Organic search results are the goal for your SEO efforts, and it is likely the greatest source of your site’s traffic. However, with Google’s algorithm constantly changing and updating, it is difficult to know what to do.
Searchmetrics conducted an analysis of the top 30 placements for 10,000 keywords and discovered three common factors for the pages that ranked highest in Google.
Gone are the days of keyword stuffing. It is also a poor strategy to target a certain keyword density within your content. It is more important to provide relevant, high-quality content that is easy to understand and provides a comprehensive explanation of the topic.
In fact, the average word count of the top ranking pages increased by 25 percent from 2014. Another factor that is weighing heavily today is the Flesch readability of the content, which measures how easy or difficult it is to read an article. Longer quality content comes from an in-depth and comprehensive explanation of the topic at hand that not only delves deeper into the subject but is also clear and easy to understand.
Semantic analysis of the top-ranking pages also provided evidence that the content not only gave in-depth explanations but also touched on related subjects. By giving deeper explanations and touching on closely related topics, the content naturally has more related keywords with which to rank and possibly provide more traffic. These keywords came naturally from the text and not artificially inserted for a higher keyword density.
The content of these pages had a proportion of “proof terms” that were closely related to the subject of the article of around 78 percent and a proportion of “relevant terms” more loosely connected to the subject of around 51 percent. Following this example, it would not be unnatural for an article discussing “wedding plans” to have key terms of “bridal gown” and “wedding reception” and secondary terms of “catering” and “floral arrangements.”
Websites that rank higher also tend to provide a better user experience for the visitor as well. The sites tend to make use of bullet points and other features to make content easier to read. They also use more menus, buttons, and other interactive features to make the site easier to use.
With a high percent of searches coming from mobile devices, it is no surprise that over 30 percent of the highest ranking pages come from websites designed to automatically optimize pages for mobile users, tablets and computers.
These high-ranking pages also include more internal links to other articles for users to find additional related material. Links to other articles must point to relevant articles that add value to the user’s experience.
SEO experts have known for a long time that a variety of links from other sites will help increase a site’s rankings. However, this method has been abused in the past, and Google will penalize sites for links it considers false or unnatural. Recent changes in Google’s algorithm have been somewhat successful at weeding those links out.
Backlinks still seem to have a fairly high impact on a site’s rankings, but that impact is declining as Google has made greater advances in understanding user behavior and content semantics. However, backlinks do still carry weight in a site’s rankings, and the higher the quality the better the impact.
The best way to get these backlinks is to provide quality content that other sites will want to link to.
It is clear that if you want to rank high in the search engines, the best way to do so is to provide good quality content, a good user experience, and the backlinks will follow.
As with all things in SEO, the landscape is ever changing, but the three items listed above seem to be tried and true for building quality organic SEO.
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Sean Riggs ~ Search & Rank Technologies