The ABCs of SEO

A + B + C = SEO?

Google says that there are thousands of different “ranking factors” that affect where your website appears in their index.

I believe that all of these ranking factors can be broken down into one of three broad categories:

  • Architecture
  • Backlinking
  • Content

Within each of these categories is a cornucopia of different factors and your total SEO score is based on how well you score against these factors in each of the three categories.

Put simply: A+B+C = SEO

Google emphasise and de-emphasise different factors, and different categories, at different times. 

There was a time when an architectural problem, e.g. a technical problem with the build of your website, was sufficient to remove you from the index completely. There are still a few problems like this, but overall Google and the other search engines have become much better at working around technical issues in website construction. That’s not a reason to ignore technical issues, but if you focus only on these issues then you’ll be missing two-thirds of the picture.

Backlinks (links from other websites to yours) were, without doubt, the most important factor for a very long time. Google reputedly experimented with an index that did not take backlinks into account and it failed to produce good results. Backlinks are notoriously easy to manipulate, sadly, and so Google and the other search engines have increasingly stringent rules on what kind of links they consider “good” and which “bad”.

Today, the mantra of many an SEO is “Content is King”. Google’s most recent update (Medic) focusses very much on the quality of your content, how much of an “expert” you appear to be, how much authority you have in your sphere/niche/sector, and how trustworthy your website appears. 

As each factor increases or decreases in relative importance, the true SEO equation therefore begins to expand:

(A x Importance of A) + (B x Importance of B) + (C x Importance of C) = SEO

Focussing on only one area is risky.

Create great content, but on a flawed website with no backlinks? No traffic.

Great website construction, but poor content and no backlinks? No traffic.

Great content and a great website but no backlinks… well, that’s a more interesting story. Google’s approach to backlinking is that every backlink should be organic, earned by your website purely by it having a great design, brilliant content, etc. In reality, your first few backlinks are going to have to come from somewhere

The internet is not Kevin Costner’s baseball stadium from “Field of Dreams”. Just because you build it, doesn’t mean that they will come.

We’ll talk about this more in the section on back-linking below. 

For now, just remember – ticking all three boxes is the safest option when trying to improve your website.

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