In the world of search engine optimization (SEO), there’s always one key thing on everyone’s mind; Google updates. Google is the primary search engine that people focus on when it comes to optimizing their websites and improving their ranking places. They have an algorithm designed to determine what makes a web page search engine worthy or not. If a page aligns with the framework set out by the algorithm, it will end up high on the rankings list.
In theory, it should be very easy to improve the ranking of your website as you just need to go through everything outlined in the algorithm and ensure your pages follow the framework. However, there is one problem; Google likes to update its algorithm quite frequently (500 to 600 updates a year).
Now, some of these updates are small, and you hardly recognize them at all. However, now and then, they make a big update that changes loads of the SEO ranking factors. If you compare the ranking factors from the algorithm ten years ago to now, you’ll see an absurd difference. Routinely introduced new ranking factors to render older ones obsolete. This makes it incredibly hard for a website owner to try and keep their site as high up the rankings as possible. You’re constantly sweating whenever Google announces an update, as it might mean you have to go through your site and change some major things. If you don’t stay in the loop with these algorithm updates, then your website could easily suffer rankings penalties without you even realizing it. Miss out on one major update, and you’ll suddenly see traffic dip, and your website becomes less effective. So, it’s essential to stay updated with everything Google is doing to their algorithm. However, it’s also important to know that certain core SEO values won’t change, no matter how many updates they roll out. These have been the fundamentals of ranking since the very first update. Certain factors have been altered slightly, but their core values remain the same. Now is a good time to get comfortable, and prepare to read the main SEO fundamentals that won’t change with algorithm updates:
Sites Should Be Filled With Quality Content
No matter how many updates are released, there’s always an emphasis on quality web content. The whole idea of Google’s search engine is to help users find the best websites possible. Users trust that, when they search via Google, they’re presented with relevant websites packed full of valuable content. If your website wants to appear higher in the rankings, then you’ll always need to provide great content. Any websites that don’t do this will be penalized and see their rankings suffer. What is great content? Naturally, some people will argue that ‘great’ content is subjective. Those of you reading this blog should have an interest in SEO, meaning an article guiding you through the fundamentals to help your website rank highly is great content for you. For someone stumbling upon this without a care in the world for SEO, it’s hardly great for them. Google doesn’t so much define things as ‘great’ based on what the content is about, but more how it is set up. It needs to be a decent length – over 500 words per page – include plenty of valuable information for the reader, and be easy for people to read. For example, if we posted this exact article, but without any headings, sub-headings, or paragraphs, the page wouldn’t rank as well because it has a poor structure. Pages need to be easy to take in and digest!
Your Website Needs To Use Keywords
When you think about SEO, you tend to think about keywords. They’re synonymous with this digital marketing technique, and most webmasters are often consumed with keyword research. Keywords essentially help users find the most relevant sites. If you search for ‘digital marketing tips, you expect to be greeted by sites displaying these tips.
Consequently, for your website to be found in the first place, you need to use the right keywords. This involves researching which words and phrases are most relevant for the content on each of your pages. You can’t target too many keywords, but you should also avoid targeting too few. The way you place your keywords is also of the utmost importance. Use them in your page titles and headings to get the greatest effect. Ensure you have keywords in your URL and meta descriptions too. Then, place them in your content as well to boost your keyword count. Since the dawn of SEO, keywords have played a huge role in ranking websites. If you don’t use any targeted keywords, you’re going to struggle to rank highly. There have been updates that have had an effect on keywords, but it’s more to do with how sites use them. You can’t spam keywords everywhere in lists to try and boost how many you have on one page. They need to merge well with your content and be fluid.
Link Building Helps Build Trust
Google doesn’t want to provide links to websites that aren’t trustworthy. This has, and always will be, a fundamental part of how they rank websites. They view it as their job to point us in the direction of sites that are safe and trustworthy. How do they do this? How does a website build trust? The simple answer is by link building. Link building means many other websites are linking back to your site. The more people that provide links to you, the more trustworthy it makes your site look. Think of it as a recommendation of sorts. It’s like when you need to get your car fixed, and lots of people point you in the direction of the same mechanic – this makes you trust them.
