Google makes algorithm changes an astonishing 500–600 times/year. For the most part, we ignore these changes—who, after all, can keep up with what Google, and most of these changes are minor. But Google occasionally rolls out major algorithmic updates—you’ve probably heard of Google’s Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates that affect search results in significant ways. Its latest major update is being referred to as Mobilegeddon because of its far-reaching effect on websites that don’t translate to mobile devices.
Changes include an emphasis on high-quality content
But this isn’t just content marketing. You really have to understand Google’s overarching goal for search, keeping in mind that Google owns the search space. What you need to know: we’re no longer focusing on keywords, but on content—and that means quality content.
Forget the tricks to optimize your website
We used to identify keywords, then load our landing pages with those keywords. This is no longer an acceptable strategy; in fact, keyword loading is something for which Google apparently punishes you. Avoid the tricks that SEO had really become—a bag of tricks for ensuring your pages could rank well without your having to do any real marketing.
Think about it—you really didn’t have to provide thoughtful or creative content. Instead, you thought about keywords, linking strategies and trying to show up on page one of Google—at least for a day or two until the algorithms changed once again. But while we’d all rather show up on page one than 50, there are those who point out that showing up on page two or three is not a bad thing. I always tell my clients that you really have two audiences: you want to show up on search engines, but you also need to provide a compelling reason for people to contact you once they land on your website. A high ranking doesn’t necessarily translate to conversion.
Google’s content guidelines
With the significant algorithm changes, Google has published content guidelines that clearly spell out what they’re looking for. These are their exact words to elicit high quality content:
- Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
- Don’t deceive your users.
- Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings.
- Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.
I keep coming back to a quote I read a while back. If you want your site to show up in search engines, invest in good writing. “You can no longer game the system. Quality content has become nonnegotiable.”