If you get less high quality traffic from Google than you would like, here are 5 basic things you should look at.
Here they are, in no particular order:
1. Does your blog link to what Google calls ‘Bad neighborhoods’?
Google are constantly looking for sites that are trying to game or fool its ranking system. When it finds one, it looks for the other sites that link to that site. When it finds them, it will often apply an SEO penalty to them. Here’s what Google has to say:
Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or “bad neighborhoods” on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.
I strongly suggest you do not enter into a link exchange deal with people, unless you know them and trust them. Those emails you get from strangers asking for a link exchange are best ignored.
2. Do you publish new posts often enough?
People value frequently updated content and so does Google.
Think of it like this: If someone checks out your site today and reads a great post, then returns in a few days to find nothing new and 2 weeks later there’s still nothing new, they are unlikely to keep returning. Sites that offer frequently updated content and fresh information, remain on our radar because we discover something new on them, regularly.
According to Google, sites that are updated frequently are seen as being a better potential source of up to date information, than sites that are seldom changed. Whilst in reality this is not always the case, (some sites are frequently updated with crap), Google uses frequently updated content as a ranking signal.
So, if you are going to publish 4 posts next month, publish 1 a week, rather than 4 in a day and nothing new for another 30 days, and in my experience, you will see better results.
3. Are there too few links pointing to your blog?
There are a few things that all the top SEO guys agree on and this is one of them. The number of links pointing to your blog, especially from good quality sites, is the single biggest factor in your SEO effectiveness.
As far as Google is concerned, links act like votes. The more links or votes you get, the higher your site will rank over those sites, with fewer links. Great, original content should attract links from people sharing and referencing your posts. If you are not getting a steady supply of links because your work is new, you may want to do some proactive link building. There are lots of ways to do this, from commenting on other great blogs to asking your contacts if they would like to link to your site as a resource for their readers.
The strategy I used here, was to do the best work I could and put it, where people could see it. I used social networking sites, which small business owners were using and thankfully enough of them liked my work to share it and link to it. This got the ball rolling and it has rolled along ever since. As Seth Godin says, if you put your art (work) where people can see it and it is good enough, they will share it.
4. Does your site load too slowly?
In 2010, Google announced that site load speed would be a factor in search engine ranking. This was done to encourage the use of clean code and discourage people from stuffing their sites full of plugins and other software, which slow sites down and damage the reader experience.
You can find out how Google scores your site loading speed by using their speed test tool. Just enter your full site address into the box and press the Analize button.
In addition, you can speed up your blog by ensuring it’s using a fast, premium WordPress blog theme. The only theme I use or endorse, is Headway. It’s fast and very SEO friendly. You can see how Headway works in this video (affiliate link.)
5. Do too few people share your blog on social networking sites?
Google is increasingly taking social sharing into account. It has become a useful way for them to determine content that is likely to be of interest to people using their search engine. So, make sure you share your blog posts with your friends on your social networks, to ensure your work gets the chance to be noticed.
As you may have heard, there is an increasingly common problem with the use of social networking shares as part of the Google search signal. Sadly, many high profile bloggers and social media figures, are regularly sharing low value links to their clients and cronies. This is resulting in a lot of junk getting a high number of reshares and ranking a lot higher than it would.
What would you add to this list?
If you look at these 5 basic points, you will notice that all of them can be achieved by using an SEO friendly blog theme and writing content that people want to read, share and link to. In fact, with Matt Cutts from Google recently announcing a crack down on what he called over SEO’d sites it makes more sense than ever to focus on building great content, which people will value and Google can find easily.
There are literally hundreds of signals that Google use, when ranking a site in it’s search results. What suggestions would you add to this list? I’d love to hear from you!
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Photo: Danny Sullivan.