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SEO doesn’t have to be technical – The layman’s guide to ranking online in 2019

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Being top of Google or at least on the front page is the holy grail for most businesses organisations in the modern world.

Paying for ads, promoting content on social media, networking, lead generation, and even running ads in your local paper and on radio all have merit and depending on your business could be worth the time and investment.

Ranking well on Google seems to get a lot of attention though. Why is that?

  • Where do you go when you need something?
  • What tool do you use to get answers for pretty much everything?

That’s right, the world’s number one search engine – Google!

Ranking on Google is, for many, the main goal for their marketing because they know that they need to be where everyone goes.

But ranking on Google isn’t that easy and it’s certainly not quick…

Search for anything and you’re met with millions of answers in seconds and they all would love to be on the front page… except there are only 10 or fewer slots for you to appear. Head to a smartphone and there are even less slots with the Google Ads now getting less space in favour of better usability.

Google understands people. The way Google works is simple and efficient and they’ve created a tool that’s not only used the world over but has become a core part of everyone’s lives. Not bad for some techies who simply wanted the internet to be easier to search.

The great thing about ranking well on Google is that if you do it well, you’ll rank for a while and nearly always longer than the ads and promos that you run. Ranking organically on Google takes time but that investment pays you back over and over again.

So how do you rank on Google? How do you appear higher than others? What determines whether you or your competitor is top, second, third or nowhere to be seen?

We have saying at The Evergreen Agency – “You have to deserve to rank!”.

Clever tricks and hacks and cheating the system can and do work… but they’re a short-term fix and they won’t work for long. Don’t be conned by anyone who promises the world with this!

Google wants the best to rank the highest.

Google wants the best results for everyone searching the web.

So you have to deserve to rank. Ultimately your website needs to have useful content, solutions to problems, great navigation, load quickly, and offer a reason to return over and over again. It also has to provide a great experience on mobile and tick the Google boxes for 1000s of other factors too.

But let’s keep this simple!

Ranking on Google may seem complicated and it may seem like a ‘dark art’ but we’ve never really subscribed to that notion because that’s not why we set up The Evergreen Agency. We want to give an honest and transparent approach to SEO, so here are some really simple ways to rank online that don’t involve ‘SEO ninjas’ or black hats, white hats, robots, spiders, and all the other over-complicated jargon many will hit you with.

SEO can simply involve great content on a site that’s good to use 

When you need answers, you head to Google. Simple. It’s the encyclopaedia of the world that keeps on growing and giving and it makes sense for you to use it. But why? Well Google is simple.

Think about it:

  • When did they last change the way the results are shown to you?
  • Why don’t they have a really sexy design and funky animation and gifs and content on the home page?

Well, apart from recent changes to map listings, Google shopping and YouTube videos appearing in the results, Google remains fairly unchanged in user experience from day one.

It’s a list of the results, the best results on the web. Its simplicity is its brilliance. 

So how do you appear higher on Google? Simple: create great content that people need and present it in a way that looks great no matter where they are or what they’re viewing it on.

Content has always been ‘king’ in the SEO world and there’s a good reason for that: Content is what Google needs! Googlers want answers and creating content like we do for our clients and indeed for ourselves (that helps those searchers), will help Google provide great content.

It makes sense to keep your content easy to find, easy to read, and really helpful and engaging. Not only will you attract people but they’ll bookmark you, follow you, or subscribe for more and come back. They need to come back!

Content should be for your readers (not the search engines!)

A word of warning before we go too far down this ‘what does Google want’ route though because what Google actually wants is great content for its users. One of the top three reason people head to Google is for information (the others are navigation and shopping!) so creating great content for people should be your aim.

To many focus on ‘this update’ and ‘that update’ and what Google is going to do next when what Google is really doing is improving the results so that you, the Googler, are given what you want, what you really really want, faster – and in the best format possible.

Write for people – your ideal customers – and you’ll not go far wrong with SEO. A website or company’s FAQs are a great place to go for this. What do you get asked all the time? There’s a certainty that this plays out on Google too, so create it, upload it, and help Google help its searchers.

Oh… and create a really catchy title too so that it actually gets read.

Be the expert, write about it, impress people (that’s actually what Google wants!) 

Authority. Not only a psychological reason we all buy from others but also a factor that brands, businesses, and celebrities use well. It’s also a huge ranking factor for Google.

It makes sense that someone who’s a knowledgeable authority in their field would appear higher in the results isn’t it? Being trusted, gaining authority, and growing a base of fans and followers who read and share your content is a key part to ranking on Google.

What are you the expert in? What specific areas? Can you create longform, in depth content on that topic? Could you create videos and graphics to support it? Then you should do it, and you should keep doing it!

You should also build your brand, your social media, and your reputation outside of Google too. Have a strong social following and get out to shows, networking, and trade exhibitions so that you’re known and trusted offline too.

The more your content is seen, shared, and revisited, and the more you’re linked to by others who are trusted, the more content and traffic you create, the more Google will notice.

There are many factors that go into this but our simple advice is just to be the authority and demonstrate that with wonderful, helpful or entertaining content that people will enjoy.

Network and link up with other businesses (the backlinks will help you)

This isn’t all about pandas, penguins and [insert other animals Google will use in the future], this ranking stuff spans across the rest of the world too.

You do need to do the more traditional outreach. Simply hiding behind a keyboard will get you so far, but you need people to find you, search for you and engage with you from many channels.

Google is sophisticated and it listens and responds to a business that’s social, a business that’s searched, a business that’s referenced, and a business that’s linked locally, nationally or globally. Google uses 100s of factors, but again for simplicity – just be the company they’re talking about and using.

