The impact of the Google algorithm on SEO

In the world of search engine optimisation (SEO), you could be forgiven for believing that appeasing the Google search algorithm is the width and breadth of the entire practise. Since Google is the world’s most used search engine it makes sense that SEO tactics are tailored heavily to meet the standards Google sets out.

Following Google’s guidelines are not only essential to getting a high ranking but essential to avoiding a rankings penalty or a ban for breaking the rules. It is in this way that the Google algorithm sets out the ground rules for how websites can gain organic visibility.

Since the Google algorithms goes through hundreds of minor updates and tweaks each year, it is easier to count major iterations of the algorithm one after the other. Major named updates like Google Panda or Google Penguin provide significant changes to the search algorithm that completely turn the SEO game on its head.

Let’s take a look at how the Google algorithm has affected SEO over time.

Shutting down black hat operators

With the Florida update in 2003 we saw the first major steps being taken by Google to address black hat SEO tactics like keyword stuffing. The following updates Jagger and Big Daddy went even further in shutting down insincere, paid-for backlinks networks.

The Google algorithm, responding to a constantly expanding and more complex internet, set the stage for itself as a policing tool as much as it was an indexer. Now, black hat SEO operators would need to try and find new ways to work around the Google algorithm which always seems to be one step ahead.

Shutting down content farms

Google’s next big update, Panda, effectively turned 12% of the internet on its head as many sites were listed as ‘content farms’. These sites were accused of pushing low-quality, thin content for the sake of SEO purposes and were not considered sincere search results.

Shutting down even more backlinks

Google’s infamous Penguin update is probably the most well-known as it effectively shut down the many inauthentic backlinking networks that had been set up in order to push sites inorganically.

Shutting down EMD’s

Exact match domains (EMD’s) allowed operators to target keywords in the domain name of their website’s URL. Google patched this so that low quality domains that targeted keyword in their domain did not rank highly for those keywords.

The biggest mistakes people make with SEO

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a discipline in digital marketing that is easy to grasp conceptually, but hard to master practically. SEO work requires a great deal of research, preparation and carefully executed steps in order to create the results you want.

People who underestimate or undervalue SEO quickly find themselves having thrown their digital marketing budget into the toilet. These businesses are left bewildered as to why their SEO campaigns failed to give them the rankings and subsequently conversions they are seeking.

Let’s take a look at the biggest mistakes people make when engaging SEO.

They undervalue SEO

Most SEO practitioners will tell you that there are few things more frustrating than a client who expects big results but undervalues the commitment SEO requires. Ignorant, old fashioned business owners who are begrudgingly using digital marketing to try and increase their relevancy will often dismiss SEO as ‘Facebook marketing’, completely misunderstanding what the craft actually is.

These people tend to throw piecemeal amounts of money towards SEO work and are surprised when the results are substandard. When it comes to SEO work, you get what you pay for, and if you can’t make a serious investment in SEO then you shouldn’t bother with it at all.

They expect results overnight

SEO results, like building trust with someone, takes time. You can’t do one favour for someone and expect them to trust you as if you were a lifelong friend.

In this way SEO is effectively trying to build sincere online reputation for a business, making them an authoritative choice that deserves a high ranking spot. Above all, SEO seeks to prove that your website deserves to be highly ranked because it offers the best possible results.

SEO takes time to show results because of its very nature, therefore businesses who throw money at it and expect an overnight change in search rankings are painfully naïve.

They target highly competitive keywords

Newbies to SEO will often misunderstand the value of keywords and accidently either use too many or too few throughout their work. Often businesses will see a highly competitive keyword and decide that they want to rank for it, even if it’s not realistic.

While it is possible to chip away at the big brand’s dominance over the most competitive keywords, it would take a big marketing budget to sustain that kind of campaign. Small businesses that don’t have that kind of capital are much better of trying to target less competitive keywords as well as geographically specific keywords.

How is the rise of voice search impacting SEO?

Voice search is a relatively new and developing technology that uses speech recognition to detect what someone is saying, translate it into text and perform an internet search on their behalf. This feature is designed for convenience as people don’t need to type out a query when they can just speak it to their phone.

While primitive versions of this technology were considered laughably inept at detecting human speech patterns, the technology has come a long way since. Nowadays, the best AI assistants like Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri can detect what’s being said with a highly level of accuracy that makes them truly useful.

No instead of experimenting with voice search as a novelty, more and more people are actively using it instead of typing queries. This new trend in interacting with search engines undoubtedly has an effect on search engine optimisation (SEO).

