Three Hard Truths About Search Engine Rankings

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Ranking a website has become more than just a few keyword-stuffed pages and spammy backlinks. Search engine algorithms have evolved significantly since their inception. Ranking high, and staying there, requires a lot of effort. This article will discuss three hard truths that seem to get overlooked continually.

It will help the reader understand the importance of each truth and what they should be doing to work within this framework of truth. 

Three Hard Truths About Search Engine Rankings

Website building companies have made website design simple with point-and-click interfaces designed to close the gap between designers and the average person. This WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) interfaces make it easy to create a standout website without any programming experience.

But a website’s success is comprised of much more than just looking good. In fact, one of the most important factors affecting a website’s success has nothing to do with the design.

Search Engine Rankings

Where your website ends up in the major search engines can affect your visitor numbers dramatically. There are plenty of statistics to support this statement:

The first result on Google receives almost 33% of all online search traffic.

75% of online searchers never look past the first page of their search results.

93% of online experiences begin with a search request.

Search queries drive 10x more traffic to eCom websites versus social media.

What can you do to get ranked high for your specific niche and/or keywords? You have to focus on more than web design. To get your website noticed by Google and the other major search engines, you have to focus on what they look for in a quality website. While a great website design looks good to your end-user, it has almost no bearing on your search engine rankings.

Before you can climb the ranking ladders, there are a few hard truths that you are going to have to accept. We are going to discuss aspects of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) that will affect your search engine rankings and what you can do to stay ahead of the competition.

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Content Should be Your Number One Priority

A website without content is useless – whether that content is words, pictures, or videos. Now, the search engines prefer text as this is the easiest to rank, but they are getting better with image and video recognition (this is still early though; use your alt and title tags). As such, the first hard truth about search engine ranking is that you will not rank if you do not have content.

When you first develop your website, it will be easy to come up with content. The ideas will come easily, the content will flow, and you will have something fresh every day – until you hit the “brick wall”. Writer’s block always happens at some point. When it does, you either have to push through it or find someone else to handle your content needs. If you do not have the budget for a content writer, then you will have to figure out how to get past it.

In most cases, it is better to get the website started with a solid round of content writing and then find someone else to help you with it. Even if all they do is handle the work you do not want to deal with, that can be helpful. You cannot ignore content writing and creation. If you want to rank higher than everyone else, you will have to provide content that meets the needs of your visitors.

Voice Optimization is No Longer an Option

When smartphones became “smart”, websites had to be optimized for mobile devices. When local search results became more prevalent, websites had to fix their Google My Business and Yelp profiles. And now that we have Alexa, Siri, Bixby, and other virtual assistants, websites have to be optimized for voice searches.

Voice search is when someone asks their virtual assistant a question. These virtual assistants are designed to use their search algorithms to find the most relevant answer for each question. A poorly optimized website will not provide enough information to be used as a response (too many words, not exact enough).

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As you are developing your content, you need to focus on answering questions related to your niche; this is called question-and-answer content marketing. If you can answer their questions, your rankings will go up and your user engagement/shares will go up too.

The next step to improve your voice optimization is to use schema markup to help give these assistants even more information to work with. Google has released a speakable schema (currently in BETA) that helps it identify voice optimized content. Websites that focus on this will be given preference over sites that have not optimized their content for voice searches. As this is something that Google has identified, it would be a mistake to skip past this new optimization technique.

In the past, the idea that you would have to do anything beyond fill your website with content was laughable. But the future is here and you have to continually work with the newest standards, including voice optimization. If you want to succeed, you have to do more than your competitors.

This leads us to the final hard truth…

Search Engine Optimization is a Non-Stop Battle

Many website owners get trapped in the myth that search engine optimization is a one-time affair. That for the low price of $199, they can optimize their website to perform better than all of their competitors and dominate their market – that is a fairy-tale. 

Search engine ranking algorithms are constantly changing to provide the most accurate and relevant information for their visitors. They work diligently to devalue content that is thin, useless, and spammy. Instead, they focus on websites that provide content that matches their visitors’ needs.

They use numerous metrics to see how fast a user leaves the website, how far into the website they go, if they visit a second time, if they shared information from the website, and so much more.

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While having content on your website is great, old content quickly becomes irrelevant. Even if your website has 50+ articles, they may no longer be relevant to your market. As such, you need to keep up with what your competitors are doing and what your customers are asking.

Remember, voice optimization is a big factor right now. Make sure you are using the question-and-answer content writing strategy to help stay prevalent as other search engines will start to adopt this same algorithm change soon.

You cannot sit on your past success. If you do, someone else will overtake you. If they manage to dethrone you from the top position, there is a chance that you will not be able to retake your seat at the top. Instead of waiting for someone else to dethrone you, you must be proactive.

Take charge of your content strategy. Stay up-to-date on the algorithm changes. And if this is too much for you, find a reputable marketing company that will not promise a $199 fix-all.

Wrap Up

Ranking a website is much harder now that search engines have bolstered their algorithms. In the past, keyword stuffing and backlink farms were enough. Doing that now will get your website blacklisted or devalued. Understanding these three hard truths, you can start focusing on what matters.

For years, the content has been touted as the king of search engine optimization. It is always used in a search engine optimization strategy because it draws in visitors and robots. However, there is not just content, but also content delivery.

While a pretty website is nice, it is what you deliver and how you deliver it that matters more right now. If you want a website that ranks well, you have to follow the rules of engagement. As such, you need to be focused on quality content, voice search queries, and staying ahead of the algorithm curves

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