Getting Higher Google Rankings — Where is my time best spent?

Even within the communities of the most savvy, well-informed, SEO & Web Marketing consultants there is endless debate about which of the 200 or so factors that Google cares about for determining page rank, are of the highest priority. It will always be a debate because clients have deadlines and finite amounts of money. Couple that with the fact that Google is not exactly disclosing every nuance of their algorithms to the general public, and we have a valid reason to debate.

It is of paramount importance to establish an order of priority for all of the things that need to be done to bring a web site into searchable existence. It’s easy to become mired in endless details that may not have a profound effect on your client’s web presence. Knowing how and when to make these priority decisions is a crucial part of expertise in this field. You may find yourself wondering which way to go. I came across a list of 120 of the known variables in the page rank algorithm while reading a blog from Ann Smarty over at search engine journal. Here is the list. Now this list is rather old and it is widely known that Google has made some significant changes to their algorithm since it was published, but it gives you an idea of just how many variables there are to consider when building an SEO campaign.

So how does one know which direction to go? Google is nice enough to provide some very useful tools that give gentle nudges in the right direction like:¬†Google Web Master Tools, or Adwords Keyword Tool.¬†They’re essentially giving us all very strong hints as to which variables hold more weight. It has been my professional experience that content is king, and not just content but the quality of the writing. The grammar — the finesse in which keywords are utilized, the frequency with which content is published. I talk to a lot of folks in this industry who will argue that having precisely compliant code, valid CSS architecture, and Robots tags are all absolutely necessary, but let’s face it — we’ve all seen some pretty shoddily constructed sites, with lots of useful content, rank at the top.

Obviously the second most important factor after content is links. Link building is absolutely crucial to find your search rankings on the rise. Having a plethora of inbound links, from other sites that Google rates as “quality content,” is literally one of the most important pieces of the black-magic puzzle that leads to a first page SERP for a competitive keyword. This can be tricky — it seems to work best if it is organic, and what is the fastest way to build quality inbound links? …. BLOGGING. Blogging frequently, and writing well, gets your site linked again and again. The link network grows branches you never knew could be possible. So even if nobody in your organization is a writer, it pays to have guest bloggers who know have a way with the words. The concept here is not much different than opening up a restaurant with delicious food that you can’t get anywhere else in the area — people are going to keep coming back for more and telling their friends. So many businesses with web sites don’t even have a blog, and there are some really fantastic ways to leverage a blog to generate leads, and inevitably MORE REVENUE.

How to blog is for another day…

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