Search Engine Optimization 101
More than anything else, are you producing quality content? If you’re selling something, do you go beyond being only a brochure with the same information that can be found on hundreds of other sites?
Do you provide a reason for people to spend more than a few seconds reading your pages?
Do you offer real value, something of substance to visitors, anything unique, different, useful and that they won’t find elsewhere?
These are just some of the questions to ask yourself in assessing whether you’re providing quality content. Do provide it, because it is literally the cornerstone upon which other factors depend.
Content Research / Keyword Research
Perhaps the most important SEO tactic after creating good content is good keyword research. There are a variety of tools that allow you to easily, and for free, discover the ways that people may be searching for your content.
You want to create content using those keywords, the search terms people are using. That effectively lets your content “answer” them.
For example, a page about “Avoiding Melanoma” may be using technical jargon to describe ways to prevent the most dangerous type of skin cancer. If people are searching for “skin cancer prevention tips,” then writing in the wrong “language” might cause search engines to skip your content as a possible answer.
Create content that speaks to what people are searching for, that uses the language that they themselves are using.
Content Words / Use Of Keywords
Having done your keyword research (you did that, right?), have you actually used those words in your content? Or if you’ve already created some quality content before doing research, perhaps it’s time to revisit that material and do some editing.
Bottom line: if you want your pages to be found for particular words, it’s a good idea to actually use those words in your copy.
How often? Repeat each word you want to be found for at least five times or seek out a keyword density of 2.45%, for best results.
OK, that was a joke. There’s no precise number of times, and even if “keyword density” sounds scientific, honest, even if you hit some promised “ideal” percentage, that would guarantee nothing.
Just use common sense. Think about the words you want a page to be found for, the words you especially feel are relevant from your keyword research. Then use them naturally on the page. If you commonly shift to pronouns on a second and further references, maybe use the actual noun again here and there, rather than a pronoun.
If you’ve written quality content, then users will be engaging with it. To determine that, search engines may try to measure engagement in a variety of ways.
For example, did someone search, find your page in the listings, click through but then immediately “bounce” back to the results to try something else? That can be a sign that your content isn’t engaging. It’s also a metric search engines can measure.
Are people sending a relatively long time reviewing your content, in relation to similar content on other sites? That “time on site” metric is another thing that search engines can measure, such as through toolbars that both Google and Bing offer.
Social “likes” of the Facebook type and other varieties are another way that engagement might be measured, and we’ll cover these more in the Social section of this guide.
Search engines are typically cagey about if they use engagement metrics much, much less exactly what metrics they may use. But we do think it is a factor being measured in several ways. Success here is highly linked to the quality of your content.
No you can’t just update your pages every day thinking that will make them “fresh” and thus more likely to rank better with search engines. Nor can you just add new pages on anything constantly and think that gives you a freshness boost, either.
However, Google does have something it calls Query Deserved Freshness. This means that if there’s a search that’s suddenly getting unusually popular versus its normal activity for some reason, Google will look to see if there’s any fresh content on that topic and give it a boost toward the top results.
If you’ve got the right content, on the right topic when QDF hits, you may enjoy being in the top results for a week or two or three. Just be aware that after that, your page might disappear. It’s not that you’ve done anything wrong. It’s just that the freshness boost has worn off.