The Most Important Search Ranking Factor in 2019

So…what is it?

Is it keyword density?

How about the number of blog posts you have?

The number of words in your post?

What about choosing lower-competition keywords you know you can rank for?

Could it be your bounce rate?

Maybe it’s how fast your website loads.

…Or is it the number of social media followers and the number of comments they make?

Well, truthfully, each of these makes up a slice of the pie that determines how your website ranks.

But, when it comes down to the bottom line, the number and quality of links still have the most weight when determining how your website ranks.

Backlinko, one of the leading SEO blogs, says,”It’s no secret that link building is the most important skill in SEO.”

(By the way, that’s also a link to an awesome link-building guide!)

And if you’ve followed our blog for any amount of time, you’ve heard the same for years.

This will remain true for some time.

Why Are Links Still So Important in 2019?

First, you have to understand the whole idea behind Google. They want to serve the market with the most useful search results for every keyword search in existence.

Then, they serve users relevant ads based on their searches. 84% of Alphabet’s (Google’s parent company) total revenue comes from advertising, reports the Washington Post.

YouTube operates around break-even. Alphabet also has special projects involving smart cars.

But without advertising, Google is nowhere near a $848 billion company.

So, the rules of how their business operates dictates that they must serve the market with the search results it wants.

Fail to do so, and they watch their revenue, and entire company, go by the wayside.

How Does Google Consistently Serve the Most Relevant Search Results?

Google currently owns 92.51% of the entire search market share across the globe. Bing comes in at 2.45%. Yahoo has a paltry 1.83%.

Google owns the most sophisticated search algorithm in the world. And they’ve tweaked it with dozens of updates over the years designed to eliminate human manipulation and get truly the most useful search results searchers actually want at the top of Google’s rankings.

And they continue to do this better than any other search company because the market uses Google far more than any other search engine.

What Role Do Links Play?

Each link counts as a “vote.” Except, each vote doesn’t carry the same weight. A link from the New York Times carries hundreds or thousands of times more power than a link from your best friend’s website.

That’s because the New York Times has a massively built-up reputation with Google already. It’s loaded with popular content people read. And it has millions or billions of links already pointing to its site.

So if the New York Times links to you, you must have done something that’s quite a big deal.

Hence, Google rewards that link much more than many other links you might get.

And to earn that link, you must have some kind of amazing content. Plus, you more than likely have to know someone at the New York Times, or be an incredibly skilled marketer.

That’s what the web is. It’s an interrelated place with billions of websites, each with their own distinct reputation.

And the best way to determine that reputation is by seeing what other websites think of yours by looking at links (votes), or lack thereof, to your website.

So, that’s why, ultimately, links and content will continue to be the strongest ranking factor for your website.

Time and money are never wasted when invested in content and linking.

 

How to Get Google to Index All Your Web Pages

That Google can be a picky son-of-a-gun. Mysteriously, sometimes you can find that not all your pages get indexed.

That means 0 visits to those web pages. And it also means a dent in your traffic and sales. Possibly a large dent.

First, you’ll want to know if Google’s indexed all your pages or not.

And you can easily check that thanks to a newer feature Google added in Google Search Console.

Simply go to your “Index Coverage Status Report,” and look for a large number of pages with “Errors” or “Excluded.”

It really is that easy to check!

What if you have some pages outside of Google’s index? Here’s what to do if that applies to you:

1. Construct Quality Web Pages Worthy of Indexing

Creating web pages Google wants to index isn’t hard. Just follow the guidelines they’ve promoted for years.

Creating a web page that gets indexed and ranked ahead of your competitor’s page – that’s hard.

Basically, you need content that’s useful to your audience. You should have only one H1 headline.

Maybe a couple images or videos to clarify major sales points. And a few hundred intelligently written words.

It’s not a hard formula to master to become index-worthy. But it is a hard formula to master to maximize sales and rank.

2. Speed Up Indexing with “Fetch as Google”

Once you have a strong foundation with a well-constructed web page, you can directly submit your URL for indexation using “Fetch as Google’ in the Google Search Console.

Simply input the URL into the tool, and you’ll be indexed within a few hours.

3. Use Internal Links

Internal linking can be an artform that pushes you over the top from an obscure website to a well-known one.

For now, you don’t need to get that far into depth with internal linking.

Simply understand that each link from your own website to another page on your website passes link authority.

The more authority passed to one page, the more likely it is to get indexed and the higher it ranks.

However, don’t get manipulative with this and slam a link to one page from every other page on your website.

Google can catch that and lower your ranking.

So, simply insert links where they’re most helpful for your readers. There’s no specific formula. Just that general principle to follow.

