by Bruce Sachs
Since the advent of web search engines, developers have been trying to take advantage of their tools with search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is the practice of editing a site’s content and code to improve visibility in a search engine’s results. Google has repeatedly stayed one step ahead of the competition.
Google’s algorithm puts the emphasis on content rather than on keywords. It was designed to better understand language, phrases and concepts, instead of a string of words. This means that the Google search engine is able to deliver results that are more relevant to the user based on what he/she is actually looking for. Google’s Knowledge Graph allows the search engine to better understand the relationships between concepts instead of individual keywords. This is done by showing the connection of related ideas — like Da Vinci, Mona Lisa and Italy. The Knowledge Graph allows webpages that match the meaning of a query to rank higher in search results than a page matching just a few words. The algorithm was also built to address mobile users who are more likely to ask questions and be conversational with their searches.
For years, SEO has focused on the search engine and not on the actual user. At Enrich, we have remained skeptical about the ‘magic’ of keyword-based SEO. It has always promised to deliver a high Google ranking, but often showed little return. Adding extra keywords into copy and metadeta was tedious work, and in the end we didn’t notice any increase in traffic. Instead, we’ve always supported the more strategic alternative — content-driven, expertise-based SEO.
When developing websites, we take leads from Mark O’Brien’s book, A Website that Works. O’Brien and his firm, Newfangled, have been advocating expertise-based SEO for years. The strategy involves adding genuine, relevant content to your site on a regular basis. The key is providing quality content related to your field. We strongly believe in writing about topics that add value to the readers’ knowledge in business or issues related to quality of life. To that point, we add at least two new articles each month focusing on topics in our niche: food, wellness, design and business. Google’s advice to improve your search results is simple: “Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors.” We wholeheartedly agree.
Tips for Good SEO
O’Brien’s book lists the three main things that every site should do to improve its search results. These are items in the code that describe to Google what your page is about.
- Use your title tag to your advantage.
It’s the thing that shows up in the top of your browser window. Avoid generic phrases like About Us. Instead, think like a searcher and provide a connection to the content on the page.
- Implement friendly URLs
Looking at the URL of any Google search will show you an example of an unfriendly URL. These are links that connect to website databases. In most cases, it’s easy to simplify these into something like www.yourwebsite.com/articles.
- Label your headline with the H1 tag.
H1 stands for Heading 1. It’s a piece of HTML code used to define the topic of the page, and it’s usually connected to the first headline on the page.
Google provides additional advice to optimize your content for its search engine in its Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide (PDF).
- Create a useful, information-rich site.
You don’t need to bore the reader with long pages of text, but you do need to give them a reason to return to your site or spread the word on social media.
- Think about the words users would type to find your pages.
As you develop copy for your website, make sure to include those words within it. Avoid inserting unnecessary keywords aimed at attracting Google that won’t make sense to users.
- Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
It’s as simple as providing something that your audience will want to read.
Helpful, authentic information has always been more important to us than buzzwords. As Google continues to make updates to their search engine, this content is even more powerful than ever as a tool to drive traffic to your website.