Myth, legend, or just something to keep us all on our toes?

Part 1 in an 8 Part Series Digital Marketing Strategies

Before having a conversation regarding search engine optimization, one must first understand the force that is Google.  A recent  2019 survey asserts that nearly 70% of all user internet experiences begin with a google search. Additionally, if you include Google, plus all of its online properties (Google, youtube, Adsense, and Double-click to name a few,) the percentage grows to over 90% of all user internet experiences start with a Google family web-based company.

In 2018 Google earned over 136 billion dollars in revenue (that’s over 350 million dollars per day.) over 1/3 of all the money spent on advertising globally was spent with google.  Moreover, Google’s 2018 valuation gave the internet giant value of over $510 billion u.s. dollars, making it the largest most valuable web-based company in the world. Google has definitely earned its place as the number one search engine online. The company’s vision for a better world wide web has set into motion a legitimate, content-driven series of best practices and guidelines to help ensure that the average user receives the most relevant and up to date information available for his online search.

Gone are the days of tricking and manipulating search engines for personal gain.  Today Google does an excellent job of setting the bar high enough so that users receive the best results for their specific search queries, giving the web a level of integrity that for years was missing from the equation. Search engine optimization refers to the practice of designing websites so that all of the different site components are tailored in such a way as to not only meet google’s standard but also to exceed its expectations. And although the algorithms used for ranking are very complex, at times causing web professionals to have more questions than answers, google has clearly defined several factors that help sites better their search engine rank. The following is a list of specific components that google uses in determining its SERP or search engine results page. 

A secure and accessible website

Are we this vulnerable?

As the first contributing factor, a secure and accessible website is the foundation that all of the other ranking factors are built upon. In order for Google to index your site and rank it in pertinent search results, Google first needs to be able to access your site by crawling it. Essentially little google software spiders crawl or read the pages of your site so that your pages might be specifically indexed and ready for google to rank when a specific search is made. In addition to being readable for google, your site also needs to be secure. A primary reason for google’s success is that the online search giant is trusted by millions of users. If google says your site is safe and meets its overall approval, millions of internet users believe google and feel safe interacting with your well designed, content-rich website.

Google also provides helpful tools for the site owner to utilize to make the necessary recommended adjustments so that the site is fully optimized and ready for presentation to the online enquirer. Robot.txts refer to certain specific code instructions google requires to proceed with a site’s crawling. Through the use of robot.txts, the web designer is able to tell google what to specifically look at and what to ignore when crawling said site.

Also if your site will engage in online payment transactions, be it PayPal or Visa / MC, an SSL certificate is required.  SSL certificates give your site the “trust and legitimacy” stamp of approval and are indicated by the prefix: https://. The “s” at the end reassures users that the site has an SSL certificate and ensures consumers that any and all financial data shared with a site having an SSL certificate is safe and protected from would-be hackers.

Page speed including mobile page speed

In today’s busy world of impatient online users, the speed in which pages load for both desktop and mobile sites has an impact on sites overall ranking. Google likes your site to completely load under 2 seconds. Conversely, by having a quick loading website, google feels that the site has been optimized to perform in a manner that is pleasing to the user and is aware and respectful of googles time-sensitive request.

Recommended online speed testing tool: Pingdom

Mobile optimization

As predicted, 2018 was the first year in which more internet users accessed the web via their cell phone rather than from their computer. Having both the analytics and foresight to recognize upcoming trends, google has recently adjusted its algorithms to ensure that mobile users receive the same consideration as desktop users in terms of loading speed and ease of use. Today if a business website wants to be considered for a high ranking SERP position, one’s website must be optimized for the mobile experience.  The mobile web design should incorporate a pleasant fully interactive user experience. Additionally, a site’s aesthetics should be thoughtfully considered for both desk top’s and mobile’s visual presentation.

Recommended online testing tools: Google Search Console’s mobile-friendly test

Optimized Content

Because Google wants the best answer available for one’s search request, content is one of the three most important ranking factors for any web site.  It is important to note that relevant content must supply a demand and must be linkable in order for it to receive a high ranking outcome from google.

The highest-ranking content will incorporate the following components:

  • Be very relevant to a specific topic.
  • Include subject in the title tag.
  • Include subject in URL.
  • Include subject in the image alt text
  • Several content referrals to subject in copy
  • Provide unique content about a given subject
  • Link back to its category page
  • Link back to its subcategory page (If applicable)
  • Link back to its homepage (normally accomplished with an image link showing the website logo on the top left of a page)

Technical SEO

So many factors go into the manifesto of SEO, even that one day you couldn’t open your email and you cursed Google? Ya, they have that on file too.

