Business people discussing local seo together in conference

Five Factors to Consider When Ranking Your Site On Google

Most business owners already know that the holy grail of search engine optimization (SEO) is landing on the first page of Google and being the number one result for their target keywords. But did you know that over a hundred ranking factors exist? Google is one of the most popular, if not the most popular, search engines today, processing nearly 63,000 search queries every second of each day. (1)

Unfortunately, trying to rank your website high on Google can be a challenge. Why? Because nobody knows exactly which factors Google uses to rank websites. Even in the modern era, the exact Google search algorithm remains a top, closely guarded secret. The search engine also releases updates regularly, which either add new considerations to a marketer’s optimization efforts or shift the weight of existing factors, adding to the mystery of it all.

The SEO community, though, has spent many years studying the different factors. They found that some elements are much more critical when ranking a website as high as possible than others. But before delving into these crucial Google ranking factors, this post will define a few basic concepts influencing search engine optimization first. Read on to learn more.

Why does Google rank web pages?

Business people discussing local seo together in conference

Google said that it has a ranking system for web pages to help its users sort through a significant amount of information it generates regarding a particular search query. The ranking system enables Google to present the most relevant and useful results to people. 

But how does Google rank web pages? To rank websites, Google uses web crawlers. The web crawlers scan and index pages, then Google rates every page according to various factors that influence a page’s authority and usefulness to end-users.

The search engine then lists the websites on a search results page using different ranking factors. Therefore, if you appear higher on Google’s search results pages, you’re the most authoritative and relevant result for a given search query.

It’s essential to note that Google’s AI-powered (artificial intelligence) algorithm is called Natural Language Processing (NLP) for a reason. It actually works similarly to the human brain when understanding and processing human language. It means that it can process queries in concept rather than individual words. And that’s why Google can understand the true meaning or intent behind every query, which significantly influences how it ranks websites. (2) 

The good news is that Google takes steps to support and guide web admins to rank higher. For example, the search engine’s representatives hold regular talks with web admins to help them understand the algorithm better. Google even has an official blog where people can find the latest news on algorithmic updates.

Does Google’s algorithm change?

As previously mentioned, Google releases algorithmic updates. A Google algorithmic update is a change Google makes to its search engine to improve the quality of search results and relevance and enhance overall user experience.

So, how often does the algorithm change? Google updates the search engine’s algorithm quite often. In fact, in 2018 alone, 3,200 algorithmic updates took place. Some experts believe that the frequency of these changes has only grown since then. However, most updates go unnoticed, except for significant changes, which Google publicly announces in advance. (3)

Google’s E-A-T concept

Google claims that it considers over 200 factors in ranking websites. It also includes the user’s past search history and location. Web admins are well aware of these things. However, there’s one concept in Google’s ranking system that many web admins and marketers miss—the E-A-T concept. Let’s talk about E-A-T.

Google uses E-A-T to evaluate the quality of web pages. E in E-A-T stands for expertise, A for authority, and T stands for trustworthiness. Although E-A-T is only a principle where algorithm updates are based on rather than an algorithm by itself, it derives from the Search Quality Rating Guidelines of Google designed to establish how a website can be of good quality and rank well. (4)

Here’s a closer look at each of E-A-T’s elements:

  • Expertise: This element establishes whether the author possesses the right qualifications or skills to answer a particular question. Take a medical website as an example: Is the page’s author a qualified physician with the necessary license? If the author claims to be someone he isn’t, the web page’s ranking performance can be affected significantly.
  • Authoritativeness: A page’s authority becomes higher when other bloggers and experts in an industry or niche start citing that page or blog. It’s synonymous with reputation. It’s essential to note that authority applies to both the company or individual that the website represents and the site itself.
  • Trustworthiness: This element is how it sounds exactly. It’s about how trustworthy a site is. Positive customer reviews and having a secure domain for protecting user’s personal information are some of the things that demonstrate the trustworthiness of a website. That’s why receiving too many negative reviews will impact your search engine results page (SERP) position.

If you want to really improve your position on the SERP, your website has to demonstrate E-A-T.

Ranking factors every SEO campaign must consider

Business young man in the modern startup office.

Now that you already have an idea of the several basic concepts that influence search engine optimization and Google rankings in general, it’s time to look at the factors that can help you ensure that your website gets maximum visibility online.

