The goal of a search engine is to return the most relevant results to users.
Ravi Sen (2005) explains that search engine optimization (SEO) is where sellers can improve their listings on the search-results pages by modifying their site codes to make them more relevant and therefore more search-engine compatible.
Obviously you can pay to have your website pinned, used paid advertisements and updates to stay at the top of the search engine, however we don’t have to pay for SEO, which is great for us bloggers! The SEO Guide fully outlines professional quality Search Engine Optimization! However, I will just focus on a few key and simple areas to improve on.
This topic is relevant for me as a blogger because I want people to read my posts! Meaning my website needs to come up as a result for relevant search engine queries. So how can I achieve SEO?
Well…. Keywords and the Title of a blog are crucial in SEO. So I will discuss how to best utilize these and then analyse the concept of Freshness in order to make your website more relevant in search engines…
Keywords are the basis for communicating what we are searching for and how we interact with search engines. The engine will match pages to retrieve based on the words that we have entered to search for.
Remember: The order of the words, punctuation, spelling, and capitalization are important as they provide additional information for the engines to help retrieve the right pages and rank them.
To make your page gain a higher ranking you can use the keywords you want to be ranked for frequently in the titles and text. If the keywords used in the search engine are coherent and prominent with your pages content, your page will rank higher.
How to choose your key words:
You should ask yourself what keywords are relevant to the content on your website/page/post? What keywords will help searches find what they are looking for on your site? Be sure to consider: will they be happy with what they find from their search? Irrelevant or misleading keywords will annoy users and cause them to display negative user behaviour (such as exiting or pressing back), which can lower your websites ranking.
For my Digital Marketing blog it would not be useful to include keywords related to sporting events or cooking recipes.
The title component of your page needs to an accurate, clear and relevant description of your content.
The title of your page can not be too long as search engines will only display the first 65-75 characters of a title tag in results and are then cut off. Social media sites also have a similar word limit. Keep your titles short and to the point!
However,an especially long keyword phrase or multiple keywords targeted that are necessary to the title tag, may actually require you to have a long title.
The most important keywords should be placed at the front of the title tag, as the closer to the start they are, the more helpful they’ll be for ranking by search engines and more likely a user will select your page in the results.
You must consider how the keywords reflect your website and the brand you have created. Include your brand name in the title tag to increase brand awareness, attract customers that are familiar with the brand and have people connect to your website, not just a certain page.
Attractive and simple titles are best so readers become interested and also understand what they are going to read. Titles that are too convoluted and abstract, whilst they may seem clever, may not allow readers to find what they are looking for and may confuse them.
Try not to be too wordy: people will get bored easily, but always be informative, engaging and clear.
Obviously just having useful key words and a relevant title is not enough, so you must keep your website fresh! As Google is the search engine used by more than 80% of the population in most countries, this is the search engine I am referring to. They analyses website content based on freshness to deliver the freshest and most relevant content to users (based on the type of query). Singhal describes the types of keyword searches most likely to require fresh content:
- Recent events or hot topics: Such as a recent natural disaster, current political movement etc… If you have a blog about fashion trends, or follow celebrity news, you have to update content quickly as people are always search for next new and exciting thing to talk about.
- Regularly recurring events: For instance I will consistently search for information on Manchester United’s fixtures and scores. Maybe you have a blog that recaps and analyzes episodes of the Bachelor each week? Make sure you have the latest scandal and know who did not receive a rose!
- Frequent updates: This is very important for topics such as cars and technology, for instance Apple are always updating their iphone and people like to have information about the next release and its attributes.
Google measures all of your documents for freshness, then scores each page according to the type of search query. While some queries need fresh content, Google still uses old content for other queries.
1. Inception Date
A webpage is given a “freshness” score based on its start date (or when Google becomes aware of the document/page), which decays over time, just like fruit. As the content becomes older, the freshness score will lower and so its ranking on search engines will decrease, meaning newer sites will rank higher just based on this factor.
2. Document Changes (How Much)
Whilst how new a page is is the most obvious indicator of freshness it is not the only thing to consider. By regularly updating content for search engines will consistently score freshness as there is new relevant information (don’t neglect old posts). For you bloggers out there, it is important to maintain your website and update content to improve your freshness ranking. In saying this, changing a few words or sentence will not have as much impact as an overall site clean up or renewing the body of your post.
3. Rate of Document Change (How Often)
Continuing on from changing content, the more frequently that content is changed the better the freshness score will be than content that rarely changes. Pages that update daily/weekly will have a higher freshness ranking than those that update every few months or even just annually.
4. New Page Creation
It is not just about changing content that is already there, but adding new content is also extremely important. For a blogger this can be adding a completely new post or new branch to your website. To earn a higher freshness score, you should add new pages at a high rate! For instance I am currently updating my blog every 1-2 weeks. Other blog sites on similar topics may add new content every few months.
5. Important Content Changes Matter More
This is pretty self explanatory: content that is more important will have a greater impact on freshness scores so it is important to focus on these areas. This means the content that is at the core of your page; for a blog it would be the main body text, as opposed to the links and advertisements attached to the page.
6. Rate of New Link Growth
This involves more people linking to your webpage, which may indicate to search engines a greater level of relevance and freshness. This may be a blog that many people start following quickly if it is surrounding a particular upcoming event. However, huge increases in rate of growth may be attributed to spam or manipulative link building techniques, which will make search engines devalue the website.
7. Links from Fresh Sites
Your website can increase its freshness by through links from other sites with a high freshness. A link obtained off a fresh page will increase your own freshness by association.
8. Devalue from Changes in Anchor Text
If your website and its content change dramatically over time this will make old ‘anchor texts‘ likely irrelevant as the new anchor text directing to the page will also change. If next year I decided to start blogging about my travels through South America, within my current website, then my old anchor texts will change from digital marketing ones to more relevant ones to the new change in topic. Therefore Google would devalue the older links entirely as the links are no longer relevant to my website.
9. User Behavior
As mentioned earlier, users may exit or press back from your website if your content is not relevant, outdated or does not interest them. If less people are using your site or going on to it before then choosing an alternative site, this will indicate to Google that your website is not relevant (wanted) to users and will decrease the score on your content.
10. New Is Not Always Best
Some older and more authoritative posts may well indeed still be the most relevant and useful for users searches. In fact in certain cases, for well informed pieces, the older the document the better? (Maybe). For the concept of Digital Marketing, older are probably not going to score very highly, as this is an area that is continually developing and is extremely dynamic and fairly new.
For specific historical events this is likely to be a factor though, as it is something that does not continue to change or need to be updated. So a source at the time that was well informed could develop more and more into a trusted source and continue to maintain their ‘freshness’ score in the Google search results.
Follow the link from the image to the right to properly check out the great infographic on content for SEO and some cool statistics!
What do you do to keep your website ‘Fresh’?
What is another factor you think is more important in Search Engine Optimization?
How do you form keywords in a Search and when do you find it difficult to get relevant content?