On any given day, your SEO expert will be tinkering inside of ranking algorithms that consist of 300 to 600 individual ranking metrics in order to help you place better in search engines. With limited time, budget, person power, etc., how can we possibly prioritize all those metrics? With so many metrics, it’s incredibly easy to get tunnel-vision and lock yourself into a pattern of chasing one-off tricks to manipulate your ranking. It doesn’t have to be that way. The great news is that even though SEO is incredibly complex, we can boil it down to an extremely easy-to-understand philosophy that, if followed, essentially guarantees good rankings. To sum it up, Google and other search engines rely on searchers coming back to make more searches and click on more ads. With that in mind, we can instantly start drawing conclusions that Google and other search engines’ algorithms are going to center around delivering the best search experience possible, which leads up to my philosophy on gaining fantastic rankings organically. My ranking philosophy, which covers 100s of individual metrics, is easily summed up by thinking about it in terms of the 3 As: Accessibility, Authenticity and Authority.
Accessibility means being where your customers are online. This means having a website, this means being on social media, this means having an active YouTube page, this means having a listing on sites like Yelp, CitySearch, etc., and it, in certain instances, may mean being involved in forum communities, subreddits, and more. The more (substantive) places you are, and the more active you are in those places, the stronger of a signal that you send to Google and other search engines that your business or service is legitimate, is involved in its community when relevant, and holds itself to a higher public standard than a business that may not be as public.
Authenticity means that no matter what you’re doing to market your business, it comes from a place of personal honesty that reflects who or what your business or service is. Are you responding to negatives reviews with an honest desire to correct bad experiences and wrong-doings, or are you going into these reviews to spin a narrative or have a digital shouting match against the person who left you a negative review? Are you hosting a charity event at your shop because the community and its happiness is important to you, or is it because you only want the serendipitous marketing benefit that these events bring? People pick up on these things, and their feelings 100% will make their way to the internet in the form of reviews, comments and more, which will have huge implications on how your site ranks overall.
Likely, the most important of the 3 As, authority is a huge topic that could easily have its own series of articles written about it. Building and displaying authority is the ultimate goal of any SEO program. A great SEO program will take your authority and leverage it for fantastic rankings, or if you are a new shop, a great SEO program will be designed around showing off your authority online. Authority consists of several metrics that I’ve personally seen make-or-break rankings for auto shops. Everybody has made a search and saw a hole-in-the-wall result that we don’t think should be there, but the reviews are perfect across the board, and they’ve got a great reputation with everyone locally. They might not be the prettiest, they might not have the best website, but they have legitimate organic authority. Because Google is attempting to give people the best possible search experience possible, it makes sense why Google and other search engines would attempt to prioritize the concept of “authority” as a premier ranking signal. While Google is looking for great web experiences, they also recognize that people will be the happiest, thus come back and search again, if they are given people/businesses/services that can fix their problems the first time.
Google certainly does have an opinion on what makes the best website, but in terms of ranking well online, what’s considerably more important is how your website properties (website, social media, YouTube, etc.) work and come together to form a bigger picture. Does your online marketing send signals that you are primarily concerned with your customer’s happiness? Does your marketing send signals that you are the best at what you do, or, better yet, that you do something that no one else can do? Finally, does your marketing send the signal that your business is accessible, authentic and authoritative?
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