Google’s unpredictable algorithms updates and ever-changing ranking criteria often leave marketers breathless. In some cases, such enhancements make sense and require few changes here and there. Still, catering to Google’s mood swings is mostly a hair-pulling task!
Google 2017 Ranking Says: It Takes Two (Content And Seo) To Tango
Fortunately, Google’s 2017 ranking factors are extremely justifiable. In order to enjoy Google’s love this year, you need to create STELLAR content, while adding EVERGREEN search engine optimization (SEO) tweaks to the mix.
The following Google ranking stat. by First Page Sage proves my bold claim.
Except for number 4 (mobile friendliness), Google 2017 top 5 ranking factors look like a ping pong ball tossed between SEO and Content. Let’s examine each one in details…
Google Number 1 Ranking Factor Says: Link Building Is HOT
Quality link building took a whopping 28% of Google’s overall ranking criteria and came in first place as the most important ranking factor.
If you are eager to rank higher on Google, then building Google-trusted inbound links should be your number one priority.
In essence, “Link Building” is an SEO term so you may think that effective link building would involve extensive technical SEO work. However, SEO experts beg to differ!
The Skyscraper Technique: Link Building = Stellar Content
In his must-read article about the skyscraper link building case study, Brian Dean, the Backlinko guy, offered 3 main steps to achieve quantum leap link building.
Step 1: Find an excellent piece of content that’s widely shared and linked to in your field of specialty.
Step 2: Create a superior version that tops your chosen content in every imaginable way: Depth of information, content size, design…you name it.
Step 3: Pitch the RIGHT people to link to your stellar content
Brian achieved a very impressive 11% response rate for his link building pitching efforts. Yes, he wrote a compelling email pitch but it was his outstanding content the propelled people to link back to his website.
Reverse Engineer Popular Content For Optimal Link Building
Neil Patel, a thought leader in traffic generation and SEO best practices, offers a community-based linking building tactic.
“If you reverse engineer content that gets the most love in a particular community, you can craft a better piece that gets more upvotes.
For example – Inbound.org is an aggregator where passionate inbound marketers share their content and users vote on them. If you end up creating content that gets loved in one such esteemed community, you’ll gain attention from linkers.”
That’s just one example of Neil’s value-packed article How to Create Content That Influencers Will Link To.
Again, effective link building was primarily achieved by creating superior content.
The “10X Content” Link Building Tactic
Rand Fishkin, co-founder of Inbound.org, coined the term “10X Content” which means: Producing outstanding content that’s 10 times better than ALL search results for your target keywords. .
Easier said than done! Fortunately for us, Rand was kind enough to compile a comprehensive list of 10X content examples. Check it out for a healthy dose of inspiration and feel free to thank me later.
Unlike the skyscraper technique, you may think of the “10X content” as an implicit link building technique since it doesn’t involve direct pitching.
The bottom line is that renowned content marketing and SEO experts unanimously agree that content marketing excellence is your ticket to quality inbound links, which translates into higher Google rankings.
Google Number 2 Ranking Factor Says: Consistently Produce Stellar Content
Based on all of the above, I can safely say that Google’s top 1 and top 2 ranking factors are “how-to” synonyms. In other words, consistently producing thought leadership content will give you a whopping 52% (the summation of number 1 and 2 percentages) of Google ranking love.
Consistency is a keyword here but it’s quite relative depending on your time and resources. At the end of the day, you must favor quality over quantity at all costs, even if you ended up producing skyscraper and/or “10X content” every blue moon.
Don’t confuse your audience by stuffing quality content into piles of mediocre content for the sheer joy of pressing the “Publish” button!
If your current website is a plethora of awesome, good, average, below average, bad and atrocious content, allow me to ask you my absolute favorite Dr. Phil’s coaching question: “How’s it working for you so far?”
Google Number 3 Ranking Factor Says: Meta Title Tag Matters
The 3rd Google ranking factor is a technical on-page SEO element. The meta title is a widely used HTML tag that specifies the title of a webpage. Title tag syntax:
<title>Your webpage title</title>
Title tags are displayed in 3 key places:
(1) The title tag is the clickable headline that appears on search engine results pages (SERPs).
