As you probably know, Google is constantly tweaking and refining their search engine algorithm in an attempt to improve the search results for their users. It’s impossible to keep track of every single change (unless you work for Google), but Moz does track the major algorithm updates if you have some time to kill.
Scroll through the past couple of years and you should notice a pattern. Google releases an update nearly EVERY month and sometimes multiple per month! It’s impressive how fast Google’s team iterates to combat spam, test new features, test new designs, and shake up the search results page.
But it’s also daunting if you’re a business owner using search engine optimization (SEO) to drive leads and sales for your business. How can you expect to keep up with all the updates and adjust your tactics accordingly?
The short answer is you don’t have to!
Because despite all the updates, SEO best practices have not changed over the years. Yes, a lot of tactics no longer work, but the underlying principles are the same. At Main Street ROI, we call these principles the 4 R’s of SEO. No matter how many updates Google releases, these will always hold true.
The first R is research, or more precisely, keyword research. This is always the first step to launch an SEO campaign, and if you get this wrong, then everything else doesn’t matter.
Think of keyword research like steering a scooter (or a bike, car, boat, stroller, etc.). I say scooter because my 19 month old daughter, Violet, is obsessed with her mini scooter. It’s also a great example to remind us how important it is to complete this first step before moving on to the 2nd R below.
Violet knows if she wants to ride her scooter through the doorway, then she needs to first pick it up and point the wheels in the right direction. She’s tried to skip this step before and she always ends up crashing into the wall. You have to point the scooter in the right direction BEFORE you push. Reverse the order and the results are likely to be tears. :)
With SEO, steering is simply choosing the correct keyword phrases. If you target the wrong keywords, then all the work “pushing forward” will just propel you into a wall!
The second R is relevance. In order to have a shot at ranking #1 in Google, you better have a webpage that is 100% relevant to the search phrase. For example, if you want to rank for the keyword “pink mini scooter” then there needs to be a webpage that is all about pink mini scooters.
No Google update will ever change the importance of relevance. Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and quickly display the most relevant webpages for any given search. Notice that Google’s mission is NOT to help other businesses drive more leads and sales. It doesn’t matter if you offer the best product or service in your market. If you don’t have a relevant page on your website for a particular search phrase, then you don’t have a shot at ranking in Google.
In my baby scooter analogy, relevance is having a scooter that fits a 19 month old. There’s no way Violet could stand on an adult scooter and get through the doorway. She uses a mini scooter that actually includes a seat for her to sit on while she gets more comfortable riding the scooter. When we put the first 2 R’s together, then we have Violet sitting on her mini scooter pointed in the direction of the doorway.
We’re getting close, but there’s still one more key ingredient to rank your website high in Google’s search results.
The 3rd R is your website’s reputation, or what’s often called domain authority. Your website’s reputation is what moves your webpages up in Google’s search results. This means the popular, authoritative, and trusted websites will rank higher in Google.
Again, this principle has not changed despite all the algorithm updates. Even if you have a 100% relevant webpage for a particular keyword, that doesn’t mean you’re going to rank #1. There are likely hundreds or thousands of other webpages that are just as relevant. Why does your webpage deserve to be #1 in Google? Is your website better than all the others? What does it even mean to be better?
There are hundreds of factors that Google looks at, but one of the most important factors is the quantity of hyperlinks (aka links) from other relevant, popular, authoritative, and trusted websites. Each link from a legitimate website is a vote in your favor, and as more and more websites link to you, then your domain authority will increase. As your authority and reputation increases, then your rankings will increase as well.
Simple enough right?
Reputation in my scooter analogy is the force of my push on Violet’s back. The harder I push, the faster Violet will fly through the doorway (giggling). Just like the more reputation/authority you build, the higher your website will rank in Google.
The final R is revenue. This is simply a reminder that ranking #1 in Google is not the end goal of your SEO campaign. Business success is certainly not measured in keyword rankings. It’s measured in dollars and cents.
And of course, no Google algorithm update will ever change this fact.
Want More SEO Tips?
Whether you’re managing your own SEO campaign or you’re outsourcing SEO, I always recommend learning SEO best practices. This will ensure you avoid costly mistakes, or worse, Google penalties.
And my Step-By-Step Guide to SEO will give you a strong foundation of SEO knowledge.
This month, I’m giving away 100 copies of our Step-By-Step Guide to SEO. This guide is normally available for $97 in our online store, but I’m letting you grab your copy “on the house” (just cover the shipping/handling).