Optimizing your website to perform well in Seach Engines is not an easy process. Like all website owners, you have several things you’re focusing on: from your website’s rankings in the search results to the conversion of your visitors to clients or loyal readers.
You’ve probably already tried several methods or strategies you read about on dedicated SEO blogs like this one, SEO forums or may’be followed a step by step blueprint. But you’re stuck and no improvements are seen. You need an SEO expert to guide your efforts and tell you what changes will have the biggest impact.
With thousands of results for almost every keyword — and only 10 places on Google’s first page — it’s fair to say that 99% of sites simply don’t rank their pages very well.
You’re probably wondering: “What separates sites that do well in Google with those that hang out on the 5th and 6th page?” There are actually 10 seo factors that separate them.
Here they are (in no particular order).
Table of Contents
- 1 Factor 1 – Trust Rank
- 2 Factor 2 – Marketing Budget
- 3 Factor 3 – Provide Real Value
- 4 Factor 4 – Reverse Engineer Your Competition
- 5 Factor 5– Test and Experiment
- 6 Factor 6 – Brand
- 7 Factor 7 – Domain Authority
- 8 Factor 8 – Diversify
- 9 Factor 9 – Reach Out
- 10 Factor 10 – Look Natural
- 11 Factor 11 – Be In It For the Long Haul
- 12 Factor 12 – Don’t Look for Loopholes
Factor 1 – Trust Rank
Trust is a Google ranking factor that no one seems to talk about. In my mind, here’s the very basic formula Google uses to rank sites: Trust + Authority + Relevancy
So approximately 1/3rd of the Google algorithm is dedicated to trust. Needless to say, it’s something worth paying attention to. In fact, Matt Cutts has confirmed that trust makes a difference:
Trust helps you rank better in the first place. But trust is especially important for reducing the risk of getting hit by an update.
Spend less time focusing on authority (PR, # of linking root domains etc.) and more time building trust signals (transparent contact information, links from trusted sources).
Factor 2 – Marketing Budget
There are a lot of webmasters that are still trying to rank their websites purchasing cheap $25 backlinks packages like it’s still 2009. That kind of cheap, spammy stuff simply doesn’t work anymore. To do well today you need the following:
- Useful, well-written content
- A professional, unique site design
- Presence on social media, including Twitter, Google + and Facebook
- Manual link building outreach campaigns (ie. broken link building)
- General internet marketing knowledge (conversion optimization, branding)
In other words, you can’t toss up a site like besttoasterreviewshq.com, hit it with 10,000 blog comment links and expect to rank. You need to build a brand. Write awesome content. Convince people to link to that content. Put another way, you need a lot of talent and work at your disposal. And that’s not cheap.
Sounds easy, but in competitive spaces like insurance, it’s very difficult without a marketing budget. Trust me, your competitors are spending a ton of cash on things like infographics, killer directory submissions (Yahoo!, BOTW, Business.com) and manual blogger outreach.
You don’t need a huge budget. But you do need some money to get going. When you do you’ll find ranking is a heck of a lot easier than trying to compete on a shoestring budget.
Factor 3 – Provide Real Value
When asked, SEO Professionals are simply saying over and over again: “Post great content and you’ll naturally get links”. Well, I’ve been in the game long enough to know that it doesn’t work like that. If you want to get links, you need to get out there and build them. And here’s the catch – Building backlinks is so much easier when you provide value to people.
Also, the human-interaction signals that Google’s paying more and more attention to are really difficult to manipulate. It’s hard to game things that Google measures like time on site, bounce rate, and bookmarks in Google Chrome.
But when you have a site with valuable content, those human-interaction signals come naturally. So it’s worth putting the time and effort into producing valuable stuff.
Factor 4 – Reverse Engineer Your Competition
Believe it or not each niche is quite unique and there is no proven formula that can be copy pasted and will rank any website. Besides reading blog posts from SEO experts another shortcut that allows you to “test without testing” is to reverse engineer your competitors.
This means looking at:
- Their backlinks profile
- Their content length and quality
- Social signals
- Brand signals
As I like to say, The SERPs don’t lie. If you see a site with awful content, spammy backlinks and zero brand signals ranking highly for competitive keywords, then that’s what works. Obviously, you rarely, if ever, see this. But it’s important to let the SERPs guide your thinking and not the other way around…
Also make sure you’re reverse engineering the right sites. Only copy strategies of sites that have been raking for months or years. If not, you may be copying a site that’s primed for a penalty in the near future.
Factor 5– Test and Experiment
Once and a while I’ll head over to an internet marketing forum like Traffic Planet or the Warrior Forum. And usually, I come away with a new perspective or a tidbit of industry news I that I somehow missed. But more often than I come across a thread like this:
I’m not hating GSA Search Engine Ranker, Senuke or any SEO software (although they’re not my cup of tea). But what burns my waffles is the fact that the poster seems incapable of testing on his own.
