So you've started blogging. Maybe someone at work has said you ought to, and so you have, but why do your posts not come up in Google search results? Here's why.
I'm going to assume you understand that Google ranks websites and content and pretty much everything on the internet. This is a good thing, because their ranking of how good things are means we save time by not having to go to page two and beyond to find what we're looking for.
The problem with that is if you don't know what those ranking factors are, you could be spending a lot of time preparing blogs and other content that probably won't get found by the people looking for it. There are many factors and criteria that make up Google's ranking algorithm. It changes frequently, and there are more than 200 things you could do to your content to 100% optimise it for the first page of results. But by the time you'd done all that, Google could very well have changed the algorithm to make search results even better, so you'd have to start again. Also, 200 things! Who has time for that?
If we agree that the goal for our content is to appear on the first page of results, we need to do all we can to help Google rank our content, but before that we need to understand some of those influencers. One of those influencers is called domain authority.
Domain authority is the measure of how solid your domain URL is. It is calculated on a points basis out of 100 and sites that have a higher domain authority than you are more likely to be ranked closer to page one of results.
There are a lot of factors that determine your domain authority score, but largely it comes down to two things:
If you prepare wonderful content, that is in line with what your business offers and it meets the need of what people are searching for, Google will rank that content in an upwards fashion, therefore helping your overall score to increase. This is particularly true if you use relevant keywords pertaining to what people are searching for - there are tools to help you find those keywords or a PR firm can help you. Writing rubbish blogs about things that don't have anything to do with your business won't win you any favours.
The type of content you produce is also really important to making your blog successful. Just because someone has told you to blog, doesn't mean it needs to all be written out. An infographic could be the right type of content for a particular topic you're wanting to share your expertise about. Or a video, a podcast, a Venn diagram, even. (who doesn't love a good Venn!?).
If other, complementary sites with a high domain authority score are linking to your content, Google will take their influence into consideration when ranking your site. Similarly, if you have a tonne of bad links from terrible sites, that will affect your score negatively. So go ahead and clean up those toxic links and increase the good links.
Something to note, if you have a low domain authority, and there are others providing content on the same subject as you that have a higher domain authority, and their content is appearing on the first page of results, there's a good chance you won't be able to compete with them for one of those elusive 10 slots on the first page. That doesn't mean you shouldn't go ahead and prepare that content, just know that you'll need to work a bit harder with promotion of your content, to raise your domain authority to help increase your chances of page one results. Moz offers a free toolbar giving you direct insight to your domain authority and a few other goodies. Download the free Moz toolbar here.
So, if raising your domain authority is now your goal in order to help your content get found, preparing good quality content that is relevant to your business or expertise is really important. You'll be spending a good amount of time on your content production (you should be), so you may as well publish at a high standard. For example, if you are in the business of professional services, there's very little point to you blogging about roller skates. Similarly, if you were not a spelling bee champion, or there are other reasons why good grammar and spelling escape you, get someone to proof your work. Google doesn't enjoy hot mess content and neither does your audience.
If you do have a low domain authority (less than 20), it's not an entirely bad thing. As Moz reports, "it's easy-ish to raise your domain from 20 to 30, but raising 70-80 is considerably harder."
So in summary:
1) We need to care about our domain authority in order to be found on the first page of results.
2) We need to care about producing quality content that meets the needs of what people are searching for, and,
3) We need to care about having great links to our site and making sure toxic ones are removed.
As always, we love to share our findings in the world of communications. Sign up to our list to read more about all the things we have to say.
Lou Draper is Managing Partner of Draper Cormack Group and a public relations veteran. Originally from Auckland, she is now living, working and breathing public relations, personal brand and content curation in Wellington City.