Search Engine Rankings: What Can I Do To Improve?

Emmanuel Rivera's picture
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That’s one of the most asked questions around here, “what can I do to improve search engine rankings?” Even before going exclusively SEO, while involved in web design and development, I found myself addressing that question every day.

There are many things that you can do to improve your rankings in the search engines, some are fairly easy, and others are quite sophisticated and well out of reach of most without a considerable investment in time and other resources to learn. We won’t be going into the technical aspects of SEO and keep to what you can do starting right now to begin to improve your search engine rankings.

Before moving forward, let’s come to terms with a search engine’s objective, particularly Google. Without getting into technical details of what a search engine is, how it’s programmatically written, and its functions, let’s look at the business end of Google, revenue.

The Big Three in the search world are Google, Bing and Yahoo! All three search engines are propriety profit driven platforms that are in the business of generating revenue primarily through paid search and advertising with the majority of their revenue originating from some form of Pay-Per-click (PPC) or Cost-per-Click (CPC) business model. One of the products search engines provide (search) is available for free to us that use search engines to find the products, services or information we are looking for. As search engine users, we expect for the results search engines produce to be relevant to our search queries and in many ways, accurate. So it makes business sense that search engines would invest a considerable (HUGE) amount of time and money in improving the relevance of the results they yield in the search engine results pages also referred to as SERPs. Add competition for advertising dollars, Google versus Bing, and a war ensues with both search engines trying to outperform the other to provide the most relevant results. With billions of dollars at stake at producing relevant search results search engines are constantly looking to filter out, penalize and even ban sites that show signs of attempting to game the system.

Before moving forward allow me to say that volumes can be written about each of the subjects below. This is not meant to be an attempt to explain or a how-to article on the specifics, but a list of activities to for you to explore and incorporate in your daily effort to improve your rankings. So without further delay, let’s look at some of the activities that will help you rank better in the search engines.

Create Evergreen Content

Publishing content that won’t go out-of-date will act as a source of self sustaining SEO for your search engine optimization objectives, because you won’t have to update, or replace, your content with new content. Unlike special promos and articles revolving around a passing phase, evergreen content will be relevant at the time of publishing and remain relevant well into the future. As well as being self sustaining, it can also be self perpetuating especially if it generates user contributed content in the form of comments and questions – providing you with a foundation for elaboration and/or expansion brining forth new topics or explanations.

Satisfy a Need

Think about the actual search queries used by your target market when looking for what you have to offer – whether they’re looking for a service, information, or a product, what may they be typing into the search field of a search engine to find it?  Check how competitive these words are by running them through Google Keyword Tool or similar tool. After making your keyword selection, make sure you include them in your titles, headings and body content. As for which keywords to use you may find it tempting to choose keywords that are highly competitive though not a hard rule, is to start out with less ambition. Targeting highly competitive keywords right out of the gate is a sure way of committing to a long drawn out battle draining your resources.

Become a Guest Blogger

Becoming a guest blogger has many potentials including link building. By contributing as a guest blogger, you’ll position yourself as a trusted authority and the more you do it, the more of an authoritative figure you’ll be perceived as being. When a site owner or blogger allows you to guest blog, the host blogger gives you a vote of confidence that boosts your credibility with his audience. If you’ve done your homework, you’ll be guest blogging for sites that are relevant to your industry and in their own right an authority in a shared niche. In addition to selecting hosts sites that are relevant to your niche, select sites that will allow you to use a signature with photo support (avatar) and a link pointing back to your site.

Build Connections (Links)

Google was built around the concept of linking, so it should be of no surprise that Google uses links as a ranking variable. It’s to your SEO advantage to link to and to acquire links from high ranking relevant sites, but the keyword here is “relevant”. Steer away from the temptation of buying links or creating your own link sources for no purpose other than linking to you. Though you may cite that many reap big dividends by engaging in this practice, eventually their house of cards of unnatural links will eventually crumble. Google, Bing, and Yahoo, as well as other less known search engines, are constantly improving their algorithms in an effort to detect and devalue deceptive linking practices. Google and Bing also employ thousands of human reviewers to augment where algorithms may lack and follow up on sites that have been cited by a complaint filed by a net-citizen.

Use Video

Make a video explaining what you do, whom you are etc. to demonstrate your product or service like no one else can. Videos demonstrating your product or showing your process of delivering your service is a great way to familiarize your potential customers or clients with a product’s features that text alone can’t demonstrate or, if providing a service, introduce your clients to your service delivery process from preliminary exploration to post service benefits. I strongly believe in the power of Video, when done right. Forcing a visitor to view a video or wait for a video to load without the option of bypassing it can be a deal killer and cause your visitor to seek escape by clicking on the back button. If you use video, make it an option, not a forced card.

Be up to Date

By adding content to your website daily or on a bi-daily basis, you provide a strong signal to search engines that your site is actively updated with new content and will, therefore, require a higher visitation rate from the search engines (crawlers/spiders) to keep their results current. This works well for web sites and search engines alike since the burden of providing relevant, fast, and fresh search result is on the search engines. With this technique, by increasing frequency in which content is published on your site, you assist search engines meet their objective for providing timely information.

Pay Attention to Your Page Titles

Having your keywords early in your page title helps search engines resolve the subject matter of the content that’s to follow. By including your top-ranking keywords in the page title, usually “Heading 1”, and again in the first 250 words of your content, you’ll be pointing the search engines to the takeaway your content intends to deliver, and that helps your content/page rank for your keywords and the SEO of your site in general.

Stay away from Flash-based Websites

I know flash can make a website look really slick and expensive, but search engines don’t do well with flash technology thus becoming a hindrance to your SEO efforts. Flash websites can also take time to load sometimes overburdening a system’s resources especially if there are other applications running. Sure there are ways of optimizing flash files to help them load faster and sophisticated SEO techniques to help flash based sites perform better in the search engines, but from my personal experience the flash based sites that do moderately well are the sites that sit on seasoned domain names. Yes, older domain names have a tendency to rank higher than newly registered domain names. But that’s another subject and out of scope for this posting.

Use Article Submission Sites

Though article submission sites have come under scrutiny in recent months by search engines particularly Google, paving the path for other search engines to follow in like fashion, selective article submission and being selective on which sites to publish on, can still be a great tool to leverage for purposes of propagating your content which in turn, when linking back to your site, help your SEO when the hosting site is of equal or higher domain authority. Article submission sites distribute content you submit for distribution to hundreds of article directories. The objective is to get your content published and noticed by a larger number of readers than it would have if only published on your site. Before subscribing to an article submitting site, do some homework first, check the site’s rankings in the search engines, check other articles they have published to grade their ability to match the subject matter with the host website’s overall theme. Publishing articles on irrelevant sites not only do you no good, it devalues your content and can hurt your rankings if the site is abandoned or takes a turn towards the dark side.

Hire a Professional SEO Agency

Though the SEO tips covered in this posting sound quite simple they do require time and a rudimentary understanding on how to carry out their implementation. With that said, not everyone has the time or inclination to execute them with expertise, and those that do, understand that there is a monumental difference between the production of an amateur and that of a professional. This is where a professional SEO agency can make you and your campaign stand out above the competition with flawless execution from start to finish.

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