SEO's Golden Rule -- Be The (Updated) Answer

Everyone has probably had a dozen conversations with SEO experts and found they have come away with a couple of dozen answers to what the secret of cracking Google's secret search algorithm is. Just look at any post on any well-known search site and you'll see a lot of disagreement in what the most important search rankings are.

The best tip I have ever been given was rather generic, but according to the latest research, it would appear to be sound advice. "Be the best source on answers to questions people have about your industry" was the basic gist of the steer I got some years ago. 

The premise is that this has always been the basis of good SEO -- but that also, Google has become so smart at scanning pages, it can pretty much read pages like a human being would. The tricks may work, but not nearly as much as they used to, and they're nowhere near as effective as that simple tip to be truly useful and provide the answers people need to know more about a particular field.

The proof, if it were needed, must surely come from the latest Searchmetrics research, which places Wikipedia as the most frequently visible site in Google's search results through 2018. 

The reason given by the researchers comes down to two main points. The site is jam-packed with incredibly useful information and it is frequently updated. 

In second place we have a result -- perhaps not surprising -- of Google-owned YouTube being the most improved performer year-on-year. It is number two in the UK and nearly all international markets.

The researchers don't draw a direct parallel between the site and its owner, but instead point out that video has fared much better in the latter half of 2018 since Google brought in carousel video results, which YouTube is well placed to provide content for. 

Perhaps just as interestingly, after Facebook in third place, is the finding that the UK's fourth- and fifth-most frequently visible sites in search are the BBC and The Guardian.

The country's national broadcaster being in the top five is perhaps not a surprise because it is way out ahead as the most-visited news site in the UK and, despite what detractors may say, it is seen as very trustworthy. 

The Guardian, in fifth place, is a huge pat on the back for the liberal newspaper that, like the BBC, is generally very well trusted by all those not on the right of politics. One would have to assume that weight of numbers visiting the site shows Google that it is trusted but, one would presume, having content that is free to view must put it in a better position for SEO than articles placed behind a paywall. 

The newspaper has taken a different approach to the other quality broadsheets online by asking people to donate GBP5 a month to keep the proverbial lights on, rather than place content behind a paywall.

We will have to wait for the next set of financials to see how well it is working out economically, but from an SEO point of view, it would certainly appear to be working out very well.  

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