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How to Ethically Hack Google's SEO Algorithm in 2023 & Beyond

Updated: Nov 7, 2023





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Search engine optimization (SEO) is an ever-evolving field, and staying ahead of the curve can be a challenge. Google's algorithm is constantly changing, which means that SEO strategies need to be adapted to keep up. With 2024 on the horizon, now is the time to start thinking about how to ethically hack Google's SEO algorithm for the year ahead.


Here are a few developments related to Google's search algorithm and ranking factors in 2023 so far:

  • Google announced they will be expanding the Helpful Content Update from last year. This update rewards high-quality content that provides value to searchers. Expect an amplification of this update in 2023.

  • Google's Danny Sullivan stated site speed will become less of a ranking factor in 2023 as pages become faster on average. Other page experience factors will maintain importance.

  • Google is working on better supporting queries with multiple intents. This could lead to an update that improves results for broad queries.

  • Google is focused on improving results for conversational, natural language queries in voice search. Optimizing for long-tail voice queries will be more important.

  • Google is putting more emphasis on expertise, authority, and trust (EAT) in its search quality rater guidelines. Ranking factors related to EAT likely increasing.

  • No new major ranking factors have been confirmed by Google yet in 2023. But the existing Helpful Content Update and Page Experience updates will likely expand.


Here are 7 tips to help you ethically hack Google's ranking algorithm:



seo infographic



1. Optimize for Voice Search

voice search

Voice search is becoming increasingly popular, and it's only going to continue to grow in popularity in the coming years. As such, it's important to optimize your content for voice search. This means using natural language, answering questions directly, and providing the information that users are looking for in a clear and concise manner. Use natural language and conversational wording. Optimize content for long-tail voice queries.


Here's an example of how optimizing for voice search can increase SEO:


Let's say you run a grocery delivery service in Austin, TX called "Austin Groceries Express". To rank in voice search results, you'd want to optimize for long-tail natural language queries like: "Hey Google, can I order groceries online for delivery in Austin?" To target this search, you could create a blog post titled: "How to Order Groceries Online for Delivery in Austin: The 5 Best Local Services"


In the content, use conversational language: "If you live in Austin and want to order groceries online, you have several excellent delivery options. Avoid the crowds and get groceries delivered right to your door with these top 5 Austin grocery delivery services."


Optimize the post for the target keyword, and include relevant synonyms like "Austin grocery delivery." When users search for that query by voice, your content has a strong chance of ranking thanks to optimization for long-tail voice queries. This allows you to capture that high-intent traffic rather than just ranking for "Austin grocery delivery".


2. Focus on User Experience


Google's algorithm is designed to prioritize websites that provide a good user experience. This means that it's important to focus on things like page speed, mobile responsiveness, and ease of navigation. Reduce page load times, fix mobile layout issues, eliminate intrusive ads, and optimize content for user satisfaction.


Here are some examples of good and bad user experiences on a website when it comes to SEO:


Good User Experience:

  • Fast load times - Pages load in under 2-3 seconds so users don't abandon the site. Improves user engagement signals.

  • Mobile responsive design - No horizontal scrolling or tiny text on mobile. This ensures good mobile experience.

  • Easy navigation - Intuitive IA and navigation menu so users find info quickly. Improves dwell time.

  • Quality content - Useful, engaging content written for users. Satisfies intent behind queries.

  • Minimal ads - Ads are non-intrusive. Too many ads frustrate users.

  • Internal linking - Related content is linked to facilitate site navigation.


Bad User Experience:

  • Slow load times - Pages take 10+ seconds to load, increasing bounce rate.

  • Mobile layout issues - Horizontal scrolling required on mobile. Poor mobile UX.

  • Hard to navigate - Confusing IA that hides key pages far from home page.

  • Thin content - Low-quality content with little value for users.

  • Intrusive ads - Videos, pop-ups and ads overwhelm the content.

  • Broken navigation - Broken menus and links prevent navigation.

  • Auto-play audio/video - Loud audio or video that starts automatically annoys users.

Optimizing for user experience helps satisfy Google's ranking factors related to engagement and satisfaction. Make sure to check the resources in Google's search console regularly to optimize your website.


3. Use Natural Language Processing

NLP

Natural language processing (NLP) is a technology that helps Google understand the context and meaning of words in a sentence. It's important to use NLP in your content to help Google understand what your content is about and how it's relevant to a user's search query. This means using synonyms, related terms, and natural language in your content.


