Brian Dean is a well known and popular SEO expert. He recently wrote a lengthy blog post that discussed what they learned about SEO from analyzing over 1 million Google search results.
It’s a lengthy and somewhat technical overview. As I reviewed his post, I found a lot of parallels between what he found and the power that hyperlocal digital publishers must leverage to become a leading local authority. In other words, if you’re a local online publisher, are you doing these things?
- Backlinks correlate with rankings more than any other factor. Based on his research, he strongly recommends that you focus on backlinks to increase your authority. Publishers – do you know how many sites link back to you? And how many of them are businesses in your community? This should be a top focus for you.
- Your overall link authority strongly correlates with higher rankings. This means that your overall domain authority is more important than an individual page. So, instead of focusing as much on how viral a single article is doing, think about how authoritative your entire domain is.
- Content that is topically relevant significantly outperforms content that doesn’t cover a topic in-depth. Here is where you have a significant advantage. You cover a topic that is relevant (your community), and you may even cover a specific area or vertical market within your community, which means you can “rank” in two topically relevant areas. Yoast talks about cornerstone content which is a great starting point for hyperlocal publishers to master topical relevance.
- Write natural content. Brian mentions that the average Google first page result contains 1,890 words, but this is a silly thing to focus on. Just write good and natural content, and you will do best.
- Make sure your site is SSL secure. Google made this change last summer, and it’s starting to bear fruit. Sites not secured by an SSL certificate are losing authority. If you don’t know what this is, call your webmaster immediately!
- Make sure your site is fast. Pages on fast loading sites significantly rank higher than pages on slower loading sites. Make sure your content loads quickly. Having a solid hosting environment is crucial.
- A low bounce rate is associated with higher Google rankings. Bounce rate is the % of people who leave your site after coming to a specific page. The goal is to keep your users engaged on your site, beyond just that one article. Letting your readers know that you have other stories that may interest them is key. You should also let them know you have the most authoritative information about Events and Places in the community. These are items that your readers will value and will keep them on your site longer.
The Internet is no longer a “build it and they will come” proposition. In addition to writing great content, you must do the things that allow search engines to recognize you as the authoritative resources that you are. That doesn’t come for free. With so many pages on the Internet today, you have to help guide the search engines in your direction. Following the steps above will help you get there sooner.