There is a lot of information out there about SEO.
Link building has long been the main suggestion for improving your SEO, but Google and the other engines have always frowned on this approach.
The engines prefer you focus on what the end user would like to see. In the case of links, users want to see the content on the web that is naturally popular and useful. In other words, this means users want to see the content that is linked to naturally.
It just came out that Google doesn’t approve of guest posting for links and any other effort to build links in this way won’t work in the long run either.
So what can you do to improve your SEO rankings?
Here are five little-known factors that you can change with focus on your target customer.
1. Brand Reputation
People like to work with brands that are well known or at least used by someone they trust. Building a strong brand reputation with your customer and in your industry has a positive influence on the way search engines rank your website and its content for various search terms.
The engines use signals such as social media mentions and followers to determine your brand reputation. If you have a strong reputation you’re more likely to rank because that’s what people want to see when they search for content online.
2. Website Experience
Google created Google Analytics as a tool for website owners, but it also gives them insight into how your website performs.
High bounce rates and other indicators can let Google know that you’re website is providing a poor experience for your visitors.
Improving your website design, functionality and overall experience will make your visitors happy and it will show the engines that you deserve higher rankings.
Think of it from Google’s perspective. If you and a competitor have similar content, but one site provides a better experience through design and function Google would much rather rank the destination with the better experience higher.
3. Content Diversity
Search for something like “how to cook spaghetti” on Google. You won’t see a simple list of text links anymore. Today, you see guides with photos and images along with videos and graphics.
Content is about more than just text today. Being able to create useful videos and images give you content diversity that users value and as a result, Google values as well.
4. Content Freshness
Over a year ago, Google published a blog post indicating that they realized that people wanted to see fresh content.
Part of this changed had to do with Twitter. That’s my assumption at least.
People are going to Twitter to find up-to-the-moment information. Google realized this and now provides fresher results in their search results.
For you this means creating fresh content with something like a company blog.
Some of the content you create will be valuable forever, but other content will have a lifespan. In order to keep up you need to create fresh content.
5. Social Media Presence
Finally, it’s really no secret by now that social media and search have a strong relationship. Earlier we talked about brand reputation.
Part of your reputation is how much people value the content you provide on social media. If you have large followings on popular social media sites it’s an indication that people trust you.
This is a signal to Google that you’re a strong brand and that people want to see you in search results.
Beyond this point we’re also seeing social signals right in search results. Google Authorship Markup uses information from Google+ to provide a richer experience in the results.
There is a lot of SEO misinformation out there. Avoid common advice to build links and do things that could be seen as unnatural by the search engines.
SEO is really about doing what your target customers find valuable.
Each of the things above will help you present your brand positively to your customers and that will lead to better SEO rankings.