In a perfect world, we’d all like to think that if we do our best to provide the absolute best content in our industry or niche, we’d rank higher than everyone else.
And it’s true – the Google algorithm is highly advanced and extremely sophisticated, and it’s getting smarter every day. But a lot of people have run into problems where they feel that their content is better, it contains more relevant links, and they have done a superior job of keyword targeting.
So why on earth would these lower quality websites rank higher? Rand Fishkin of Moz SEO has some great points that I found to be pretty enlightening, so let’s take a closer look at what you might be doing wrong.
The Basics of Ranking
Rand starts off with reviewing the basics of ranking metrics, and I think he did a good job of covering the essentials. First off, you do have domain-based features to consider. The first point that he makes revolves around domain authority, but I’d also like to point out exact-match and partial-match domains. While they certainly aren’t nearly as powerful as they used to be, they do still have value.
It could be that the keywords you are targeting are partially included in a competitor’s domain.
Next, he explains page based features, such as the content, keywords, links, and overall user experience (nothing new there).
Thirdly, he makes the point of listing based features, which make the page more enticing. How your link appears in the SERPs is very important, and a user may be encouraged or dissuaded on visiting your link depending upon how your snippet is presented (people are naturally wired to judge books by their covers). Over time, this can have a momentous effect and cause the Google algorithm to note that one page is more popular than another.
Strengths Versus Weaknesses
So now that we have the basics out of the way, where can we find areas for improvement on our own pages?
Where do we even begin?
The first area for improvement mentioned in the video includes your listing. As a diligent SEO, you should always Google your keywords to see how your snippet appears to other users. But you’ll also want to see how your competitors list their snippets as well. You might be able to find a new idea that drills straight down to the reason that users entered their keywords in the first place.
TIP: An easy way to see how your website listings show in Google is with the site: command. Just go to Google and type in site:yourdomain.com without any spaces. Of course, replace yourdomain.com with you actual website address. For instance: site:redcanoemedia.com
Next comes the brand and domain. Repairing a brand’s trust and identity is tough work, and it can be hard to hear that your baby is ugly. You may want to find a way to pivot or reposition your brand’s identity; otherwise, you may need to start over from scratch, which isn’t even an option for some brands and domains. Just remember that the face of your brand affects all the channels that you’re present in, from social media to organic searches.
Furthermore, user experience is critical for long term success, and it’s really an umbrella term that incorporates the content and how it solves the user’s need, page load times, and everything in between. It should come as no surprise that Google’s number one priority when determining the relevancy and quality of web content is a site’s user experience.
Now let’s take a moment to discuss links. There are two key factors, when it’s all said and done, and you need to be sure that you include both an appropriate quantity of links as well as links of a high quality. This holds true for both outbound links and inbound links, but for inbound links, consider where they’re coming from. You’ll have a much more diverse, well-rounded, and strengthened back-link profile if your back-links come from a variety of sources. On the other hand, if they all come from similar types of websites, you’re back-link profile isn’t going to add as much link juice to your site.