Check them out below:

  1. Security

Many web admins might be thinking that security only matters when their websites are transferring credit cards, passwords, email addresses, and other sensitive information. Well, it was the case until Google started really prioritizing website security in 2018. (5)

  • Why it matters: Google will recommend only web pages that it’s sure will be useful to users. For the search engine, being useful also means being secured. That’s why you can bet that between a secure website and a non-secure one with similar search points, the former will win every time!
    Google doesn’t like seeing web admins lose control of their sites. That said, it will see cybersecurity breaches as a reason to lower your website’s rank.
    Also, as previously mentioned, having a secure website demonstrates trustworthiness, which is an essential element of Google’s E-A-T concept. However, security isn’t only a crucial factor for ranking your website on Google’s SERP, but it’s an essential factor every web admin must consider regardless. That’s because a secure site reassures your website’s visitors that their sensitive personal information is in good hands, which will impact your business in one way or another.
  • How to get secure: You can follow several practices to improve your website’s security. They include finding a secure hosting option, using an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate, enforcing a strong password policy, choosing plugins and add-ons carefully, and getting expert support.
  1. Page speed

Page load time may not be one of the first things that come into a web admin’s mind when thinking about SEO, but it certainly shouldn’t be ignored. Not only Google but also page visitors expect a responsive website. Google’s PageSpeed tool can help you test your site’s speed and gain insights on what needs to be done for overall improvement.

  • Why it matters: Page speed has been one of the leading ranking factors for years. Google will penalize websites with excessively long load times. It makes sense because Google, once again, wants to improve web users’ experience. Therefore, it favors fast-loading web pages over slow ones. It’s essential to note that Google also looks into your page’s loading speed when accessed via mobile devices since more than half of traffic online comes from smartphones and tablets. (6)
  • How to boost website load time: Some of the things you can do to make your web page’s speed faster are improving time to first byte (TTFB), reducing your server’s response time, enabling caching, and eliminating unnecessary redirects.
  1. Content quality

They say content is king in search engine optimization and digital marketing in general. It’s still true today. It means that your website’s pages must carry well-researched content that adds value to Google’s users. 

  • Why it matters: There’s no doubt that Google loves good content. That’s because it wants to offer its users the best possible results. It’s true whether your content is a blog post, image, or video. In fact, to prioritize content’s relevance, quality, and presentation, algorithms were rewritten in a way that link and keyword-stuffing are now penalized.
  • How to produce quality content: Understanding the definition of good quality content is key to producing and publishing quality content on your site. So, what’s high-quality content? It solves a problem, and it’s written for humans, not search engines. Also, good content is interesting and informative.
  1. Backlinks

Backlinks are another important Google ranking factor. It’s essential to target quality over quantity when it comes to links. Note that link-building is something that you can incorporate into your overall content strategy:

  • Why it matters: Backlinks matter for three primary reasons: It elevates your domain authority, boosts traffic to your website, and builds your online reputation. Google essentially views each of your backlinks as a significant vote of confidence in your content’s quality level. That’s why the number of high-quality links to your site that you can generate will determine your website’s popularity in Google and other search engines.
  • How to get quality backlinks: Some ways to earn good backlinks today are writing unique and competitive content (quality links to your website will come naturally this way), building strong public relations, and guest posting.
  1. On-page SEO

No one should disregard on-page SEO when it comes to ranking with Google. What’s on-page SEO? They’re the measures a web admin employs on his website to gain better organic search performance.

  • Why it matters: Google better understands what your web page is all about by making simple on-page changes like updating old content, including header tags, and cleaning up your metadata, thus, improving your organic search ranking.
  • How to perform on-page SEO: As already mentioned, things that you can do to improve your website’s organic search performance include updating old content, including header tags, and cleaning up your metadata. Fixing broken links and optimizing your URL structure can also help.

Final Thoughts

Considering and incorporating the ranking factors mentioned and discussed above into your overall SEO strategy will help you have a website that Google will love to reward with a high SERP rank to satisfy its users. Note, however, that there are many factors out there to consider.

The most important thing here is to keep trying different strategies and see what works and what doesn’t for your website. Also, if you’re unsure how to implement the abovementioned factors, don’t hesitate to work with a reliable SEO agency.