The need to target long-tail, natural speech keywords

The first thing you realise about voice searches is that they use phrasing that typical internet searches don’t. When people speak a query rather than type it, they tend to speak an actual sentence asking the AI assistant rather than prompting it with some shorthand keywords.

For example; if you were looking for the best Chinese restaurant in Sydney with a typical search, you might type “best Chinese restaurant Sydney”. However, if you were using voice search you might have said “Hey Google, what’s the best Chinese restaurant in Sydney?”

As you can see, there is a clear difference between the typed search and the voice search. While speaking the words “best Chinese restaurant Sydney” would also deliver similar results, people don’t tend to speak that way.

This is because people speak to their AI assistants as if they are people, so they phrase their voice searches as questions. This means SEO practitioners need to target long-tail, natural speech keywords that include the full phrasing of a question.

Mobile friendliness is even more important

Because the vast majority of voices searches are performed on mobile devices (because smartphones already have a microphone built in), it’s never been more important to have a site that is mobile friendly. When someone finds your site through a voice search they are expecting it to be mobile optimised.

This is because people who are using voice search are using it as a time-saving convenience and are usually on-the-go. This means that your site needs to be mobile friendly in that it also loads quickly for people who are out and about.

What other search engines besides Google are useful for SEO?

When digital marketers talk about search engine optimisation (SEO) they often use the words Google and search engines interchangeably, not unlike the millions of internet users who also see Google as the de facto king of search engines.

While we are aware of other search engine brands like Bing or Yahoo, they are dismissed right from the start because of the fact Google has in some ways functionally monopolised the search engine landscape. However, Google’s supreme dominance is being challenged by competitors who are seeking a slice of the search engine cake.

For SEO practitioners alternative search engines to Google are becoming a viable channel in which to focus SEO efforts. Despite this, Google will remain the big dog where most of the effort is focused and this is unlikely to change unless Google’s market share drops significantly.

Let’s take a look at some other search engines and how they’re useful for SEO.

Bing

Bing is probably the second most well-known search engine simply because of how hard Microsoft pushed it as an alternative to Google. While Bing failed to knock Google out of the picture, Microsoft packaged it as the default search engine that was integrated with its newer editions of Windows.

This effectively forced many people into begrudgingly using Bing either because they couldn’t figure out how to change the default search engine in their browser or that they just didn’t care. This resulted in a respectable pool of people beginning to use Bing as habitually as they had used Google.

Starting out as MSN, Bing was re-branded in 2009 to give it a fresh coat of paint. Since then it has gathered around 400 million monthly hits with that number steadily growing.

Bing is considered to have a superior indexing algorithm for multimedia content like pictures and videos than Google does. Bing’s video search tool and autocomplete functions are also considered superior to Google’s.

Yahoo

Yahoo, despite its buyout and merging with AOL, is still maintaining business as usual, with nearly 490 million people using it monthly. Yahoo boasts a more interactive search experience many options backed into its search portal that are easy to access for people who aren’t very computer literate.

Ask.com

Ask.com is a unconventional choice as it handles internet searches in the form of questions and answers. This Q&A format is a unique user experience that is still worthwhile even though the same answers could probably be found in Google.

With nearly 300 million monthly users as of 2017, Ask.com is ripe with opportunity for practitioners who can do something clever with its search format.

While these search engines don’t garner anywhere near the traffic that Google does, they are legitimate channels that you would not be wasting your time in focusing your efforts on. A highly niche SEO campaign that also targeted Bing could be more successful than one that focused on Google exclusively.

The influence of social media on SEO

The relationship between digital marketers and social media has been complicated at best and downright misunderstood at worst. For a long time social media was considered the untamed wild west of digital marketing, with people who knew little about it selling consultancy to those who knew even less.

Nowadays social media taken for granted as a rudimentary form of digital marketing that every practitioner does by default. How could anyone say no to marketing on social media when so many potential customers are using it habitually?

When it comes to the relationship between search engine optimisation and social media, there are some interesting revelations to be discovered. Let’s take a look at how social media influences SEO outcomes.

It does, but it doesn’t

Big search engine players like Google have made official statements declaring that social signals such as followers and engagement with posts don’t have a direct impact on website rankings. Google has outright said that they treat Facebook and Twitter pages just like any other website.

Therefore, while we can assume that social signals have no direct correlation to ranking outcomes, there are plenty of ways in which using social media fits into an SEO campaign.

Building brand awareness

The biggest benefit to using social media for a business is that it allows you to engage with an audience in an environment that fosters social engagement. This is especially useful for small businesses who want to engage directly with locals in an endearing way.

The best posts for social media engagement are usually humorous in nature and take advantage of internet culture by using memes or inside jokes. There is usually a fine line between being legitimately relevant and pandering to a digital audience, so you need to be careful with how far you try to push the humour.

