Google Search results are ordered by relevance, domain weight, and page weight. Google's Search algorithm determines relevance based on the content of the web page. Weight is determined by the historical performance of the page in Google's Search results based on the click-through rate of the page and domain.
Click-through: How many times Users have clicked a link in the Google Search results? More clicks = stronger weight for the page and for the domain. Stronger domains and pages appear higher in the search results.
Here are my recommendations for driving strong SEO (sorted by importance):
1. Business Descriptions in the Directory: Our Clients have on average 1000 members. That translates to a potential of 1000 pages of unique content if they can get their Members to write a business description. Once achieved, they should always be pushing their Members to be adding to and updating their Descriptions.
2. Daily blog postings and comments: Our Clients should use our News module to post daily content. Site Visitors could be allowed to comment on the posting (We currently do not have this feature on our sites). After 3 years of doing daily blog posts, our Clients could have 1000 pages of unique content.
3. Lengthy custom content on many static pages: Our Clients should shoot for the moon and try to reach 500+ pages of unique content.
4. Pull in industry feeds: (We currently do not utilize this feature on our sites). There are many sources to pull content from . Our Clients could effortlessly pull in 1000 pages of replicated content by pulling in industry feeds.
5. Attractive page titles: When I perform a Google search, I typically scan the results and click on links that seem most relevant to me based on the title and description. We should format our page Titles and content to generate attractive links on Google Search results. Attractive links will be clicked more often.
6. Google Search on our sites: Once a User clicks through from Google, no matter how many pages the User navigates through the site, only one Google click-through is ever recorded. So, how do you get more Google click-through? Our Clients should use a Google Site Search on the site. Every time a Google Site search result is clicked, Google records another click-through.
7. Keywords to Google Site Search: Similar to the "Google Search on our sites" SEO recommendation, above, Google click-through can be driven off keywords that link to a Google Site Search. If a site Visitor clicks the keyword, they would receive a list of relevant Google results for pages on the site. If they click on a result, a Google click-through is recorded.
8. Pull in Social Media Feeds: There is a small boost if we pull in our Client's Social Media feeds and post the content on their site. Imagine the boost if we also pulled in their Members Social Media content (We currently do not have this feature on our sites). It is possible to effortlessly pull in 1000 pages of relevant, timely, replicated content from our Client's Members.
9. Include Non-Members in the Directory: We have, yet, to have one of our Clients take the leap and include Non-Member Organizations in their Business Directory. Non-Members could have a very basic Listing with no contact information. It is possible to add 10,000 lines of unique content to our Client's sites.
10. API for Content Writers: (We currently do not have this feature on our sites) We may be able to create an API for our Clients where they could license publishing writes to local content writers (newspaper, tourism dept., economic development, political action, etc.). Our sites could gain 1000s of pages of content for free.
Note: I did not put Meta keyword and description on this list. Here is why:
Many people give way too much credit for what meta keywords and description can do for SEO. I do not believe Meta keywords and description have any real pull with modern search engines. I believe the search engines are more concerned with content. Google pushes for meta description for the sole purpose of adding relevancy to the links in their Search results. They will sometimes use the Meta description as the link description (below the link title) to make the link more attractive. Meta descriptions are not Google facing, but rather Google End User facing.
Our Clients sites could potentially have 7000 pages of strong content. From my experience, our average site typically has about 150 pages of good content and 1000 pages of poor content. Our best sites have about 1000 pages of good content and 1000 pages of poor content. Based on these findings, I'd estimate our sites are operating between 2% and 14% potential Search Engine Optimization.
Our sites could drive Google click-through better.
Our page titles and descriptions could be formatted better.
Please feel free to try to outdo my list with your own SEO suggestions.