As a consequence, it’s always been important for websites to use link building to create this trust, alert Google of their trustworthiness, and help improve their ranking. Of course, those of you that have been dealing with SEO for a long time will know link building has changed a lot with updates. How you build links has been altered to stop people from taking advantage of this idea and just creating loads of websites that link to one page on a different site. Link building today may be different from how it was a few years ago, but it’s still a vital ranking factor.
Trying To Find Loopholes Is Always Bad
Along with the fundamental things that give your rankings a boost, you have to remember some of the things that have always been bad. By knowing this, you avoid unnecessary ranking penalties. There are loads of individual things to highlight here, and some have already been mentioned. Spamming keywords, spamming links, hiding keywords, etc. are all examples of things that will result in penalties. What all of these things have in common is that they’re loopholes. People try and find loopholes all the time to manipulate their rankings. With every update, Google does a better job of closing off these loopholes and preventing people from getting a good ranking when their site doesn’t deserve it. No matter how many updates we see, you will always get penalized for trying to manipulate the system and find ways around the algorithm.
Bots Must Be Able To Crawl Your Site
Those of you with an understanding of technical SEO will know all about ‘bots’ and ‘crawling’. To those of you that don’t, this is probably the most confusing aspect of SEO. In simple terms, Google uses automated bots that ‘crawl’ through websites to find the content. This is one of the primary ways in which it puts together its ranking system. If a bot can’t find and crawl through your website, then you won’t get anywhere near the first page of results. As such, it’s essential that you apply technical SEO to make your site visible. There are loads of things to implement here, from ensuring pages load properly to adding a sitemap. We don’t go into the details here, as talking about all these things needs an article all on its own. All you need to understand is that a permanent ranking factor is how visible your site is to Google’s search engine bots. This is the first hurdle you will come across. If you’re not visible, then nothing else you do will matter in the slightest.
Site Structure Is Always Crucial
Following on from this idea of bots crawling through and finding your site, the structure of your pages is very important. We’ve already touched upon this briefly in another point, but it’s such a fundamental piece of SEO that it deserves a mention on its own. The structure is important as it helps Google evaluate your site and present it to users searching for it. Something as simple as the title of your page in the search results is taken from your site structure. If you don’t have a proper title tag set up, then you could be letting yourself down. Likewise, you need meta descriptions to provide users with added information in the search results. Often, by reading the little description of a page, a user decides whether or not to click your link. This is so helpful for sites that might rank 4th or 5th on the list but still get clicked on instead of the first few results. The structure of each web page is another great example of on-site optimization, along with keywords and content. There have been loads of updates in the past, but none of them has changed how important structure is for ranking a website highly. If you have a web page with absolutely no structure, but great content, keywords, and link building, it still won’t rank to its true potential.
A Website Must Provide A Good User Experience
User experience is everything in the SEO world. Google has made it painfully clear how important it is to provide users with the best experience possible when they’re on your site. This is reflected in other fundamental factors like quality content and structure. If people visit your website and get annoyed by the way in functions and works, then you’re never going to rank as highly as you probably can. It goes without saying that there have been plenty of updates that have tried to target this ranking factor. One of the most recent examples is an update that gave priority to mobile-friendly sites in mobile search rankings. Here, it’s concluded that mobile-friendly sites provide users with the best experience possible. Instead of trying to load a full desktop site the condensed web pages are loaded onto mobile devices. As such, if you don’t have mobile-friendly pages, you will suffer a ranking penalty in the mobile results. With so many people using their smartphones or tablets these days, this has become very important. It’s possible there will be more algorithm updates that target user experience and may require you to tweak aspects of your website. However, there’s no argument that providing the best experience possible has always been a fundamental ranking factor.
SEO in Summary…
So, to summarize:
- Always target keywords to help your site rank in the right results
- Constantly great quality content on each web page
- Create backlinks to build the trustworthiness of your site
- Ensure Google bots can find and crawl your web pages
- Structure your site, so it’s easy to navigate
- Create a great user experience
- Never try and find loopholes around algorithm ranking factors
These seven SEO fundamentals will not change. These are the rankings factors you should pay close attention to at all times. If you focus on all seven of these things, then your website will always perform well on Google. We still suggest you keep up-to-date with any algorithm updates too, so you’re aware of any new rankings factors or ones that become obsolete.