And that’ll make it easier for Google to crawl your website and index your pages.

Finally, just remember the main point: make a page worthy of indexing, recognizing it’s easy to get indexed, and difficult to drive your rank up.

2 Risks to Take and Avoid in 2019’s SEO Environment

 

As a business owner, you’re used to taking risks. You wouldn’t have gotten to where you are without doing things that make you uncomfortable.

Of course, you don’t take foolish risks. You learn as much about the possible paths ahead, and then take as much risk out of the options available so you maximize your chances of success.

Well, it’s no different with SEO.

Take a second to learn smart SEO risks to take and silly ones to avoid in 2019 and beyond:

  1. Take: Giving High-Quality Backlinks

If your website has hundreds of links pointing to you, but just a handful going back out, Google rewards you less than if you had a balance.

Why?

Google thinks reputable websites happily link out to other websites with equally strong (or stronger) reputations.

No optimal ratio exists.

Just make sure that you add links to quality websites in your niche which also help your visitors in some way.

  1. Avoid: Using Your Keywords in Your Links’ Anchor Text

It used to be that putting your keywords in the blue anchor text of your link would drive up your search rankings quite nicely.

And it also fits logic. You want your website to rank for certain search terms. So, you highlight those terms so Google knows what you want to rank for.

Alas, some no-good SEOs found methods to spam thousands of links with their exact anchor text across the web. They artificially drove their website to the top of the search results, which Google (and searchers) didn’t want.

So now Google penalizes this practice.

No one knows a precise ratio for this practice. But, general consensus holds you shouldn’t exceed 1-3% of the links pointing to your site having your exact keywords in their text.

  1. Take: Redesigning Your Website

Yes. This one carries significant risk if you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s why it’s important to go with a designer who’s done this many times before and can prove they protected client search rankings.

With the right firm, you’re possibly in for a nice rankings boost.

Users expect a modern design on your website. They want an easy-to-use website. And there’s plenty of small SEO ins-and-outs that can be done in your design which affect your rankings.

With the right partner, this can be a big win for your SEO.

  1. Avoid: Using “Doorway Pages”

“Doorway pages” may target multiple cities or locations, but then link back to one specific page. They can result in multiple similar pages in the search results, which Google and web searchers don’t like.

You can create pages on your site which create relevancy for various cities and suburbs. After all, it’s important for searchers to know you offer your service in their location.

You’re okay as long as you don’t link and drive searchers back to a single final destination on your site.

“Doorway pages,” as they get used, actually offer little utility and typically spam keywords to get search visibility.Discussing the benefits of your product and service and highlighting why you’re different and better than the competition does provide value and won’t irk Google (or searchers).

So there you have it. Smart SEO risks to take. And foolish ones to avoid.

Which will you choose in 2019?

What to Consider Before a Major Website Redesign

Think it’s time to give your digital storefront a major overhaul?

It might be.

But before you do, think through these things first:

  1. What Do Your Customers Want?

You do need to be happy with your website. But ultimately, it’s more important for your customers to be happy with it. Because, they’re going to use it to evaluate whether or not they should do business with you. A website that makes you happy may or may not have the same effect for your customers.

Check out this graphic from Pingdom to see how bounce rate (the number of visitors who view just one page on your website and then leave) increases with the time it takes to load your website: So, you might like a neat feature. But, if it forces your website to load longer, there’s a cost. If you’re going to add a feature, make sure your visitors want it too.

  1. Do You Get the Sales You Want from Your Website?

Yes. It’s important for your website to look new and spiffy. An old website communicates to potential customers that you might no longer be in business. Or, they might think that if you don’t care about your website, you may not care about other important parts of your business too. Ultimately, you want your website to increase your sales, right?

Besides your website having an updated look, it needs to drive your customers to action – whether you sell products, services, or both. And there’s a myriad of design techniques to use to increase the number of visitors who buy from you.That’s where you have to work with your designer to implement the right enhancements for the products and services you sell.

  1. How Will Content Integrate Into Your Site?

Will your website have video, a blog, case studies, white papers, a podcast, and/or user-generated content?

You know your site needs content.You don’t need to have all of the above. In fact, just one form of the above will do. But, it’s important to understand your own strategy because that affects how you’ll design your site. Content presentation affects how much of your content your market consumes. And the more they digest, the more likely they are to become a paying customer. There’s actually much more to consider before you design your website. But those are some of the top things to think through.

Make sure you think about each before you design your website.

 

3 Tips to Generate More Qualified Sales Leads from Your Website

Get all the leads you want from your website?

…Or would you like more?

