Understanding How Google Ranks Content
Semantic Indexing Raises Your Site Up
The goal of nearly every website is the same: be ranked highly on Google in order to drive more and more organic traffic to the site. Those companies with large budgets spend thousands of dollars every month for search engine optimization work. Smaller companies have to get by with less hired work, or do it all themselves.
Here at Sery Content Development our goal is to see small businesses succeed. That means whether you need one-time training, hands on work, or if you want to do it all yourself, we are your resource. For those that don’t have it in their budget to be trained or to hire us to help with content writing, SEO work, or social media marketing, we will can still be a valuable resource by helping you navigate the complex world of digital marketing.
Since Google got its start in the late 1990’s, the algorithms have changed immensely. While nobody really knows what changes happen, we can see the result of the estimated 400 algorithm changes that occur each year. One of the biggest changes has been a shift from word specific searches, to semantic searches.
Let’s dive in to see how we can benefit from this, and how we can get our content to the top of the results page.
What is Latent Semantic Indexing?
In everyday life, you will likely never use the word string Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI). It’s jargon, it’s strange, and it’s one of those annoying buzzwords floating around the SEO world today. Don’t worry, there’s an easier way to say it.
Latent Semantic Indexing is just a fancy way of saying: similar wording. It spurs from this the fact that the words you type into your Google search are almost never the same as the way people actually talk or write. For instance, when you’re searching Google, you would type in something like this:
Barber Billings, MT
Naturally you’re searching for a Barber in Billings. But to rank highly barbershops would have to put those exact keywords on their site. The result is web content that reads terribly and irritates the user. When Google started implementing Latent Semantic Indexing, however, we now don’t have to use those exact words to rank highly for that search. Instead useful strings that have the same meaning can rank highly, such as:
- The best barber shop in Billings
- Nearest barber to me
- The oldest barber in Billings, MT
- Get your hair cut in Billings
- Discount haircuts nearby
- Downtown barbershop
We can even see the LSI at work at the bottom of the first results page.
What’s the take away here? Don’t stuff your content with difficult to read keywords because that’s what you think people are typing into Google. The algorithms are sophisticated enough that they will weed out the junk content, and they will only show what’s relevant even without the exact words matching.
How to Use our Knowledge of How Google Ranks Content
We know that Google is going to show the most relevant content for a search. That’s the entire point of their search engine. If you typed in Barber Billings, MT and came up with a list of sites about people with the last name Barber, some that talked about Barber colleges, and only way down the list there were actual results for barbers, then you would likely get frustrated with the search engine and switch to something like Yahoo or Bing.
Google wants to show your content, but it will only do so if your content is the most relevant, most useful, and most effective for the reader. This is done with a complicated list of rules that nobody really knows (how many clicks you get based on a search, how long someone sticks around, age of your site, number of shares, your overall web presence, and a whole lot more). The biggest factor that you can control: the content that you write (or have written) for your website. And there are a few rules that go with writing that content:
- Longer is better
- Expertly written
- Make it interesting so people want to read it
- Crafted around a topic, not a word
Content has to be great. Until a few years ago you could get by with good content, anymore, it has to be better than that. Soon, it will have to be better than better. With more and more writing appearing online; people are yearning for something better. When you fail to meet their standards, you won’t rank well because Google wants to only show the best of the best at the top.
The problem is now arising, however, that we can’t just expect to write one piece and have it pull our site to the top of Google. We have to write many pieces around a central theme to get it there; and we have to engage in internal linking in order to create a web of content instead of a content string.
Creating a Content Theme to Rank Well on Google
In the early days of Google you could stuff your keywords at the bottom of the page; the search engine would count number of keywords and whoever had the most won. Those days are long gone, and now a website with just one page of content will have a very difficult time ranking highly.
So how do we rank highly in an age where there is so much competition? The answer is by putting in the work that other sites aren’t willing to do. That is, creating a content theme which all falls under the umbrella of the overall keyword phrase.
How is this done? Let’s take a look at our initial keyword phrase: barber Billings, MT. We have 5 to 10 easy topics that would fall under this umbrella, all of which should point us back to our desired topic that we want to rank.
We create a main topic page (this is a static page on your site, not a blog post). This page is long (2,000 words is optimum) and it talks all about what it means to be a barber in Billings, MT. It’s described by Sam Hurley as the “Money keyword”. Now we create a bunch of other pages (these are likely going to be blog posts) on similar topics (such as: where to get my hair cut), all of which will be linked back to that main topic page.
What we have done is created a page that is bolstered by a dozen other pages, and a web that connects them all together.
Making Sure Your Site Ranks on Google
Many people have a mistaken idea of what it will take to rank well on Google. They put in minimal effort, and then wonder why they aren’t seeing their page show up anywhere online. While there are a ton of aspects to pay attention to, there is only one that you can truly control: create better content.
Once you have outstanding content that is useful, well written, and points back to your money keyword, you can share it. Those who read it will share it, and then link to it, and then share it some more. Eventually your site will move up the ranks because you’re providing value and you’re what the people want to read.
The problem, however, is that as a small business owner, you probably don’t have the time to get this done on your own. If that’s the case, give me a call; we can develop a plan to help you rank better.