References:

  1. “25 Google Search Statistics To Bookmark ASAP”, Source: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/google-search-statistics
  2. “How Search Algorithm Works”, Source: https://www.google.com/search/howsearchworks/algorithms/
  3. “Google Made 3,200 Changes To Search In The Past Year”, Source: https://searchengineland.com/google-made-3200-changes-to-search-in-the-past-year-319506
  4. “Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines”, Source: https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/guidelines.raterhub.com/en//searchqualityevaluatorguidelines.pdf
  5. “A Secure Web Is Here To Stay”, Source: https://security.googleblog.com/2018/02/a-secure-web-is-here-to-stay.html
  6. “What Percentage Of Searches Are Performed On Mobile Devices?”, Source: https://www.thesearchreview.com/60-percent-online-searches-mobile-devices-07212/

6 Ways to Improve Your Small Business Website SEO

As an SEO agency, one of the most frequent questions we get from our clients is: “What can I do to improve my website’s search engine rankings?” There are many factors that determine how well a website ranks in search engines, but there are some SEO best practices that will undoubtedly help your ranking, no matter what industry or niche you are in. Here are six easy changes you can make to your website that will help improve your SEO rankings.

Section 1. What is Search Engine Optimization?

SEO is a long and complex subject that requires a lot of research and continual adjustments for the long term. In order to better understand how to optimize your website for search engines, you must first know what SEO is and how search engines work. If you want to know more about how SEO works, there are several free resources available online. A quick Google search for “SEO Basics” will provide you with a plethora of information to help you learn how to make SEO work for you. As a way of improving your website visibility in the search result pages, search engine optimization is, analogically speaking, the creation and polishing of your business’ online identity in order to be favored by search engines such as Google and Bing.

While many an seo expert focuses on search engine ranking, the effective seo strategy must seek to increase the online visibility of the small business WHILE increasing the conversion rate of potential customers. SEO services can be further distinguished between national SEO a local seo. National SEO simply means search engine optimization for national brands that provide products on a larger s

Section 2. Research Your Competitors

When you have a website, it can be really difficult to monitor its traffic and performance for success. By comparison, it’s much easier to do this with competitors. Who are they ranking for, and how are they ranking? When you monitor their websites, you will be able to quickly spot issues and problems and correct them, and you can also see what’s working for them and what isn’t. Find a competitor that seems to be doing really well and compare its site to yours. Look at the site’s keywords, competitors, meta descriptions, backlinks, website location and other vital information. This will allow you to understand the keywords they are ranking for and see which ones are driving the most traffic to their site. It also gives you a peak at

Section 3. Understand How Search Engines Rank Websites

SEO best practices can be highly time-consuming, which is why many small businesses don’t bother to do it. However, ignoring best practices can have severe consequences for your site’s ranking in the search engines. Search engines work with many different factors in order to serve to the visitor the best information to answer their question or keyword used. While this is not a guide as to how search engines work, there are many resources online that delve into this topic further.  

Section 4. Create Valuable Content for Your Ideal Customer

Search engines are all about content. A search engine can’t deliver the best possible results if it doesn’t have access to the most relevant and useful content. All other SEO tactics, including headings, meta description, anchor text and so on, are all just extra items on the page. Only valuable content makes it through to your site’s SERP (search engine results page). This doesn’t mean that you have to create the same exact content on your homepage, or that you can’t change it to better fit your needs. As a rule of thumb- always attempt to create content which your ideal customer will find valuable. Content marketing is, like SEO, a subsection of digital marketing. Once you have posted new blog articles or pages to your site, it is important to market that content via social media and other methods. 

Section 5. Utilize a CDN and server caching to speed up your website

This is a major SEO best practice, and one that should be implemented in any website design. CDNs are a collection of servers that provide an efficient networked caching solution for the web. A content delivery network (CDN) is a specialized form of network that applies dynamic properties of an end-to-end domain name system (DNS). Using a CDN allows your web server to store in a central location all of your website’s assets (CSS, Javascript, images, etc.) and sends the resulting content, such as a webpage, over the internet. Without a CDN, your website would have to request every single page asset from your server in order to serve each request. CDNs are often used by large corporations to reduce server space costs by storing all assets on multiple servers around the world. CDNs are much more affordable than they were previously and many website hosting companies offer them at little to no additional cost. 

Section 6. Improve Your Backlink Profile

The first SEO best practice that should come to mind is building a solid backlink profile. Start with an audit of all the backlinks to your site, then verify that they are legitimate and of high quality. When I say legitimate and high quality, I am referring to links that were not paid for but instead EARNED. Buying links as an SEO technique is against most search engines’ terms of service and can result in penalization. Instead, marketing the valuable content on your website for other websites to trust and link to should be a staple of your local seo strategy. Local SEO Tip: sponsoring local events, sports teams, and volunteering are all effective ways of potentially earning high quality and relevant backlinks as a result of doing good in the community.

