You write great content. You then promote them using emails and social media, people flock to read them for about a week and then it dies. If that sounds familiar to you then it sounds like your blog doesn’t attract enough organic traffic.
While one of the most important factors in running a successful blog is to make sure you are creating high quality content, you can’t ignore the need to optimize your content for SEO (search engine optimization). It doesn’t matter how good your content is if nobody is reading it, after all – and optimizing your content will help you to increase your blog’s exposure, which in turn will help bring in a constant flow of organic traffic, even long after the initial boost from content promotion fades out.
While there are tons of people already writing tips and tricks on how to do SEO, not all of them are dependable as most of them only repeat hearsay and myths or even circulating practices that has been obsolete for years. Not only are they ineffective, they might even get you penalized by Google!
The most reliable SEO practices often come from two sources – Data from doing your own experiments, and information derived from Google Search Engine Patents.
I’m interested in particular to talk about the latter as I feel that it is a very useful, albeit highly underrated source of SEO information.
The reason why I said it’s useful because it contains detailed information on how Google algorithm works. And unlike Google’s public announcement, patents are more transparent as Google tend to avoid to exposing too much in their announcements and might even give out inaccurate informations (yes, that happened) in order to avoid exploitation from black hat SEOs.
Google patents on the other hand are very clear-cut. They include as much details as possible in order to protect Google’s invention from being copied by their competitors (yeah, other search engines are still a thing apparently). And while having no interest in dethroning Google, people like us benefits from being able to scrutinize in great detail what’ll make Google love us.
But here’s the thing – Google patents can get quite technical and complicated. Seasoned SEO veterans might be able to decipher them but for beginners they are practically a bunch of gibberish. That’s why I have put up a compilation of a bunch of very useful tips from Google patents, strip them out off the jargons and geek-speak and put them up in a way that anyone literate can understand.
So, without further ado, here’s 10 SEO tips you can get from Google patents:
1. Use more LSI keywords
Patent: Document-based synonym generation
Aah.. A jargon in the first point. But don’t worry. Bear with me as LSI keyword is not actually as hard as it sounds. You know how a word can have a lot of meanings? Apple can mean that company that sells those overpriced gadgets (just kidding, I actually own 3 of them) or that shiny red fruit you put into your kid’s lunch box. LSI basically means extra keywords that accompany your main keyword to give it some context.
Put together “iPad” or “Steve Jobs” along with “Apple” and Google will know you’re talking about the company.
Adding keywords like “sweet” or “fruit salad” and Google can tell you’re talking about the fruit.
Knowing how to use the right LSI keywords consistently along your main keywords will increase the chance for your content to show up answering the right query.
There are few ways to discover the right LSI keywords to accompany your main keyword and one of my favorite is by using LSIGraph. You just type in your keyword, press a button and get your LSI keyword suggestion. Simple.
For the non-geeks, LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing. Learn more about LSI in this video.
2. Get backlinks from varied sources
Patent: Determining quality of linked documents
You may already know that backlinks from other websites leading to your blog help to boost your search engine ranking. However, what you may not know is that not all backlinks are scored equally. According to Google patents, the more backlinks you receive from the same website, the more it will devalue the links in contributing to ranking your website. This is mainly done to prevent spammy link building tactics such as linking from the other websites you own over and over again.
Recommended reading: The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization by Eric Enge
But this also means that you can boost your search engine ranking by expanding your fanbase and get links from a much more diverse source of websites. It’s not wrong to ask that same 15 friends to link to you everytime you post a new content, it’s just that it’s not as effective as getting them from a more varied source. It’s harder of course, but it works.
3. Update your blog regularly
Patent: Document scoring based on document content update
One of the ways that Google ranks pages is by Freshness Score, meaning just that – how fresh your contents are too Google. A Freshness Score is determined by several factors, one of which is how often your blog is updated.
If your blog isn’t updated often, it will be considered stale, which will result in a freshness score demotion. You wouldn’t want that.
So take that effort to post updates on a regular basis and you shall be rewarded. One way of doing this is if you have a big topic in mind, instead of spending a week to write it and post it in a huge chunk, split them into smaller parts and post them once every few days.
4. Get links from fresh sources
Patent: Systems and methods for determining document freshness
Another example on how not all backlinks are scored equal is this one – backlink from fresh websites (those with high Freshness Score) will pass their fresh juices to you. So if you need to boost the Freshness Score of your website, make sure to put the effort to attract the attention of other fresh websites so that they will link to you.
