rate. This is the percentage of users who come to your site and ‘bounce’, or leave within 10 seconds. Generally this means that they didn’t find what they were looking for, and use the back button to go back to the search results. Google sees high bounce rates as a negative, as it appears as though your site wasn’t relative to the search result. If you aren’t relevant, Google isn’t going to keep your site in that index for very long. So how do you prevent a high bounce rate?
- Make sure all of the content you are posting is relevant to your site. I.E. Don’t be posting cake recipes on your blog if you sell perfume. You’ll get a ton of people looking for a cake site, and when they find perfume, they will obviously leave.
- Make sure your site is loading quickly. Nothing makes someone leave faster than a site that never loads.
- Make sure your site is 100% optimized for mobile. Mobile users won’t stick around if they have to squint to see where to click on the menu.
META title & META description
These two little gems have always been at the core of any SEO strategy. META Keywords were once part of it too until SEO firms abused them so badly that Google simply started ignoring them. See the example below:
The purple text at the top (blue if you haven’t visited it yet) is called the META Title. As a general rule, you want to keep this to about 60 characters. There’s no exact character limit, because characters can vary in width and Google’s display titles max out (currently) at 600 pixels. You’ll want to make this as clear as possible for users, and try to get as many keywords/phrases in there as you can. You’ll notice I also added my company name, as we get a lot of searches for our brand. This is especially important for companies who are in extremely competitive industries such as soap makers, bath and body companies, etc. Often your brand will be more important for search than keywords.
The block of text below the url is called the META Description. Meta descriptions can be any length, but search engines generally truncate them if they are longer than 160 characters. It is best to keep them between 150 and 160 characters. You will also want to use keywords here, but what is more important is writing a description that is relevant to the user. You want to describe your product/service/company in a way that entices the user to click on that link. That is much more important than getting that extra keyword in there!
Any good Shopping Cart software will allow you to edit both of these for every page on the site, as they also have to be unique which I will discuss next.
At this point, if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you are in big trouble. Not only does Google heavily factor this into their algorithm, but over 50% of users are now browsing sites on their mobile device. When they come to your site and can’t navigate on their phone, you can bet they will never come back.
Your site absolutely HAS to be running in full-time https these days, both for Google and to prevent the ugly ‘insecure’ warning in Chrome and Firefox.
This one is kind of a no-brainer, but I still see people doing it wrong. The urls of your pages should be clean and optimized, with keywords in them. Example:
Bad Url: yoursite.com/product.php?productid=1223
Good Url: yoursite.com/organic-cranberry-sugar-scrub/
The first one has no keywords and a bunch of special characters. The second one has keywords and is ‘clean’ and easy to read. Most shopping carts will automatically create clean urls for you, and let you edit them as well.
These are heading tags that help break your content up and make it more readable for people. The title above is an h3 tag for example, and the main page title is an h1. Google wants to see exactly one h1 tag on a page, which is typically the page/category/product title. Keywords are of course important here as well. Use h2, h3, etc for sub-headings in your copy.
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