You should also carefully scrutinize your website for any broken links and external site pages that link to your site without attribution. While broken links can still influence your search ranking, the impact is far less significant than the alteration of a link that was not working properly. Backlink analysis can take a lot of time and patience, but the information you are able to gather from an audit can be invaluable for any website.

Section 7. Measure Results and Adapt

Before you jump into each of the SEO tips listed below, we recommend you create a report that details each query that your website has been able to rank for, and what the site’s average time to rank has been. This will allow you to see the quantitative and qualitative elements of your website’s SEO and determine what changes are necessary to improve your results. The first SEO best practice you should implement is to use unbiased search engine optimization (SEO) tools. By using SEO tools that are backed by unbiased results and genuine human-reviewed data, you will be able to start to automate the SEO process and get more value for your budget. These tools will also allow you to see what is working and what is not working. Once you are able to distinguish the behaviors that led to the results, it is important to then adapt your small business website to improve upon those results. This may mean that you should implement a specific SEO technique to help overcome specific hurdles. An example may be the usage and implementation of specific topics you previously uncovered during your keyword research.

Section 8. Conclusion

As a business owner, you should try to learn more about search engine optimization and how it works. Bettering your understanding of SEO will empower you to play a larger role in the success of your business. When you are busier as a result of the extra business, it may be time to hire a local seo consultant to take over and expand your search visibility. Prior to hiring a local seo expert, it is important that you have at least a fundamental understanding of search engine optimization and seo techniques normally utilized by ethical seo consultants. After all, how do you hire someone to do a job effectively if you do not understand the fundamentals of the work needing to be done.

SEO for Etsy

Easy SEO Tips for Etsy

Improving Etsy Product Visibility with SEO

Etsy sales not quite what you had hoped for? Feeling like you are just spinning your wheels week after week to try to make sales from your Etsy page? Using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tips for products and profile on the most popular hand-made private seller platform may just be what you need to finally see a return on your Etsy investment.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a process wherein you make your website or content more appealing to search engines such as Google and Bing? The search engines have specific factors that it uses to determine how search results appear and in what order. The same holds true for Etsy. Etsy has its own search factors that it adheres to each and every time someone searches for a product using the website or the Etsy App.

 It is through this article that we discuss specific measures you can take on your Etsy profile page and product pages to become more appealing to their search algorithm and searchers in general. Keep in mind that if you tailor your product listings to become more appealing to searchers, they will become more appealing to the search algorithm as well. 

Search Intent

Let’s take a look at what Etsy is to better understand how their search algorithm works in addition to what searchers see. 

SEO for Etsy

 In the image to the left you will see the layout of the Etsy homepage. Aside from the logo in the upper left corner, the top of the page is dominated by a large search bar. The search bar, for those wanting to purchase products from the site, is the gateway to the information they seek and Etsy is aware of facet of user intent, otherwise it would not be the first thing you see when the page loads.

Once a search is completed, in this example quilts (everyone loves a good quilt), the searcher will then see the search results which will highlight specific attributes of the quilts available for sale. They will see the categories of types of quilts, the image uploaded as a way for the seller to showcase their work, the title of the product that they are selling, reviews (in star format), price (including discount as indicated by the seller) and any additional promotion option the seller chooses such as free shipping. 

Etsy Search Results

You will notice similarities between the products on the first page as well as a few difference. If we look at the results, we will see that the word, “quilt” is evident (in actual results on the page you may need to hover your mouse over the title to read the complete title for the product). This tells us that the keyword describing the product “quilt” is an important factor in the search algorithm.  It is a part of the algorithm because it assists the searcher in discovering what they are searching for and their reasoning for doing so. This is called search intent. It is the goal of the algorithm to display results based upon that intent. In this example we can see the second search result as being a specific type of thread used in quilts. You will note that the first products as highlighted in the image are paid ads. We still look to these because, although they are paid, the algorithm still utilizes its rules but with the addition of rules governing ad placement and order. Further down the page we see quilts and other products related to quilting that are showing as part of organic search results. They are called organic because the additional paid factors do not come into play. The search engine is looking at all of the products shop owners have indicated to be quilts and then asking itself, “If I were searching for quilts, what else in addition to quilts might I be interested in?” It then serves up results that answers the question. To better understand why the first organic search result is ranked first, we must engage in competitor analysis.

