Google SEO Guide – How to Be Friends with SERPS
SEO has come a long way since the old days of yore. Keyword stuffing, followed by black-hat link building both bit the dust. So have many more poop-infested strategies marketers used to get to page one of Google.
But, all hope’s not lost. What we have here is a Google SEO Guide that will help you become friends with Google almighty.
What is SEO anyway?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. (Don’t want to be Captain Obvious here. Still, an introduction to the terminology might help people that are new to SEO)
In a nutshell, SEO = optimize your page to be more search engine friendly.
A Short History of What Bull Used to Work
In the old days, you could’ve done some things, that naming them shady would be an understatement. And, if someone asked you what, you needed to pull them in a back-alley, and quietly whisper it.
Jokes aside, Google wasn’t always smart. We won’t get much into details. Can’t top Patel on black-hat SEO.
But, we’ll cover some of the most famous tricks.
The good old keyword stuffing. You just create a page, stuff it with as many keywords as you could think of, and get on the 1st page in SERPs.
But, a page with nothing but keywords gets stale quickly. So, the most ridiculous (and inventive) ways to do it without making a cesspool of rubbish started emerging.
Some would put keywords in a 1px font size. Others would put them outside the visible margins of the page.
There were tons of jokes regarding the phenomena, with our personal favourite being “An SEO expert walks into a bar, poker table, porn site, liquor store, dogs, cats, weight loss…”
You get the point.
But, as everything too good to be true, it had to end.
Google’s first attempted to battle stuffing with the Florida update goes way back in 2003. But, Penguin and Panda killed it. (Penguin and Panda killed black-hat backlink building too but I’m getting ahead of myself.)
Nowadays, Google punishes such a practice heavily, with no exception.
Yes, we know that links are losing their value. The only reason Google still uses links as a ranking factor is that it still hasn’t got smart enough to rank content based on the content itself.
Still, chances are, you know about PA (page authority) and DA (domain authority). They are the workaround the algorithm uses at the moment for ranking the value of a link.
Basically, these authority metrics measure how valuable the page is. And with it, how valuable a backlink from that particular page would be. Most .org and .edu domains have big authorities because they are credible.
So, this is where link farming came to be.
People used to use link farming sweatshops to build backlinks. And, ridiculous as it sounds, it worked.
Same as with keyword stuffing, creativity peaked here, too. We won’t go into detail about each way to farm links, but we’ll cover the most inventive way I know.
The most inventive way we can think of is looking for a domain that had value, usually an .org. Then, you get ownership of that domain. The trick is simple. If it was a credible .org domain, it would’ve had thousands of pages linking to it.
So naturally, you put follow links on it to your website to get that link juice flowing.
And it works like a charm.
To be honest, people still do this, but if Google notices, you’re doomed. Whether you will be doomed for a short-term or permanently is up to the engine itself.
With that out of the way, here is a guide on how to properly optimize your page for Google.
Do Proper Keyword Research
Proper keyword research is where it all starts. There are some amazing tools out there that can help you with it. Some of them are free, like Patel’s Ubersuggest, others are subscription based.
But, we are not here to discuss tools.
When you’re doing keyword research for organic rankings, pay attention to the following:
1. Low keyword search difficulty
2. High Intent
3. The bigger the search volume, the better
So, let’s explain these three:
As its name suggests, it points out how difficult it is to rank for a keyword, on a scale of 1-100. 100 is the hardest (Captain Obvious on call)
You need to find a balance between search volume and search difficulty.
Does it matter if the keyword means something to you when the search intent of the user is completely different?
Yeah, thought so.
The easiest way to check the intent of a keyword is to just Google search it. If 90% of the results match the topic you want to target, then it has a high intent.
Remember, Google’s algorithms have made countless rotation of what users want to see when they write that query in the search bar. So, it gives the result that proved the best for the user.
Simple as that.
As we said, you need as high volume as you can get. Still, pay attention to the difficulty. There is no point in targeting a 100k volume keyword if it has 60 and above difficulty – you’ll never rank for it. Or, you may rank for it when your nephews grow old.