How do you know which websites have a high Freshness Score? A lot of ways but the easiest is to look for websites that regularly updates new contents or often talk about the latest topics.
5. Use more text formatting to present your information
Patent: Document ranking based on semantic distance between terms in a document
Don’t just write everything in plain text. Presenting your points using text formatting, such as numbered or bulleted lists not only makes it more pleasant to the eyes of a reader, but also helps Google to easier understand clumps of related information in your content.
Similar to using LSI keywords, if you make it easier for Google to understand your content, you also make it easier for Google to rank you in relevant queries. Using lists, bolding or italicizing important words and using organized headers and subheadings while seems trivial, can actually help you get your way with Google.
6. Engage with users in your blog’s comment section
Patent: Document ranking based on document classification
While quite useful to showcase praises from happy fans, the comment section can actually be used to improve your website’s SEO. Encourage your readers to discuss the topic in the comment section by contributing their own points, ask questions or suggest improvements. This will increase their time-on-page as well as reduce bounce rate – factors that contributes to a better search engine ranking.
Basically the idea is to entice your users to extend their stay on your website and not immediately clicking back to Google after or even before they’re done with reading.
7. Earn your backlinks gradually over time
Patent: Document scoring based on link-based criteria
One of the mistakes many bloggers make is that they try to earn as many links as possible for new content as soon as they release it. It’s easy to get carried away and straight away send our post to 20 communities the second a blog post is up but hold your horses, it might not actually be a wise thing to do.
This particular patent shows that in granting Freshness score, Google prizes websites that have an increasing number of backlinks. Rather than going on a big start but slumps over the next day, it’s better to distribute your link earning in an increasing manner. Google will consider your website fresh as long as there are positive growth in the number of backlinks received or at least hangs around the same value. Once it goes down, Google will deem your content stale and reduce its Freshness score.
8. Improve user interactions on ranked results
Patent: Document scoring based on query analysis
Once your content is up and you see it get ranked on Google, doesn’t mean that it ends there and you’re stuck at whatever position you’re at. Google continues to monitor how user interacts with your ranked results and it can further affect it.
For example, if more users end up clicking on your ranked results more than the ones above it, Google will take it that your ranked results deserves to be ranked higher as they are preferred by the users over other results. But don’t try to exploit it by spam clicking your own results – Google knows the difference, trust me on this.
Instead, you can entice more users to click on your ranked results by having a useful and informative snippet (the brief description under your ranked results). Google might take random parts of your content that answers the search query to be displayed, but a lot of times they will take what you have written in your meta description instead.
So make sure to write compelling meta descriptions to attract visitors. Some tips on how you can do this:
- Include your main keyword
- Include a call-to-action
- Keep the important points under 166 characters as Google will snip the rest
- Learn from higher ranking results on what gets displayed on their own snippet
Other than click-through-rate, Google also takes into account how long users are staying at your site upon clicking at your ranked results, whether they just take a glance at it and immediately bounce back to Google and even if they did something like downloading stuff or bookmarking your site. So do anything you can to get them clicking, staying and engaging on your page.
9. Use a consistent NAP
Patent: Scoring local search results based on location prominence
This is important if you have a physical location for your business website. In order to rank highly for local search, you’ll want to use a consistent NAP (Name, Address> and Phone Number) throughout your website as well as on other websites where your NAP is displayed (such as social media networks and social review sites, like Yelp).
A consistent NAP across the board will allow Google to easier register your website as relevant to the area your business is located. This in turn, will help increase the chances that Google will display your website when a user types in a localized query.
Localized queries are basically queries that’s related to a geographical area such as “coffee shops nearest to me” or “best burger in Boston”.
10. Request a recrawl/reindex
Patent: Document compression scheme that supports searching and partial decompression
One thing that all bloggers should understand is that Google doesn’t rank websites in real time.
Instead, Google periodically take snapshots of your website and indexes them based on the snapshots. This means that it may not be ranking the latest version of your website.
So whenever you make a big update, request a recrawl/reindex immediately so that Google has access to the most up-to-date version of your website, thereby allowing a more accurate ranking of your site as it is. There are limits on the number of recrawls you can request so use them wisely.
So these are 10 out of many tips you can get from Google search engine patents. You can do your own patent research for more as they are available for the public to read. An easier alternative would be by learning from SEO patent experts such as Bill Slawski or Moz. Another good resource would be SEOPressor’s Google patent compilation where you can get tons of tips in a single convenient page.