Ranking high in Google is not confusing, it’s competitive. Once you accept that fact, you’re on your way towards success. You simply need to understand the context within which competitiveness is measured and then aim for the gold. Explaining how to rank high in Google is a daunting task indeed – something that people are asked to explain all the time if they are in the SEO industry. I’m going to try and make it as simple and clear as possible, but different – I won’t stick to the usual on-page mumbo jumbo you read on most SEO blogs – it’s just not even close to the whole story. If you’ve tried everything you’ve read about, you know this is true. I’m going to give you all a framework to operate within that makes sense and will help you distinguish good, realistic ideas from SEO fantasies.
So here’s the framework. You start at separating two concepts: Google’s Index and Google’s algorithm – because they really are two exclusive concepts. This should help clarify some thing. The index facilitates two major events – one is when a page on your site enters the index; a page is found typically through in-bound links with some support from sitemaps. Second, all pages have somewhat of a scorecard when analyzed and placed in the index. Essentially, a page has the ability to rank for many keywords and phrases that it is topically relevant to, and the scores between the page and each term vary. We’ll show an example of this in the next slide.
Finally, based on these scores that your pages have towards a particular term, you may be able to rank for that term. The page with the highest score essentially takes the top spot, and then it scales down. Basically, it’s a sort-by feature. You essentially get what you earn. So let’s see how you can earn it.
The points a page accrues towards a particular keyword is comprised of several different sections of analysis.
There’s your total page relevance – this is sort of the big picture of what your page has been able to achieve over time in relevance towards a particular keyword. A page over time may have written unique content, optimized the source variables and accrued dozens of in-bound popularity links that use that particular keyword as anchor text towards that page. That all counts. This is where you either qualify as a top contender, or you don’t. Those basics are your solid SEO Foundation.
Google also takes into account how recently popularity votes were discovered. If you have recently received anchor text in-bound links for a particular term, then you are seen as currently popular for that keyword. In terms of creating fluctuations in total scores, this is the most volatile aspect of the overall calculation.
Finally, the rest of the site helps a particular page get some extra points in its connection to a particular keyword. The section itself maybe rich in optimization for that particular term. In addition, there may be sub-layer pages, like product pages for a category page, that are also rich in optimization for that keyword, all supporting your cause. You can essentially stabilize your thematic clout by ensuring that you have unique content on all pages that are supporting your score. Sites with lots of duplicate content will have difficulty pinning this portion of the score in their favor.
Let’s see this in action.
A page in the index will have points towards many different keywords, but there will also be a few main keywords – here the two main keywords of our sample page are “baseball bats” and “baseball gloves”. Let’s say that we’ve optimized more prominently for the first keyword, have great content and have been doing link-building for longer than the term “baseball gloves” – our point accrual would naturally be higher for total page relevance. Remember, this number doesn’t change too quickly.
Additionally, let’s assume link-building has been dually as aggressive for the bats term, helping accrue twice the rate of points for newer page relevance. In addition, there are more unique content pages connected to this page than there are gloves pages, all giving more credibility for the page to rank high for the bat term, but not really helping out too much for the glove term. In the end, “baseball bats” has a current scorecard of 850, and “baseball gloves” has a score of 475. Well – the algorithm then uses this info – here’s how.
When a search engine user types in “baseball bats” – Google pulls all the pages that have some positive score for the term and then sorts by the overall score. Same goes for “baseball gloves”. These points are all examples of scores just to get an idea of how this works.
It’s a good thing that so much more work went into the bats term here. If the page had the same score for that term as it does for the gloves keyword, then it wouldn’t even show up on the first page. The page has tough competition in terms of baseball bats – with the slightest change in effort, it can easy fall as low as the 8th position, or as easily rise to the 4th position.
The gloves term is within an equal area of flux, where a brisk wind would make all the difference. Luckily, there is a very low probability that our page will fall off the 1st page of Google’s rankings any time soon.
So to reiterate – staying competitive means forming a solid, unwavering foundation of SEO strength; keeping up with fresh popularity and finally; surrounding your target page with other pages that are thematically connected and have the credibility of their own unique content
To be very honest, that’s Advanced SEO – a series of offerings that we provide for our clients to keep their scores in stellar territory. Feel free to give us a call at 800-504-4324 for some more info and we’ll even audit your SEO efforts for free to give you insight into what steps we’ll need to take for you to rank high in Google.
Thanks folks and have a wonderful SEO Monday and enjoy the rest of the week.