Good SEO Practices:
How to Rank Higher in Google
If you’re a website owner, you might have already tried SEO or Search Engine Optimization techniques to increase your ranking in Google. If you’re a manufacturer of handmade chocolates in Wyoming, for example, you’d want your website to appear on top of Google’s Search Engine Results Pages or SERPs once an online user types “handmade chocolates in Wyoming”. If your site does not appear among the top ten list, there’s a very small possibility for the number of visitors that you have to increase. This is where good SEO practices come in. Through them, you can rank higher in Google, generate more traffic to your site, and boost the profit of your business.
A Brief Look at the History of Google’s Algorithm Updates
There are more than 6 billion searches conducted on Google per day. How can you get even a minute percentage of these online users to visit your site? Through SEO. Simply put, it’s a set of steps implemented to make your site more search engine-friendly. If a website is properly SEO’d, search engines like Google can index or store in their databases your website – and make it rank higher whenever an online user types a keyword or key phrase related to your business on the search box.
How is SEO related to Google’s algorithm updates?
Unfortunately, there is no one effective way to increase the rankings of your website because the algorithm of top search engine is frequently updated. In the late 1990s, it was quite easy for website owners to make their sites appear on top of Google’s search engine pages – they simply stuff keywords into their sites as many times as possible, and get as many inbound links as they possibly could. This was when the catchphrase SEO guru was born. Today, with the frequent updates that Google has with its algorithm, one can hardly claim to be an SEO because it’s pretty difficult to monitor all the changes.
In 2003, the emphasis was more on quality backlinks and the algorithm was called Boston. A year late, Austin was born and it’s basically a crackdown on ‘invisible’ text and meta tag-stuffing. In 2005, Allegra was born and the focus was on cracking down suspicious-looking links. Just a year later, a supplemental update was made on index and filtered pages. In 2007, the universal search algorithm was used where traditional results were integrated with news, video, and images. From 2008 to 2010, the focus was on updating the search index and eliminating low-quality pages for long-tail keyword searches.
It was in 2011 that Panda was born, where thin content, content farms, and sites with high ad-to-content ratios were focused on. Then came Penguin in 2012, Hummingbird in 2013, Pigeon in 2014, and the latest which all about being mobile-friendly. If your site is not yet optimized for mobile use, you better start making some changes now.
SEO & the Latest Google Algorithm Changes
According to Google’s Webmaster Central Blog, the rolling out of the mobile-friendly update started on April 2015. The goal is to “boost the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results”. By making a website more mobile-friendly instead of simply search engine-friendly, online users can now eliminate the frustration of having to tap, zoom or horizontally scroll their mobile phones just so that they can read the text on a web page.
This latest Google algorithm change affects only search rankings on mobile devices; it affects search results in all global languages; and applies to individual pages instead of entire website. To determine if your site is mobile-friendly, you can visit the following link:
The Most Important Areas of SEO
Next, with the recent algorithm changes focusing on a site’s being mobile-friendly, what other important aspects of SEO should you be working on? Take a look:
SEO description of content and images
If you have a blog that’s all about taking care of pets, you might have a picture of a smiling dog on your site. An online user can easily recognize this, but search engine spiders do not. By using image optimization techniques like image alt text, you can help the spiders recognize what the image on your website is all about, an example of which is this:
<img src=”dog-smiling.jpg” alt=”Dog Smiling” />
You should also make sure that the file size is just right for SEO purposes, along with the file name and captions.
On-page and off-page links
You can use either on-page or internal links, and off-page links when optimizing your site for the search engines. What will make your SEO techniques work is combining these two, and the percentages are entirely up to you. For example, you can use a 70% on-page, 30% link building SEO strategy. It can be the opposite which is 70% link building and 30% on-page links; or you can go with a 90-10 combination for on-page and off-page links, respectively. If the algorithm changes, using a combination of these two links will help you settle your rankings while the shift is still happening.
Yes, content is still king when it comes to SEO – but it needs to be shareable as well. The easier it is to share your content on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, the more traffic your website will generate.
Fortunately for the keyword masters of years gone by, they’re still an important aspect of SEO today. The key is to think of quality, relevant, and contextual keywords in relation to your content.
Online users are an impatient lot, and you don’t want them to click away from your site because of a too-long loading time. Even if you have videos or lots of images on your website, the individual pages should still load quickly.
URL links structure
Yes, you can still insert keywords in URL – although you should focus more on readability. The easier it is for a URL to be read by humans, the easier it is for search engines.
Robots.txt is a special file on a website which search engine crawlers look for. What it does is tell the search engine spider which individual web pages on your site should be indexed, and which ones should be ignored. If you want to boost your site’s search engine rankings, you should definitely create a robots.txt file now if you don’t already have one.
The main purpose of XML (Extensible Markup Language) sitemaps is to facilitate indexing. Small sites can easily create and post their own XML sitemaps manually while for larger sites, plug-ins and modules are available.
Responsiveness of the website
You should also make sure that your site has a responsive design – which means that it should be suitable for mobile, tablet or desktop browsing. The site should adapt to whichever screen size it is being displayed on. In today’s tech-obsessed world, you will never know whether an online user will be using a tablet computer or a smartphone with a tiny screen to browse your site. No matter which gadget they are using, your site should be able to adapt and display the text properly – something which can be accomplished with a responsive web design.
How SERPs will Affect Doorway Pages?
With the more mobile-friendly algorithm that Google just launched, how will the results of the SERPs affect doorway pages? Also called portal, jump, gateway or entry pages, doorway pages are submitted by webmasters to search engines to improve traffic. Doorway pages are easily identifiable and are primarily designed for search engine crawlers, instead of online users. The latest algorithm changes will definitely affect SERPs and doorway pages, especially if your site is not yet mobile-friendly. This means that if you have not yet tested your site for mobile-friendliness, now’s the best time to do so in order for you to catch up with the latest algorithm changes that Google implemented.
A Final Word about Good SEO Practices & Ranking Higher in Google
All in all, the goal of Google in updating its algorithm for sites to be more mobile-friendly benefits one group: the online users. Giving people exactly what they want in terms of browsing experience and search options is what the search engine giant has long been known for. By optimizing your site to be more mobile-friendly, you can increase your rankings on Google’s search engine pages, while also giving your website visitors a better browsing experience.