3 Simple SEO Rules For 2014

In the vein of making New Year’s resolutions and getting off on the right foot in 2014, lets take our search game to the next level this year. The fact that Google and other search engines are constantly changing their algorithms to provide the most relevant results to searchers has opened the door for a lot of interpretations of what’s important when it comes to SEO. Let’s narrow that list of interpretations down to a couple key tenets and expose some myths along the way.

Ranking Is Not The End-All Be-All. Ranking is simply step one in the process of having a successful SEO campaign. Granted, its one of the harder steps, but still just a step. Being ranked on page 1 of a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is still extremely important. In fact, a page 2 ranking will only net you 8% of total impressions for a given term, while a first overall position ranking will net you 33% of the total number of clicks.However, there are metrics much more important than simply ranking high on a SERP.

A high Click Through Rate (CTR) is really what a successful SEO campaign should use to measure success. What good is ranking well if people aren’t clicking through to your site? In order to have a high CTR, you need compelling Titles and Meta Descriptions, as well as descriptive URLs. These elements are what gets displayed on a SERP and are the first impression a searcher will get of your site. Additionally, you can (and should!) append your site pages with rich text and author tags, which have been very successful at increasing CTR’s no matter where the page ranks.

More Link Building Is Not Necessarily Better. Google has taken great measures to ensure that it’s serving up the highest quality content to its users. While it’s still true that link building is essential for a successful SEO campaign, the quality of your links is far more important than their quantity. Pay close attention to the referring domains to your site, because links from bad sites WILL cause your SERP ranking to fall. On the other side of the coin, links from reputable sites will be looked upon favorably. And if you’re thinking about linking from one of your subdomains to your site to improve rankings, don’t bother – Google is much too smart for that. Google even began penalizing companies’ sites for sharing too many links with their clients. When it comes to link building, and all SEO for that matter, don’t take shortcuts. Your focus should always be on quality content and the links will follow.

More Content Is Not Better, Better Content Is Better. A lot of clients I work with are under the impression that they need to add copy to their homepage because more content is looked upon favorably. While that’s partially true, copy is only a small part of the equation when it comes to SEO ranking. Also taken into account are the page’s CTR, bounce rate, % exit rate, and social referrals. A page that grabs the attention of a user and is more likely to lead to a conversion, will always be looked upon favorably by Google regardless of the amount of copy. On a more macro level, some clients also think that the more pages they have, the better. And while I understand the following line of thinking: “If I have more pages, my site is more likely to show up for different search queries,” the rules of quality still apply. There is little point in having a lot of content on your site if the majority of it is garbage.

The bottom line is this: SEO all about having high quality content on your site. A lot of people think of SEO as a way to "game the system", but the search engine algorithms have gotten so advanced to this point that there's really no "gaming" to be done. Google has a plethora of metrics to measure quality of content and if you're trying to get one past them, its not going to work. As far as SEO goes, it’s always come back to the very simple idea that you need to put quality, relevant content on your site and it will be recognized as that by visitors, and in turn, search engine crawlers.

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