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To some, speed is a sign of success. If you’re Usain Bolt, I respect that mindset. If you’re a business pushing for quick rankings on search engines like Google and Bing, I’ll say, “Slow down!!”—just as I did when I was captain of the safety patrols on recess duty in fifth grade.
When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), the quickness of getting ranked organically (unpaid) is not a priority. If you’re looking to grow your business, you not only have quarterly goals, but most likely have a list of long-term business goals or ideals. Maximizing your online presence, especially within the organic spectrum, should be one of your long-term business goals. Just as you can’t expect to double your annual revenue in the span of a month, you shouldn’t expect to earn 10x more rankings in short period of time—sometimes it can take up to or more than six weeks for a blog post to appear within search engine results (and that’s if it’s a good blog post).
Some “SEO companies” may tell you that you can rank fast, but following a black hat SEO approach may result in fast rankings, but they won’t last. The search engine giant known as Google is constantly developing algorithmic updates and penalties to prevent unethical SEO tactics—such as low quality link schemes, spun content, etc.—that lead to rapid rankings.
While Google’s algorithm for search rankings is as secret as my grandmother’s Thanksgiving gravy recipe, many SEO industry leaders have observed and tested curtain ranking factors that have led to (or prevented) high rankings in organic results. These signals are not foolproof, but following a white hat SEO approach can earn you rankings for the long run—which can be an invaluable source of visits, leads, and sales.
Since we, at Blue Corona, fall into that aforementioned SEO industry leaders category, I’ve broken down some major ranking factors that may not lead to the quickest rankings for keyword searches, but they should help lead to long-lasting, valuable rankings.
Site Code and Structure
This is the primary concern when building a site and hoping for placement in search results. The way the search engine’s spider or bot crawls your site can determine how the pages are ranked and how valuable to the user they are perceived. To rank well, your site should be free of errors (including 404 messages, missing title tags, duplicate content, etc.). This is the first signal to the search engines that you can be viewed as an authority for that industry or topic.
The actual content on your site is what the spiders crawl and are able to index. Do you have well-written service pages or have you keyword-stuffed every page? Are your blog posts over 500 words or have you listed a few sentences and called it a day? Webpages rank—not websites—so each page of on-site content should be individually optimized with keyword research, title tags, meta descriptions, calls-to-actions, and few grammatical errors.
Your off-site presence also plays a role into your rankings. Have you owned your domain for a long time? Do other pages link to you as a reference or authority in your related industry? Are all your off-site citations consistent in the references of your company’s NAP (name, address, phone number)?
Freshness of Content
Building out a website with high-quality content isn’t just enough—search engines want to see that you’re continually updating your website (meaning adding new pages, optimizing existing pages, etc.) so that it has the best user experience for the people that find you within the search engine. Creating a content calendar of new blog topics, expanded service offerings, and the optimization of your current content can ensure that you site never goes dormant.
Quality v. Quantity of Content
You’ve now heard that you need to have quality content and be producing more frequently—so do you aim for quality or quantity? If you cannot do both in a way that adds value to the user, shoot for quality. Remember, webpages rank individually, not websites, so one amazing blog post that ranks nationally can bring in much more traffic than 15 average geo-targeted pages that rank on the third page.
Keyword stuffing is a long gone practice in the SEO world, and luckily (or scarily) computers are getting smarter about the relationship between words (this is called latent semantic analysis). When you create on-site pages, think not just about the industry jargon you use, but what your customers are searching (e.g. “FM-200 fire suppression system” or “waterless fire protection for computer room”). Include variations of relevant keywords or phrases to have the opportunity to rank for each. With Google Hummingbird, the search engine will most likely get better and better and understand those relevant relationships.
Just as entering a market as a new business can be challenging, you should also scope out the competitive field when attempting to rank. Are the top 10 results all from .gov or .edu sites? Does the top result have 2,000 more words on its page? Depending on the industry and market, ranking for even specific searches (e.g. water pump installation in Wheaton, MD”) can be more difficult than broader terms (“whole-house humidifiers”) in less competitive markets. In a competitive field, you will have to outperform in most of these ranking factors to earn a spot in the top five.
Google has hinted more and more recently that social signals will possibly become ranking factors. While it’s still up in the air how much links, shares, networks, and presence companies have on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. will impact their search rankings, the SEO world guesses that Google+ will have more impact than any other platform. This is because Google owns both the search engine and the network—if they can get SEOs and companies more active on their social platform in attempt to rank better, both entities win. It’s suggested that you should have a well branded and optimized Google+ page for your company and continually share engaging content with your circles.
Search Engine Optimization Services
Even if you slow things down, to slowly and steadily earn search engine rankings, it still takes effort, resources, time, and industry knowledge. That’s why we are here to help! As a Blue Corona client, you’ll have a dedicated SEO campaign manager who will optimize your online presence with all the factors detailed above and more.
If you’d like an audit of your current search engine keyword rankings and online presence, contact us today—before your competitors do!
About The Author: Hannah is the SEO Team Lead at Blue Corona. If she's not busy daydreaming about the training session for her team, you can find her improving client conversion rates and planning her next trip.
View more blogs by Hannah Nelson