Is Ranking Number 1 on Google a Pipe (|) Dream?

Is ranking number 1 on Google a pipe (|) dream or is choosing an experienced and skilled SEO Agency with a solid understanding of the ever changing world of SEO key to that mad dash (-) up the rankings.

 

As a leading Digital Marketing and SEO Agency with offices in Leeds and London and clients across the UK, we have years of experience in providing SEO services with proven results.

 

At Trio, we always advocate working alongside SEO experts to develop a powerful long-term SEO strategy that takes into account on-site, off-site, and technical SEO as well as having a team or strategy to keep pace with the constantly evolving Algorithm changes that Google introduces.

 

What is the Google Algorithm?

Google’s algorithm is a system used to pull data from its search index and find the best possible result for a query. The Google search engine uses a combination of algorithms based on certain ranking factors to create a SERP (search engine results page) that will display web pages ranked by what they determine to be the most relevant to your search. 

 

How often is the Google Algorithm updated?

Google makes hundreds, if not thousands of tiny updates to the algorithm each year. Most of the Google changes are minor and will go relatively unnoticed to the untrained eye but each year they will roll out some major game-changers such as the Google Core Web Vitals update in 2021 and a few other changes which you can read about in our 2022 SEO strategy blog.

How can you keep up with the changes?

As an SEO agency, it is our job to continue to research and adjust our best practice to adhere and react to these changes. We will regularly check factors such as site traffic in Google Analytics and monitor rankings of targeted keywords and react to any anomalies – our aim is to spot and respond to these updates sometimes even before Google makes them official!

Google are notorious for not providing hints or even updated documentation. It is becoming extremely difficult for businesses that lack the proper resources to keep up. These changes could be impacting their business drastically. 

Google will often use the Search Liason Twitter and more importantly Google Webmaster Guidelines to release information on updates but tend to only be around major core updates. Due to the fact the algorithm is updated so frequently, it would mean Google would have to constantly update the public on changes that may or not affect their rankings.

This is where working with an SEO expert or SEO agency can be majorly beneficial – we are well equipped with various tools such as SEMrush Sensor, are well versed in Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines, and keep on top of the changes and research surrounding it so you don’t have to.

Should you implement all changes straight away?

Due to Google making constant changes to the algorithm every year, as SEO’s we have two choices: make the changes blindly or use our expert knowledge to decide which updates are key and need to be implemented urgently and which might not be suitable for certain sites or clients. The next step would be to look at SEO testing.

Why should you run SEO tests?

SEO testing is the process of making changes to your website and measuring the impact the changes have on factors such as keyword ranking, conversions, and site traffic. Here are some of the benefits of SEO testing changes on the site:

  1. You can find out what works for you – In SEO there is more or less no guarantee or magic one size fits all formula. There is always a hypothetical or “maybe, it depends” scenario. Results could depend on factors such as your industry and what your competitors are doing, just because we saw a positive impact on another site doesn’t mean it will work for you. 
  2. You can make decisions based on data – The SEO industry is one that has many different opinions on what works and what does not. At Trio, we believe in complete transparency and doing what is best for the client. By testing and being completely data and results driven you can ensure maximum success.
  3. You can make sure the changes are worth it –  Rolling out SEO changes can take a lot of time, resources, and money. Testing will allow you to be able to see if the changes made a positive impact before allocating the resources to do it site wide and will allow us to limit any negative impacts on the site.

Example of an SEO Test – Changing the title tag

Depending on what your goals are there are various SEO tests that you can run. One example would be testing the impact of changing the title tag.

A title tag is a HTML element that is used to define the title of the webpage and how it appears on the search engine result page and also when the page/post is shared to things such as Social Media.

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The purpose of this title tag is to tell the search engine user and potential site visitor what to expect from the web page and encourage them to click through to your page. The other benefit of a great title tag is that Google uses this (among other things) to help make clear sense of your page and the content on it. 

SEO Test: Case Study – Pipes or Dashes in the title tag

SEO experts the world over will always debate the finer details of search engine optimisation. Some theories and aspects of SEO are universally agreed but it seems like every week there will be a new game changing theory and someone claiming the secrets to fast track success.

One aspect of SEO we can all agree on is how important title tag optimisation is and we have all seen that even small changes and tweaks can make a massive difference to how your page ranks.

We recently decided to investigate the impact of using a dash (-) or a pipe (|) in the page title. Google themselves use the dash for Google Ads but have said previously in a Google Search Central video that it could for certain industries have an impact on Click-Through Rates and is worth A/B testing. Overall as long as you are using separators it should not have a huge difference but in SEO even small wins can turn into large gains.

Before undertaking the test there is some important information to consider:

  • Pixel Space & Characters – title elements are measured in pixels and characters. If replacing dashes with pipes you would be able to fit more characters into the title tag, replacing pipes with dashes would then mean possibly having to rewrite the tag to accommodate.
  • Competitors & Goals – title tags of competitors who rank above you should be taken into consideration. Before considering making changes look at competitors and check how they structure it and set realistic goals on what performance improvements you are aiming for with these changes.

The Test & Result

For one of our clients, we recently noticed some of the pages and keywords they were aiming to improve were ranking behind pages that used the dash and our client was using the pipe separator. 

For the main services pages on the site, we decided to test replacing the pipes with a dash. The keywords and content of the tag other than the separators remained exactly the same. Our aim was to validate our theory that these changes would have a positive effect on organic traffic and overall keyword ranking.

We were confident that the extensive keyword research, writing and content optimisation on the site would place it ahead of the competition and the small changes to the title tag could be the small win needed to improve the site results on the SERP.

We ran the initial test between November and December, we know better than anyone that SEO is optimising for the long game so it is something we will continue to monitor. 

The initial results provided us with a massive upswing in Average keyword position (image above) 

The client saw keyword improvement on all of the keywords we optimise for them as part of their package with some high volume search terms ranking for the first time on page 2 of Google.

The Conclusion

Even though this particular client achieved exceptional results from this test, it is evident that the positive results of this test are down to the particular industry and the preferences of that target audience. It is possible that the dash improved the readability for people scanning the SERP for this service and might not work as well for other industries.

Overall it proves the importance of researching and experimenting with your SEO strategy and the elements that make up said strategy such as these page title and meta descriptions. 

Results will vary when taking into consideration site content, the audience and the industry you operate in and the best practice within that industry.

At Trio, we completely understand how important this research and testing is, therefore we will always take a results-driven approach and build SEO strategies that see genuine ROI.

Contact us today to discuss our flexible SEO pricing packages and services that tap into all different aspects of SEO and take a holistic approach to improving all aspects of your site.

 

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