Search Engine Rankings – Quality and Links Matter
You can’t make money with a Website if you don’t have traffic, and if you’re on a budget, free traffic is the best option. For that, you’re going to have to rely on favorable search engine rankings, and that can be a problem. First of all, the market in most niches is pretty competitive. Second of all, the search engines, particularly Google, seem to change what they’re looking for on a daily basis. Every time there’s a new “animal” update, such as Panda or Penguin, Google shakes up the search engine rankings completely, throwing the entire Internet off balance.
While it’s not possible to know what the search engines will be looking for six months from now, it is possible to know what they’re interested in right now. We recently came across an interesting blog post that distilled the results of more than one million Google search results and came up with a pretty definitive list of the things that seem to be important to the search giant…today, at least. Read on for more about search engine rankings.
Search Engine Rankings Benefit from Links and Content
I came across an article recently about a guy who analyzed more than a million Google searches and found some pretty interesting patterns regarding search engine rankings. There were a few surprises, but mostly, the results were fairly predictable.
Listed below are a few things that seem to matter a lot when Google determines search engine rankings for a particular topic:
Backlinks matter. Of course, it’s not the quantity of links to your site that matters, but rather the quality. Another big factor is the number of different domains that link to you. It’s better to have links to your site from ten different domains than it is to have ten links from a single domain. Who is linking to you matters a lot; it’s better to have a link to your site from Huffington Post or CNN than it is from your cousin’s neighbor’s blog. Of course, getting links to your site from large, authoritative domains isn’t easy, but if you can manage it, you’ll see huge benefits.
While quality matters, the sites with the larger number of incoming links also tended to perform well. The bottom line? You want lots of backlinks from as many different domains as possible. Yes, that’s hard, but the best sites in any niche are going to naturally have people linking to them, so that’s why it’s important to have quality content.
Exact match anchor text still influences rankings. “Exact match” keywords are those that align with your site name or topic. If your site is weightloss.com, having a link pointing to your site that says “learn about weight loss” works better than one that says “learn how to lose weight.” Of course, you should, if you can, mix up the text in the links that point to your site, because too many identical links may suggest to the search engines that you’re engaging in trying to manipulate the search engine rankings, and they don’t like that.
Tightly focused content performs better. This is why it’s important to come up with a fairly narrow marketing niche when you’re creating a Website or blog. “Weight loss” may work, but “weight loss for 40 year old single moms” may work a whole lot better as Google seems to value highly relevant and tightly focused content. Longer posts help, too; the average page length for a site listed in the #1 position was nearly 1900 words. Yes, that’s a lot of writing, but quality content that covers the topic well will always do better than a series of short blog post. It’s best to learn to type well. Learning to type really fast comes in handy, too!
Images remain important. I try to include three images on every blog post. That might be overkill, but you should include at least one on every page or post, because content with images outperforms content without. Don’t overdo it; the study suggested that one image mattered a lot but multiple images didn’t help all that much.
Speed matters a lot. Google doesn’t like to wait around, and neither do most of the people who might want to visit your Website. Sites that load slowly performed much worse in the search engine rankings than those that load fairly quickly. That’s good incentive to get your site off of inexpensive shared hosting and move on to more robust Web hosting. A few extra dollars spent on a quality Web host could end up bringing more traffic your way and producing more sales.
A high bounce rate can hurt you. The bounce rate on a Website is the percentage of visitors who leave without viewing any pages on the site other than the one upon which they landed. A high bounce rate suggests that someone came to your site, looked at one page, didn’t see anything else of interest, and moved on. Ideally, your site should be able to engage visitors to the point where they look around a bit to see what else you might have to offer them. That will result in a lower bounce rate, and sites with lower bounce rates tend to perform better in the search engine rankings. There are various ways to reduce your bounce rate; one of the easiest is to make sure that you have plenty of visible graphics or links (with appropriate anchor text) that link to other pages on your site.
Search Engine Rankings Summary
Search engine optimization (SEO) changes all the time, as Google and Bing make changes in what they’re looking for in order to rank Websites in their results pages. While the engines fine-tune their algorithms over time, for the most part, what they’re looking for hasn’t really changed recently. The search engine rankings still favor sites with a lot of quality content that’s well-written and covers the topic thoroughly. Tightly focused content that emphasizes one topic only seems to perform best.
Long-form content seems to do better than shorter posts, and be sure to include an image on your page. Then all you have to do is get people to link to your site and you’ll find that you’re doing better than ever in the search engine rankings.