10 Google SEO practices that will keep both your users and Google happy. Find out how what you need to do to gain the respect and love of the World’s biggest search engine.
1 million visits from Google
I think you also agree that the best way to get the attention of readers and convince them that good Google SEO practices can get you a lot of visits from Google, is to show them case studies with traffic details.
As you can see from the image below, between January 1, 2013 and August 31, 2013, one of our websites (caloriesecrets.net) received more than 1 million organic visits from Google alone. For big brand websites this may not be a big deal but for small businesses and bloggers who want to get traffic, make money from adsense or find more customers online, 1 million organic visits in 8 months is a very good figure.
You can read more details in my previous article: how to build a successful blog that gives more information about caloriesecrets.net, how it started and evolved over the months and how the traffic increased from 0 to 1 million organic visits.
Google SEO Best Practices
So, what is the secret formula that can get you 1 million visits from Google and how can you make sure that your website adheres to google SEO best standards and practices?
1. Original and Unique content
I don’t know how many times the last 13 years I have read this phrase ‘original and unique content’; I am not sure either how many thousand times I have said it myself. It’s becoming a cliché but if you want to have any chance of getting traffic from Google you need to have high quality, original and unique content published on your website.
If any of the above is not true then instead of wasting your time, prefer to do something else because it just won’t going to happen.
You can also read 10 content marketing tips for more information on how to create content that satisfies the above rules but as a general rule of thumb content creation usually takes most of the time you spend on your website. I would say that 70% of your time is devoted to content and 30% to other tasks.
2. Engaging Content
Publishing original and unique content is the first step but it’s not enough. Your content needs to stand out and the only way to do that is through user engagement. By user engagement we mean on-site comments, Likes, G+’s, tweets etc.
Why is this important?
For starters it is more than clear that social signals (comments are a social signal as well) have started to play a more important role when it comes to ranking in google and second consider the following example.
Two web pages on the same subject, but on different websites, compete for one of the top positions in Google SERPS for a particular keyword. One of the pages has 30 comments, 100 likes and 42 tweets and the other page has no comments or social media mentions.
Other things being equal, which of the pages deserves a better ranking? I think the answer is more than obvious and the reasoning behind it is that user engagement is a signal that the particular page is important for users.
Since search engines want to include web pages in their results that help users, most likely they will select the page that is proven (through the user engagement) to be more important.
If you want to increase user engagement on your content make sure that you read my social media marketing tips for beginners.
3. Good titles and descriptions
If there is one thing that Google mentions every time when they talk about SEO, is the importance of having good tiles and descriptions. I have more details and examples in my SEO Tips article but the general guidelines are:
- Titles should be less than 70 characters in length
- Descriptions should be less than 160 characters
- Titles and descriptions should be unique for each and every page in your website
- No need to keyword stuff titles or descriptions
- If you want to get local customers then optimize both your titles and descriptions for local SEO
4. Demonstrate your expertise
This is again related with the quality of the content but if you are an expert about a topic make sure that you show that in your website. Google is looking for trusted sources and if your professional background or experience makes you an ‘expert’ about a topic, you need to demonstrate that in your website.
Also you need to understand that the web is no longer anonymous so you need to show who you are, what you do and why your readers / customers / followers should trust you. If you can convince people to trust you, Google (and other search engines) will trust you as well.
5. Score 100% when it comes to on-page SEO
On page SEO is a term that describes everything that needs to be done on the website itself so that it is optimized for search engines. It is not difficult to have an SEO optimized website and it is the first check you need to do when evaluating your overall internet presence.
You can compare your website against my on-page SEO check list to get a better idea on what you need to change for on-page SEO.
I consider on-page SEO to be more important than ever and that’s why I suggested that you need to be 100% compliant. What I always tell my clients as an example is the following: When building a skyscraper you need to make sure that you have good and strong foundations before start building the floors. Correct on-page SEO will make sure that your website’s foundations are in good shape before doing any kind of promotion.
