Google’s New Rules A few weeks ago, we sent out an announcement of how Google’s recent updates have completely changed SEO as we once new it. Starting from mid-February, there’s been a lot of strange things going on. Many sites who enjoyed top rankings have fallen off the map, while other sites who were nowhere to be seen shot up to page 1. According to them, they’re trying to “even the playing field”.
Although it may not be congruent to the impact these recent updates have had on hundreds of thousands of websites across the globe, it’s important to know what their stated goal is.
Google’s Goal: To provide the most relevant contextual to the user’s search.
Search engines work similar to a voting system. Without going too far into the annoying details (which is what we’re here for), it’s important to have a basic understanding of how SEO works.
Here’s an example: if your site is about custom made diamond rings, and you wanted to show up on page 1 (top 10 results) on search engines. Aside from the 500+ other factors, there are 2 main essential components taken into consideration:
- That the content on your site, or a particular page on your site is relevant to the user’s search (in this case, “custom made diamond rings”)
- This is called Onsite SEO
- That there other sites linking to your site or relevant page, preferably with the clickable text/hyperlink containing relevant phrases to “custom made diamond rings”
- This is called Offsite SEO
Going back 5 years ago, it was very simple to get your site to page 1: just create thousands of links from other sites that point to your site with the exact phrase you’d like to rank for. In essence, this is manipulating the search engines. But how else can business owners get exposure, and reach the millions of people who’re actively seeking their products and services?
Here’s the truth about giving Google (roughly 70%-80% market share of search engines, depending on which part of the world we’re talking about) exactly what they want in order to obtain top rankings:
- Create a site that’s very easy to navigate, and for search engines to read, so that it can “know” what exactly each page of the site is about (this is where a sitemap is very important)
- Make it dead simple for human visitors to navigate, and have a good “user experience” once they find the site
- Have a good mix of content, such as text, images, videos for an even better user experience
- Have top quality content which is very engaging, and compelling to the readers
- Consistently add fresh content, so as to keep your site up to date and “current”
- Get involved in online communities, groups, forums, and hangouts where people share interests related to your products and services
- Readers are so compelled by this content that they go click the social icons, such as the Facebook “Like/Share”, Twitter “Tweet”, Google “+1”, LinkedIn “Share” buttons
- The amazing content on your site goes viral, hence bloggers will write about the site, linking back to it
- Google will see this entire scenario and think/see – “Wow, this site has got a lot of attention from users. They’re staying on the site, sharing it via social media, there’s people writing blogs about it, it must be super relevant to the search phrase, let’s make it rank on page 1.”
Without drilling down to the true nitty gritty of how to please the search giant, the above is a good overview. However, do you see where the major problem lies? Perhaps read through the steps again, and see if you can spot it.
Here’s our take: Numbers 1-3 are no problem, and easy to handle (or fix, if a site isn’t well structured). Number 4 and 5 is a bit of a challenge, as most businesses don’t have a stellar editorial team in-house.
Numbers 6-9 are totally fine…if your site is all about trending topics, celebrity gossip, or the latest in technology!
But what if your site/business is selling hammers? Or if you’re a law firm, insurance agency, cosmetic surgery, moving company, real estate agent, or a supplier of boat equipment? Do you really think that you’ll get that kind of attention, viral and social activity? Well, while where there’s a will there’s a way, in our opinion, it’s highly unlikely. So, we have to get a little creative at times, and help the whole process along. Again, those are the annoying details that you can leave to us.
There’s quite a bit of uproar from many webmasters (after the initial stomach churning shock!), business owners, and most especially, in the SEO community. Many business owners who’ve been ranking high on page 1 have all of a sudden fallen off the radar, which is very unfair to say the least. Imagine an ecommerce store who’s income relies on daily visitors and high rankings all of a sudden being nowhere to be seen!
I just met with a business owner in the eCommerce space who’s experienced just that. They were high on page 1, getting good leads, have an inbound mini-call center to handle orders etc. Since the “Panda-attack”, they’ve unfortunately had to let go of about 4 employees, as there’s just not enough business to sustain them. Quite sad, to say the least.
To wrap this up, the key takeaway is that SEO has changed, and will continue to change at a quicker pace than it had in the past. As a result of the most recent changes, the term “Content Is King” has been solidified even more, and the strategy of linkbuilding has become more complicated. But even those elements alone won’t assure you will get top rankings.
What we all need to understand, and accept, is that there’s no more “quick-fix” in rankings, if you’re going to invest in SEO, you must be willing to be in it for the long-haul. Consistency and patience are key. Just like those chasing the quick buck, those chasing quick rankings are only setting themselves up for failure.
How do you feel about all of this? Does it matter to you at all? Have you noticed any changes in traffic to your site?