SEO INSIDER – What Does Google Want from Us Now?

Social Media with marketelementsThe search landscape continues to evolve.  As more and more people try to manipulate search results, so the search engines update their algorithms to try to identify indicators of great content that searchers will find relevant.  This means updates are being introduced constantly and Google’s most recent update dubbed ‘Penguin’ has affected the search performance of many sites.

The two most important updates from your search optimisation standpoint are the ‘Panda’ and ‘Penguin’.  Panda 1.0 was released in Feb 11 and the latest (3.5) was released in Apr 12.  Penguin was released on 24 April 2012.

 

PANDA & PENGUIN – WHATS THE DIFFERENCE?

 What Google says about its Panda update:

 “This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites – sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”

What Google says about its Penguin update:

“Sites affected by this change might not be easily recognizable as spamming without deep analysis or expertise, but the common thread is that these sites are doing much more than white hat SEO; we believe they are engaging in web-spam tactics to manipulate search engine rankings

WHAT WILL THIS MEAN FOR YOUR WEBSITE’S RANKING?

In short, you need to be concerned with:

  • Content – Quality, relevant content
  • Searcher behaviour – How many searchers use the back button without looking at any other content (the ‘bounce rate’) versus how many click through to other pages on your site
  • Links to your page – Links should be from good quality sites.  Avoid ‘link farms’ or pay for link schemes.
  • Social references – Are you active on or linked to social sites?  This metric is growing.  If your Brand is liked this is another signal about your site.
  • Clean code – Page load speed, 404 errors, site structure – the technical elements matter as well!

This means that you need to be sure that:  you are writing quality, spell-checked content for your website; you are promoting your website with integrity; and you are avoiding ‘spammy’ techniques designed to affect rank.

WHAT ELSE WILL AFFECT MY RANK?

Personalised search means that whilst we can all perform exactly the same search, Google will offer different results based on our locations, interests and past search behaviours (how many us have a Google profile or Google Account and leave this signed in while we search?).  Tracking rank is not a good gauge of search performance – look at traffic [volumes] to your site to review performance.

 

WHAT ABOUT GOOGLE PLUS?

Google owns Google Plus and therefore you can assume this means they intend you to use it…  Social signals are becoming more and more important and are now a ranking factor.  Google wants us to participate and Google Analytics now measures social interaction.

SO WHAT DO WE DO NOW?

Confused?  Don’t be.  Here is a strategy to take you forward:

  • Schedule a website review  – Ensure your site is loading quickly and that there are no errors, links are relevant and that your site is ship-shape.  If this daunts you or you just don’t have the time – contact us for help!
  •  Start a blog on your site  – Create great content (see our tips for creating great content) for your audience – think hard about what’s useful and what will benefit them.
  • Announce new posts/blogs on your social media accountsDon’t just do the “See our blog” and link it – craft a compelling headline that tempts your audience to actually click on the link, e.g. “Find out Why More People Respond to…”
  • Brand your social media presence well - Use good imagery designed for the size and space.

 

If you need a review of your website’s performance or content, or would like help setting up a blog or social media accounts, please contact us now.