Do you remember the cool kid at school? Let’s call him Chad. Everyone looks up to Chad. They hang on his every word. Everyone wants to be friends with him.
We all want to be friends with Chad, don’t we? We want to let him know how awesome we are; how we are just like him. And maybe if we are enough like him, he will see fit to be friends with us. At which point, although we’re not nearly as popular as him, we are at least under his wing.
Does any of this sound familiar? That’s right – Chad is Google.
There is no way that Chad is going to let you hang out with him unless you act like he would like. After all, he has a reputation to preserve.
If Google is going to endorse your site by putting it high up in its rankings, it’s going to want to make sure that your site is worthy of such an honour.
First of all, your content has to be relevant. Your meta tags (title and description – forget about meta keywords), headers (H1, H2, etc), and general content should all follow a similar theme. If your site lacks coherence, Google is not going to want people to see it.
Chad doesn’t like someone who tries too hard. He’s only going to hang out with someone who is effortlessly cool.
Any site that is caught trying to artificially mould their content in order to get ahead in the rankings is frowned upon by Google. Forget about keyword density and all of the so-called ‘science’ behind optimizing your site’s content. Just bear your chosen keywords in mind, and write for your audience.
Chad won’t hang out with you unless you look the part.
Website design is becoming more important in Google’s eyes. The Panda update infamously targets sites not only with ‘spam’ and ‘scraped’ content, but also with ad-heavy designs. Some SEO experts think that Google’s next move will be to consider a site’s design and layout. Perhaps Google is already doing that, to an extent.
So get ahead of the curve. Your website design should be great so that:
- Google likes your site
- Your visitors like your site
Seems pretty sensible, right? Don’t neglect your website’s design.
Chad won’t want to want to hang out with you unless you are socializing with all the right people.
Google won’t be happy to rank you highly just because you have useful and relevant content, and a great design. That is just the first vital step. What Google does next is look to other sites to understand how popular you are. And that is when backlinks come in.
The 4 Layers of External Link Valuation
- Google likes it if a website links to you.
- They like it even more if the link’s anchor text is relevant to the content on your site.
- They like it even more if the website that is linking to you has content that is relevant to your site.
- They like it even more if the link is from a reputable source.
If you want to be friends with Google and get further up the rankings, you need to target backlinks with the above in mind.
Social proof is becoming important to Google as a measure of your website’s worthiness. Google assumes that if lots of people are sharing your content, they like it. It feels more comfortable with pushing your website higher up the rankings if you have plenty of social proof. This consideration may not be part of Google’s algorithms right now, but it is a safe assumption that it will be, to an extent at least, in the future.
If You Want To Be Friends With Chad, You Will Have To Conform
When it comes to establishing a long term relationship with Google, there is no shortcut to success. If you produce quality content and attract the attention of reputable sites, Google will eventually see fit to push you up the rankings.
You can game Google to an extent, but that is rarely a viable long term strategy on competitive keywords.
I am not saying that you should completely change your approach to SEO. ‘Grey hat’ tactics have their place, and can be effective. But if you are building an authority site and looking long term, going along with what Google wants is the only viable long term strategy.
Photo courtesy of woodleywonderworks