How to keep up with Google’s changing algorithms
You’ll hear the term ‘search engine optimisation’ (SEO) a lot in any discussion about growing your business online and making your website perform better in search engines. But SEO isn’t a static practise that you just learn how to do and once you’ve mastered it, that’s it. Optimising your website for search engines isn’t straight forward. It involves meeting constantly changing criteria, or algorithms, which are set out by the likes of Google, but never entirely confirmed. To understand the extent of these changes, it’s reported that Google made 3,200 algorithm changes last year alone! 3,200 changes!
It’s impossible to adapt to every single change, so it’s important to focus on optimising your website to meet Google’s overall goals and objectives. As always, they’ve been vague as to the details of their latest algorithm change, but they have offered some insight into what businesses should be thinking about, and it largely involves their content.
Once upon a time, the trick with content was to cram as many keywords into a paragraph as humanly possible so that your website was the first to appear when someone searched for said keyword. But long gone are those days and now it couldn’t be more different. Now the content that you write needs to be smart, thoughtful, useful, informative and one-of-a-kind. (Not much to ask you might say!) But this is what makes the internet what it is today. We, as users, want to be able to type a question into Google and get an accurate and comprehensive answer straight away. We don’t want to have to jump back and forth to several sites to collect the information that we need. So this is what you need to keep in mind when writing your content. In more detail, this is what Google wants you to think about:
Is the information that you’re sharing original?
This has been important for quite some time now and hopefully you are already well versed in the importance of unique content. There are millions of websites out there, and if yours is just another website that regurgitates the same repetitive content, it’s not going to sit well with Google.
Is your content comprehensive?
Like we mentioned before, Google wants to give a user the answer they’re looking for with as little effort as possible. This means, not having to click back and forth onto the results page, searching for complete answers. If users quickly bounce off your website and keep searching, it will indicate to Google that your content isn’t substantial enough and you may not rank as high. When writing about a particular topic, be thorough and complete so that the entire subject is covered, and the user’s questions have been completely answered.
Is your page title accurate, descriptive and helpful?
It’s reported that a whopping 8 out of 10 people will read your headline but only 2 out of 10 will actually click through and read your content. This shows just how important your headlines are. They need to really summarise your content, rather than just be packed with keywords. Here, Google wants you to think about the user experience rather than just ‘SEO’. However, to keep you in line, Google will be watching out for clickbait. Of course if you write a headline that is exaggerated or shocking, people may well click through to read your content. That isn’t mission accomplished though. You can’t fool Google into thinking that people are interested in your excellent headline and enjoying your content, because with clickbait, users will quickly discover that your content isn’t what they were expecting, and they’ll leave your page and head back to the SERP (search engine results page) to find better content. This would show to Google that your page has a high bounce rate and that users aren’t satisfied with your content – so it won’t rank well.
Would people love to share your content?
Google wants their users to love your content. They’re not trying to hold you back, they just want to ensure that they’re only offering the very best websites to their users. With this in mind, you want to start prioritising users first and SEO second. Once they start to love your content, products and service, the Google ranking will come. You want people to enjoy your content so much that they bookmark your website, or share your page with their friends.
Some simple ways of improving your content include ensuring that there are no spelling and grammar mistakes, or design/ style issues (such as using a pale font against a white background which would be difficult to read). You should also ensure that the overall look of the page appears ‘polished’. Use high quality and well placed images, videos and graphics to add interest and keep users engaged for longer. Also be sure that there aren’t excessive ads slowing the site speed down and distracting the user.
Make sure your website is mobile optimised
Most importantly, make sure that your page displays well on mobile devices. More than 60% of Google searches are made on mobiles and its 2019! Think. Mobile. First. This is a priority for Google and your efforts won’t get you anywhere without a mobile optimised website. Speak to a web designer if your site needs updating.
Always keep the user in mind
If someone isn’t happy with a Google search, they can’t actually tell Google what was wrong with it. So Google has to rely on signs and signals to improve their service – such as click through rates and bounce rates. Consider what user actions will result from your content and efforts and how this will translate to Google. If you put the user at the centre of your strategy and go above and beyond for them, you should start to see the results that you’re looking for. It’s not a quick fix, but it’s certainly worth it.