We all know how important search engine optimisation is for a business. Being at the top of Google, whether you are a large, national brand, or a small, local company, can literally transform your business. The vast majority of web searchers only click on the top 3 search results and rarely go as far as page 2. So if you don’t rank, you’d better look for another way to bring new business in.
Google looks at several factors when determining where to rank a website in the search results including:
- The relevancy of the content on the page
- The age/authority of the domain name
- The number of links pointing to the website
- Social signals such as followers and engagement on social media
Google’s algorithm is complicated and secret. If we knew exactly what it was composed of then it would be easy to cheat – which is exactly what has happened through the history of search engines: people have worked out how to improve the ranking of websites and have cheated the system, making certain sites rank better than they should.
This has forced Google to make huge changes to the algorithm to make it much more difficult to manipulate the search results. This improves the searching experience for everyone and has meant that there are sanctions for those who don’t abide by the rules.
Since then, Google has been changing the algorithm on a regular basis, keeping search engine optimisers on their toes and penalising those still using dodgy tactics.
So how can we keep on top of all the changes to Google’s algorithm?
When people ask me this question, I always think back to a previous boss who was a strong believer in ‘back to basics’. Every Google algorithm update comes back to the same things:
- A quality website with fast loading pages that puts the user first
- Natural keyword usage
- Natural valuable linking from high quality websites – designed to bring traffic more than just link juice
- An engaged audience
- Quality content
When you plan your website, think about what the customer would be looking for and not how to win the ranking game. This sort of strategy is in-keeping with Google’s recommendations and will never go out of fashion. Going ‘back to basics’ with your search engine strategy future proofs your ranking and frees you from worrying about Google’s changes.
Of course, you do have to bear in mind what Google is looking for when planning your ranking strategy – just make sure you keep customers’ needs first. For example, links are still important, so instead of spamming lots of websites to get links back to your site, write some high quality content and share it on social media: this generates links organically and benefits your customer at the same time. If you are running a local business, concentrate on getting your name out in the local area. Google Local will be much more important to you, as well as getting links and mentions on local websites.
So what Google is looking for has not really changed over the past 10 years – quality content, well-built websites, happy customers, an engaged audience. We should have nothing to fear from Google’s algorithm updates – these changes are designed to offer more insightful and valuable search results for everyone.
Guest article by Cheryl Luzet at Wagada: offering ethical search engine optimisation, content marketing and conversion optimisation.