This social engagement snowballs and gives your brand more exposure, which ultimately leads to more business as people discover your website. This is why it’s prudent to include a link to your website in your social media posts, prompting people to visit.

Driving traffic

All of your efforts on social media are ultimately designed to drive people to your business website so they can become customers. The reasons this effects SEO is because the more visitors you generate, the higher your ranking will go as search engines are seeing the traffic your page is getting.

Top tips for SEO experts

The online world is always changing and how we look at SEO needs to change with it. There’s never any shame in learning as true masters are always expanding their knowledge.

Whether you’re an expert or novice, there is always value in studying new and effective optimisation strategies.

The following are some useful tips that can benefit both small businesses and large enterprises in their SEO efforts.

SEO isn’t all about ranking

Proper SEO is a much bigger exercise than just ranking on Google. Many different aspects go into making a comprehensive and successful SEO strategy.

A high ranking means nothing if you don’t have the website to back it up. If your website isn’t optimised properly many leads won’t end in sales.

If your click through rate drops so will your ranking. Optimising your website so that it is fast and user friendly is crucial when implementing any digital marketing strategy.

Website optimisation is very important for SEO. Search engines look favourably on webpages that are mobile friendly.

Google has adjusted their algorithm to prioritise mobile sites rather than their desktop counterparts. Not having a fully optimised website is detrimental to your SEO strategy.

Trust over lust

When digitally marketing your business you should be aiming to earn trust with users. In the context of SEO, businesses have two audiences; users and search engines.

Search engines rank the webpages that they like and users trust the search engine to serve them authoritative results.

Creating quality content that people trust is one of the best ways to win over search engines. SEO informs the creation and optimisation of this content.

It may be tempting to go after cheap and quick measures to generate external links. Trying to take unethical shortcuts can lead to penalties from Google and other search engines.

If search engines deem your website as untrustworthy or promoting spam they will serve harsh penalties or even outright bans.

If you focus your efforts on creating quality content you will build a sincere online reputation that will organically attract backlinks.

Take trends into consideration

As technology changes an SEO expert needs to think about how people are actually searching the web. While mobile search is dominant it has also given rise to the new trend of voice search.

People are now able to perform vocal search queries by using the voice assistants on their devices. Review your keywords and make sure that they are also optimised for natural speech.

Matching keywords to actual questions a user might ask is an easy to implement strategy that targets voice search.

A lot of traditional searches leave out words to shorten the sentence and make it easier for people to find what they’re looking for. As more platforms encourage voice searching, it is important to tailor your SEO strategy for how people search with their spoken language.

Social media and SERP’s

As part of effective SEO you should know how Google and other search engines take social media profiles into consideration for their rankings. Google doesn’t take social signals (likes, shares, tweets etc) into consideration of ranking while other search engines do.

However, that doesn’t mean social media can’t benefit SEO. Having an established social media presence can give you an edge over the market in several different ways.

Many people are more likely to visit your social media page before your actual website. This gives consumers a more personal experience with your brand on a platform they use habitually.

SERP’s are one of the most important metrics in addressing your SEO. If you can dominate the SERP with several entries from your business it takes spaces away from your competitors.

It’s good to have a presence on all relevant social media platforms to ensure you are reaching as wide an audience as possible.

SEO can be difficult to understand and implement. This is why so many businesses seek consultancy from a professional SEO agency.

The most important tip in search engine optimisation is to take your time. Major results won’t happen overnight as SEO is a process that requires constant attention and maintenance.

 

 

What your website effects your SEO

Is your website an isolated marketing technique separate to SEO? Well you could be wasting your time and efforts if that is the case. Your SEO ranking relies heavily upon your website and it being optimized correctly.

Sure keywords matter but Google and their algorithm look at more than that. It is a mixture of elements that gives your website its ranking. Seeing them as a collective rather than individual pieces will help you understand the broader picture.

What Google looks for

While we don’t 100% know what the algorithm looks for (thanks to Google’s confidentiality agreements), over the years we have a pretty good understanding of what it takes into consideration. Here are some things that you can change immediately to help with your websites SEO.

Title tags

The title snippet from your Google preview or the line at the top of the browser tab is the title tag. Creating a unique title tag for your content helps distinguish what each page is about. It makes it easier for users and the algorithm to get a sense of what the website is about.

Think of the algorithm as a user experience. If you go onto a website and you don’t know what it’s about, the algorithm will probably have the same thought. That’s why it’s important to make it clear what you’re all about.

Subheadings (H1, H2, H3)

Heading tags or subheadings are also important for SEO. They give readers a glimpse of what the page or post is about and what each section covers.