Technical SEO refers too many underlying non-visible components on a page that allow google to crawl and index your page in a thorough manner. Several sub-categories are included in technical SEO: 

Crawling: Can search engines find and effectively crawl your site? Topics pertaining to this facet of technical SEO include:  status codes, sitemaps, information architecture, robots.txt, and facets

Indexing: can search engines properly index your page? The main sub-topic for indexing is meta robots

Rendering is search engines able to render your page with sub-topics including javascript, the DOM, and page speed.

Content Understanding: are search engines able to correctly read your content? with sub-topics including structured data, HTML,  schema.org and accessibility

Search Engine Notification: is your site effectively communicating with google and does it provide google with the necessary information for maximum understanding. Sub-topics of this factor include XML site-data, canonical tags, pagination.

The final component of technical SEO answers the question: is your site relevant enough for ranking, with sub-topics that include: content relevance, authority, HTTP, UX, mobile-friendliness, and site latency

Although technical SEO seems very complicated the nice part of it all is your website software should already optimize your site for technical SEO. WordPress includes technical SEO and offers Yoast: a WP plugin that monitors your site for technical SEO. Whenever an issue arises that may negatively affect your sites technical SEO, Yoast informs you of the issue and makes appropriate recommendations to correct the issue. Additionally many legitimate web hosting services provide an optimized environment for technical SEO as well.

User Experience / Rankbrain

UX Design is real, serves a purpose and has led to individuals winning Nobel Prize like awards. How do you get a complete stranger from point A to point F, from point F to point P, while having them bypass point L?

Introduced by Google in 2015 Rankbrain deals directly with understanding search queries and how the user experience interacts with search results. In terms of understanding search queries; before Rankbrain google would look for the actual keywords from the query and find a site with those same keywords.  For example, if a user searched “new grey console from Sony” google would look for a site with content that contained all of the keywords.  However, since the implementation of Rankbrain Google now has a better understanding of the query. Rather than match the exact words to content in a website Rankbrain actually understand concepts and discover the actual meaning behind the keywords. Realizing that Nintendo produces a grey gaming console, Rankbrain provides search results for Nintendo gaming console. Pretty cool right? The really amazing aspect of Rankbrain is when challenged by an actual human being to decipher the underlying meaning behind certain “incorrect keyword” searches, Rankbrain outscores its human challenger by at least 10%, every time.

The second task of Rankbrain is to analyze how users interact with search results.  It measures how much time was spent on the selected website or “dwell time,” click-through rate, bounce back rate, and finally “pogo-sticking,” or how a user jumps between search engine to result back to search engine to result until the most relevant result is found. If your site is a top three organic Google result for specific keywords but every time a user goes to your site for the response they return to the results page for a different answer, your site will lose its ranking as Rankbrain has determined it is not the correct result.

Links

Another one of the top three ranking factors, external links are essential for a high ranking. Google sees outside links to your site as a great indication to the value of your site and content because other websites find your site worthy of citation. It is imperative to get customers, colleagues, as well as other relevant sites, to link back to your site if you hope to truly rank in a google SERP.

Social Signals

The term Social signals refer to a company’s impact on social media and are the cumulative total of all reviews, likes, comments, shares, votes, pins, and links.  It is a metric that measures and analyzes how users interact with the content of your social media account. And much like external links, social signals are a reflection of user trust. The more user interaction your social media accounts have, the more Google sees you as a relevant important site for your industry. 

Real Business Information

It is important to include easy to find, real business information on your website. Many designers will include real business information on the footer of every page. Google encourages displaying real business contact information. If a company gives users alternate ways to be contacted and if you supply a physical address to your internet audience, your business is bridging the gap between the virtual and the physical. If a user needs to actually contact your business in person he has a way to do so. Again search engines very much approve of real business information and listing your real information will positively affect your SEO.

SSL Encryption 

In an effort to make the internet a safe and secure environment and protect user financial data, Google has confirmed that SSL encryption is favored in a search engine result over HTTP://.  Google chose to increase the value of SSL encryption as a ranking factor so that websites follow best practices and maintain a level of integrity in the efforts to provide hack free protected environments for online users

A message from Sistemo
Don Google is the new global boss and it has to really like you to give you an offer you can’t refuse.

Your business deserves the best quality creative services one can afford, it’s all relative, and worth every penny. There’re many places today that will work with any budget. If you are still unsure what option is right for you, then speaking with a professional designer or business is going to be a great option. Be sure to call a web advisor before you do anything to your business and or equipment. Sistemo will handle the installation process or anything that you need to be accomplished so that we can ensure it gets done properly and that no issues arise down the road, which is crucial when it comes to your digital world. 

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