If there’s one thing that matters in search rankings, it is backlinks. A backlink is when one site links to another. The more relevant and credible the linking domain, the better the value of the backlink.
Before Google existed, major portals created directories for the web. Then Google figured out backlinks worked like a vote of confidence on the web.
There are of course other factors – more than 200 according to many that study search. To that end, Neil Patel published an infographic that describes how Google determines search rankings that breaks out some of the key concepts.
Though the Google algorithm is secret and no one knows exactly how it works, the infographic provides a simple explanation widely accepted by the SEO community.
Some of the concepts include:
1) Use keywords in the domain where possible
Sites, where the URL includes a keyword, have an advantage for ranking for those keywords than those that don’t. For example, Neil is suggesting a blog that uses the words “public relations” has an advantage in search over this blog which does not.
2) Optimize your images for search and speed
Most PR professionals understand the importance of images in storytelling, but they may not realize the importance of images in search. Algorithms cannot tell what an image is about without descriptive additions. In my experience, there are three essential factors to optimizing images:
a) name the image file with a title relevant to the content;
b) add the alternative tags (ALT tags) to describe the image (WordPress offers this field when you upload an image and some, but not all, press release services do as well);
c) size your image; large images can impact the speed at which your site renders; a smart SEO pointed me to Pixlr, which I used to reduce the size of images before uploading them
3) Age of the domain and backlink profile
Links from older sites, those that have been around the web for a while, tend to have greater link value than newer sites. It’s important to note, as Moz points out, the age of the domain in and of itself doesn’t matter.
Here’s the key: what sort of content is attracting links? Chances are its high quality. Do more of that whatever teh age of your domain.
4) What is the impact of social sharing on search?
In the infographic, Neil says that the number of Twitter shares and Facebook Shares (as opposed to Facebook likes), impacts search rankings. However, Google’s spam master recently said social shares have no impact on search:
“Facebook and Twitter pages are treated like any other pages in our web index so if something occurs on Twitter or occurs on Facebook and we’re able to crawl it, then we can return that in our search results. But as far as doing special specific work to sort of say “you have this many followers on Twitter or this many likes on Facebook”, to the best of my knowledge we don’t currently have any signals like that in our web search ranking algorithms.”
Correlation is not causation, but chances are, if your content is getting shared a lot, there’s a good chance it’s attracting links.
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Neil is a somewhat controversial character in the SEO community. He has built several businesses and his content is very successful. However, I find his use of popups obnoxious and disruptive. In reviewing his site for this post, I was faced with no less than five popup ads that present two options in the format of a false dilemma.
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