Search engines are constantly trying to improve their results to satisfy users with the best possible results they can find. Even though this can be perceived as being an opinion; the search engines generally have a good idea of what would be most relevant to their users.
Why search engines rise to the top of search rankings
Search engines rely on how people interact with sites and pages and meta information. Unfortunately, search engines cannot read different formats yet, such as: text, videos and audio's like a human can, so to be a top website you would need to have easy reading pages not only for the user, but for the search engine as well. Top sites all have a few things in common which is what makes them so popular:
- They all are generally easy to use and navigate
- They are straight forward when it comes to the user's query
- They are easily accessible on different devices
- They all deliver high quality content
The effect of usability and user experience
In order to create a good website, you need to be empathetic to a user. This is required because if your website gives a positive user experience, the more likely it is that it will be shared and returned to. This ultimately gets seen by search engines, and contributes to high rankings.
Search engines use several variables instantly when crawling, including: keywords, links and the structure of a website, but, the search engines make judgements on websites through linking patterns, user engagement metrics and machine learning. Also, usability and user experience are second order influences on search engine's ranking success. This benefits to a website's external popularity since the second order influences on a search engines rankings are indirect and measurable; which then means that the search engines can interpret it as a signal of higher quality, this is a phenomenon called 'no one likes to link to a crummy site'.
Indications of quality content
- Engagement metrics: One way search engines measure success is by seeing the user engagement. Search engines monitor what is called the 'long click', which basically means when a user stays on a result without immediately exiting it. For example, if you click on the first link of a search result and then instantaneously go back to the search results, this indicates to the search engine that the user was dissatisfied with the top result.
- Machine learning: In order for poor quality content websites to rank highly Google's search results, the panda update was constructed. Made in 2011, Google first used human elevators to manually find websites with low quality content, and then over time incorporated a machine to mimic the human elevator's moves; the algorithm was introduced across millions of sites on the internet. This update improved Google's search results by 20% overall because it rearranged the results.
- Linking patterns: Higher quality sites have more links than low quality sites, this is due to the fact that the engines use the link structure to judge the website's popularity. Even though link algorithms have improved, this base statement is still true.
In order to gain positive potential performance, there needs to be positive attention and buzz around your content, elements such as: timing, anchor source and the number of links to the new content are all factors in performance for significant queries at the search engine.
Having original content is a popular piece of advice to give in SEO, but it is very true. Developing a great basis for a website that is eye-catching and unique is imperative for search engine optimisation. The process of the search engines purpose is- to find, learn, solve, buy, fix, treat or understand. The engine will place the result with the goal and intent to satisfy the user's search query, to increase your chances of high ranking in top search engines, you need to have appealing and fulfilling content.
Search intent aspects
Search intent has many different aspects to it, here are a few...
- Transactional searches: Spotting a local business, making purchases online, or completing a task.
- Navigational searches: Searching for a direct URL or pre-determined destination- occasionally the user may not know the specific website, so the search engine acts as the white pages.
- Informational searches: A non-transaction based search, wanting to know information such as queries to local weather or maps.
It is up to you to decide which intent your website fulfills, even though it may take more time the web-master, high quality, easily readable writing and multi-medias are all ways to attract the reader's attention; this ultimately benefits the website as well because of the positive user experience, means it is more likely to be returned to and shared, happy people on both ends!
Growing popularity and links
Links are the avenues between pages for popular search engines, if you use advanced link analysis, it helps the engines understand how the pages are associated and in what ways they are. Links have been treated as a way to be popular on search engines since the 1990s' they aren't the biggest attribute of SEO, but search professionals maintain a large part of the engine's algorithms to link-related factors. Links determine the votes and popularity of website, but it also allows the engines to measure metrics such as spam, authority and trust. Spam filled sites do not usually have links to trustworthy sites, whereas trusted sites link to other trusted sites.
Used by search engines- to find the value of a link, search engines assess the individual aspects of the link. The owned metrics that search engines use can often be quite complicated, but some assumptions can be applied in the world from hands-on testing and patent applications. So, to gain more of an understanding of link signals, here is a list of factors to consider. These signals are used by SEO professionals when measuring link value.
- Global popularity: If a site becomes popular, the site's links become more important, for instance, YouTube is a popular website that links with thousands of trusted sites, so to become an authoritative and trusted site, you'll need to get help from other link partners.
- Topic-specific popularity: Local or topic popularity indicates that links from sites within a topic-specific community are more important than links from an off-topic site.
- Anchor text: One of the strongest signals the engines use in rankings. If lots of links direct you to a page with the right keywords, that page has a high probability of ranking well for the targeted phrase in the anchor text.
