How to Play Google’s Game (and Win)

When I was growing up, I apparently didn’t pay much attention when my Dad was showing me how to do stuff on my car. Now when I look under the hood for anything more than checking the oil, all I achieve is getting confused.

I imagine that’s how a lot of people feel when they look at their competitor’s sites getting lots of Google love, while they’re stuck on page 4, 7 … 20. Especially when there’s articles floating around that say there are more than 200 factors Google takes into account when ranking sites.

Well, yeah, there are. But for most search verticals there’s less than 10 that really count.

But 10 is still a lot if you don’t know where to begin.

If that’s you, then this video will point you in the right direction.

In it I look at real sites to show you just why they’re highly visible in Google.

I cover:

  • What does and doesn’t Google like
  • The difference between ads, organic and map listings
  • What causes a site to rank and why some don’t (there’s a lot to go into here)
  • How to tell if you’ve received a penalty (either manual or algorithmic); and
  • How long it could take to see results from your SEO efforts.

By the end of the video you’ll be on the way to being an SEO pro (or at least know how not to get the wool pulled over your eyes by people who pretend to be)…

What’s covered in the video

  • 0.00 – Intro to video
  • 0.50 – Published ranking factors and Google webmaster guidelines (and why you should take them with a grain of salt)
  • 3.33 – Which ranking factors are most important for local search results
  • 5.20 – The difference between search and interruption marketing and which is better for getting customers / clients for most businesses
  • 6.45 – Different types of results you see in Google search
  • 8.00 – Pros and cons of paid advertising
  • 11.35 – Comparison of paid advertising to organic visibility (how organic visibility can be much more lucrative and cost effective over time)
  • 13.15 – Information on organic rankings
  • 13.55 – Difference between standard organic listings and map listings
  • 16.25 – The main factors that go into ranking a website
  • 17.05 – Spammy / low quality practices that can cause Google penalties
  • 19.20 – Some downsides to working with low-cost providers from overseas or huge agencies (they can be ineffective or harmful) and red flags to watch out for
  • 20.40 – Initial checks / clean up with new clients who have previously worked with other agencies
  • 22.22 – Algorithmic versus manual penalties and how to know if you’ve been hit by one using Google Search Console and SEMRush
  • 25.15 – What to do if you think or know you’ve got a penalty
  • 26.20 – How to create sustainable long-term rankings by knowing what Google looks at to rank a site
  • 27.45 – Analysing your competitors with free tools
  • 30.00 – A tool to analyse your competitors in bulk
  • 30.30 – Why you need to take site stats with a grain of salt
  • 31.10 – One way to tell if a search engine result page is not too competitive
  • 31.26 – How Google decides if a site is authoritative
  • 32.15 – How to avoid the Google sandbox (which will stop a brand new site from ranking for anything for 2 – 3 months)
  • 33.30 – Why Google likes brands and how to become one in Google’s eyes
  • 34.20 – Knowem – a search engine for social media sites
  • 35.40 – Social signals and business listings to build trust
  • 36.00 – Using Whitespark (and Fiverr) to find competitor business listings
  • 38.00 – A good list of places where you can create online listings for your business
  • 38.50 – Why authoritative links with the right anchor text (the words used to link to you) are important
  • 41.00 – An easy way to tell if a competitor is getting professional help with their marketing
  • 41.50 – How to find authoritative places to link to your site
  • 43.30 – Content and onsite optimisation
  • 43.40 – Creating content that answers people’s questions thoroughly so you become an authority to Google on your topic – ideally 25k words or more on your site
  • 45.45 – How to find topics to write about by thinking about frequently asked questions and using
  • 49.00 – Analysing the top 10 results to know what Google is looking for in that particular search results page
  • 51:15 – Using allintitle and allinurl search queries to see how many sites are trying to rank for your keywords
  • 51.50 – Creating silo structures by linking your site together to create site wide authority
  • 53.48 – Creating local relevance (if you’re serving a local area)

This video is one of a series of four Trust Metric digital marketing basics video walkthroughs.

You can check out the other three below:

[alert_note]You can also download the mindmap this series is based on so you have all the points for reference if you’re interested. Just click here to get it.[/alert_note]

Pro tip: For a quick idea of any glaring issues with your site, you can run it through multiple free SEO site analysis tools, for instance this, this or this.

While they won’t give you a thorough run down of everything that could be hurting your sites visibility and conversions (for that, check out our 70-point audit) they can help you see obvious mistakes or oversights that you might not have known to look for or resolve.


Links mentioned in the video walkthrough:
KW Finder
Google Search Console (formerly known as Webmaster Tools)
Open Site Explorer
Bulk DA / PA Checker
Local Visibility Systems Definitive List of Local Citation Sources
Answer the Public
WEBRIS guide to local link building (good information but Ryan has a strong personality)
Jesse Hanley’s guide to link building for startups