Google releases a “SEO Mythbusting 101” video that busts no myths but actually offers some nice SEO beginner’s tips. This seems to be the first episode in a series they will be making on optimization and search topics, so stay tuned:
The trouble with the video other than the completely irrelevant title, is that they throw a bunch of terms without explaining in detail any of them. So we figured it’ll be interesting to will go over the points made in the video and elaborate, and maybe add some of our rank tracking and marketing insights.
Note that this is beginner’s lore, but you go over it just as a reminder of the basics, even if you are a seasoned veteran.
In the video they mention that they have more than 200 ranking signals, and list the 3 most important basic topics to master for a solid SEO infrastructure.
Oddly enough they didn’t mention any no-nos that can lead to penalties and a rank whooping, so we’ll make a separate article about that (make sure you are subscribed to our blog!).
1. Good Content
So this goes without saying but the website needs to have high quality content. High quality means rich in relevant details such as address, contact info, and an accurate description of the service or product. Content which includes some relevant keywords to your niche, but doesn’t overuse them (what’s known as keyword stuffing).
That doesn’t mean you need to be the Hemmingway of copywriting, but you can invest some time and effort into learning how to craft concise descriptions that will read fluently and will captivate the reader. There are plenty of guides and paid courses online, and you can always hire a pro writer that will refine your content for a fee.
The content needs to address what the target audience needs to know about your product or service, and less branding terms – imagine that you are describing your product or service to a random stranger and they need to understand within the next one to three short sentences what the gist is. This is known as an elevator pitch. For example, imagine you are riding in the turn of the 20th century elevator and you have no idea what CocaCola is. A smooth Coke salesman is riding with you. You like the cut of his jib:
“CocaCola is awesome and tasty” – doesn’t tell you anything other than the name of the brand.
“CocaCola is the most refreshing soda you will drink. Dare to enjoy life buddy.” Now the you know it’s a soda you need to check out after you beat polio because no vaccine exist yet.
Elevator pitch style content is good for your main website because concise content is good for introductions. If you run a blog, authority website or news site, you can be more descriptive and thorough in your articles depending on what the topic is.
2. Meta descriptions
Meta tags are little bits of text that are placed in the markup of your webpage. They are not visible on the page itself. In SEO terms they basically tell the search engine what the content is about. It’s data about the data.
The search engine also aims to match the content to the meta description and index it according to search terms properly.
Over time the SEO value of some meta descriptions diminished, so here are the ones that still carry some influence that are referenced in the video:
Title tag: <title>The title of the page</title>
This is what shows on top of your browser, and more importantly on the SERP as the clickable search result, as a result its SEO value will likely remain in years to come.
They mention specifically in the video that titles needs to be descriptive and unique for every page (don’t copy-paste titles).
Keep the title under 60 characters (including spaces), otherwise Google might truncate with an ellipsis it and it will lose some of it’s punch.
It needs to tease the content while leaving enough curiosity to make the reader want to learn more. After that comes the first hook, etc.
Unlike Google’s ironically poor usage of a video title, you should probably take some time to study and hone your title crafting skills. Here’s our little guide:
|23 Tips on How to Write Better Titles for Your Ads and Web Pages|
Titles are one of the pillars of marketing as a whole – it is the first part of the content most will see, and it will determine if the content sets foot in the door of your perception. The title is the first thing people see on your ads, the SERP, that email, that Reddit post or that video.
Header tags: <h1>The title of the page</h1>
Newbies often confuse H1 titles with title meta tags. These are two different attributes but they ultimately serve the same purpose – letting the reader and search engine know what the gist of the content is.
H1 appears on the webpage as the title, search engines crawl the title like they do the rest of your content. It needs to match the meta title preferably and include one relevant keyword.
There are several types of header tags – H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6, with h1 being the most important SEO wise. You can use as many h1 titles as you wish (It goes without saying but use it for titles only please. The body of the content should be the <p> tag)
The same title crafting marketing principles apply here.
