Why SEO Should Copy Team GB Including 35 Marginal Gains for Your Website
The theory of making marginal gains to achieve winning performances has revolutionised sports training but can the same methodology applied to your website make for winning SEO?
LEGO official Team GB minifigures
Making an improvement that will equate to a 1% difference does not sound like much. You may be astounded then, that Team GB’s Olympic track cycling team won seven gold medals in the London Olympic Games by focusing on 1% improvements.
The coach, David Brailsford, realised that if you improved every small detail in the preparation for a competition then the multitude of 1% improvements added up to make a massive improvement on the big day. He coined the method ‘the aggregation of marginal gains’.
Every detail was scrutinised with a view to recreating an innovative approach. This included redesigning the type of clothing the cyclist wore, creating tyres made of silk to hold more air pressure and a specially made saddle – to more obscure details like ensuring the correct pillow was used at night so the cyclist slept well and even the way a competitor washed their hands! Every factor, big and small was examined, improved and added as part of a matrix of improvements. This theory of striving for perfection can be applied to improve performance in any given goal-oriented pursuit – but the analogy works particularly well when you compare it to achieving better SEO.
Work Harder for Your Website and It’ll Work Harder for You
Google – the biggest of the search engines, has said that over 200 factors will define whether your website is the appropriate one to display in response to a search. To ensure your website is a result for searches, SEO is all about making many small improvements until the overall website is inspected by Google’s ‘crawlers’ and found to marry up to criteria which define the most appropriate website to match a search.
Take an Honest Look at Your Website
Consider you have made a website and it is a static off-the-peg website, a few html pages posted up and linked together like an online brochure. For some reason – you realise – it is not being viewed as many times as you hoped so you search for it yourself in Google with search terms you think are appropriate and it does not come up in the first 12 pages.
You decide to add a regularly updated blog on the website as then there will be something more interesting to read with news and information and potential for feedback. The blog generates a few views and importantly a few returning visitors. This is because the content is interesting and comes up on searches as it is more relevant to recent events and news so this makes a minor improvement for SEO.
You then write a press release on your company and it gets into the main online news – with a link back to your website. The result is that suddenly your company becomes more visible in the rankings. You then notice that some of the text you have put on the website has some typos in it and some poor grammar. You tidy it up and there is another small climb in the rankings. You add video content, you create some links to relevant high quality websites and with every change your website becomes more visible and also of a superior quality.
When your website is deemed higher quality, it’s no coincidence you will notice it is being ranked higher. By putting into action the theory of making marginal gains to improve overall performance, this will hone your SEO.
If you are wondering where to start with your changes, here are 35 initial marginal gains to work through so that you can get your website performing better:
1. Content is key, so be sure to have good, well-written and unique content that will focus on your primary keywords or keyword phrases.
2. Build a network of quality backlinks using your keyword phrase as the link.
3. Be sure you have a unique, keyword focused Title tag on every page of your site.
4. Fresh content can help improve your rankings.
5. Focus on search phrases, not single keywords, and put your location in your text to help you get found in local searches.
6. Don’t design your web site without considering SEO.
7. Don’t use Frames and use Flash and AJAX sparingly for best SEO results.
8. Use keywords and keyword phrases appropriately in text links and image ALT.
9. Check for canonicalization issues – www and non-www domains.
10. Use 301 redirects if updating your website.
11. Make sure your website is linked to Google Webmaster tools.
12. Google likes fresh text/content so write a blog or keep the site up to date.
13. When link building, think quality, not quantity.
14. Don’t stuff your text with keywords.
15. If you are on a shared server, do a blacklist check to be sure you’re not on a proxy with a spammer or banned site.
16. Do note that by using services that block domain ownership info for your domain, Google might see you as a potential spammer.
17. Make sure your site is easy to use.
18. Search engines like unique content that is also quality content.
19. Give people something to talk about and link to.
20. Give each page a focus on a keyword phrase.
21. SEO is useless if you have a weak or non-existent call to action.
22. SEO is not a one-shot process. The search landscape changes daily, so expect to work on your optimisation constantly.
23. Cater to influential bloggers and authority sites who might link to your content.
24. Use captions with your images.
25. Pay attention to the context surrounding your images. Images can rank based on text that surrounds them on the page.
26. Links (especially deep links) from a high PageRank site are golden.
27. Use absolute links. Not only will it make your on-site link navigation less prone to problems (like links to and from https pages), but if someone scrapes your content, you’ll get backlink juice out of it.
28. To get the best chance for your videos to be found by the crawlers, create a video sitemap and list it in your Google Webmaster Central account.
29. Videos that show up in Google blended search results don’t just come from YouTube. Be sure to submit your videos to other quality video sites like Vimeo and Metacafe to name a few.
30. Surround video content on your pages with keyword rich text. The search engines look at surrounding content to define the usefulness of the video for the query.
31. Use the words ‘image’ or ‘photo’ in your photo ALT descriptions and captions. A lot of searches are for a keyword plus one of these words.
32. When targeting a website for a link, check the cache date of the page where your link will be located in Google. Search for ‘cache:URL’ where you substitute ‘URL’ for the actual page. The newer the cache date the better. If the page isn’t there or the cache date is more than a month old, the page possibly isn’t worth chasing.
33. Don’t have duplicate content and make sure pages are at least 50% different to all other pages on your website.
34. If you are an ecommerce website make sure your product descriptions are original and not the same as every other online shop.
35. Always think: What Would Team GB’s Track Cycling Team Do?
Can you think of any others? If so, do let us know and we’ll add them to the list with a name check.
Also for more information on how to make sure your business is striking the right balance for SEO specifically with Google searches, contact Varn.