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There are two basic types of SEO, on-page and off-page.
On-page being anything that occurs on the website such as its architecture, (structure), titles, meta description, content, site speed, mobile friendliness, internal linking, 301/404 errors and robots access.
Off-page SEO is anything that doesn’t occur on the website. Basically, this boils down to backlinks, social media and other channels that bring visitors to your website.
Why is SEO Important?
SEO is important because if your website is not performing to its maximum, you are missing out on a lot of potential traffic to your website, therefore you will be missing out on your online business objectives such as acquiring leads and new clients, brand exposure and more sales.
At the end of the day, this means less profit for you.
If a website is optimised well and performing to its maximum potential, the search engines are going to reward it with a higher ranking in its results pages.
Let’s talk Google here because it receives 67% or two thirds of search engine searches. There are other search engines like Bing and Yahoo but they bring in very little traffic.
Over 90 % of people that search for something on Google never venture onto page 2. As you can imagine, being on page 1, for the right keywords, is extremely important. Page 2 and lower is a waste of time in all honesty.
Further to that, the first three positions on page 1 of Google receive 60% of those searches and position 1 alone receives well over 30%.
These figures do vary according to the niche or type of business but they are an overall average.
Googles Algorithm (Ranking Factors)
Nobody knows for sure, except Google, how the algorithm works exactly. Google does issue guidelines as to how to rank in its search engine, basically they say to produce amazing content.
Amazing content will have the effect of keeping visitors on the website, (higher dwell time), and lower bounce rate, (when a visitor visits one page only and leaves via the same page). These two factors will boost a website up the rankings.
The other outcome of having great content is that other websites will link to your site naturally, because the content is so good, be it interesting, entertaining, informative, motivating or thought-provoking.
There are some specialists that try to reverse engineer the algorithm by conducting lots of experiments to see how a website responds to various tests. According to these specialists, there are believed to be over 200 ranking factors that Google uses to rank a website.
The skill of an SEO person is to optimise a website based on the 200 or so ranking factors. If these factors are not met, a website will remain in the lower echelons of the SERPS. Google has to be fed what it needs.
On the other hand, if a website is over optimised such as high keyword density, anchor text repetition and building spammy backlinks, Google will penalise your website and worse, they could give you a manual penalty and de-index your site.
The 3 Top Ranking Signals
Although there are over 200 ranking factors, apart from them being either on-page and off-page factors, some of them can be put into different categories.
Below I have listed the 3 most important ranking signals.
1st Position Are Backlinks
For many years now and for the foreseeable future, backlinks to a site are the number 1 ranking signal.
Google sees other websites that link to your site as a vote of confidence. It’s like an election, the more votes that you get the more popular that you will become.
All links are not created equal though and that is where the ranking factors come into play.
For instance, if your website gets a link from another website in the same niche as you, it will be deemed more powerful. If you get a link from a high domain authority website like the BBC, once again, this will be deemed a great link. In general though, non-niche related links are not as powerful as niche related.
Spam links from link farms and spam websites are considered a big No No in Googles eyes. Your site could get de-indexed if you get too many of these.
Some links are do-follow and spread domain authority to the receiving site, other links are no-follow and do not spread domain authority.
All in all, getting organic, niche related links from high authority sites are the best you can get.
2nd Position Is Content
Google’s objective is to give the best possible experience to its users, the people that make the searches. They do this by showing the most appropriate results to the user for the search phrase or keyword that is being searched.
One of the ranking factors that come into play here is the longer, more in-depth the content is, the higher position it will rank, and for many more keywords also.
Using LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords certainly helps a site rank better and for more keywords, as does using synonyms in the content.
Keyword stuffing, on the other hand, can cause a negative effect on a website. This is using the keyword too many times in the content.
3rd Position Is Google Rankbrain
One of Google’s latest ranking signals is its Rankbrain. It is an artificial intelligence learning algorithm that generates the best results for its users because it learns from previous searches. It can decipher what the search intent of the user is over time.
If a website is in the fifth position and it continues to get more visitors than the other search results, it will get a higher rank. Conversely, a higher ranked result will get relegated if it receives fewer clicks.
Are Backlinks More Important Than Content Then?
Yes and No. They work in tandem with each other as they are part of Google’s overall algorithm.
If you don’t have a website, you will not rank. End of Story.
You need content and in this respect, it is more important. Anyone can rank a search phrase in Google without any backlinks, however, this search phrase will probably be worthless.
To be successful, you need a buying keyword, a keyword that leads to a business objective. Unfortunately, buying keywords are very competitive and to rank for one, it is highly likely that you will require some link authority and this comes from backlinks to your site. In this respect, backlinks are more important.
More information at Guernsey Donkey SEO www.guernseydonkeyseo.co.uk