As Google gurus preach, to get better results in searches you only need to do two things well: be relevant and be reputable. Two words that seem very complicated in the environment of new technologies, but they simply refer to how everyday life works. Whose recommendations do you trust most? Who will you listen to first? Most likely, it is your colleagues, friends and family; that is, the most relevant issues told by the most reputable people.
But what does it mean to be Relevant in SEO?
To be important and valuable for anyone who searches on your activity, respond to the needs of those who have found you. Google search algorithms have been changing the way of calculating the relevance of a website. Since its launch back in 1998, Google was engaged to count and store the words contained in each of the websites on the internet. When executing a search, the higher relevance was for those sites containing a higher density of terms. That worked for a while, but soon bad habits began. To be relevant it was enough to write the desired keyword as often as possible and wait for the search results to be favorable. That was considered to be spam, as it was clear that this would not always provide the most interesting results to search engine users. Search engine algorithms were improved to avoid keyword-stuffing and other black hat SEO practices. The target was increasingly oriented to content rather than keywords. Duplicate content and generating content irrelevant to users was also considered as bad practice, but still it was all about the keywords. Keyword count, keyword locations…
From September 2013 on, with the launch of the new algorithm called Hummingbird, everything changed. Google no longer only collected, numbered and stored keywords. It focused on what pages talk about and making search results match the meaning of the search the user is performing.
So now we talk about synonyms, human expressions and semantics. With the Hummingbird algorithm, the search engine database no longer accumulates keywords. Instead it gathers content, sentences, and meanings. To be relevant today is to generate the contents the user is going to search for. Content that really matters to the audience will rank the page higher than others.
Of course we cannot forget about keywords, image alts, H1, H2 titles, word density — a SEO-friendly URL policy is a must, of course. But if we had just one thing to focus on when optimizing a site, this is content, and the semantics of the texts that will be created. It’s about how we explain things, how users would ask about such content, and so, how our audience will search for them on the Internet.
Now that Online Relevance is updated, how can we be more Reputable?
As we said before, it works the same as in real life. Our goal is to make other people speak well about our content. Reputation is generated though backlinks to our site, but not every link! This new semantic web will rate better those links coming from highly specialized sites pointing at us as experts in the subjects we are talking about. How can we get those backlinks? Again, Google talks about creating interesting material, original and accessible content for our audience. If we create the content people are looking for, the links to our site will be generated.
Of course we can help that happen. It is important to share our contents. Social media is a great option to broadcast what we are doing and help establish backlinks. Join specialized Internet forums, create a Youtube channel focused on what we write about in a blog, do public relations, and exchange links with other publishers complementary to our work. These are just some ways to create a better reputation for our sites in our semantic environment.
More and more each day, black hat SEO is limited and persecuted. Today the best way to have a search engine optimized site is to establish long-term quality strategies based on content creation and broadcasting. And so, while we get more and more relevant, we will become more and more reputable, and thus search engine users will get better and more relevant search results. That also decreases bounce rates in landing pages, making it profitable to invest in creating all this high quality content.
Here are the Top Ten practices that will help you do better on Google:
- Create original and valuable content: Remember who will evaluate the content — the audience. Explain things. Build sentences, use synonyms. Do not overuse selected keywords as targeted users have to like the content you create.
- Use the right keywords: It’s not how you call your product or service but how potential customers do. Use free tools like Google Trends or Google Keyword planner to discover new words that have better searches figures than what you thought. Include main keywords in your title structure. H1, H2 are important to rank your page.
- Use Google Analytics: Use it to know and track the most visited content. Explore those subjects that made your site successful.
- Install a site search engine: Knowing what users are searching in your site will let you know their interests, making it easier to choose which contents you should create.
- Make sure your URLs follow SEO Best Practices: Make them human-readable. Use hyphens to separate words. Include your keywords and, if possible, searchable expressions.
- Tune page title and page description: Page titles should contain selected keywords. Even if Google is not taking that into account to rank the page, meta descriptions will be displayed in Google results page, and if it’s good enough, it will help get more traffic in.
- Use images: Even Google cannot read the image (not yet). Remember to use the right name for the image (forget about img00005.jpg), alt text and description.
- Do not overload your site with media: A short loading time is very important to get a better rank at Google. It’s all about user experience, and user do not want to wait for that huge and beautiful image on your homepage to be loaded.
- Build your reputation: Add authorship markup for google+ support. The better the content you create, the more reputable you will be for search engines.
- Share your content: Allow users to share it. Suggest them to do it. Broadcast it through social media, forums, and emails. Every share means better reputation for you and for your site.