Search Ranking Analysis

For this portion of our deep dive into SEO for Etsy, we will engage in competitor analysis. This has been likened to reverse engineering the search result to uncover which SEO techniques the shop owner or SEO is using to obtain that #1 result placement. Let’s walk through this process together. In this image we have expanded on the title by hovering over it and we see that the keyword quilt is located in the title. Additionally, the title has other keywords that one might expect to see when searching for quilts such as the type of fabric used. In fact, this search result is not of a quilt itself but is actually for squares of fabric used for MAKING quilts.

etsy seo result 1 photo

Why might fabric for quilts show up in the Etsy search results prior to an actual quilt, you might ask? Let’s dive deeper into our 
analysis to see why this product stands taller than all others in the search.
 

If we were to click on the search result and travel to the product page, we can uncover the ETSY SEO techniques being used while diving into the search signals that have propelled this product to #1 for the search term quilts.

What does Etsy look for in determining how a product will rank for a search?

Search Signals, as they are called are the individual factors that influence ranking of the product. Let’s look at these signals individually and then how the #1 search result stacks up on the product page for those signals that are visible to us. 
 
  •  Relevancy
    • Relevancy asks, “How relevant is this product to the searcher’s request?”. Search signals related to relevancy include keywords, whether an exact match or similar to what is being search for,  in product titles, tags, and categories.  This means that a keyword should appear in these areas. WARNING: do not “stuff” the keyword into these areas numerous times over. This not only does NOT help your cause but it looks unnatural and unappealing to the person searching for your product
  • Product Location and Shipping
    •  Does it make much sense for Etsy to display a product located on the other side of the world with expensive shipping when a similar product is located nearby with cheaper shipping? Of course not! That is why these search signals and factors are HUGE. Etsy would be doing a disservice to the searcher if it showed products first that would a) take a long time to get to the searcher and b) be cost prohibitive. etsy seo factor: locationIn this example, I am located in Mesa, Arizona and the first result (as seen above) is located in Las Vegas, Nevada, has FREE shipping and indicated that it ships within 1 business day. Since the item is in close proximity to me, ships quickly and the cost is not too high, Etsy decided that this should be the first search result I see. Afterall, with all of these factors it would make sense that I would be likely to buy it. 
  • Customer Experience Score
    •  Would the searcher likely have a positive experience with this product from this seller or a less than stellar experience? This is where customer feedback comes into play. The feedback scores you receive not only display on the product page to psychologically attract you to that seller and that product but the search algorithm does the same thing. In this case, the reviews for the shop and the item have been great. etsy seo reviews 
  • Conversion Rate of The Product Profile
    • How well does the product convert into a sale? Why would Etsy rank a product when the product profile does not result in a sale? The whole purpose of the search algorithm is to show you products that Etsy thinks you will by based upon the intent of your search. As a result, products that have sold well and convert searchers into customers have an easier time ranking higher than products whose profiles are viewed thousands of time and rarely, if ever, result in a sale.  The quilt fabric that is highlighted about has sold 2,174 times as of the drafting of this article. Actionable item: Is your product description likely to appeal to people searching for it? If not, ask around for the opinion of others. Based upon your listing, if the person did not know you personally, would they likely buy it?
  • Recency
    •  Etsy temporarily inflates the ranking (in a good way) of a new product listing so that it can determine how well the product will do with customers. Will it convert like we discussed above? Even renewed (updated) listings are temporarily inflated so that the Etsy search algorithm can evaluate the performance of it. This is why it is important to update existing product listings regularly.
  • External Factors
    •  Etsy is no different than Google or Bing when it comes to search algorithms in that it looks to see how relevant and popular the product is outside of etsy. Is your listing being linked to by other websites with similar interests? In this example, it would be be beneficial to have links coming from popular quilting and fabric sites or how-to blogs. Look to do the same with your product listing. Share it on Facebook, Pinterest, forums related to the product, how to blog posts, etc. 

 Your next steps:

Now that you have a better understanding as to how Etsy ranks products in the search results the way it does, you can make positive changes and engage in SEO for Etsy. Follow these three common sense rules when you are optimizing our listings. 
  1. Draft your product listing with the intent of the searcher in mind. Are you using your keywords only enough to show relevance? Is your product description accurate and appealing to the searcher?
  2. Does you customer experience align with the way you would want to be treated? This will improve your customer experience score.

Do not be afraid to experiment. After a week of not seeing results, renew your listing with update information, tags, descriptions, etc. This will not only boost your ranking while Etsy determines how well the listing does but it will also help you determine what techniques will sell.