Reviews from Facebook and Google My Business appear on the home page if you search for a company. Not only does that show Google’s obsession with authority, it shows you need a multi-channel approach and be loved by customers.

If you’re getting noticed by other companies then link up with them, share your content with them and engage with them. When other sites link to your content and your website Google really starts to notice.

Note: This isn’t about spamming people to get links; this is about creating content that deserves to get links.

You could also post content on their sites in guest posts or collaborations on content.

Business shows are a great example of this:

Often, you’re giving the chance to have a profile where you can link back to your site. Most companies fill this out. Great. But don’t stop there. So often these shows are looking for content for their marketing and they ask the exhibitors to create some. So – go create!

Creating content usually gets you another link (great) and then the content is shared on the exhibitors social media for their followers to see (better). When you then share this content on your social media and to your list you help drive traffic to that content and in turn to the link for your site. This all helps to build authority and of course drive interest to your stand at the event.

Take any opportunities you see like this in future. They’re well worth the time for a good piece of content to be linked back.

Offer to write it if you don’t see them asking, you never know!

Use video… but embed it from YouTube (Google likes that) here’s how.

Video is everywhere now. Since the time we all worked out how to create video on our smartphones, the content creation with video has done nothing but grow. Video is a great way to explain something, show something and it’s of course very engaging way for a brand, business or personality to connect with their audience.

Google owns YouTube. You may already know this but Google bought YouTube for $1.65B back in 2006. They did this because they saw very early the power of video marketing. What this means for your marketing is that a YouTube channel is now an essential part of your marketing toolkit. 

YouTube is the second largest search engine next to Google (mainly due to the results ranking high in Google) and those who embrace YouTube as a content generator will see some good traffic and SEO results.

A really simple way to use YouTube is to create simple videos based on your most asked queries and questions like we mentioned in the content section above. Then embed the video right into your blog or website pages to show Google that you’re onboard with it’s expensive acquisition and committed to creating the best content.

Video embeded from YouTube on your websites does a few things for your SEO:

  • It keeps your visitors there for longer (time on site is a ranking factor)
  • It’s adds to the user experience (something you should always look to do)
  • It gives your visitor a quicker or more convenient way to get your answer as some prefer video over text.
  • You’ll show your visitor that you have a YouTube channel and may gain some more subscribers. You could of course include a link to subscribe around the video on your blog too!

Contrary to many articles online, embedding YouTube videos doesn’t really affect the SEO of your site but if you get some good hits on your video, and you get more link clicks from that video to your site, then you can hardly argue that that’s not a good thing, can you?

A few points to consider with your YouTube video:

  1. Research which content people want and use the key search term in the title
  2. Make sure your video is to the point and has good sound
  3. Write a good description with a lot of details about the video and include a link to your site
  4. Add relevant tags based on the research that you carried out.

Your YouTube video could rank well and drive traffic back to your site. That’s not going to hurt one bit – so go create

Don’t over-complicate your content. Add value, make people think, get interest 

Creating content for your website might seem like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. One of the stumbling blocks for businesses when creating content is what to write in the first place so use our tip of simply listening to your customers, enquiries and your industry and create answers the questions or statement pieces on the way things are changing or thought-provoking content that gets read, commented on and shared.

Once again, this content is for the reader, not Google, so keep it easy to read, keep it simple, add tonnes of value and treat your content like the only piece of content someone will ever see… because in this fast-paced world that might be the only chance you get!

You don’t have to write about your keywords or your top search term or be all robotic. Have a good mix. Talk about emerging changes in your field that affect your customers or share your opinion on a new law that changes the landscape of the industry you work in.

Content that stands out, content that gets shared and read and revisited, content that earns backlinks, content that flies on social media, content that is just great content – wins!

It wins the attention of the web, it wins the attention of searchers and social media and in turn it wins the attention of Google.

Add value over and over again and you’ll build a fantastic platform and website that your visitors will love. That’s all Google wants in the end.

If you need some ideas for your blog content then here’s recent post you might like to read next.  

Be social. Social media helps to drive traffic but don’t just automate and spam it – engage

Social media play into the mix here too. Social media is a great way to connect with your business to your customers, peers and more. It’s also a great way to drive traffic and there are many ways to do this.

Building a strong audience and then sharing your great value is an obvious way to get more eyes on your blog and services.  Being an authority on social media plays into the Google game here too. Getting noticed on Facebook groups, Twitter and LinkedIn gets more people looking and searching for your business (tick), and then you can play with Instagram, Pinterest and other sites like Anchor and Medium for some great embeddable and brand awareness content for your blog.

But try not to just automate social media. Yes, it’s great to get traffic from social media to your website but if you’re only posting and not commenting then you’ll get far fewer people caring about your content.

All these social media sites have ranking factors for posts, too. The more engaged you are, the higher your posts will rank and the more eyes you’ll get on your content and then – you guessed it – the more traffic you’ll get!

Be consistent…

Above all else, you need a good and consistent stream of content added to your site over time.

When you go live on a website the content all goes live and many simply stop there. What you need (because it’s what Google is looking for) is a consistently updated website that offers visitors a great experience, good value, and the answers to the problems they’re searching for.

SEO is technical, it is a vast subject but you don’t need to overcomplicate it. Be the best, be the one they trust and get your content and your business out there enough that your audience can’t help but consume your content, share it, talk about it, link to it and more.

We hope you found this content useful. If you’d like a small business SEO checklist then feel free to head over to our guide next or save it for next time.

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