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Google Told Us What They Look For When It Comes To Powerful Search Engine Optimization

When it comes to knowing what Google looks for when they are ranking websites in search engine results, we have never been given anything but SUPER vague guidelines. Optimizing your website to rank high in Google search engines results pages (SERPs) often feels like we are Noah in The Notebook for years.

Google was more like Ally. “It isn’t that simple,” they’d say with a shrug. They weren’t ready to tell us about their deepest secrets, but now… they’ve shed a little bit of light on things they consider important recently.

Google routinely updates their algorithm for rankings on their search platform (we’re talking 3,200 changes in 2018 alone!), but even experts don’t know about these minor changes until something causes the websites we monitor to lose ranking positions in the SERPs (Search engine results page). So in other words, we don’t have a method of knowing something is going to change or has changed until it’s too late. Kind of like a car: We want there to be a notification like the low fuel light, but it’s more like a dead battery… where you have no idea it’s dying until the car doesn’t start.

So What’s Google’s Advice to Improve Rankings Through Search Engine Optimization?

Now, Google is vague. They never come out and say exactly what they want; instead, they tend to beat around the bush, if you will. Instead of coming out and stating exact measurements for success, they presented a series of questions to ask yourself regarding content on your website. Don’t worry though, we do SEO every day – so we will give you a breakdown of best practices based on what Google has shared:

  • Does the content provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?
  • Does the content provide a substantial, complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid simply copying or rewriting those sources and instead provide substantial additional value and originality?
  • Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?
  • Does the headline and/or page title avoid being exaggerating or shocking in nature?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?

What do these suggestions mean for your website and SEO strategy?

  • Google will always prefer new content over regurgitated content; however, you don’t always have to recreate the wheel. Blogging, SEO, and other content-driven SEO tactics have been in practice for so long that it is really hard to come up with a completely original idea (Think Hollywood… They keep releasing new versions of old content because new ideas are becoming more and more difficult to come by). Recreating a blog from another site is perfectly fine and can lead to good publicity and awesome rankings, but remember that fresh content and new ideas will always be viewed as higher on the totem pole in Google’s eyes.
  • Next, Google wants to make sure that you’re an expert or at least a step above a novice when you publish materials. Know what you’re talking about and deliver your content in an engaging way to keep users scrolling down your page and hopefully clicking onto another page because they feel like they just stepped on a gold-mine of information that an expert has provided! If you don’t sound like the expert you know you are, the Google Bots/Spiders/Crawlers (whatever you want to call them) will catch on and your website may fall in the rankings. Don’t write weak content that doesn’t answer user’s search queries.
  • Google wants to ensure that the information you are producing provides unique insight that is lacking from your competition’s content. This is where statistics and site data come into play. We live in a world where data is always at our fingertips. From running polls and getting stats on social media, doing traditional market research, or scouring the internet for statistic reports that you can share, sharing data within your content will give you a lead on your competition by showing Google Bots that you are providing factual insight.
  • When drawing from other sources, Google doesn’t want you to merely copy/paste their exact document and add your own commentary to it. They want you to offer your own conclusions based on the other text and offer new insight. Plus, most of the text on your page should be unique to theirs. Quotes are okay. Direct copy/paste is not.
  • Most people only read the headline. Have you been on Facebook lately? It’s clear that when an article is shared, a catchy headline will be what people read. Only 2 out of 10 users actually read the post according to Copyblogger while 8 out of 10 read the headline. So moral of this story? Tell people what they need to know in the headline so it grabs their attention to want to know more.
  • On the same topic of headlines: Don’t use some super catchy, but irrelevant headline just to grab people’s attention. Google doesn’t like clickbait articles anymore than you do, not to mention it’ll increase your bounce rate because nobody will stick around to see what you have to say.
  • If you’re writing content that you wouldn’t want to add as a bookmark or send to a friend, then why are you writing? If your initial answer is for Google rankings then you are doing it wrong. Instead, you should draft content with value that you feel the world needs to know then you can feel confident that your content will help in the long run by increasing your rankings.
  • Is your content good enough to print in a magazine or be shared on a massive news outlet? Create content that is not only informative but also visually appealing with graphics and beautifully structured headers. Well-structured content makes it easier for users to read and understand while giving your website the credibility it needs to shine in the eyes of Google.

Google also offered advice on presentation and production features you should keep in mind when producing content. Most of them are pretty obvious, but important to remember nonetheless:

  • Is the content free from spelling or stylistic issues?
  • Was the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them?

The last Google note and one we consider to be one of the most important is this: Google doesn’t look for reviews from users (meaning you don’t send Google an email when you are disappointed in the results you’re offered for your search query). Instead, they look at clues based on your interaction with a result: you leave the website or you don’t even click on the results because their meta descriptions may not catch your attention.

Our overall take away from Google’s Advice is: Don’t just focus on SEO. Focus on the individuals who you are going to land on your website and engage with your brand original and informative content. If you do this, Google will reward you with higher rankings over time. This won’t be a one and done thing. Even if you produce one incredible piece of content that goes viral, doesn’t mean your rankings will skyrocket overnight. You can, instead, work with a marketing agency like Momentum3 Growth who understands the dedication it takes to rank high in Google and let the professionals do the tedious work so that you can focus on the day-to-day tasks your business requires.