There’s a ton of information available online that covers a whole host of Google SEO basics and it can be conflicting and confusing.
However you approach getting better Google rankings, there’s one essential, basic principle you need to understand and apply and that’s:
Give Google search users the best experience possible.
This is critical, absolutely critical.
Google states it, a lot of people have heard it, but not everyone puts it into practice.
If you take nothing else away from this post, get this principle firmly fixed in your mind, let me explain why.
Google SEO basics – user experience aka getting the right result
SEO is changing and it’s changing for the better from the user’s perspective. Put yourself in the shoes of someone doing a Google search for a moment.
Say you type something into Google like “am I having a heart attack” – that phrase actually has 54 searches a month.
You can bet you want accurate information and you want it fast. You’ll want to know the symptoms and what to do for the best result.
Now, if you don’t get what you want right away, you’re going to be mad, frustrated and potentially dead. But, there’s a serious point to this.
In these days of short attention spans online, the best way to get users to stay on your page is to give them what they want and quickly. If people come to a page on your website and immediately click away because it doesn’t deliver what they want, Google takes note and will downgrade your page accordingly.
How seriously is Google taking user experience? Very seriously indeed.
In fact, they’re so committed to the concept they’ve set up the Google User Experience Research Panel in order to get input from a wide range of users about their Google experience by participating in studies.
Bottom line, if you want to have any success with SEO on your website or blog you need to sit up and take notice of this stuff.
BTW, I’m changing my way of writing blog posts
I found out something today that goes against how I’ve previously been writing blog posts and I want to give it a try.
Usually, I like to hint at what the blog post is going to reveal and use this “carrot” to draw my readers in. It’s a tactic I carried over from writing books, a way of grabbing the reader’s attention and keeping them hooked.
Why would you do this?
Well, Google takes note of how long your visitors spend on a page and this affects the page’s relevance and therefore value in the eyes of the search engine. This makes complete sense if you bear in mind our number one principle of giving search users the best possible experience.
But this may not be the best way to keep users on your page longer it seems.
What I discovered, and what I now want to experiment with, is giving the answer right up front and then expanding on the answer throughout the text. The argument is that you give the search user the best experience possible by answering their search query right off the bat.
Does it work? Well, I’m going to try it and see – if you’re still reading this, then maybe it does.
My keyword for this blog post is “Google SEO basics”. If you check out the way I’ve structured the post, the basic advice and key message for the post is right at the start and it answers the search query “Google SEO basics” immediately.
Artificial intelligence is becoming more intelligent
It has always been a challenge for Google to measure what is truly giving their users the best experience. Previously, they’ve relied on keywords much more heavily than they do now – hence, keyword stuffing. Don’t do it, it doesn’t work anymore.
But, here’s the point.
The Google search algorithm is becoming more and more sophisticated and it’s being fine-tuned to understand user experience better. Time on page is a sure indicator that the user is getting value from your site, as is the fact they get what they’re looking for from your page.
How would Google measure this though? Here’s a way.
If a user enters a term in search, comes to your page and doesn’t visit another page under the same search term, what does that tell Google?
It tells it that you have provided all the information the user needed to satisfy their query, they didn’t have to look anywhere else, your page is valuable and deserves a boost.
Think about the logic of that for a moment, makes sense – right?
Artificial intelligence is rapidly changing the Google SEO basics we’ve been used to for years now, and we have to sit up and take notice of the changes.
What about backlinks & keyword density?
If you’re building out your SEO strategy for the long term (and you should be) you’ve got to accept that user experience is king.
Backlinks are already being challenged. It’s now not the number of backlinks you have that’s important but the quality. Google has already said that they will ignore low-quality backlinks when allocating brownie point to your site – so don’t even bother going on Fiverr and buying 40,000 of these useless articles. You’re wasting your time and money and most likely heading for a Google penalty into the bargain.
As far as keyword density goes, there’s a lot of discussion around the topic at the moment. Some say it’s important, some say it doesn’t really matter. My take?
Well, for Google to know what a website or blog post is about it needs to reference a keyword at some point. Whether you need 0.5% keyword density (or whatever figure is being punted) in a blog post is what’s up for question.
My opinion at the right now, and it may change because Google never sits still, is to at least use your keyword in the title, URL, an H2 heading and a couple of times in the post.
I’m still guided by the free version of the Yoast plugin which is especially useful to write a good snippet (the bit of information that describes what the search result is about).
But as far as I’m concerned, the jury is still out on that one and I’m keeping my eye on developments.
Something else to think about
Another way to achieve good user engagement is to ask the users’ next couple of questions and answer them in your blog posts.
What do I mean by that?
Don’t just answer the users’ question and nothing more, that makes for thin content. Again, put yourself in their shoes – what other questions might you have? What can you add to your basic answer that would make your page or post even more valuable?
Overall, the best strategy is to get inside the reader’s head and try to work out:
- How to answer their search query directly and fully.
- Think about what YOU like to find when you search on Google and think about the frustrating results that waste your time. Other users feel the same way as you do.
- Think about what extra value you can offer that will enhance the search result for the user and help to keep them on page longer, thereby increasing the value of your page in the eyes of Google.
There is one takeaway, and only one…
So, I gave you the big takeaway in paragraph 3, here it is again:
Give Google search users the best experience possible.
User experience is now by far the most important of all Google SEO basics bar none.
From this day forwards make this your mantra, write it down and pin it next to your desk or wherever you work.
If you do, you’ll build a strong presence in Google search results that will benefit you for years to come.
What are your thoughts on Google SEO basics? Are you in agreement with my take? Please comment below and don’t forget to share this post on FB, Twitter etc.