October 8, 2013
Search engine visibility is key in order to attract a large readership to your blog. With the recent ranking algorithm changes that Google has implemented, there are less and less shortcuts to gaining this visibility. The contributing factors now are now largely based on ‘human elements’, using signals such as social media presence, readership, recommendations, reader interaction etc. to determine how to prioritise search engine results. Although this does mean there are fewer shortcuts, it’s important to understand how these rankings are achieved in order to utilise your content and ultimately increase your blog’s visibility. Here’s how…
1. Google +
In the most recent correlation study by Moz, they found that besides page authority, the amount of Google +1’s a website has is the number one factor behind higher search rankings.
(Image courtesy of Moz)
So, how do you utilise this for your blog? Well, firstly, if you don’t have a Google + account, make one now! Start building relationships, follow people who inspire you, share great content. Post share-worthy content and implement social sharing buttons. Link to all of your websites, online profiles etc. in your ‘About’ page. Add as much information to your profile as possible. Create a badge to place on your profile so that people can easily add you to their circles. Make your posts public!
2. Google Authorship/online presence
Google assigns you a content score based on your activity across all platforms. Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO summarised this by saying: “Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users clicking on top (verified results). The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance. Since the signature of reputable bloggers can be used to promote the ranking of signed content in web search results, bloggers have a powerful incentive to establish and maintain a good reputational score”
It is therefore essential that you gain Google Authorship to establish this reputational score! Find out how to do this here and check out our Google Authorship blog post that goes into this in more detail.
3. Keep readers on your site
Google analyses the way users behave on your website, such as how long they stay on each page and how they navigate through it, in order to determine how useful it is. Once you’ve got them through the door, give them a reason to stick around!
Guide your readers through your blog. Include calls to action to subscribe to future posts. Create links to other blog posts you’ve done and attach them to relevant new content using recommended content widgets such as nrelate. If the reader enjoyed what they read, the likelihood is that they’ll navigate to other posts on similar topics if it is there on a plate for them. This is also an effective way of re-igniting older posts, which would otherwise slip away into the archived abyss.
Do a monthly summary of your content. Wrap up each month with a post that discusses recent popular content and gives links for readers to check them out in case they missed them. If you produce a lot of content, the chances are that readers won’t get chance to read everything you post, so this offers them a nice digestable summary and an easy way to catch up on what they’ve missed.
4. Make your content ‘shareable’
Nobody shares irrelevant, unoriginal content and Google notices this – the visibility of these posts will therefore suffer as a result. Whilst at first it can be largely trial and error, it is still important to learn from your mistakes and think of ways to replicate the success of previous winning posts.
Before you start writing, put some consideration into the point of your post. What’s the hook? What’s the angle? Who will relate to this and why? Commit to blogging ideas that show the potential for virality and adapt the ones that don’t. Don’t just create noise; create value to your readers. Value = Viral.
5. Put time into utilising and understanding social media
So you’ve created content that people want to see and read. Simply posting a link on Facebook or Twitter to your latest blog post just won’t cut it anymore. You now need to put some time into creating good social content.
Think of it as a chance to get your personality across to your readers and learn to give, as well as to take. Provide them with content you are genuinely interested in – the chances are if it interests you, it will interest them. Understand how to utilise each platform – Search Metrics provides a social visibility report, which shows you the sort of content that is working best on each social site. Promote other bloggers within your community and build relationships. Repost good content. Make your page a relevant, entertaining resource and integrate your own content within this. Establish a consistent tone of voice. Interact with your readers. Ask questions. Listen to and act on the answers. Use them to gauge what makes your readers tick and forge ideas for blog posts around this. Post timely updates that keep you in front of the readers and on their radar.
6. Build links by connecting with your community
Whilst this is arguably slightly less relevant than it has been in the past, it is undeniable that your backlinks and referring domains (ie. links from other sites) still play a big part in determining visibility. However, where the emphasis was once on quantity, it is now the quality of these links that is the determining factor.
You therefore need to connect with your community. One way to do this is by identifying influencers within your field. Use programs like followerwonk and rapportive to identify these opinion leaders and build a relationship with them. One backlink from someone with influence in your niche and a high readership is more effective than numerous unnatural, irrelevant links.
Create high quality guest posts for other blogs in your field. Not only does this give you a chance to get your content in front of a larger audience, it also gives you a link from an influencer in your field, which will have a positive effect on your visibility. Whilst it is always good to have a guest post featured on a high profile blog, don’t underestimate the influence smaller blogs can have also – think of it as building a community that your readers become familiar with.
Link to other people’s content in a way which is beneficial to the reader. If people follow this link, spend some time on the linked website and it ultimately solves their query, Google gives both sites a visibility reward as it deems it to have satisfied the search – so it pays to make your external links relevant and useful. Include links for users and not for search engines. Also, the more willing you are to link to others, the more willing they will be to link to you in the future.
7. Be Timely
Social media has totally changed the expectations of searchers, in that the demand for timely, up to date results is higher than ever. 34% of searches are now time sensitive, meaning that search engines now increasingly prioritise timely content within search results.
(Image Courtesy of Time Photos)
This means that you should be reacting to this too! Inject your own opinions on recent events and talking points. Pay attention to trending topics on twitter, narrow the results down to your field and create content based around these topics.
Once you have their attention, it is important to keep the flow going. Plan ahead on ways you can build on what you’ve already produced. Google wants to find out if your site is actually a good site that provides consistent use to the reader or just a one hit wonder. It’s not about who gets to number one the fastest, it’s about who can continually build on previous successes and keep the readers interested once they have their attention.
8. Create good content that you are proud of
When it all comes down to it, the quality of your content is now ultimately the driving force behind achieving good visibility – something that you just can’t fake. How is your blog different to all the others out there? Understand what your readers enjoy and make content they’ll enjoy reading and be proud to share with others. Do research on sites such as pinterest, reddit and delicious – see what has worked before in your niche, and what kind of content your readers react to. Analyse your own most popular content and keywords using Google Analytics and use it to learn what makes your readers tick and what they’d like to see more of.
Be interesting, compelling and honest. Connect with your community and represent your blog with true passion. Become an industry expert. Don’t sit on the fence. Create original content. Inject your own angles into news and current events. Ignite conversation and be controversial.
So, what are you waiting for?!