“The ultimate search engine would basically understand everything in the world, and it would always give you the right thing. And we’re a long, long ways from that.” – Google Co-Founder Larry Page
If you’re like us, you’ve used Google recently. Your search for the “breakfast tacos near me” is just one of the 40,000 Google searches per second and one of the 3.5 billion searches per day. Google is everywhere, and that’s because they are best at what they do.
But how do they do it?
In 1995, Altavista just launched at http://altavista.digital.com. The internet had just been born! Even then, the capabilities of what a search engine could do blew people’s minds.
You no longer had to look things up in a book or ask a real person for an answer. You could just type it in and get an instant answer.
It honestly kind of blows our minds even now.
Then 1998, some random guys named Sergey Brin and Larry Page wanted to make a better search engine. They ended up doing okay (*he said sarcastically*). They developed an algorithm that looked at links from one site. These links acted as sort of a “vote of confidence” that the site receiving the link is credible.
Today, their algorithm has evolved to have over 200 ranking factors! But that’s still the most crucial piece today. Attracting many links to your website is largely what defines whether Google places you number 1 for a search result.
There is a lot that goes into SEO today. Backlinko has an incredible article on all the different factors, but you most likely don’t need to follow them all to rank. But it does help us to understand what SEO entails.
SEO, in the context of your website, is trying to satisfy the most important parts of what Google is looking for with its algorithm.
If you have a business website (or any sort of website), you can usually rank higher just by hitting Google’s checklist.
Although before any SEO is done, you need to first make sure you know what your business goals are. SEO isn’t for every business.
Do your due diligence with your keyword research (what Google searches you want to appear for) and competitive analysis (reverse engineering what your competitors have done). After you’ve done all that, here are some important and easy wins for your SEO.
Take Care Of Your SEO On Your Website
Make sure that your website loads quickly and is mobile-friendly. Be sure that you have a sitemap that’s been submitted on Google Webmaster Tools.
You should make sure that your URLs are clean and have some form of your keywords in them. For example, website.com/i-think-my-cat-is-great-and-also-i-sell-cat-food-buy-it-please (bad) VS. website.com/cat-food (good).
Make sure your content is original, useful, engaging, accurate, free or errors and better than your competitor’s. Put your keyword in the title, your META description and the first few sentences.
Take Care Of The SEO Not On Your Website
Check that you have other websites linking to you. (PLEASE do not pay $5 for foreign companies to build hundreds of links to you. This is spammy, very obvious to Google and WILL hurt you.)
The first links you should be building are the basics of any business. Claim your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Google My Business accounts. Make sure you are linking to your website from each of those accounts.
Then, get your NAP-W (Business Name, Address, Phone Number and Website) on some directories and citations. For example, if you have a local business, make sure you have a Yelp account linking to your website.
A good way to find more is search for more link opportunities is to Google your competitors and see where they appear.
Then you’ll want to build those really powerful, authoritative links that will push you past your competition onto the front page. It could be editorial links in publications, blogs, etc.