Truth be told, no company’s website does a perfect job of driving new leads to their sales team.

Even if you have an excellent website, new techniques and creative approaches always come on the radar.

When it comes to websites, your work truly is never done.

But what could you do right now that would offer you a quick boost to the number and quality of customers you get from your website?

Try these three things:

  1. Go With New and Different Information

Why “new” and “different?” Because it attracts attention. That’s just the way human minds work.

After hearing and seeing the same thing for some time, your mind naturally becomes interested in something that stands out from all the rest.

This is quite easy to do.

You know some common myths and misunderstandings in your niche. So, talk about the truth in those regards.

Or, maybe a new trend is emerging. But, you have a good reason why people shouldn’t follow it.

Talk about this on key pages on your website, which would especially be your home page. Your blog would be a good place to discuss this too.

  1. Discuss Who You Can’t Help

You’ll notice that most small businesses want to talk about some vague notions of being “best-in-class” or “custom” or “leaders.” Your website visitors start snoring when they hear these terms because they read them all the time.

Do you get a certain type of customer who you’re not a good fit for?

Make it abundantly clear on your website that you can’t help them. For example, you might say,”If you need your project done in two weeks, we’re not a good fit for you.”

…And then you don’t have to waste your time finding out you have a customer who refuses to change their unreasonable timeline expectations.

  1. Answer Questions for Customers in All Stages of the Sales Cycle

You know the questions customers ask that indicate they’re just thinking about using your product or service. But, they’re not quite ready yet.

And then you know the questions they ask when they’re ready to buy.

Simply answer those questions on your website pages just like you would in person. That way, you accommodate everyone, regardless of where they’re at in the sales cycle.

You don’t have to spend time answering the same questions over and over. Your website does that for you. And then when people are ready, they call.

See how simple that is, and how much time you save?

Your Website Should Be Your Greatest Sales Person Ever 

It’s not easy to make your website do all the selling it should. Clearly, it would take a lot of work to create all the information you use to sell in-person and put it on your website.

But that should be your goal.

Because once up, your website sells to every person who visits, 24/7/365.

How to Turn Your 404 Page Into a Marketing Secret Weapon

 

You know what a 404 page is, right?

Just in case you need a refresher: it’s the error page your visitor reaches when they look for a page on your website that no longer exists.

Most businesses leave these as the standard template included with their host.

Big mistake.

Because, you can transform your 404 page from one that only reinforces a disappointing experience into an opportunity that builds a strong relationship with someone who could become a customer in the future.

How you ultimately do that is up to you. But here’s a simple process, with some examples, on what you might do:

  1. First, Acknowledge Your Mistake with a Unique Message

The standard 404 page says something like “404 Page Not Found.” That’s a tad cryptic. It’s computer speak to people who may not be tech geeks.

So, change that message into something else. It works doubly better if you can be humorous. Here’s some ideas:

  • “Whoops! Our Bad. We Don’t Have that Page.”
  • “Shit. We Lost It.”
  • “Uh-oh. Big Mistake On Our Part. We Kinda Sorta Don’t Have The Page You Want.”

Anyway, you get the idea. Some fancier websites will even take you through an animation that allows you to punish their web developer. No need to install that functionality on your website, but it shows you what’s possible.

The important thing is you clearly admit your own mistake. You may also want to include a sentence or two below clarifying the message a tad further.

  1. Give Your Visitors Options for What to Do Instead

If you have the standard 404 page template, it doesn’t give your visitors any recommendation on what action to take next. Sure, they could go up to your main navigation and choose something. But they’re much more likely to take action if you suggest a few ideas on what to do next.

One idea is to go to your analytics, find your top 3 visited pages or product categories, and offer these links. You could also give them the option to do an on-site search to find what they were looking for.

There’s not necessarily a “right” strategy. Anything you do to keep your visitor engaged is a win. You’ve done the hard work attracting them to your site in the first place, so keep the relationship going.

  1. Offer a 10% Discount in Exchange for Their Email Address

This may be a better fit for e-commerce sites that sell many products. But if you’re a service provider, you might include it too.

A 10% discount to make up for your mistake would go over quite well, and especially so because your visitor didn’t expect to get it.

Make sure to get something from them in return…like their email address. Then, you can turn them into a long-term customer through email marketing. Your best customers who buy the most stay on your email list. So, you can transform a minor mistake into thousands in revenue for years to come with this strategy!

Now, Your 404 Page is a Great Marketing Asset

See how something simple, like a 404 page, changes from just another event into a marketing machine?

Think creatively online. Think win-win. And you’ll get more customers and stay ahead of your competition.