It is hard to believe that Google was founded a little over 20 years ago and in that short period of time it has completely changed the landscape of business marketing. Practically every business in America devotes a sizeable amount of resources to make sure it can easily be found on the search engine.
As a web technology company that specializes in internet marketing, we often encounter big misconceptions and an outdated understanding of internet search when meeting with clients. These misunderstandings can lead to costly errors for a business owner making marketing decisions and often lead to him or her falling prey to false claims made by less scrupulous companies.
So let’s dive into Google search to give you a better understanding of how it ranks your website and cover some tips which can help you get more organic search traffic to your business in 2020 and beyond.
Understanding Google’s Goal
Understanding Google’s goal with search is probably the most important thing to wrap your head around when learning about search engine optimization (SEO). It is simply this: to deliver the most relevant, helpful, and meaningful results to a user’s search query.
Yes this is ridiculously obvious, but it has huge implications for you the website owner. First of all, it means that your website needs to be more relevant, helpful, and meaningful to a person who would be in need of your goods or services than your competition. Secondly, it means you need to do everything you can to make it clear to Google that you deserve that top ranking.
Search Results May Vary
Now here is where business owners get tripped up by false claims by less scrupulous internet marketing companies: just because you see your website rank in a particular position in search for a specific search term does not mean everyone else will find you in that spot.
Modern search is tailored to the specific user and is determined by a mind-boggling array of considerations. When you hear talk of “internet privacy” it is often about the information Google and other companies are gathering about you to help them custom tailor your web experience and what shows up in search. Among this data is location, search habits, and a lot of relational data that can tie your personal online presence to your business and website. Bottom line: just because you see yourself in the number one spot doesn’t mean others do.
But that is okay, and we’re going to explain why.
Defining Your Search Terms
In the early days of the web, internet marketing was all about keywords. Search (and online advertising) wasn’t very sophisticated back then so it was a simple job of matching keywords carefully placed on your website with desirable search terms of prospective customers.
But Google moved on from this simple keyword-matching approach many years ago. Today the search engine couples the semantics of a search query with the user’s personal data to discern not only the contextual meaning of the request, but also a deeper understanding of the intent of the searcher.
What does this mean exactly? Let’s say you did a search for your business using the most likely search term you think your potential customers would use. Not only is it likely that your search results would be different than these other googlers, but also the meaning and intent behind the same search terms can be different as well.
How this benefits you is that Google can serve your website up in search for a wide array of search queries that you may not have even considered to be valuable to your business. But in order to take advantage of semantic search, your website needs to have enough well written content to help Google understand the meaning and intent of your website.
Think Traffic, Not Ranking
When it comes to evaluating changes made to your website that would possibly affect search ranking, instead of Googling, look at your search traffic. Monitoring your analytics is a critical part of marketing any business on the web, but surprisingly, many website owners never bother to look at this valuable data – or even set up their website to collect it.
It is also possible to get search data for your website right from Google that will tell you many of the search queries Google is using to serve up your website in search and which search terms are actually bringing traffic to your website.
If web analytics is something new to you, working with a reputable web tech company can really help. And it should not be costly. We’ve built helpful customized web reporting for many clients over the years and it is very rewarding to see a client begin to use that data to make business decisions that are outside of the scope of the web.
Optimize your Website
Another factor that is critical to search is the technology, accessibility, and user experience of your website.
With a proliferation of DIY options, anyone can make a website these days. But creating, optimizing, and maintaining a website that competes successfully for highly desirable (and expensive) search terms takes a level of technical expertise that comes with years in the trenches and a deep understanding of the current best practices in search engine optimization (SEO).
This is such a large, technical topic, that we are not going to go in-depth here. Suffice it to say that beyond providing and excellent experience for your web visitors, your website needs to be fast, secure, and mobile-friendly. We highly recommend seeking out a professional web developer or SEO expert before making any major changes to your current website.
Content Will Always be King
Taking into account the goal of Google we discussed above, it is a no brainer that the content of your website is critical to you connecting with potential clients via internet search. Moreover, blogging is still the key tool in keeping your website relevant, helpful, and compelling to your visitors – and Google.
Every once and awhile, we hear someone say that blogging isn’t as important as it used to be for marketing a website. What they are really saying is they are not having the success they were having with it and more often than not, the reason for this is increased competition.
With more websites out there competing for googlers’ eyeballs and clicks, simply writing content relating to your business is not enough. A blog has to really bring it to stand out. This means it needs to be the ultimate answer for a given query or provide the ultimate solution for the user’s problem.
EAT Your Competition
The all-important acronym you should familiarize yourself with in 2020 is EAT. Straight from Google, this stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness and is a major ranking factor in modern search.
Think about everything we’ve covered above. If your website has the most authoritative content and demonstrates your expertise in your field, yet there are technical concerns which affect user’s security, then you will be down ranked despite your knowledge or mastery in your field.
Conversely, if you have a technically stellar website, but your content doesn’t convey your expertise or provide meaningful, authoritative answers for potential clients or customers, then you will most likely loose web traffic to websites that do.
Something it is important to understand about EAT is that ranking a new web page in this context takes a long time. While expertise may be inferred from the actual content, authority and trustworthiness are gained over time. Patience and consistency are imperative – especially when results are not as forthcoming as you would like them to be.
Win the Snippet
One sign that one of your blogs or web pages have “won” Google’s goal of sharing EAT with its users is when you win a snippet. A google snippet is basically the ultimate answer to a query where Google actually shares a portion of the web pages content right there in search – with a link to your authoritative website.
Here is an example of a snippet for our blog on mobile’s impact on web design:
Seek Help from a Professional
Probably the most important thing you can do as a business owner with a website is to seek help from a professional and reputable web marketing firm. Even if you prefer to take care of a substantial amount of your marketing in house, a good firm will offer you and your staff guidance and help you avoid costly mistakes with the more technical and refined aspects of web marketing.
A common example we see is a business paying for search ads for search terms they’ve already won organically. This is not always readily apparent to even trained eyes and with the ever-changing landscape of search needs to be constantly monitored.
If you would like to learn more about how your business can rank higher on Google in 2020, please give us a call at (941) 548-9950 or fill out the webform below.