Search Engine Algorithms and Ranking Strategies Boil Down to a Few Things
SEO and trying to learn about search engine algorithms and ranking strategies is a scary and strange thing that most people, even I don’t understand fully. It’s not that SEO is so hard to understand as a concept, but it’s daunting because it’s all at the same time an arms race, a moving target, and pits you up against not only very capable search competitors, but Google itself.
It’s a moving target because Google keeps changing their search algorithm which means that you must alter what you know about search engine algorithms and ranking strategies. From Panda, Penguin, to Hummingbird, and beyond, the search algorithm keeps getting refined and made smarter and smarter. Google employs tons of Phd’s and their little software robots are getting so smart that it wouldn’t surprise me if the future “Skynet” isn’t invented by them.
All kidding aside, the SEO’s and people trying to rank are in an arms race with the algorithm programmers and the Google teams that enforce their will upon the internet. I’m not going to go into that too much, but if you do anything against Google’s Search Terms of Service, your sites could be deindexed and rendered without any of Google’s search traffic, which has happened and hit many people right in the wallet, since deindexed sites lose most, if not all, revenue potential.
Then you have all of your search competitors. There is A LOT of competition when it comes to ranking for lucrative and competitive search keywords. Some people have turned it into an art and still use black hat methods despite the risks. I know people who use private blog networks that send enormous authority to their money sites and they can rank for any keyword in a matter of days. It frankly surprises me that Google hasn’t caught onto them yet.
It’s a shady world of SEO optimized pages, backlinks, and white vs grey vs black hat practices.
Yup, there’s a lot to all of these search engine algorithms and ranking strategies.
Scared yet? If you are a small site maintainer, blogger, etc and a newbie, then you should be. Your content won’t be seen by many unless you can pull in the searchers since the majority of web surfers who use search engines never go beyond the page one results. It’s funny that it’s a silly human behavior like that which makes page one ranking so darn valuable.
I even tested it on my wife. I asked her about her search habits, and she confirmed what I knew.
She never goes past page one results.
I, on the other hand, have been known to go over 20 pages deep on some searches. It’s a shame that so many people ignore the deeper down results, because there’s lots of good stuff down there, but human behavior is something that is hard to change.
So anyway, I’m going to post a picture of a pretty lucrative search term that one of my pages at one of my blogs ranks well for. Now, it is a real page one result, and hardly my only one. I had to blur out most of the page to protect my keywords, so take it for what it’s worth. You don’t know me but I guarantee it’s a real result, and a real non logged into Google page one result. It actually moves around between where it is and higher up, due to the “Google Dance”, which is a search algorithm shifting of search results that happens from time to time. It can also go down through loss of backlinks and other factors.
It’s gone as high as position number three.
The best thing that you can do is just write lots of relevant content around your niche. Learn your niche and the most popular language in your niche and you will be turning out so many long tail keyword combinations that you’ll soon be able to do it in your sleep.
Another thing to learn in your quest to grasp search engine algorithms and ranking strategies is to use the Google search box autocomplete since that algorithm is getting better all the time and shows the most popular long tail results in the auto complete.
There are other tools as well, like Metaglossery and Ubersuggest. These will churn out many related keyword ideas on any term that you enter into those tools.
Another great tool to research keywords and search competition, as well as backlinks and other factors to determine if a keyword is worth pursuing, is Micro Niche Finder. (follow the link but while MNF is dead, I found a worthy replacement!) It’s a pay tool, but it’s a pay once and it’s updated regularly and they won’t hit you for support or subscription fees. It’s definitely worth looking into. (same with the replacement I found)
Think about article directories for a minute. While they have been ranked lower due to abuse by users looking for easy self created backlinks, the overall theory works well. The theory is that any huge content farm will naturally have loads of keywords and long tail keywords as a matter of course. If you make your blog or site tailored around a specific interest niche, then it becomes very focused for that niche as well as a keyword storehouse, with more content. So, while a site with a small amount of pages CAN rank well with great backlinks, a site that doesn’t have as good backlinks CAN rank pretty well due to its massive amount of relevant focused content and many embedded relevant keywords.
If you can, start a blog on a well ranked authority domain that doesn’t relegate your blog to a subdomain but allows it to reside in a subfolder. A subdomain would be like what WordPress.com does, where your blog name goes before the WordPress.com part of the URL. That is treated as a separate domain and you get NONE of the domain authority that the WordPress.com domain owns. It’s a similar ranking buildup when you start a new domain and link that to your site. Sites that are allowed to piggyback on the master domain’s authority via a subfolder and rank get some of that “juice” the master domain owns.
Write well-structured articles that are of a decent length and not some 200 word run on sentence that many bozos out there seem to think is a real article.
Hit your keyword density at 1-3% and include it in an H2 tag if you can (I usually forget this one) and also in at least one image alt tag. Make sure it’s in your article title and in the first part of the title, if you can.
Use a blog that is WordPress based. Running on WordPress.com and using a new domain name that you own violates what I said above, but the link to the article about the site that hosts this blog eliminates them since this blog and site actually is a WordPress installation, so you’re covered.
Link out at least once per article (if you can) to a well regarded domain.
What is the moral of this story?
Do your basic research and know what terms you are going after, but write tons of relevant content around that niche and turn your site into a laser focused content storehouse of relevant information that is useful, provides value, and turns your into an authority in Google’s eyes. With some TIME and PATIENCE, and WORK ETHIC, you will eventually rank well for lots of long tail lower competition keyword, which adds up to lots of searches. There are literally billions of searches performed on the web and all you need is a small amount of that to make your site very well trafficked and it can bring you notoriety, income, or whatever you have it set up to do.
Learning this information about search engine algorithms and ranking strategies is your first step towards blowing up your site (in a good way) and making it an information store that Google will love to crawl and index over and over.