Here's an example of how natural language processing (NLP) could be used to optimize a cooking website for SEO:


1. Analyze recipe pages using NLP topic modeling to identify that they focus on topics like "dinner recipes", "dessert recipes", "vegetarian recipes", etc.


2. Use NLP entity extraction to pull out key ingredients, cooking methods, and equipment mentioned across recipes.


3. Based on analysis, you notice there are no recipes focused on the topic "healthy dinner recipes". Use NLP keywords extraction on relevant sites to find phrases people search for like "healthy weeknight dinners".


4. Create optimized content for the gap topic "healthy dinner recipes" that includes relevant keywords like "quick healthy dinners" and "easy diet meals" that were extracted.


5. Apply NLP semantic analysis to identify related secondary topics like "meal prep" and "nutrition" that new recipe content should link out to.


6. Use NLP sentiment analysis on reviews of existing recipes to find complaints about overly rich desserts. Create lighter dessert alternatives to solve that pain point.


7. Iterate content optimization based on ongoing NLP analysis of content gaps, user search patterns, and sentiment around topics.


4. Create High-Quality Content

measuring beakers

Creating high-quality content is crucial for SEO success in 2023. This means creating content that is informative, engaging, and relevant to your target audience. Make sure that your content is well-researched, well-written, and provides value to your readers. Regularly publish truly useful, fresh content. Google rewards sites that rapidly publish evergreen content.


Here is an example contrasting high quality and low quality content on the topic of "how to lose weight":


High Quality:


Title: How to Lose Weight Through Diet and Exercise: A Complete 8-Week Guide


- 2,500 word comprehensive guide on safe and sustainable weight loss strategies

- Outlines nutritionist-recommended meal plans and recipes for each week

- Details an 8-week interval training workout regimen with video demos

- Includes interviews from doctors and weight loss coaches

- Analyzes studies on popular diets like Keto and Whole30

- Compares benefits and risks of various exercise programs

- Created by certified personal trainer and licensed dietitian

- Shares tips and schedule adjustments for busy professionals

- Uses charts to display calorie targets, macronutrients, and nutrition facts

- Structured with section headings and table of contents


Low Quality:


Title: Lose Weight Fast! 5 Easy Tips


- 350 words briefly listing generic weight loss tips

- Recommends cutting carbs without context or nutrition info

- Broad advice to "exercise more" without specifics

- No expert insight, references, or research cited

- Tip section is barely 2-3 sentences per tip

- Does not differentiate or customize guidance

- Written by unknown author without expertise shown

- Main focus seems to be affiliate links and ads vs. informing

- Includes awkward keyword repetition instead of synonyms

- Page lacks headers, multimedia, structure to help reader


5. Build Quality Backlinks


typewriter showing backlinks

Backlinks are still an important factor in Google's algorithm, but it's important to focus on quality over quantity. This means building backlinks from high-quality, relevant websites that are trusted by Google. Avoid spammy backlinks and focus on building relationships with other websites in your niche. Create highly sharable, virus-worthy content. Earn backlinks from authority sites by creating resources they want to link to.


Here's an example contrasting a company who focuses on quality backlinks versus one who builds primarily low-quality links:


Company A - Builds Quality Backlinks


- Produces regular contributor articles for major publications like Entrepreneur, Forbes, HuffPost

- Founder is interviewed by relevant podcasts like Shopify Masters, Ecommerce Influence

- Creates comprehensive industry research reports, ebooks, and tools that sites embed with links

- Sponsors and speaks at major ecommerce conferences like IRCE, ShopTalk, CommerceNext

- Guest lectures at ecommerce courses in universities to gain .edu links

- Gains mentions and links from influencers on social media and blogs

- Focuses on building relationships with a small number of authoritative sites vs. spam outreach


Company B - Prioritizes Low-Quality Links


- Pays for directory submissions to spammy sites like DMOZ, Business.com

- Purchases bulk links from low-quality PBNs and link networks

- Exchanges lots of links with unrelated sites to boost metrics

- Comments on irrelevant blogs and sites with over-optimized anchor text links

- Uses poorly disguised guest posts on low-traffic sites for links

- Spams low-value content across multiple sites rather than original assets

- Buys links from Fiverr, SEOClerks, other low-quality providers

- Pursues any link opportunity possible, even if completely irrelevant


Company A earns fewer total links but has a stronger domain authority and lower risk profile. Company B has more links numerically but poor link quality that can potentially harm their site.


