Everyone wants their website pages to outrank other sites in Google’s search results pages (SERPs for short).
No one likes to type their pet keyword into Google and see their competitors outranking them.
But what are the factors that affect your SEO performance, and ultimate the results you get organically?
That’s what I’m going to delineate for you, right here, right now.
What Google does
You can’t rule out the various changes Google makes, and they make them often – even daily!
Those changes include:
- Changes to SERP layout
That could include adding more ads to the top of the SERP, pushing Organic results lower, or adding new features like featured snippets – all of which affect how users interact with Google, and how they click on Organic listings.
- Algorithm updates
Google is constantly testing their systems to improve user experience, and their revenues. They conduct hundreds of tests per year which they call “live traffic experiments“, and they also run side-by-side SERP tests using real people to evaluate Google’s search results. Sometimes they even make wholesale changes to how Google search works, such as the Hummingbird update, or the BERT update.
- Mobile-only and site speed updates
Other updates that Google has pushed out recently include mobile-only indexing, and Core Web Vitals. The bottom line here is your site needs to be mobile-friendly and it needs to load quickly, allow users to interact quickly, and pages should be visually stable as well.
When Google makes changes, we all have to adapt.
More than once I’ve heard someone say, “it’s Google’s world, we just live in it”.
That’s true – at least for now.
What your competitors do
Besides Google, another reason to not sit on your hands or rest your SEO laurels (so to speak) is because “competitors never sleep”.
What your competitors do definitely impacts your SEO performance & organic results.
I have noticed over the many years I’ve been doing agency-side SEO and working with many different clients (especially Enterprise-level) that some competitors are more SEO savvy than others.
Some competitors are very active and work very hard on SEO consistently, and others do not.
I’ve also seen inactive competitors suddenly become very, very active and work very diligently on their SEO.
Your situation is probably similar: some competitors are constantly churning out valuable fresh content and also optimizing existing content while others seem to be idle.
Do you seriously want to just sit idly by and let your competitors eat your lunch?
Don’t wait until you suddenly see your competitors outranking you or overtaking you to do something about your SEO.
What you do
The single most important thing that affects your SEO performance and organic results is what you do!
What? Have I lost my mind after just telling you that those things affect your SEO?
Here my point can be summed up as “don’t take your eye off the ball.
Yes, you should keep a close eye on your competitors, but if you spend more time looking over your shoulder than working on your own site, you’re wasting your time.
Same with Google: sure you need to know what changes Google makes that might affect you, but you need to concentrate your efforts on your site and not worry too much about Google.
Just don’t do anything that will get you penalized by Google.
Here’s a link to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, which also outline what Google doesn’t want you to do, or else you’ll get penalized.
The single most important thing you can do if you do nothing else is improve your website.
Improve the user experience of your existing pages.
Create fresh new content that satisfies your target market at every step of the sales funnel and buyers journey.
Link related pages together.
Fix technical issues that prevent Google from understanding – or even finding – your most-important pages.
Utilize appropriate Schema Markup where applicable.
Leverage solid PR strategies to get the word out and maybe obtain a solid & reputable link or two.
Don’t use shady tactics that will get you banned from Google.
Lastly, be clear that SEO is not “set it and forget it” any more than you can go to the gym once, take a vitamin today, and you’re healthy for life.
You need to engage in ongoing efforts to see improve your SEO performance and organic results.
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