Let’s face it…
With over 200+ Google ranking factors making sure the law of the land prevails, and over 1 billion websites fighting for spots in search engines – if you ignore SEO, your online sales are likely to go south, especially if you are unlucky enough to get struck with a Google penalty.
If you do not want to fall victim to a Google penalty, ensure that whenever the Google God’s wave their magic wand and whip up an algorithm update/change, such as Penguin, Pigeon, Panda, Hummingbird, or the recent RankBrain roll out, that you comply.
But then again, how do online website owners actually comply when Google reveals only so much?
Even if you keep your nose pressed against Google’s conference room, you won’t get to know much.
So, how do you actually entice Google’s robots to drive more traffic to your website?
Simple. Play Along. Learn through trial and error. Stay on the learning curve. Perhaps then, you’ll be able to differentiate what works and what doesn’t.
However, if you want a shortcut, check out these 5 tried and tested tips, which ensure that Google robots play along, no matter what.
1. Build buyer personas, then nail them with your Naturaltongue
Umm… folks, if there could be Parseltongue, why not Naturaltongue, huh?
Parseltongue for snakes. Naturaltongue for Google RankBrain AI. Simple.
But then, what’s this Buyer Persona?
Ah, yes! That calls for some explanation!
According to the Content Marketing Insitute, content marketer’s build buyer persona’s by picturising their actual customers in terms of their age, job title, the company they are working for, the challenges and frustrations they are facing every single day, in addition to whether or not they are an authority decision maker.
Once you have a clearer picture on who your actual audience is, start communicating with them in your natural voice.
Building a target audience, bearing in mind the buyer persona, helps businesses take the bull by the horns. Put simply, it helps address the problems of your target audience, more precisely. Makes sense… nah?
Take, for instance, a site called wickedgoodies.com. The site has on display an amazing array of cake recipes, trade show tips, cake books on Amazon, video ebooks and so much more, all focussing on cakes, in addition to some great online marketing tips.
Looking at the site, you’d realize the owner of this site knows their online visitors thoroughly – inside out, and has optimized their website accordingly.
So, when a customer, say someone called Suzanne, who runs a brick and mortar cake shop, is desperately looking for some tips to accelerate her online sales and Google’s ‘Tips to promote cake online,’ she immediately stumbles on Wicked Goodies.
How come, you may ask?
It’s partly because Google’s RankBrain immediately figures out what Suzanne really wants and the RankBrain application intelligence robots rightly interpret ‘online’ as ‘internet’, and ‘tips’ as ‘strategies,’ thus returning high-quality results for Suzanne’s long tail search query.
RankBrain AI is programmed to give better search results for complex and long-tail searches.
Now, Suzanne could build on this info to make sure that her brick and mortar business not only survives but gives a tough competition to its competitors.
- Build a buyer persona and narrow down your target audience by sticking to it.
- Find what’s troubling your target audience, and then address those pain points in your natural language.
- Use related keywords (mind you, not the exact keywords). This could include synonyms, and co-occurrence (more on this in a minute) while offering solutions.
- Come up with creative blogs that immediately grab your user’s attention
- Design products and services that address customer requirements
2. Refer to Google’s crawl error report to spot gaps
As it turns out, for your site to feature in top searches, Google robots need to crawl your site, first and foremost.
But then, there are a few things to consider to ensure that Google doesn’t miss your site, in the first place.
First off, make sure you are using accurate status codes on your site.
For example, use 301 redirects, instead of 302 redirects. Why you may ask? Well, because a 302 redirect is not at all programmed to inform Google robots that a particular page has been moved.
Also, consult Google’s crawl error report. The report keeps you covered in terms of gaps in your code, which perhaps is preventing Google robots from crawling your website properly.
Plus, you can also block certain pages from being crawled using robots.txt. As you know, every site has a crawl budget and blocking images that are not that important, which ensures you have some spare budget in hand for really important pages.
- Use 301 redirects, instead of 302 redirects
3. Reach out to top sites for quality backlinks
Google robots still give considerable importance to quality backlinks.
But then, for that to happen, the focus should be on building brilliant content that addresses the specific pain points of your target audience.
Once your content is up and running, find out sites that would love to share your content. This will automatically fetch you some quality backlinks.
There are several other ways to attract quality backlinks to your site.
Hubspot’s Inbound Link Building 101: 33 White Hat Ways to Build Backlinks for SEO clearly highlights 33 different ways to build quality backlinks for your site.
Also, the moving man approach is worth a try.
- Get quality back links from high authority websites
4. Generate epic content backed by ‘co-occurrence’
Enough and more has been written about the importance of coming up with epic content. SmartBlogger’s Sonia Thompson points out in this incredibly viral infographic – The Epic Content Cycle: 10 Steps to 10X Content, what specifically matters in epic content is:
However, I think she missed out on a crucial point and one which Google robots would have gladly added is the term “co-occurrence.”
Co-occurrence means the frequency of terms or related group of terms that appear in a piece of content.
In other words, making use of semantically linked words in the copy to keep with the RankBrain theory.
Leveraging co-occurrence makes sure that Google and their robots treat your content as significant from the searcher’s standpoint, and at the same time makes sure it appears in top search results.
5. Focus on user experience (UX)
Yes, of course, you need to get a grip on your click-through rates, load speeds and even mobile-friendliness of your site, because these holy trinity ultimately boost the user experience of your website.
To ensure this, come up with a catchy title tag and meta description. And then make sure that they are in sync with on-page elements.
Further, see that your website is easy to navigate, and offers value to your target audience.
SEO folks and UX experts may not see eye-to-eye on the navigational front, with SEO guys emphasizing more and more navigation links, while UX experts holding an opposite view. Whatever the case may be, you should look to be offering great user experience. Period.
Though Google may be the Lord and God for website owners. From the customer’s end, it’s turning tables in their favor. Put another way, it’s trying to slip into the shoes of your customers: trying to see what they see; trying to read what they read, and then changing its algorithms accordingly. Which means, online businesses have to take Google’s line of thought: that is to come up with customer-friendly and not Google-friendly sites.
I reckon that is the best way to play along with Google robots. What do you say?Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community