Keeping up with all the Google search algorithm changes (about 400 updates / year) might sound like a complicated task, and it actually is; this troubles many SEO companies, consultants and even business owners. And while we can’t control or influence Google in any way, there are many things within our power that will make the search engines love our websites.
SEO used to be a much easier task in the past, when the automated link building tools were ruling. All you needed to do was to input the website details, and then push a few buttons – that was all! And believe it or not, these things worked quite well (either by themselves or in conjunction with some “real” SEO work) until last year’s Google Panda update, when millions of websites were sent into oblivion. I can only imagine the pain a website owner can feel when he sees that his precious online property has turned from a sales churning machine into a useless website that is outside Google’s top 100.
Google Panda has tried to improve the quality of the search results once again, penalizing the websites that were getting good ranks due to low quality, spammy and / or automated backlinks, and I’ll have to admit that the new version of the algorithm did a pretty good job. It’s true that some quality websites were hit as well, while a few thin content sites managed to keep their good ranks, but when was the last time you saw a bug-free piece of software?
So what should you do in order to build an authority website that the search engines will love forever? We’ve got quite a few suggestions from Google itself:
- Write good quality, well researched articles and post them on your blog. Avoid going with the “me too” trend; spend a lot of time researching the topic and you will see that the people will link to your articles naturally. This also means that the good old 100 words posts are not appreciated by Google anymore; go for meaty articles that have at least 600 words.
- As a general rule, you should always come up with great, original content, or hire somebody to do that for you. Resist the temptation to write for the sake of writing; better wait until the inspiration strikes and / or you’ve got something worthy to write about. You want to have content that is talked about, bookmarked, shared, and so on. And while we’re here, try to avoid using neologisms like “shockvertising“ in your articles – Google wants the content that’s being displayed on its results pages to be as easy to comprehend as possible (write for a 10 year old and Google will love you for that).
- Avoid overdoing the on-page optimization. I have seen countless pages that repeat “buy cheap shoes” (just an example) obsessively, and this will actually hurt your search engine rankings. Sure, if you are targeting the “buy cheap shoes” keyword, it makes sense to include it in the title of your article, and maybe once or twice in the body, but don’t overdo it or you’ll suffer the consequences.
- Can you guess the keyword I’m trying to optimize this article for? If you can’t, that makes two of us – I don’t know and I don’t care about it either. I prefer to write content that pleases my readers rather than the search engines, and believe it or not, this is one of Google’s recommendations as well.
- Become an authority in your field by creating outstanding content (blog posts, infographics, etc), publishing books, networking with your peers, doing guest posts on authority websites in the industry, etc. Google didn’t state this officially, but I’ve got a feeling that they will trust (and thus rank) Wikipedia better when it comes to “tinnitus cures” in comparison with my thin www.cheaptinnituscuresreviews.net website (I made that website name up, let’s hope it doesn’t exist).
- Avoid monetizing the website through any type of ads, unless this was your original plan. It still surprises me to see website owners that ask me if they shouldn’t include Google Ads on their sites, in order to recoup some of their internet marketing costs (the ads would bring them about $20 / month). If you are one of them, stop doing that because it can hurt your website.
- Social sharing and websites that are optimized for mobile devices will become much more important in the future. While creating a fully functional, good looking mobile version of your huge online store can be a challenging task, adding social sharing buttons to your website pages and blog posts is very easy and can be done by you (or your webmaster) in only a few minutes. Resist the temptation to use (or hire a SEO company that uses) automated social bookmarking tools; Google can determine if those accounts were created for the sole purpose of getting a backlink or not. Better wait for real people to bookmark your worthy content; this is the type of social bookmarking service that we are offering for all the clients that invest into one of our monthly seo services packages.
- The page loading speeds and layout will be much more important in the future, so consider having your website redesigned if you’re still using that template you bought for 30 bucks back in 1995.
- Build your website and promote it knowing that if it reaches the first Google page for a competitive term, it will have to withstand a review from one of Google’s employees. Your favorite search engine now uses a team of about 15,000 human reviewers (don’t quote me on this number) which make use of a 100+ pages guideline (don’t quote me on this either) to determine if a particular website actually deserves to get a top rank, or is there only because of a very effective link building campaign.
- If your site was penalized by Google, there’s hope! It looks like Google is not going to penalize entire websites for wrongdoings from now on, but specific pages. This means that you can add new, good quality pages to your website and expect them to get good ranks for the targeted keywords, provided that you didn’t do something really nasty in the past. Don’t duplicate a penalized page and expect it to rank well for the same keyword until the penalty is lifted, though – it won’t happen.
Any website owner wants to get better search engine ranks, but getting a thin 3 pages site listed on the first Google page has become much harder since last year’s Google Panda update. If you want to get a first page rank for the years to come, you have to prove Google that you deserve to be there due to the quality of the content that you are offering. Link building continues to be very effective, but if your website reaches the first Google results page and isn’t prepared for a human review, it will be penalized for sure.
Creating a quality website isn’t easy, but the effort invested into doing this will definitely pay off in the future, when your spammy competitors will be weeded out, as Google rolls out better and clever algorithm updates. Thank you for taking the time to read this 1200+ words blog post! If you have learned something new by reading this article, please let others know about it by clicking one of the social media sharing buttons below.