5 Crucial Steps to Win at SEO

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of search engine optimization when it comes to online marketing. Google is many things, but it’s the company’sadvertising business that pays for all of thosemoonshots. The fact remains that Google is the world’s largest advertising company, and if you’re looking to score high on itssearch engine results page (SERP), it’s worth listening to what Dan Clarke, founder and CEO of search agency Disruptient, has to say. Dan Clarke, founder andCEO of Disruptient, speaks at the Tech In Asia Jakarta 2015 conference.

Dan was in Jakarta for the recently concluded Tech In Asia Jakarta 2015 conference, and shared advice, stories, and insights into how best to tackle SEO. Speaking to a packed room at the Marketing Stage, Dan summarized his entire advice with one golden rule: build websites for people, not for search engines.

"If you keep this rule at the forefront of your process, it automatically fulfills most of Google’s requirements for delivering quality results on their platform." explains Dan. "Ranking first is not the sole factor, it’s about looking good as well. Google is now an ’answers engine’ rather than a search engine."

1. Content is king

Picture credit: Search Engine People Blog

It’s probably the most obvious piece of advice, but it bears repeating: your content is what is going to help you stand out from the crowded search space online. Wikipedia, which often ranks high (if not highest) on Google’s SERP, is able to do so because of itsgreat content. So much so that Google often trawls itspages for answers, serving them directly on the SERP rather than linking back to Wikipedia.

"Pages are evaluated based on their content, so avoid writing content that can be flagged as ’hollow’ or ’thin content’." explains Dan. "Avoid repetition, or needless bulking up of content, and stick to between 350 to 1,000 words when it comes to article length, as there’s a diminishing return. You need to put out content that people are looking for, not what you want to put out."

2. Access should be quick and easy

Picture credit: Japanexperterna

Google downgrades websites that are not optimized for mobile. It’s a simple rule that’s been recently introduced, to help users get access to information on their mobile devices, especially since for many people, smartphones are their first (if not only) way to go online. Load speeds are therefore crucial, and building fast and light responsive websites in HTML5 is now standard procedure.

3. One piece of content should have one URL

Often times, in an effort to grow your audience, you might want to share or syndicate your content to a larger, more established website. While this may lead to more people reading your content, it can also work against you.

Google might lead more people to this website rather than yours, because even though the content is the same, larger websites have a higher SEO ranking and therefore Google considers them more trustworthy. Make sure your content is unique and links back to a single URL. This avoids confusion not only for users, but also for Google’s algorithms as they trawl the internet.

4. External links are like virtual votes of confidence

Picture credit: Got Credit

Of course, this doesn’t mean don’t spread your content. The more you can get other websites to link back to you, the more trustworthy your website becomes according to Google. External links act like votes of confidence, telling Google that your content is in demand and of a quality that people want to read. This is a better way of getting your website to reach more people, and allows you to stick to rule #3.

"Links are almost impossible to fake at scale, so if Google sees several websites linking back to your content, it understands it’s authentic." explains Dan.

5. Don’t fool Google

People often try to fool Google through dubious methods, like putting white text on white background, to add extra information on the website without compromising the style of their website, or by faking external links to increase their own credibility. Google is constantly updating their algorithms, and they are very good at catching websites that do not follow the rules.

In such scenarios, Google will switch off your SEO and de-index your website. "There’s no real solution to resolving this, so you’re better off not getting into trouble in the first place." says Dan. "Should something like this occur, you’re better off starting from scratch."

What do you do to optimize your SEO? What’s worked? What hasn’t? Let us know below!

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