6. Never violate Google webmaster guidelines
Although Google is trying to give webmasters feedback when their guidelines are violated (through webmaster tools) so that you can take corrective actions, it is better not to violate their guidelines in the first place.
From my experience, violation of webmaster guidelines can happen when you are not familiar with the guidelines so you do something that violates them without knowing it and second you know that you are violating the guidelines but you are doing it believing that this way will get your more traffic and faster results.
To stay away from unwanted troubles you can spend some time reading the google webmaster guidelines and avoid trying shortcuts or ‘too good to be true’ tricks you may read on the Web. Be patient and do things according to their rules and the good results will come.
7. Keep your website fresh
From all search engines, Google loves fresh content and up-to date websites. Give Google one more reason to differentiate your website from the competition by providing high quality content on a regular basis.
Content freshness is a Google SEO factor and this is not something I assume or predict but it is included as one of the three most important tips in their one-page SEO guide.
How often you should update your website depends on the niche, competition and type of content. If for example you are running a laptop reviews website, you need to have reviews about the latest models as well to show Google that you are in synch with the latest updates in your niche.
8. Forget about link building
Whenever I talk about Google SEO to clients and explain all the factors above, the question that I always get as soon as I make a break is: ‘When do we start link building?’ My answer is always the same: ‘Forget about link building, we are not going to do any link building in our campaign’.
To say it with some simple words, link building is a think of the past and not only it cannot help your website achieve better rankings in Google but it can do more damage than good.
Does that means that Google is not using links as a ranking factor? Absolutely not, Incoming links are still important and play a very important role in Google SEO but what you want is natural links and not artificially created links.
The best way to distinguish between the two is the following: A natural link is placed by a webmaster or blogger to help their readers find out more about a subject or add value to their existing content. An artificially created link is anything else that does not fall in the definition of a natural link.
So, if you guest post on a low quality website for the purpose of getting a link in your author bio, that’s a bad link. If you pay or exchange links with other webmasters that’s also a bad link. Read these 2 articles for more information on the new way to do link building (without violating any guidelines)
9. Promote on social media
Although officially Google does not say at which extend social media networks influence rankings, they have many times suggested that one of the best ways to promote a website is through social media networks. If you follow their google webmaster videos you will notice that the mentions to social media as one of the most appropriate ways to promote a website, are becoming more and more frequent.
Do not forget that social media promotion will also increase user engagement with the content, promotes brand awareness and generally is a great way to let other webmasters know about your content and get more natural links.
10. Stay in synch with latest trends
One of the ways to take full advantage of Google SEO is to stay in-synch with the latest developments. Their quality team is making more than 500 changes per year in their algorithm and you have to follow their steps to avoid unpleasant surprises.
For example the latest SEO trends this period (September 2013) are attention to mobile friendly websites and mobile SEO, Google authorship and Google + for business.
Is Google SEO different than Bing SEO?
When we talk about organic traffic and SEO we always refer to Google and we forget about Bing or other search engines. The truth is that without Google it’s very difficult to succeed online. If you take the example above, in the same period that the website got 1 million visits from Google, the number of visits from Yahoo and Bing was around 10,000. There is a huge difference but that does not mean that you should not care about Bing.
When it comes to Bing SEO the same rules that apply for Google SEO apply there as well. They even recently updated their guidelines to mention that excessive link building may lead to your website being delisted. Nevertheless websites with lots of backlinks (generated using techniques of the past) can do very well in Bing while at the same time get a penalty by Google.
The conclusion for this post is straightforward: if you want to master Google SEO and keep the search giant happy so that you get visitors from their search results, you have to play by the book.
Forget about easy tricks or non-white hat practices, close your eyes and ears to those who want you to believe that there is a magic way to bypass Google algorithm and start thinking how you can create a website that has something to offer to visitors.
When you manage to create a website that stands out, you can be certain that traffic from Google will start flowing in, with or without SEO.