The Google Ranking Riddle - Solved?
So almost daily, people get frustrated by their rankings tanking.
One day it's cruising at #3 page 1, the next...oblivion.
Now I am not claiming to have all the answers but some things I have been doing lately have worked very well so just wanted to share them.
I'll get into that in a minute.
Think back to the web spam days when anyone could literally throw up a single page with keywords stuffed everywhere, or PPC traffic to a poor landing page and make a killing.
After Google wacked that mole, another came up by way of link farms and buying links. Well, that worked for a while as well but sure enough, Google wacked them too. Then they cracked down on affiliate sites. Then they blasted article directories back into the Stone Age.
Do you see a pattern here?
If you follow the evolution of this dance that's been going on between Google and website owners, you will see the reason why most people fail with their sites on Google is because they're always reacting to it.
Always trying to pull one over it. Always looking for a "top secret" method, a quick fix, an underhanded "nobody knows about this" tactic and...they get wacked.
If you're constantly reacting, you're on the defensive.
Recently however, many folks have said they are playing by the rules and their sites are still tanking.
What you need to keep in mind is Google is a constantly evolving beast that learns as it goes. It's algorithm is regularly being tweaked and "smartified" to be a step ahead of those who seek a shortcut. So yes it will make short term "mistakes" but ultimately, the highest quality, most relevant result will rank very high.
So What To Do?
I know this is going to sound crazy and is going to perhaps go against a lot of the mainstream but I quit obsessing over keywords, phrases, LSI's, and other minutia and just asked myself:
"OK, you have a stranger in front of you interested in XYZ. "Tell them everything they need to know to make a decision."
And I wrote and wrote and wrote, covering every aspect of said topic.
Yes, the keyword will be there in the content but not deliberately. It will read naturally as if I am speaking to someone about that topic. And if I do my job, my words will be very helpful for them. I just wrote the best I could.
All indexed on page 2.
2 weeks later? - ALL ON PAGE 1 with some at #2 and one at #1 on all three engines.
Google will continue trying to streamline itself to only deliver the very best and relevant results and it's getting damn smart at working out high quality from lengthy.
Think About This
People think if they put together a 5,000 word post then it must rank high.
I said Google is DAMN SMART!
If someone searches "shoes in Baltimore on sale", and you write an 8,700 word post on that..I mean seriously...wth?
Would you stay on that page or click the back button?
Do you think the 500 PhD's working on Google's algorithm night and day, 24/7 aren't smart enough to understand that's probably not the best result for that particular search phrase?
Don't get me wrong, longer posts do tend to rank better in general.
But use your brain and put yourself in the searchers position. Understand the INTENT behind the search. Some are research/buying phrases like "snow tire comparisons" others are completely useless/information only searches like "current time in Sydney".
Anyway, back to my results.
My posts weren't overly lengthy (between 3,500 - 5,500) words but you know what they were?
I showed them I'm an authority in my niche. Check. I went through the topic from A-Z. Check. I answered all the FAQ's. Check. I included video. Check. I linked to authority sites only when there was a genuine need to. Check. I made them funny and engaging to get likes, comments and shares.
I did everything I would normally do in a face to face encounter.
Rewards For Excellence
And you know what?
People were spending an AVERAGE time of almost 8 minutes on my posts.
That's a quality signal to Google.
Someone comes to my page via search, stays on it for 8 minutes. Someone else does the same. Then 10 more. Google recognizes this as very highly relevant to that topic so they boost it's ranking. The opposite is true. They come to my page and click back within 7 seconds.
Ranking dive bombs.
Point here, don't react.
Take a step back, learn your topic well, research it thoroughly and write with a maniacal purpose to be the best for that one topic. Make it so comprehensive and engaging that Google chases you.
The better it is, the more it will be shared, tweeted and whatever else and then you earn yet another boost via social signals. And you know what comes with that?
Natural, organic, relevant link juice.
You can't lose by doing it right.
But the sweet thing is I realized even if I wasn't ranking for what I originally planned around, I noticed I was still getting traffic to those pages. Upon further digging I saw they were closely related terms so one again, this is a reflection of Google's intention of yielding the best result.
Don't get frustrated if you're putting together a masterpiece and it's taking a bit longer than you had hoped. Don't rush it to "just get it out there".
Forget the details and look at the whole picture.
Ask yourself if your post is absolutely on the money for that search term.
If someone was in front of you, is there anything else they would want to know?
The more you can address these details, the less reason you give visitors from going elsewhere.
Search engines too.
I hope this has been of some help.