Sure, there’s something to be said for learning from other people’s experience. It can cut the learning curve time considerably (like you’ve done by investing in this course).
Ultimately, you need to try things out yourself and see how they work for you. Sites at the top got there because the people that run them have tested things and seen what works firsthand.
Factor 6 – Brand
In a now infamous statement, Google CEO Eric Schmidt once said: “Brands are the solution, not the problem…brands are how you sort out the cesspool”.
There’s no doubt in my mind Google is going to give brands a huge SERP boost in the near future. Why? It comes back to trust.
Let’s say Google can rank a page on a old, strongly branded site or a page from a new 10-page mini site for a particular keyword. Which result you think they want to show their users?
Obviously, the branded site…even if the mini site’s page has content that’s a bit longer, contains more LSI keywords and has more links pointing to it. The brand wins.
Factor 7 – Domain Authority
One of the best ways to get more traffic from your existing content is to build up your domain authority. When you build powerful, authoritative links to all of your site’s pages, Google will start to rank you for dozens (or even hundreds) of longtail keywords.
After all, we’re in this SEO game for one thing: traffic. And I personally don’t care if a visitor comes to my site from my #1 spot for a tough keyword or the #1 spot for an insane long tail. As long as he comes to my site.
And when you put less focus on ranking for a particular keyword — and build quality links to all of your site’s pages — you’ll actually get more traffic over the long-term.
Factor 8 – Diversify
This one comes with a bit of a caveat because you can rank for a short time with only one backlink source type (infographics, guest posting, web 2.0 properties etc.). I don’t think that Google pays too much attention to link types, like press releases, article directories etc. But they do take note of it. And more importantly, devalue certain link types.
Even if something works great right now, take the time to diversify as much as you can. That way, if Google suddenly devalues a certain type of link, you’ll take a hit, but still survive.
Factor 9 – Reach Out
Unless you’re relying 100% on link building strategies like blog networks, you’ll ultimately have to interact with another human being when building links.
Because so few people put themselves out there and build relationships, it’s a huge competitive advantage.
You probably already know the mover and shakers in your industry. Get to know them and you’ll be able to get links pretty damn easy (trust me, I’ve done it). After all they’re ballers. Do you think they sweat linking to a fan that they like? It’s nothing to them (but a big deal to you).
The key is to not approach site owners as a needy, clingy ex-girlfriend. Just be cool, complementary and real. And see how it goes. See how and where you can lend them a hand. Will they link to you? Maybe, maybe not. But if you build relationships with the top 10 people in your industry — and 4 of them link to you — that’s 4 insanely powerful links your competition doesn’t have.
It takes hard work and getting out of your comfort zone. But it’s one of the only ways to get links from the authorities in your industry. In other words, it’s worth it.
Factor 10 – Look Natural
When it comes to links, content and social signals your goal should be to look natural.
This isn’t just a strategy, it’s an SEO state of mind.
In 2011 and 2012, SEOs that focused on looking natural — and diversified their anchor text — stayed one step ahead of Google’s Penguin update. They didn’t have any insider information from Mountain View. They just knew that a site with 90%+ of it’s anchor text as a keyword isn’t natural.
Right now take a look at your site’s content, link profile and social media presence. Would it pass a brief manual review? If not, you may want to change anything that sticks out. Pay special attention to on-page SEO as this is something many people still overdo.
Factor 11 – Be In It For the Long Haul
Look at a site like an asset. In fact, many people refer to websites as “web properties”. I like that analogy. Consider your site a piece of property. That means investing in it with a view for the long-term.
I’ve seen so many people devastated by Google penalties that I’ve lost count. The thing is,the majority of those penalties could have been avoided if the owner thought about the long-term health of his site…instead of trying to make money as quickly as possible.
Practical lesson: When building a link or posting a piece of content, ask yourself: “Is this going to help me 6 months or a year from now?”. If the answer is no, don’t do it.
Factor 12 – Don’t Look for Loopholes
After Penguin and Hummingbird updates I saw a lot of people in SEO say something along the lines of: “OK, the Google algorithm has changed: Now, when you build spammy links, make sure to diversify your anchor text as much as possible. Use 20% branded anchors, 10% money keyword…”
Instead of changing gears every time they roll out an update, focus on the big picture. This means doing two things as often as possible:
- Posting quality content
- Building quality links
If you do those two things over and over again you’ll rank for years. Unless Google dramatically changes its algorithm, those two things will never stop working That’s it! Do those things and you’ll rock the casbah!