Write Quality Content
So, you decided to write a piece on “cat memes.” Chances are, lots of other people had the same idea. And, this is 99% of the case with any keyword.
The harsh reality is, at the moment we’re writing this, “cat memes” has 90,500 monthly search volume with 46 difficulty.
This doesn’t mean that the correlation between difficulty and volume is justifiable. You’ll be competing with 169 million other posts. If you don’t write godlike content, you have no chances to rank for it.
Still, this doesn’t mean that you can’t target other easier keywords. You can. But, you need to write exceptional content.
Good enough doesn’t work anymore. Content is king for Google at the moment.
One tip we have, that applies to blog posts, is to insert your opinion and give your own experiences. That’s one way to be different than the rest 169 million writing about “cat memes.”
Use Images and Optimize Them
Oh, images and SEO.
To be honest, we rarely see a well-optimized image on a post that has ranked on Google’s 1st page.
If you ask us, we’d slap those pages waaay back in the results. But that’s just our opinion.
So, How to Optimize Images?
First of all, don’t use .png where you can use .jpeg.
This is the best image advice you’ll ever get. You see, Google likes pages that are nice, simple, and load fast.
You, on the other hand, stuffing the pages with .png images don’t do what Google wants. See where we’re going?
.png as a format is very heavy on the page size, so logically, you’d want to use images that are not.
This is scratching the surface!
So, you have an image that’s small and still looks good enough that people actually recognize what’s in the image.
Okay, now you need to write a title and an alt text (or alt description). The title is easy to guess, but what about alt text?
What Is an Image Alt Text?
An image alt text is a short meta tag that describes what the image is about in plain text.
Why do this you might ask?
Google isn’t good at reading images. In fact, Google can’t read images at all. But, what it can do is read text. So, you provide a meta tag, describing the image in a short and sweet sentence.
There is another benefit from doing this that is more humane than you might think.
There are devices for blind people that display a page in text only, so providing a meta tag helps them understand what is in the image by reading the alt text which describes it.
AMP Your Pages
AMP (or Accelerated Mobile Pages) is the newest initiative to make pages more mobile friendly.
But not just any mobile-friendly experience, but a super-duper one.
You see, Google wants to display Google everywhere. But, there are countries with such a poor internet connection that when compared, the dial-up ages were fast internet. Jokes aside, an AMP optimized page is very light and loads very quickly on very poor network reception.
And guess what Google likes? Fast loading pages.
Optimize the Code
So, you made it this far, and you want to fine-tune the page to load even faster.
Enter code minifications.
What is Code Minification?
In a nutshell, code minification is reducing the code size and combining different scripts into one.
Reducing the code gets rid of the excess code of the page without changing the page.
Combining scripts reduces the HTTP requests the browser has to make to download your page.
Doing both increases the loading speed of the page.
(Disclaimer: If you don’t know coding, you need the services of a coder for these optimizations.)
Build Links that Are Valuable
So, we’re back to backlinks.
But, now we’re going with white-hat backlink building.
One way to do it is guest-posting. What this means is you post on other people’s blog and you link back to your content.
The right way to do it is to put the link in the “about you” part of the piece. Any other part might be considered a “black-hat” attempt by Google.
Another way is to find “dead links” in sites that post content related to your niche. Then, you offer them an updated version of the page (with a link back to your page of course.) The difference here is you link to your page using the dead link on the page.
Third, and the best way to build backlinks is to write content that’s worthy of backlinks. If you write great content that’s informative, people will mention it in their pages.
So there we go.
Although there is way more to know about SEO, this post tackles the basics of it.
Organic search ranking has become increasingly difficult in the past few years. If you think about it, Google is a marketing platform after all. So, naturally, they put the focus on paid clicks, or PPC, more.
Still, this doesn’t mean SEO is dead – far from it. Follow this guide and you’ll see we’re not wrong.