(2) The title tag appears partially on top of the browser when you type the page URL. The entire title tag is displayed when the mouse hovers on top.
(3) The title tag appears by default when the URL of a web page is shared on social media. The title tag text is the topmost bold text of the clickable area that allows social media users to access your webpage as highlighted in yellow below.
Ted Nicholas, a direct response copywriter, believes that “73% of the buying decision is made at the point of the headline.”
Headlines are reader’s first impression of your entire content. It’s a promise of what your page will deliver. Compelling tag titles would generate traffic to your website and vise versa.
That’s why; intelligent marketers spare no effort to come up with quality headlines and page titles. In fact, nailing headlines is one of the most important copywriting best practices.
It’s no wonder that Google dedicated 10% of its ranking percentage to meta titles.
There’s a debate on whether the maximum length of a meta title should be 80 characters or 60 characters. I’ll leave it up to you to decide. Read the following articles for a healthy dose of inspiration:
The key takeaways that I got after reading these awesome articles:
- Google loves a meta title tag that’s both naturally human and keywords rich.
- Your meta title should provide a precise description of your page content. As mentioned earlier, your title is a promise of what your entire page will deliver. Google wouldn’t be happy with those who promise and under-deliver. Don’t be one of them!
- Avoid ALL-CAPS titles. For one, they’d be hard for search visitors to read. In addition, they can severely limit the number of characters that Google will display. (Google displays meta titles on a maximum of 600-pixel container. Obviously “W” occupies much larger pixel space than “l”. Be economical with your choice of characters.)
- Make sure to give every page on your website a unique title.
Google Number 4 Ranking Factor Says: Mobile Friendliness Is A Must
Google has been shouting out the importance of creating mobile friendly web design since 2015. More people are browsing the internet using their tablets or smartphones. As a result, Google had to reward websites that are on the “responsive grid” and punish those who fell off the giant mobile marketing wagon.
I’m not going to dwell on the growing dominance of mobile marketing as I’m sure that you are well-aware of this phenomena. Let’s move on gracefully.
Google Number 5 Ranking Factor Says: Create Specific Landing Pages
If your website can respond to the EXACT query of a hopeful searcher, Google will love you for it. For example, if a user typed “Toronto Business Toastmasters”, Google would return the landing page of Toronto business Toastmasters rather than Toastmasters general homepage.
If you’re selling multiple products/services, make sure to create highly specific landing pages for each of them in order to magnify your organic search traffic.
In his timeless article How To Devise A Psychology Based SEO Strategy, Trond Lyngbø advised that: “Businesses need to look at every page as a ‘landing page’.”
He also recommended a set of questions that will help you cater to Google’s obsession with specificity.
“ 1. What are visitors arriving at this page looking for?
- What problem are they facing and how can we help them?
- How can we deliver an experience they’ve been looking for everywhere else?”
These are excellent set of questions to ask. Don’t you agree? Answering them accurately may have substantial ROI rewards for your business. Anthony Robbins beautifully puts it: “Questions ARE the Answer.”
Final Thoughts: The Questionable Evergreen SEO Practices
The fact that link building is a timeless SEO practice is out of the question. Still, the “What” is evergreen but the “How” is ever-changing.
Back in the early years of this millennium, link exchange was a HOT link building technique. Am I right or right?
The same way a previously popular website called “My Space” became history, haphazard link exchange is also history. In fact, Google has recently warned against excessive link exchange.
My point is that link building is the same but Google keeps changing its mind on HOW to do it. In 2017, creating superior content is the ultimate link building technique. How about 2030? Would that still be the case?
Honestly speaking, I’m clueless! The only way to find out is to keep catering to Google’s mood swings, no matter how hair pulling they may seem!
I’m joking around here folks because Google’s 2017 ranking factors make so much sense to me. At the age of information overload, only those who could win the content marketing hunger games will survive. Fair enough.
If you’re still digging for Google’s never-changing philosophy, reread the quote at the beginning of this article: “Google will love you when everyone loves you first.”
Go ahead… Make everyone love you. I love you for taking the time to read this article and I can’t wait to know your thoughts in the comments.
Your valuable contribution is much appreciated. To our success!
* Adapted lead image: Public Domain, pixabay.com via getstencil.com
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