Firstly, what do I mean by that. What I mean is to ask whether it is possible to find a shortcut or a fast fix to get your site listed at the top of the results in Google’s search engine.
Absolutely, in the short term this is possible. The problem with this approach becomes clear after a period of time that is becoming shorter all the time. The problem with this approach is that Google is not a static body but rather a body in eternal motion. Google employees are the envy of the technological world for their working conditions, they are treated well and are employed in large numbers to ensure that their services work as well as they possibly can. Their search engine is one of those products, and their ability to make profits from Google Search relies fully on volume of searches performed using the search engine. Users choose to search with Google because it has for many years now been perceived as providing the most accurate results based on your search. Users continue to use Google, advertisers want to reach those users so they pay Google to place their ads in front of those users. It is in Google’s interests, financially (there are no altruistic motives at play here!), to ensure that when you type a search into their engine you get the most relevant results. To that end, it pays them to track down and stop users of so called “black hat” techniques in their tracks.
What are “black hat” techniques?
According to Google’s selected definition (google search result for “define black hat techniques”):
White hat versus black hat techniques. SEO techniques can be classified into two broad categories: techniques that search engines recommend as part of good design, and those techniques of which search engines do not approve.
It couldn’t be clearer than that – search engines do not approve of black hat techniques. Google is the biggest search engine, so guess what their stance is on these techniques?
Next is to understand how Google enforces a block on sites which use these techniques. Firstly we need to understand how Google compiles their search engine results (don’t worry, I won’t complicate things more than necessary!)
How do Google rankings work?
Well, the first part happens when a web developer sets up a website. Google has robots which trawl every web page online and index the content.
They use this index to perform the initial part of a search, when you enter a search word or phrase. Google’s machinery rumbles into action and in a matter of seconds completes a series of tasks so complex it would take months if not years to understand them!
Firstly, they take your search terms and find all web pages with matching results.
Next, they apply a series of algorithms to decide which search results to show you, and in which order. This is the really technical part, and the part that Google is constantly modifying, changing and updating. They announce major changes every so often, but in fact the process is continually being changed and improved.
How do Google stop sites from using these techniques that they do not approve of?
So what happens to websites which have used the less preferred methods and managed to get their website listed on the first page of Google search results for their key terms? (Note that getting to the number 1 spot on the first page of results is for most search terms going to take time and as a result will not be possible in the time before Google changes their algorithm). Well I’m sure you can guess by now, to start with things will look great but after a period of time there will be either a gradual slip down the results, a drastic drop to a lower position or in some cases the website will no longer be listed. This is a possible consequence for sites where Google feels that methods are being used to cheat their algorithms, they will simply blacklist your website!
What is the (Google approved) alternative?
SO what is the best way to tackle the issue of getting great rankings for your website that will be long term and won’t incur the wrath of Google?
It’s a simple formula, and as Google’s algorithms become more complicated is becoming ever more simple.
Google is rewarding quality content, consistent message across your brand (website, social media, etc) and effective use of keywords. Let’s look at each of those items in turn.
There are 3 elements to quality content:
1. Generate your own.
Don’t plagiarise or copy. You will be found out if you do! If you do find great content that you’d like to share, just make sure to give credit and link back to the original source.
Original content is valuable, readers feel that you have put in an effort to provide something of value for them and appreciate it.
2. Keep your content updated.
If a visitor to your site finds that the most recent post is 6 months ago, they may very well assume that you are no longer operating. Content is the easiest way to keep your site active, up to date and fresh.
3. Ensure it is worth reading.
Make sure it’s interesting to your audience, educational and preferably something that readers will want to pass on to others.
Google takes all of your online presence into account when deciding if your website is the most relevant, so there are a number of elements to monitor for consistency with your brand:
- Social Media: Becoming increasingly important, make sure that all of your social media pages are linked to each other as well as to your website. This also allows users to move to your page on another platform without leaving your page to do a search.
- Active online presence: This applies to both your website and your social media pages. Stay active with updated content to stay relevant
- Your website, social media pages and anything else representing you online should have a consistent look and feel. A visitor to your facebook page who has been on your website should immediately know that they are for the same business
- Link your business to Google My Business. As well as improving Google’s opinion of you, this also means you will show up on Google maps
- Don’t believe anybody who promises instant Google results – either they won’t deliver or the results won’t last
- Concentrate on providing quality – have the best website you can in terms of design, layout, navigation, content. Have a site that people want to visit and Google will choose to send them to you
- Concentrate on sharing – share your own content across platforms but also make sure that it is as easy as possible for visitors to your site to pass on anything they find useful via whichever platform they prefer (don’t assume they share your preferences!)
All of these factors help to give credibility to your business and ensure that Google knows your business really exists!
Keywords are still important, as they are still the main method Google uses to match your content to the searcher, so make sure that the keywords in your content match what people are likely to search for if they were looking for the information contained in your posts. If Google doesn’t match your website or web page to the search then you are never going to rank in the results!