December 19, 2015
Google’s one constant? If your site doesn’t help people, it’s not getting ranked.
Social media buzz plays a role in search rankings—crank out quality content and get ’em talking.
It’s not just about content—make your site easy to navigate, or watch your rankings crash and burn.
Search engines have evolved rapidly since their inception, with no slowing down in sight.
Google made an unprecedented change in how they evaluate and index websites when they rolled out the first Panda Update in February of 2011. Since then, they’ve made dozens of alterations to their legendary algorithm.
Since Panda, updates have involved the filtering of low-quality or duplicate pages deemed “not useful” to users. Google’s search engine has transformed from a tool used to find everything into a device used to find the best things.
Google’s number-one goal with the Panda update (along with all algorithm changes since then) is obvious:
Understand exactly what this person is searching for and give it to them.
A great user experience is core to Google’s philosophy. Would so many people be using Google Search if all they did was bring up irrelevant sites?
This is exactly why several search engines that were moderately popular in early years of 2000 went down—their search results offered nothing but trash sites with no value.
As marketers, how do we stay ahead of the curve and keep our businesses visible to web users?
Here are 3 of the most important factors Google looks for when determining site ranking. The good news? Focus on the user and you win.
Fact: Google wants you to deliver high-quality content. How do we know this?
Because that’s what Google says.
Their algorithms are aimed at helping people find relevant sites by reducing the rankings of low-quality content. Most recent algorithm changes are designed to objectively assess website quality, with increasing sophistication.
So how do we know if our content is good or not?
Google has laid out specific guidelines and questions to assess your own website so it meets their standards.
For a glimpse into Google’s mindset, here are a few of those questions:
How does your site stack up? If your honest assessment sees room for improvement, there’s really only one solution.
What to do about it:
Our top recommendation for Google-proofing your website against future updates is to get started producing quality content on a regular basis.
We highly recommend putting together a real content marketing plan and posting great blogs at least once a week.
How could Google ever know if your website is designed well or not?
We asked ourselves the same question.
Google has added website performance as a core metric for how they reward websites in their SERPs. Specifically, they have started analyzing your bounce rate, average time on site, and average pages visited per session through collecting analytics and browser (Google Chrome) data.
This gives them a good idea if people find your website to be engaging.
If you have a great design, people stay longer and visit more pages. It’s that simple.
There’s no way to fool the system anymore. Google now knows which sites are providing a great experience and which ones aren’t.
What to do about it:
Throwing together a site cheaply isn’t the solution. You need a website design that really works for users. Effective messaging that accurately communicates your company’s values is also extremely important.
Start imagining every user visiting your site as a person you want to impress. The way they interact with your site can literally make or break your ability to rank well.
Here’s the deal—your company needs a social media presence, and your content has to get shared on social media. The more the better.
Google looks for signs that your website adds meaningful discussions to the internet. Social media is a powerful tool to show real proof that people are consuming and sharing your content (and your brand).
There’s been an intense debate over the last few years about how much social media affects organic rankings. To be brief, there’s a high correlation between top-ranked sites and social media engagement.
Going forward, social media indicators will play a very significant—and maybe even primary— role in determining content quality.
What to do about it:
Simple. Get a social media presence and take it seriously! Remember, the foundation of social media is content. Better, more relevant content means more shares, means higher rankings, means more business.
A good way to see where the social media bar is in your industry is to take a good look at some of your top-performing competitors. Observe how they have their Facebook and Twitter personalities set up. See how often they’re posting blog content to these profiles.
How do they engage with users? What’s their tone? This should give you a good idea on how you can improve your own efforts.
Maybe Google is an update away from becoming Skynet. Maybe not. But one thing is for sure:
It pays to stay on the algorithm’s good side.
Has your site ever been removed from Google’s search index?
Good. Let’s keep it that way.
It’s time to take a smarter approach to online marketing. The best single piece of advice we could give you?
Build everything with people in mind—your content, your site, your identity as a company.
Google will reward your efforts.
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