Here are 10 ideas for how to get a quality backlink in 5 minutes or less:

  1. Create and verify your Wikipedia page with credible external links and citations. Wikipedia ranks very well.

  2. Comment on an industry influencer's blog post with value-add insights and include a relevant link back to your content.

  3. Share an infographic, ebook, or other asset you created on LinkedIn and other social channels where authority sites may share/link to it.

  4. Pitch contributing a quote/insight to a media outlet writing a relevant article and include a link.

  5. Join a BuzzSumo discussion around an insightful post in your space and add your thoughts with a link.

  6. Reply to an industry leader's tweet with a thoughtful response including a link to pertinent info.

  7. Email a strategic partnership contact at a company in your space linking them to a co-marketing asset.

  8. Follow and engage with an industry authority on Instagram and organically work in a link.

  9. Jump into a Reddit AMA with an expert in your field and provide useful commentary with a link for reference.

  10. Suggest and link to an appropriate piece of your content in a Quora thread where it adds value.

The key is engaging thoughtfully in places your audience is active and providing value before subtly working in a relevant link or resource. With some creativity, it's very possible to get a quality, editorial link in under 5 minutes.


Don't have time? Book a call with us to see if we can help you rank higher in 2023 and beyond.


6. Embrace Video Content


Video content is becoming increasingly popular, and it's a great way to engage with your audience and improve your SEO. Google likes video content, so make sure to incorporate it into your content strategy. Create high-quality videos that provide value to your audience and optimize them for search engines.


Here's a specific example contrasting two furniture brands and their use of video for SEO:


Wayfair (embraces video)

- Has a YouTube channel with 100K+ subscribers and regular new videos like decor tips, style guides, product tours etc.

- Employees create vlogs showing daily life working at Wayfair.

- Uses key product names, styles and keywords in video titles and descriptions.

- Embeds “Shop This Look” product videos on category pages.

- Repurposes top videos into Instagram Reels, TikToks, ads.

- Works with influencers to make Room Makeover and Decor Haul videos.

- Analyzes viewer dropoff rates, clicks, etc. to improve video strategy.


wayfair seo analyzer

Bob's Discount Furniture (minimal video use)

- Bob's YouTube has under 2K subscribers and only a handful of old videos.

- No company culture vlogs, employee spotlights or behind-the-scenes content.

- Existing product videos have generic non-SEO optimized titles like “Recliner Chair”.

- Website and social channels rarely showcase or embed any video content.

- No coordinated video strategy or optimization based on performance data.

- Primary focus on print ads, direct mail, radio - not video content.


bobs seo analyzer

As you can see from SEM RUSH's domain tools, we see that Wayfair's embrace of video content allows them to outrank Bob's for critical ecommerce keywords and better connect with customers through engaging video formats. They also have an outstanding 10x more organic search traffic than Bob's.


7. Use Artificial Intelligence


artificial intelligence woman

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming more prevalent in SEO, and it's important to start using it in your strategy. AI can help you analyze data, predict trends, and develop strategies that are tailored to your specific business needs. Explore AI tools and platforms that can help you improve your SEO in 2023. Use AI tools like Jasper, Jarvis, and Copy.ai to analyze content and suggest SEO optimizations.


Here is a specific example contrasting how eBay uses AI for SEO compared to Craigslist's more limited usage:


eBay (leverages AI)

- Uses AI to synthesize product descriptions from item titles, attributes and user reviews. Creates more engaging, SEO-optimized copy.

- Employs AI search algorithms that analyze buyer intent and match listings to search queries, even when keywords don't exactly match.

- Utilizes AI to customize homepage product recommendations based on user's browsing history and purchase patterns.

- Has AI bots that scrape competitors like Amazon to benchmark prices and identify gaps in product inventory.

- Implements AI-powered image recognition to auto-tag and index imagery for better optimization.


ebay seo analyzer

Craigslist (minimal AI usage)

- Product descriptions are manually entered by sellers with no AI synthesis or optimization.

- Basic keyword matching search without deeper AI-driven intent analysis.

- No personalization or custom recommendations based on user behavior.

- Competitive analysis and price benchmarking done manually if at all.

- Images not auto tagged or indexed based on recognition algorithms.


craigslist seo analyzer

eBay's significant investment in AI gives them an SEO advantage through better on-page optimization, search intelligence, personalization and competitive insights. Craigslist's approach lacks those capabilities.


Now you're probably thinking these companies are so big that it's not relevant to your situation. So we'll give you another scenario.


