Our first step for SEO clients is to create a custom SEO strategy to help the customer reach their goals for their website. This strategy tells us their SEO priorities: the most important steps to take.
We know that Google uses an algorithm with hundreds of factors to determine whether to show your page to someone searching for your goods and services. Google’s spiders crawl the web, indexing web pages and deciding what pages have to offer and how useful those pages are to searchers with various intentions.
For example, let’s say you’re offering barre classes. Are you training dancers, or providing fitness classes using barre techniques? Will your homepage be useful for people looking for “barre classes near me” or “dance studio”? Google decides what you have to offer and shows your page to people looking for those things.
Chances are you’re not the only barre class in town. If someone searches for “barre classes,” Google has to decide whether to show your page first, or a competitor’s. This is determined by Google’s ranking of your page for specific keywords. And, of course, their ranking of your competitor’s page.
Again, there are lots of factors. The searcher’s physical location, whether you have any spelling errors, your local stature, the links your website has earned — all these and many more factors affect your place on the search engine results page. Brian Dean has gathered a list of 200 factors that appear to affect rankings, and you can browse through them all.
But Google is very up front about the most important elements.
Content is king. If your website offers plenty of fresh, useful, original content and your competitor has one page with infrequent updates, you can expect to show up first.
Google works hard on AI, and their algorithm is very sophisticated. They can tell whether your content is well-written, has a clear point, and answers seacher’s questions. But machines can’t tell if your page is friendly, witty, charming, or persuasive. For that, they rely on human judgements. And the way that people share those judgements is by linking to your page.
By and large, you’ll get high quality links because of your high quality content. However, you can also get links through building relationships with others in your neighborhood or your field, and asking for them.
If all the barre studios in town have fresh, high quality original content and lots of high quality links, other factors will become more important for your rankings. But that’s not usually the case. For more professional and business websites, the SEO priorities are these:
- #1: Content
- #2: Links (usually gained with great content)
Producing great content
Actually getting great content is the top frustration and challenge for marketers, according to numerous studies. Videos, blog posts, infographics, downloadable documents, and product descriptions are all examples of content that can be useful at your website.
Remember that you need text to go with images and videos. Google may be getting better at understanding visual content, but it still doesn’t do the job of words. Make sure you have at least 300 words to go with your visual content.
Check out our step-by-step content marketing information to get a practical plan for producing content. Do it yourself if you have the time and skills, or hire someone to get it done.
Once you are adding fresh, high quality, original content to your website on a regular basis, you can think about other, lower-value SEO efforts. Start with the things that will give you the best ROI.