Ever since Google first became an internet search engine people have been trying to get their website to rank higher in the search results. Early spammers would try to stuff hundreds of key words into a website or create hundreds of fake links to try to trick the algorithm into placing their website higher.
Google soon caught on to these spammy attempts and launched its first algorithm update which punished spammy websites that used trickery tactics down to the bottom of the search results or took them off the search results all together.
Ever since that first algorithm update Google and spammers (also known as black hat SEO) have gone back and forth. Google releases and update that prevents black hat tactics and the spammers search for other ways to “trick” the algorithm. Many of these black hat SEO practitioners sell their SEO practices and use shady tricks to try to get your website to the top of Google. Before long Google detects the shady tricks and then your website is banished to page 47 (random number I chose) or taken off the search results all together (delisted). This cat and mouse game goes back and forth with Google releasing small algorithm updates daily with large sweeping updates every month or so. The victim in this viscous cycle are companies that chose to use an SEO company that promised to get them to the top of Google. Now their website has been delisted from Google and many will lose their business altogether or have to change names and start over again.
So, what is the right way to get your site listed higher on Google? The right way is known as white hat SEO and it takes a significant amount of effort and time to work effectively. Google bases your ranking on the search engine results page based of three large principles that are made up of hundreds various points under each large principle. The first principle is trust.
Trust is very important to an internet searcher and as such very important to Google. Internet searchers should be able to trust the websites that Google provides for them to be virus free, fraud free and spam free. Google looks at your presence on the internet as a whole to determine if you are a legitimate business. Do you have multiple different phone numbers, different websites, multiple locations that are residential addresses, etc. Anything that might suggest that you are a here today gone tomorrow business that might be fraudulent. Does your website capture user data and then use it in a spammy way? Think of a website selling Viagra here and your get the point. The problem you face is that Google does not know you, your company, or your reputation. A computer algorithm is making this determination based on everything it can find out about your company on the internet. Google’s strong adherence to trust was also magnified when it released that chrome browsers would not warn internet visitors anytime a website did not use secure socket layer (SSL) technology to prove website security.
Authority is the second area that Google looks at to determine how you should rank within the algorithm. Authority is a relevant measure because your results are based on your competitors around you. For example, let’s say you are a florist and there are 10 florists in your area. Compared to the other 9 how does your total internet presence present authority. Do you have 200 likes on Facebook and everyone else has less than 50? How many back links to you have compared to the others around you? The aspect of authority is what makes SEO a continual moving target that requires work at a minimum once a month. Your authority is always in question and a lack of a good SEO program means your authority drops a little every day.
Relevance is the third area. How relevant is the content on your website compared to what the searcher is looking for? This is especially critical with the growing number of voice-based searches. A search for flowers 20 years ago might have been conducted by someone typing “florist near me” in the search bar. Now that same person might say, “Alexa find me the best florist near me that delivers long stem roses for valentines’ day”. The first search would have a high relevance for “florist” and that would be the only keyword an SEO company might need to target to get good SEO results. Now the voice related search will require multiple keywords with multiple pages. Literally once the competition gets up to speed with SEO the same florist might have to target hundreds of keywords with multiple holiday specific landing pages. The more your website content matches what the searcher is looking for the higher your relevance is to the search.
Trust, authority and relevance all combine to let Google know if your website is safe for the user, you appear to be the best option around the user (authority) and your website contains the information that someone is looking for. All of these take time to build on the internet and it takes time for Google to rank the results in the search algorithm. Investing the time and money with the right SEO company and then being patient with the Google process will produce search engine results that get better every month and every year. Trying to short cut the process or skipping around from SEO company to SEO company because they did not get you to the number 1 spot in 6 months will get you nowhere. You really only have two choices:
- Partner with an SEO company you have vetted to be effective, honest, transparent and trustworthy for a minimum of 5 years.
- Stay where you are or lower on the search results page because you keep switching SEO companies based on price or impatience.
The one thing I do know because we have seen it in multiple territories. Slow and steady wins the SEO race and the reward is well worth the wait. Building a strong trustworthy website that has authority and relevance takes careful planning, execution and time.