Here is an example you might be able to relate to more; contrasting how two small local pizza restaurants could differ in their use of AI for SEO and marketing:


Pizza Place 1 (leverages AI):

- Uses AI copywriting tools to optimize menu pages with relevant local keywords (e.g. "Chicago deep dish pizza")

- Employs AI chatbots on Facebook Messenger to take delivery orders and answer FAQs 24/7.

- Analyzes customer sentiment on review sites with AI to improve offerings and address complaints.

- Personalizes email promotions using AI based on past order history and preferences.

- Tests different ad variations and images for Google/Facebook Ads with AI to optimize performance.


Pizza Place 2 (minimal AI usage):

- Menu copy written manually without localization or AI optimization.

- No chatbots for taking orders or answering questions at scale.

- Manually reads and reacts to customer reviews and feedback.

- Sends mass promotional emails without personalization.

- Creates ad images/copy manually based on guesswork, limited testing.


By applying AI for better localized SEO, intelligent chatbots, sentiment analysis, personalized engagement and optimized paid ads, Pizza Place 1 can enhance their digital marketing and customer experience versus the more basic manual approach of Pizza Place 2.


6 Bonus Tips to Ethically Hack Google's Search Algorithm


As the world's leading search engine, Google's algorithm is constantly evolving to provide the most relevant and useful results for users. As a result, businesses and website owners are always looking for ways to optimize their content to rank higher in search results. In this post, we'll explore some tips and tricks for hacking Google's search algorithm to improve your website's visibility.


1. Use Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific phrases that users may search for. While they may have lower search volumes, they also have lower competition, making it easier to rank for them. For example, "best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles" is a long-tail keyword that may have less competition than the broader keyword "vegan restaurants."


2. Optimize Your Website for Mobile

mobile phone

With the rise of mobile devices, Google has started to prioritize mobile-friendly websites in search results. Make sure your website is optimized for mobile by using responsive design and ensuring that your pages load quickly on mobile devices.


Here are some key statistics on mobile usage for browsing websites and interacting with businesses:


- Mobile devices account for over 50% of website traffic globally (Source: Statista)

- 79% of internet users say they use their mobile for shopping and buying products online. (Source: BigCommerce)

- 73% of people use their smartphone to research products while in a physical store. (Source: Think with Google)

- 60% of searches lead to purchases happen on mobile devices. (Source: Google)

- 61% of website visitors prefer mobile sites over mobile apps (Source: Smart Insights)

- More Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries, including the US and Japan (Source: Google)

- 61% of small businesses say mobile design is extremely important for their operations (Source: Paypal)

- Responsive websites with adaptive mobile designs see 35% more conversions than non-responsive sites (Source: Search Engine Watch)


In summary, mobile has become the predominant platform for browsing and engagement, both for general websites and business/ecommerce interactions. Having a responsive mobile experience is critical for reaching and converting today's on-the-go users


3. Use Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

Title tags and meta descriptions are HTML elements that provide information about your webpage to search engines. They are also the first things that users see in search results, so it's important to optimize them for both search engines and users. Make sure your title tags and meta descriptions are descriptive and include your target keywords.


4. Use Google My Business

Google My Business is a free tool that allows businesses to manage their online presence across Google, including search and maps. By optimizing your Google My Business profile, you can increase your visibility in local search results and provide users with important information about your business, such as your address, phone number, and hours of operation.


5. Use Schema Markup

schema markup what is it
Source: Semrush.com

Schema markup is a type of code that can be added to your website to help search engines understand your content better. By using schema markup, you can provide more detailed information about your content, such as product details, reviews, and ratings, which can help your content stand out in search results. Google gives you a free tool to see if your website supports rich results. For generic schema validation, you can use the Schema Markup Validator to test all types of schema.org markup, without Google-specific validation.


6. Use [GA4] Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics (GA4) is a free tool that was recently released by Google on July 1st, 2023. GA4 allows you to track website traffic, user behavior, and other important metrics. By analyzing this data, you can identify areas for improvement and optimize your website and content to better meet the needs of your target audience.


Conclusion

SEO is a constantly evolving field, and staying ahead of the curve can be a challenge. However, by implementing these tips, you can ethically hack Google's SEO algorithm in 2023 and improve your visibility in search engines. Remember to focus on user experience, create high-quality content, and build quality backlinks. Embrace new technologies like voice search and AI, and optimize your content for natural language processing. By following these tips, you'll be well on your way to SEO success in 2023.


Not confident in your skills? See how McFarland Marketing can help you rank high with advanced search engine optimization implementations or book a free call to get a consultation.

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