SEO Tips and Olympic Backflips
One of the best SEO tips for ranking higher in Google is embodied in the sentiment of this video above. While the vast majority of us couldn’t perform either of these feats without breaking our faces, there’s no doubt that what it takes to be an Olympic gold medalist has evolved a lot since the 1930’s. More countries (and therefore more athletes) have begun competing, and this influx in competition means athletes are held to a higher standard, which in turn means they have to up their game. Same goes for SEO.
Over the last couple of decades the Internet has become even more saturated with people and brands vying for attention and, as a result, Google has had to refine its standards for SEO excellence. Just like how Olympic standards have risen, what it took to get a top website ranking in 1999 is not going to cut it today. This is precisely why anyone who really wants to see their SEO efforts pay off can’t stick to the basics – they’ve got to work harder and implement more advanced techniques to come out on top.
That’s what we’re going to talk about today: advanced SEO tips that will take your optimization to the next level. Not only will you rank higher in Google, but you’ll provide your visitors with a better experience and generate more value (and a happier bottom line) from your site.
Getting Digital Bi-Lingual
Improving your SEO ranking boils down to using the right SEO tools to help search engines understand the content on your page. Search engines aren’t people; they don’t read like us. They have their own way of extrapolating and interpreting information, and making this process easy and relevant for them by speaking their language is what is going to bolster your worth in Google’s almighty esteem. In the end, it’s relevance that’s going to partner searches with useful results, so it’s this relevance that you’ve got to make sure shines through your website’s fancy design and million dollar marketing strategy.
Stick to what works.
Now, before I get into the SEO tips themselves, it’s important you remember that Google has never disclosed the precise specifics of its algorithm, so these SEO tips are based on what my years of experience in the field have empirically shown to improve website ranking. I’ve collected them from reputable sources as well as my own findings, and they’re the ones I believe can be implemented easily, effectively and provide (relatively) speedy results. In short, they’re the ones I’m sure actually work. There’s a lot of speculation out there about what tickles the fickle giant Google, but I want to stick to measurable and proven tactics.
Advanced SEO Tips to Help Your Site Rank Higher in Google
1. TF-IDF. This imposing acronym stands for the equally imposing ‘term-frequency-inverse document frequency’ and Google uses it to measure how important a keyword is by setting it in comparison to how often that keyword crops up compared to expectations collected from a more substantial group of documents.
Let me break that down for you:
Using Google’s Ngram to search the terms ‘jelly’ and ‘jellybean’, you’ll note that jelly is by far more common than jellybean, and – based on that frequency outcome – we could determine that while the threshold for ‘jelly’ is higher, the significance of ‘jellybean’ on a page with that term is greater.
But wait, there’s more! TF-IDF isn’t enough on its own. When measured in correlation with higher rankings, TF-IDFs will only perform marginally better than the use of individual keywords. (So, not to worry, keyword enthusiasts – they’re still important!) I want you do think of TF-IDF not as a panacea for all your low-ranking woes, but as a weapon you can add to your arsenal of on-page SEO tips and tricks.
2. Close Calls. If you accept the universal truth that many of us don’t always have the right words at our fingertips at the right time, then it should come as no surprise that when we are searching for things, we don’t always ask for what we actually want to find. This is why accounting for synonyms and variations is a primo way to improve your website ranking. According to research conducted by Google, synonyms influence about 70% of searches. It’s for this reason search engines have begun using close variant words and phrases as well as synonyms to pair queries to relevant content. For example, let’s think about the query, ‘running shoes’. Possible synonyms and variants of this could include, ‘athletic shoes’, ‘running footwear’, ‘athletic footwear’, ‘sneakers’ and ‘athletic sneakers’.
The point is that the use of variants and synonyms further embraces the trend away from strict keyword usage (and repetition) and the move towards the semantics (and semantic searches) of more natural language. More on semantic search in our breakdown of Google Hummingbird
I also want to mention the importance of considering the semantic distance between words on your web pages, since this is another advanced method for bolstering your SEO ranking. When I’m referring to semantic distance, I’m referring to the connections between different terms and phrases in your content. This concept hones in on the ways in which words are related within paragraphs and sentences. Let’s say you’re writing about the benefits of Himalayan bath salts. If the word, ‘Himalayan’ and the term, ‘bath salts’ are not used together, how are the search engines supposed to know they’re related? They make this connection by determining the distance between those phrases and words, and the closer they are, semantically speaking, the closer the possible relation between the concepts. So, words/terms in the same sentence would be considered more closely related than words/terms in the same paragraph, and words/terms in the same paragraph could be considered more closely related than those in the different blocks of HTML text.
Distance isn’t insurmountable, however. It is thought that HTML elements can be used to close the gap.
3.Word Location. Much like real estate, search engine ranking is influenced by the location, location, location of words on your webpage. The anatomy of your webpage is composed of sidebars, footers, headers and the like, and it’s widely believed that text in the main body is more valuable (and carries more weight) than content elsewhere. Page segmentation is even more crucial to consider when we think about the rise of the mobile movement, since most mobile displays cut the sidebars to include the (presumably) more relevant text in the body – so make sure that’s where your relevant text actually is.
You also want to make sure you’re thinking beyond the title element, the URL, the body of the page’s content and the image ALT. You’ll also want your keywords in the page title (H1), meta-description, and any embedded videos.
4. Phrase Relations. While keywords are still important, it’s becoming increasingly important to also think about keyword themes and avoid just researching one term. You need to think bigger and broader. This is where considerations about phrase-based indexing come into play.
Google uses phrase-based indexing to rank pages based on the relevance of certain phrases. It does this using co-occurrence, which search engines use to determine how particular phrases predict others. Example, the phrase “Billy Elliot” will co-occur with other phrases like, ‘dancing’, ‘ballet’, ‘movie’ and ‘broadway’. So, a webpage that has those terms is more apt to be about the Billy Elliot most people are searching for (i.e. the film) than a webpage that does not, and if you have these co-occurring phrases on the same page, it’ll boost your SEO ranking. Do your keyword research first to find the proper phrases you need.
5. Entity Salience. This is one of the newer advanced SEO tips, and when used correctly, it’ll do wonders to improve your webpage ranking. Entity Salience involves leveraging the known relationships that exist between entities on the same page. For example, a page that contains the term, ‘Jurassic World’, followed by the term ‘dinosaurs’, ‘T-Rex’, ‘Michael Crichton’ will be seen as significant in the content and will carry more weight for your webpage.
6. Keep it Natural (or at least maintain the illusion of natural). I know it sounds counter-intuitive – to try to make your webpage and content look, read and feel as natural as possible while trying to employ all these sophisticated SEO tips, but it’s imperative to remember that while you’re undoubtedly trying to appease the Google gods, you’re first and foremost trying to appease your customers. This is the relationship that matters most. In fact, this relationship is why Google’s standards are so high, and may seem so difficult: they are trying to optimize their customer experience.
So write naturally, and try to answer as many questions as you can within your content to make the experience informative and enjoyable for your audience. It’s not about just flogging keywords or becoming myopically obsessed with SEO tips. Think back to what you learned in school: your writing should be creative, clean, organized and compelling.
Bonus Tip: Ask for Help!
If you feel overwhelmed by all this, you’re not alone. That’s why professionals in this field exist – because amassing the education that it takes to successfully understand and implement advanced SEO concepts is not something everyone has the time or inclination to pursue. However, employing these concepts is something anyone who wants to succeed in the digital world should venture to undertake, so if you’re interested in seeing these SEO tips work for you, ask for help from someone who knows what they’re doing.