All’s Fair in Love and SEO

If you know anything about SEO, then you know it’s more of a battleground than a neutral zone. Businesses compete tooth and nail to reach position number one on search engine result pages. They use tactics driven by data as well as simple intuition. We would love to say that SEO is an art and that every business and SEO company is a painter setting up their canvas, delicately choosing paints, hoping the result will be a masterpiece. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. All’s fair in love and SEO. And when it comes to search engine rankings, the gloves come off, and the claws come out.

Let’s Talk Google

We love Google. And so does the rest of the world. Google was visited over 70 billion times in the past year. In fact, 7.2% of this traffic comes from people Googling “Google.” As of July 2019,  92.18% of the search engine market share belongs to Google. Bing has 2.32 and Yahoo! has 1.6. Google has over 60 billion pages indexed while Bing has under 10 billion. Google processes over 3.5 billion searches a day and shows no signs of slowing down.

So, yes, we love Google… but it boarders a love-hate relationship. Why? Check out Google’s tweets after releasing algorithm updates. 

So sassy. The message can be summarized to “we made an update and there’s nothing you can do.” These updates can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

But it all boils down to one thing: content. Having great content means your website is useful – not just some promotion machine. People will be drawn to your website if you can answer their questions, fulfill a need, serve a purpose. And Google will pick up on it too.

Featured Snippets & Position Zero

Have you noticed Google’s search engine results pages look a little different? Back in 2014, Google introduced featured snippets: selected search results featured at the top of the results page and placed in a little box.

Users don’t have to click into your website to find their answer – it’s now directly on Google. Since then, we’ve seen this evolve into what is now one of the most commonly-clicked regions of results pages.

Position zero refers to these featured snippets – if you rank position zero, that means your content is on the Google results page in a featured snippet.

How do you reach position zero?

If you have a page ranking in the top 10 of Google results, you have a higher chance of being featured. So, the first step would be to consistently work to improve overall rankings and follow a few best practices:

Focus on long-tail keywords in a long piece of content.

If you aim for short-tail, you’re competing against sites like Wikipedia. And create one really great long piece rather than multiple short pieces (think, +2000 words!).

Answer questions concisely.

Having an FAQ on your website can also help when it comes to answering search query questions. But you can still answer questions in a great article. Use a heading-subheading structure of questions and answers.

Be factual and organize your content.

Google features tables, bullet points, and ordered lists in their snippets. Use easy to read structures in your content.

Make sure one piece of content answers many similar questions.

Google is great at picking up on closely related questions and showing the same piece for a variety of queries. Organize your content into subheadings that address important questions via multi-level keyword system.

Don’t keyword stuff.

Google’s latent semantic indexing (LSI) understands how words relate. So keyword stuffing will only create unreadable content. And Google hates unreadable content. Write for your audience, not for AI. Use related keyword phrases and synonyms to show a deep understanding of the topic.

Snippet bait.

Create content that you can picture inside the featured snippet – paragraphs, lists, or tables are the most common. Answer the question directly and you’ve got yourself some snippet bait.

Polish your on-site SEO.

Meta titles and descriptions, H1-H5 tags, alt tags, and internal links should all be optimized, not just for keywords, but for logical user-friendly structure.

Off-site SEO matters too.

Social media and link building are still relevant so keep working on increasing backlinks and sharing on social media. This is where an SEO company can really take your site to the next level.

Do you hear the battle cries of millions of businesses fighting to reach the top of Google? No? Just us then. Search engine optimization has evolved and transformed into a necessity for modern businesses. It’s important to stay current and up to date with the best practices for optimizing your website. How does the saying go? “Shoot for position zero. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the top 10 rankings.” Well, something like that.

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