Figuring out the basics of the SEO industry is rarely easy, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience in the field. With the massive recent influx of people into the industry, there’s been no better time for veterans in the SEO space to share their experience so that others have a chance of growing this burgeoning field.
Over the course of today’s guide, we’re going to take a look at some of the most crucial basics that you’ll need to account for if you want to ensure that a site can rank. We’ll go over things like the importance of creating quality content, keeping your site mobile-friendly, and ensuring that you have the right security certificates.
One mistake that many newcomers to the SEO industry make is trying to game Google’s algorithm. Google has worked on their algorithm for decades, and they understand that people will try to take advantage of any loophole in it to make it to the top, but that’s not the goal of the algorithm.
Google’s goal is to convince content creators and site runners to create content that is of high quality and that people want to consume. It may sound like it’s challenging to get an algorithm to value content for humans by humans, and that’s because it is. Google sinks countless man-hours into refining their algorithm as much as possible.
What this means is that even if you try to game the system when you create content to make a site rank, your position at the top won’t last for long. It may take a little while, but Google will eventually close that loophole and a site will fall way down in its rankings because the content wasn’t created to Google’s standards.
So what kind of content does Google prize? One of the most important things is that your content is original and it exists for a purpose. Google penalizes content that is meandering and seems like it’s just trying to get a visitor to stay on the page for as long as possible because that doesn’t address the user’s need.
Feel free to elaborate on a topic, but you’ll want to address the visitor’s reason for being on your site as soon as possible. If your content is good enough to hook that visitor, then more power to you, but you never want to try and coerce a visitor into staying on your site because Google doesn’t take kindly to that.
Your content will also need to be as fresh as possible. Failing to make sure that your content is up-to-date will lose you relevance in the search results. Google is always trying to ensure that the most recent content is at the top of their search results, especially if the info contained within is time-sensitive.
You’ll also want to do what you can to make sure that your site is as mobile-friendly as possible. This means that your site needs to be able to work well on devices like smartphones and tablets. Some sites will even focus entirely on their mobile presentation, leaving their desktop version as an afterthought.
While this may sound reckless, there’s a reason for doing this, and it’s because mobile traffic is growing by a huge amount each year. Google understands that the vast majority of its users will soon be based on mobile devices and they want to make sure that the results they present are suitable for viewing by those mobile users.
If your site currently isn’t mobile-friendly and it’s essentially a desktop site that is difficult to navigate on a phone, you may want to invest some time and money into making a mobile version of your site. While it may be a bit of an upfront investment, it will have the advantage of improving your visitor retention and boosting your search results.
This is often easier than it sounds, especially if you’re using a platform like WordPress. All it takes is changing your theme to one that is designed to be mobile-responsive from the start. This will ensure that your site lines up well with Google’s new mobile-first search ranking philosophy.
As you may have guessed by now, Google does what it can to ensure that its users have the best possible experience, and this includes keeping them safe when they conduct a search. This is where your site’s security plays into your search results, as a more secure site will be ranked better by Google.
But how do you make sure that your site is as secure as possible? Using SSL is the easiest way to keep your site’s visitors safe. When you have an SSL certificate, your site’s URL will be preceded by “HTTPS” instead of “HTTP”. What this means is that the info being transferred between your computer and the browser is encrypted.
Domain authority is also known as DA, and it’s a factor that Google has kept close to their chests for some time. While nobody knows the exact factors that go into determining a site’s DA, we do know that it’s closely linked to how much of an expert your site’s content creators are about their particular subject.
Google doesn’t want to have just anyone talking about specific subjects ranked at the top of their search results because that’s just not a good look. To provide their searchers with the best results, they want to be sure that the people at the top of the SERP are experts in their respective fields.
Along with ensuring that the people on your site are truly experts, you may also want to include some authoritative references over the course of your content. When you back your words up with what experts have had to say, then you greatly increase the authority of your content and therefore your domain.
There are countless tools and WordPress plugins that you can use to get an estimate of the level of domain authority that your site has.