The Startup Guide To Understanding Search Engines And Rankings

startup guide understanding search engines Google rankings seo search engine optimization

When you first start a business online, or have an online component to your offline business, the term search engine optimisation can be confusing. There’s loads of different information out on the web, and some of it is a legacy of the way things used to be, and also, many search professionals still do things using outdated methods. 

In this article, I’ll breakdown how things work these days and some of the activities that you should be doing when you begin your online presence. 

Search Engines Have Come A Long Way 

The first thing to note is that search engines have come a long way in understanding language, trying to get to the root of what people are searching for in their queries, and evolving their algorithms to understand which websites are truly credible. 

In the past, the technology was such that search engines had to rely on keywords in certain locations and densities in order to rank webpages. This created a situation where search users had to enter specific keywords, and website developers had to use those keywords or they wouldn't get found. It became a situation of websites matching search queries, and website users and searchers trying to guess the best keywords for the services they were looking for. 

With a more semantic Web, where synonyms can be understood by the systems, and topics are considered rather than just keywords, people can now search more naturally, and the nuance of the matching process is far greater. 

So, What Does That All Mean to You? 

Essentially, it means that when you are producing your website, you need to try and understand how Google understands your topic. If you are in the auto niche, selling cars, then Google will understand your topic through the combination of cars and sales. 

There are two concepts there that are interrelated for your term, but also have their individual aspects. There will be a whole lot of language around cars including manufacturers, parts, MOTs and so forth, and there will be a lot of language around sales including deals, prices, warranties, guarantees and so on. Ideally, you should analyse the search results for car sales and understand the language that Google uses to build its understanding of the topic. 

Google previously used the entities in freebase.org and these were the basis of its understanding of the relationships between things that made up language. Now, Google uses a combination of machine learning and its entity database to create its new and evolving comprehension of the web.

Google is also much better at understanding what is good and what is bad. Grammar needs to be excellent in content, and you need to create powerful, meaningful content free from fluff. Google also wants to provide answers to questions, and the RankBrain algorithm is very much geared into this. 

Therefore, find out what questions your would-be customers are asking through social media and through analysis of search trends and search queries, and then use those questions in your content. Try and stay a step ahead of your prospects by answering the questions they ask after an initial question, so that you can provide a comprehensive set of answers and become the definitive solution on a topic. It's quite useful to use an FAQ section at the end of a page as Google tends to like this very much. 

Why Are We Talking So Much About Google? 

You probably search on Google. So do around 90% of people. Google is the undisputed King of search, and so when it comes to traffic, Google provides the majority. If you want to understand any search engine, then Google is probably the one you should be understanding, as it is the market leader and the one that everyone else copies. 

Building Site Authority 

As well as building your content to be relevant and to include the language of your topic, answering questions and making your content comprehensive, you need to build some authority for your website. That means getting social signals through sharing quality content and calling on the social capital you have to get people to share your articles. 

It means getting inbound links from relevant websites in your niche, whether they be customers, industry and organisations, news websites or any other relevant online entity. By having referrals from these websites, you are building the credibility of your domain, and making it more likely that you will be trusted as a source, and that your website will activate the algorithm and be filtered to be high in the search rankings for the queries you are trying to rank for. 

Content Marketing 

One of the main activities you can carry out is to produce superb, longform articles and put them on your blog and share them on social media. This will create the opportunity to draw in traffic, build your website credibility, get inbound links, and get social signals. 

Do Some Guest Posting 

Alongside this, you may want to contact some authority websites in your niche and ask if you can write an article for them. If you have genuine credibility and a good LinkedIn profile, they may well take you seriously and allow you to write an article with a mention back to your website. With guest posting, you can drive some excellent links back to your domain, again building site authority. 

Write Hero Pages 

Your main landing pages, or money pages, should be comprehensive and superbly written. You should use the language of your topic throughout, and make sure that the kinds of questions that people are asking are answered. In addition, link to your hero pages from relevant sub-pages and supporting pages in order to build their authority

If you follow these simple activities, and with a consistent schedule, you will be able to increase your search engine rankings. It used to be the case that volume was the key, in terms of content and inbound links. Nowadays, quality is very much the watchword. Do everything as well as you can and invest the time that you need. If you don't have the resources in-house, or the time yourself, then outsource to freelancers that you can trust, or to a search engine optimisation company.

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