From time to time, the entire SEO industry gets so preoccupied with certain SEO topics and consequentially the very basics of the SEO are often forgotten. But these basics are the most important things to pay attention to. Sometimes people overstress about page load speed, alt tags or H1 and H2 tags for their main page headline, while completely neglecting the most important stuff.
At one of the conferences where he was a guest speaker, Gary Illyes from Google said that the top 5 most important factors are what you might think … But it is better to explain this by solving a trivial task:
How do we rank (in the first place) for a completely fictional (currently non-existent) word?
If this were indeed a word that did not produce a single result in a Google search, then the question is, what would we do to rank for that word?
Content really is the king
So of course, we would create a page that mentions exactly that word. If we wanted to secure that first place even more, in case someone else mentioned that non-existent word, we would optimize the content by including the most important on-page elements such as title tag and the like.
But let’s complicate this task a little and set it as follows:
How do we rank for that same word, but provided we don’t mention that word anywhere on our site?
Backlinks (+ anchor text)
By building links on other sites, using anchor text that includes the targeted word, Google would recognize that our page was related to the word (or phrase) from the anchor text and would rank it for a given search.
The problem, in this case, could be that the page on which the link is located (as a page with content that includes that word) could theoretically rank above our site. However, if we have multiple links from different pages (different sites) that link to our site with the given anchor text, at some point the authority of our site would be strong enough to put our site in the first place.
There is no other way but to use the content and links to get your site ranked for a particular search (there is only a possibility to improve the position), and yet there is a possibility that, despite the content and links on your site, it simply does not appear in Google search results. Here we come to the third most important factor:
The ability to crawl and index the site
If Googlebot is not able to read from your site and understand what it contains, no content and no links can help you, because Google simply does not want to show something that it doesn’t even understand in its search results. Your site must be technically sound enough, and must not in any way block Google Bots and prevent them from storing your pages in their database.
Of course, your business will not benefit if you are trying to rank for nonexistent words or words no one is searching for, but before you get bogged down in advanced SEO stuff, once again make sure you meet these three basic SEO requirements to be able to rank at all. The conclusion is: Do your keyword research, create the content for targeted keywords, make it crawlable and indexable and build your authority. Those parts should make your SEO strategy, everything else is tactics and details.