- TrustRank: With estimations of 60% of web's pages to be spam, unfortunately there is a lot around the World Wide Web. As this is a big factor on the internet, search engines are developed to weed out these websites by measuring trust, may of which are based on a link graph. Earning links from highly-trusted domains can give a website an increase to this scoring metric.
- Link neighbourhood: Spam links are usually linked to spam links, so it is wise to be careful with what your website is linking to.
- Freshness: Link signals can go out of date and make the website less popular over time, resulting in failure to earn new links. So, it is important to keep updated with links on a website.
- Social sharing: Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are all increasingly popular websites that are very important to marketing. Search engines treat socially shared links differently to other types of links, but they're still noticed.
The power of social sharing
Search engines saw a massive leap in social sharing in the years 2011-2012, which ultimately affected the queried search results. So, search engines such as Google included the social signals into the search results. Though they may not always be at the top of the results page, they are almost always promoted due to its social influence. People who are in a large social circle are often used to promote for publishers as a marketing technique, as they will be seen by a wide range of users. However, social shares or not the same as links, though social sharing can attract popularity, links are a more long lasting solution to promoting your website.
Link building basics
Link building is the process of exchanging links with other websites to increase your own site's backlinks. Link building is a type of art; it requires a lot of time, skill, and often a budget. Here are some basic types of links:
- 'Natural' editorial links: Links that are given organically by sites and pages that want to link to your content. These require no specific SEO techniques, just high quality content and the ability to give it awareness.
- Manual 'outreach' link building: SEO creates this by emailing bloggers for links, often the publishers would explain and sell the link to the blogger to explain why it would be in their best interest.
- Self created, non editorial: These are the lowest value, but often can create an impact. Lots of websites give you the oppourtunity to create links through their website. However, these links are considered to be spammy and should be taken on with caution.
It is important to realise that when using links, there are unnatural and natural ones, which can seriously impact how a search engine inspects you website.Today, link building is used for spam links so you can rank highly in Google. This is not approved by Google, and if you do use spam links, what is most likely to happen is your website will eventually get demoted from ranking highly search results. Google wants to reward user value to highlighted by organic links, because no one wants to have an experience with spam links on a website. If you use a spam link on your website, you will likely lose rankings over time, and lost trust with both the customer and Google, nevertheless, if Google find that your website include helpful links that are useful and relevant for the user, you are likely going to rewarded and rank highly in search results.
Starting a link building campaign
Link building is one of the hardest activities to measure, but it is essential to be done with the right steps and strategies. SEOs depend on various signals to help build a rating scale of link value. So, like the list of the basic types of links, these metrics include:
- Ranking for relevant search terms: To investigate how highly a search engine values a given page, the best way to do this would be to search for some keywords that page targets (which are usually in the headline and title tag).
- MozRank: Highlights how popular a website is on the web. The more links to a given page, the more popularity it will receive.
- Domain authority: Measures how likely a domain is to rank for any given query. It is calculated by analysing the internet's graph and comparing a given domain to tens of thousands of queries in Google.
- Competitor's backlinks: By analysing the backlinks of a website that already ranks highly for your targeted keyword, you are able to gain valuable knowledge about the links that help them achieve this high ranking.
- Number of links on a page: Being linked to by a page with few links is better than being linked to a page with many links. It may not be proven to be the most important, but it's definitely something to be alert of when you conduct your link campaign.
- Potential referral traffic: Link building should not be the main part of search engines. Links that send high click-through traffic give better search engine value for rankings, but also send targeted users to your site.
To build your link campaign it takes a lot of time, effort, experience and practise as these variables all link to search engine traffic, but if you use your website analytics, you should be able to determine if your website is successful. When viewing the metrics, if they do not increase after you have successfully completed a link building campaign, you should maybe consider seeking better quality link targets or you should improve your on-page optimisation.
Samples of link building strategies
- Get your customers to link to you: If you have customers that continuously go to your site or loyal businesses you work with, make sure that you emphasise this by sending out partnership badges. A partnership badge is an icon graphic that links back to your site.
- Company blog: Make it as informative as possible, and keep it entertaining as well. Blogs have a unique ability to update fresh material in a different way each time whilst earning listings and links from other blogs and being able to voice your company's opinion and participate in conversation.
- Make content that inspires people to share: Also known as 'linkbait', users who see your content once and want to share it with their friends.
- Be newsworthy: Make sure you are constantly keeping the attention from readers, press, bloggers and news media; these are all a good way to earn links.
An aside on buying links
Popular search engines such as Google and Bing discount the influence of paid links in their organic search results. Websites caught buying links or participating in link schemes risk severe penalties that will drop their rankings severely. Instead of this, make sure you are spending lots of time on your link building strategies that build your links naturally.
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