Meat Description: <meta name=”description” content=”The text of the description”>
This is not a direct ranking signal according to Google, but it has CTR significance, since it shows up in the SERP below the clickable title, which means it’s an indirect ranking signal.
The general consensus is that if you want the whole description displayed is to keep it below 130 characters if you want to capture both desktop and mobile search results.
Don’t bother finding a magic formula since Google changes the length all the time, and possibly per search result.
The snippet is the hook, if people are not sold by the title and click on it immediately, they will read the description, and this is when you need to hook em’ with some solid copywriting skills.
Include targeted keywords in the description in a way that is readable and make sense.
Alt tag: <img src=”http://example.com/doggo.jpg” alt=”Dog” />
In the video they mention Google crawls images for data as well. It’s likely their neural network RankBrain will be able to understand images in the next few years on par with humans. Until then, the alt tag tells the search engine what’s in the photo, along with the file name itself.
Robots: <meta name=”robots” content=”index, follow”>
Robots gives instructions to search engines web crawlers. There are 4 commands to consider here:
FOLLOW –The crawler will follow all the links in that web page
NOFOLLOW – The crawler will NOT follow any links in that web page
INDEX – The crawler will index the web page
NOINDEX – The crawler will NOT index that web page
There are also more advanced tags not mentioned in the video such as Open Graph, Twitter cards, Canonical and Schema markup, so we will do a separate article about them.
Webpage loading speed was officially made a ranking factor by Google in July 2018 (although it was observed as a ranking factor by tools and experts long before that).
So performance is not only important for SEO as the video mentions, but for the overall experience of your target audience. A slow loading website is deemed by Google as a poor user experience and therefore not worthy of rising in ranks.
People bounce very quickly if the content doesn’t load fast. How fast? Well in a matter of milliseconds!
|The 3 Second Bounce: How Webpage Loading Speed Impacts SEO and Revenue|
They mention in the video optimizing server-side issues, slow and clunky scripts that take too long to load data and implementing caching strategies and dynamic and hybrid rendering.
Smart use of cashing decreases the journey the data makes from server to user. Browser caching for example can make data retrieval almost instantaneous. Caching is an advanced topic and it’ll take a separate article to address it. Luckily we found a good one explaining it right here.
Google offers documentation explaining how to implement dynamic rendering, which is supposed to help with latency.
We discussed the issue of latency in tech in more detail here:
|The Need For Speed and the Decline of Patience|
Track your local progress, performance and titles with PRT
They also briefly mention local rank tracking. For example if a person searches for “Ice cream in Silicon Valley” will see local results from Silicon Valley, California. The top results optimized their websites correctly and the crawler knows that these businesses are located in that specific region.
So when you track your Google ranks with Pro Rank Tracker after you’ve optimized everything correctly, make sure you track the relevant location, to know where you are positioned for people searching from the designated area:
Because Google sometimes changes and truncates titles, hindering their marketing power, our data table also shows you how your titles are displayed on Google’s SERP along with position:
Finally, as part of our complete SEO suite, we also suggest you use our SEO Audit tool to crawl your website and make sure performance is up to par with industry standards:
|FREE detailed SEO site audit – Find out if your websites are properly optimized for Google|
Conclusion – Should we take Google’s word of advice seriously?
As a general guideline of keeping basic quality, yes. But if there is one thing that’s known about Google is that they keep the real juice hidden in their secret pantry of ranking signals.
If you read our recent article about their update timeline, you should know by now how obscure they are about their algorithm’s exact functionality.
And their usage of RankBrain and neural networks A.I. means that eventually the developers themselves will be facing a black box of unknown functionality. This box will become more and more opaque as it develops and learns. Eventually A.I. will monitor the index entirely, possibly making SEO a completely different game than it is today.
There is currently more value to be found in news sites like SEL and SER and of course our blog, which get to observe use cases and anecdotes from thousands of webmaster and SEO experts of what works and what doesn’t.
Having said that, be sure you are subscribed to our blog, so you won’t miss out on any tips and search engine news!
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