Mark Twain said, “If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.” I grew up in Massachusetts and I can assure you there is a lot of truth in that statement.
Even where I live now in NYC, the weather can change in an instant. There were several miserable, wet and cloudy mornings this past summer when my wife and I bullishly took Violet to the beach. Hey, we only have a few weekends each year and our motto was we’re going, rain or shine.
It’s about an hour train ride to Long Beach, NY and each time we arrived to clear skies and a gloriously empty beach. Of course the opposite can and will happen, so you just have to roll with the punches in this part of the country.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that just like the weather in New England, search engine optimization (SEO) can change very quickly.
I bet if Mark Twain was around to observe SEO he would have said something like, “If you don’t like Google’s search engine algorithm now, just wait a few days.” :)
One quick scan of Moz’s Google Algorithm Change History and you’ll see that something significant changes about every month. Now, before you panic wondering how you’ll ever keep up, I have some very good news for you…
SEO Fundamentals Have NOT Changed!
Sure, Google makes a ton of changes throughout the year to their search algorithm, but each one is in line with their core mission. Google’s goal is to display the most relevant, most informative and highest quality webpages for any given search phrase. That’s it.
When you think about it from Google’s perspective, SEO actually gets a lot less complicated. I’ll repeat this because it’s absolutely critical to understand. If you want one of your webpages to rank #1 for a search phrase, then you need to have the most relevant, informative and highest quality webpage on the internet (for that given search phrase).
For example, let’s say you want to rank #1 for the search phrase, “executive coaching in NYC”. Can you guess what you would need to do first and foremost?
Hint: Reread the bolded text above. :)
I’ll break this down for you so you can see how to apply this in practice.
1. Create a 100% Relevant Webpage
Scan your current website and see if you already have a 100% relevant webpage for the keyword you want to target. In this case, I’m going after the keyword, “executive coaching in NYC”. Unless you already optimized your website, chances are good you don’t already have a 100% relevant webpage. That’s because most sites are not developed with SEO in mind.
That’s OK. This just means you need to add a new page. We’re not talking about a complete website overhaul here.
Now, you may already have a webpage that mentions your “executive coaching” service along with all the other services you provide. Is that 100% relevant?
No… A 100% relevant webpage is 100% about the target topic. As you add unrelated topics to the webpage you’re essentially diluting the relevance, and therefore reducing the chances of that webpage being the most relevant online.
2. Focus on High Quality Webpage Content
Take some time to think about what people are really looking for when they search for your target keyword. In other words, what would you need to include on the webpage to make it the most informative webpage on the internet for the given topic?
Next, do your homework and review the webpages that are already ranking in the top spots on Google’s first page. What do those pages have in common? How could you improve on what’s already available?
Remember, Google wants to display the highest quality and most informative pages so don’t take this step lightly. This is the foundation of your SEO, and you’ll want this to be as strong as possible to withstand all the inevitable Google updates in the future.
3. Avoid ‘Old School’ SEO Shortcuts
The final step I’ll mention here is to avoid what I call “old school” SEO shortcuts. I said the foundation of SEO has not changed, and that is true. However, a lot of SEO tactics are either no longer effective, or worse, can cause a Google penalty.
For example, you may be wondering how should you handle multiple, similar keywords that you want to rank #1 for in Google. In our previous example, you may want to rank for “executive coaching in NYC”, “executive coaching New York” and “NYC executive coaching”.
To be 100% relevant, should you create different pages for every single keyword variation?
The answer here is no. That’s an “old school” tactic that can lead to problems. Whenever you find keywords that are all very similar, then group them together and create just one page to target the entire group. Google’s algorithm is now smart enough to know that people searching for “executive coaching in NYC”, “executive coaching New York” and “NYC executive coaching” are all looking for the same thing. When that’s the case, then you only need one page for all the keyword variations.
If you want to get ranked in Google — and stay on top over the long-term — then it pays to give Google what it wants.
That means giving Google relevant, high-quality content and avoiding sneaky shortcuts.
In other words, treat Google like a partner, rather than an adversary to be beaten or tricked, and you’ll set yourself up for long-term SEO success.
Want More FREE Help With Your SEO?
I recently teamed up with Target Marketing magazine to present Old-School SEO is Dead: What you can do to adapt to Google and the new world of search marketing on Wednesday, February 25 at 2 PM Eastern.
On this webinar, I’ll explain which “old school” SEO tactics you need to avoid, as well as the 5 new rules to follow if you want to get your webpages on Google’s page 1.