|Is your website optimised for Google’s latest update?
What is your first exposure to a brand? Increasingly in this digital age, people click through to a website after entering keywords into a search engine. It’s therefore very important that your website looks the part for people who aren’t looking for your site specifically but access it anyway. But search engine giant Google is becoming increasingly demanding to ensure all results are all high-quality links. Small businesses therefore need to make sure they are complying with the search engine’s rules, or risk missing out on potential business. After all, a website is a vital marketing tool, so you need to know what could affect its performance.
Web users are more demanding too
Back in the day, brands would awkwardly crowbar keywords into their website copy to boost their search engine rankings, but it left many people clicking through to sites that didn’t actually contain any relevant information. This meant they simply clicked away and the company missed out on opportunities to gain new customers. In other words, nobody was really benefiting from this approach, so Google has actively sought in recent years to satisfy the demand for high-quality results with tougher and stricter search algorithms.
Good quality sites will be rewarded
Google launched its Penguin algorithm 4 years ago to identify and penalise spammy sites with poor keyword usage. Just recently, it has rolled out a new update – Google Penguin 4.0 – that takes the process a step further by working in real-time. The fact its data is being refreshed regularly means changes can be seen much more quickly – and a company’s rankings in the results pages could change in a matter of hours.
What this means for marketers
The challenge for brands used to be creating a high-quality website that gets near the top of Google’s rankings. But now the focus has turned to ensuring they remain flying high. This essentially means you can’t get complacent, and must ensure you site is consistently generating strong returns for you.
To achieve this, a website must meet several key requirements. Firstly, it must be usable and easy to navigate, or else people will simply click away. Secondly, it must be well rendered, both in terms of its design and branding, and in terms of how it appears on different devices, such as laptops and smartphones. Finally, a website must be genuinely useful, packed with original content that fulfils a need and engenders trust and credibility among your audience. By delivering a great online user experience and giving people a reason to keep coming back to your website, Google is sure to reward you with favourable search engine rankings.
Keep up with best practice
A notable feature of Google Penguin 4.0 is that it doesn’t always target an entire website, so it could be specific pages or sections of a site that get penalised if they are deemed to be spammy. This is a subtle but significant change to Google’s search process – and one that demonstrates why companies should keep a close eye on developments in this area. Without understanding Google’s search criteria in full, you could easily fall foul of its requirements and be penalised.
This makes it essential that you not only follow updates from Google via its blog and Twitter channel, but use social media, online forums and mailing lists to keep up with what other businesses and SEO experts are saying and doing. Being ‘in on’ future developments should help ensure you are managing your website from an informed perspective.
Use data analytics to influence website design and content
To ensure your website genuinely offers value to your target audience, use data analytics tools such as Google Analytics to learn more about how they interact with the platform. By understanding what people are searching for, what pages they are landing on first and how long they are spending on certain pages, you can get invaluable insights into the user journey and tailor your website accordingly, so you’re in a better position to turn someone browsing online into a paying customer.
Don’t forget to promote your site offline
While search engines are a vital way to get your website seen, it’s also wise to actively promote it offline. For instance, you could sponsor local events and use banners displaying your URL, or maybe even a sports team so players will be displaying your logo on their t-shirts. Additionally all your business stationery should contain your web address and social media details along with promotional items such as pens, USBs and carrier bags you may give out at events or trade shows throughout the year.
Sources / Further Reading
Penguin is now part of our core algorithm Google