Search engines use these tags as a context indicator for what you’re talking about and how it might relate to a user’s search.

This function is easy to implement especially if your website is run by WordPress. You simply just have to change the titles to headings from the menu.

Meta descriptions

You know that little synopsis under each result on Google’s results page? That’s the meta description. While it doesn’t necessarily correlate an increase in ranking it indirectly affects your ranking.

To break it down, your ranking also takes into consideration the bounce rate of your website, meaning that if people don’t go through with a sale it can hinder your ranking. If your meta description is relevant and informative it will increase your click through rate and therefore your ranking.

The website layout

The design and layout of your website also contributes to your SEO efforts. A logical flowing webpage that is easy to access is great for both user experiences and for any algorithms trying to crawl your website. Think of it as a hierarchy where you have your home page and sub categories underneath.

Now if that’s all messed up and some pages are harder to get to the algorithm and a visitor might just miss it completely. This just leaves you with wasted time and resources.

The page speed of your webpage is also very important. Google has mentioned that the page speed of your website impacts your ranking. Page speed refers to the time a visitor has to wait until the page has loaded. It’s just common sense in this aspect, if your visitors are leaving because it takes to long for your website to load, your ranking will be affected.

Common things that can lower your page speed are;

  • Your website host is bad
  • Featured images are too large
  • External media that is embedded takes too long to load
  • Too many ads
  • Your theme is too complex
  • Your browser, plugins and apps are not optimized.

All these techniques are simple ways to help your website become SEO friendly. SEO is a commitment that takes time and understanding to utilize effectively. If you are completely unsure about what SEO or if you’ve tried all of this and you still have had no luck consider consulting a SEO agency.

These businesses specialize in SEO and have the experience and knowledge to help take your website to the next stage.

 

What should be in your SEO package?

Search engine optimization is a digital marketing technique that is used to promote your website on the internet. When you choose to use a company that specializes in this field they normally have different SEO packages.  The main goal is for your website’s ranking to be as high as possible from multiple search engines such as Google and Bing.

There are many different approaches to take when conducting SEO and all should be considered before you make a commitment. Using a third party company that specializes in the field is the more efficient option to choose. This way you don’t have to use your own resources or employees to try and understand a field that they aren’t fully acquainted with.

With so many different companies and SEO packages available it may be hard to understand what you should get. As a starting point, these are the most important things that should be included in your SEO package.

On page optimization

This refers to making sure your website is optimized and running smoothly from a user and algorithm perspective. Keywords included in your website along with appropriate titles and grammar is good examples.

The response time of your website is very important when conducting your on page optimization. The firm will normally do a diagnostic on your website to ensure that the speeds are appropriate as well as being optimized fully for mobile devices.

Off page optimization

Off page services refer to building links and creating content for your website. This can fall under blog posts and link building.

For your website to appear higher on the results page it needs to be trusted and a way to do that is through link building. Building links from other websites that link to your own website tells the algorithm that this website is trustworthy as other people are referring to it.

High quality content creation on a consistent basis is a technique to generate your own organic SEO as people will actually link to it because of how good it is.

White hat services

Stray away from black hat services that promise fast and cheap results. You may see results at the beginning but it is merely short term as the algorithm can detect spam and unethical practices and form so even penalize your website altogether.

Organic long term results are the goal for SEO; never opt for shortcuts that could potentially be detrimental to your business.

SEO optimized articles

Your content and article posts can also be optimized to improve your websites SEO. Making sure that the content is engaging, is free of keyword stuffing but still meets the SEO requirement is what these firms do best. They have the knowledge and experience of what and how to write for your business.

Sometimes pages on your website will need to be rewritten because of this so that keywords are inserted naturally rather than an obvious attempt of spam.

Articles and blog posts are also a great way that improves your SEO. While the content themselves help users and algorithms find what they’re looking for, the constant updating of your website will make sure that everything is up to date and that it is safe to visit.

When you are looking at investing in SEO and have opted to use an agency or firm, look at what each of their SEO packages offer. Their price usually correlates to the amount of time spent on them with other added features.

Regardless of your intended budget make sure that any SEO package that you decide on features all of these services. These techniques will ensure the maximum chance of success for your efforts.

How to choose the right SEO package

Choosing the right SEO package for you and your business can be a difficult task if you have never used the type of service before. On top of that different SEO companies offer different packages and in the end the whole process can be very overwhelming.

Taking the time to understand what each package consists of and their goals can make your selection process a lot easier. Understand what’s in the packages and what they’re essentially aiming to do.

Here are some tips to help you find the right SEO package.

Understand the kinds of packages

If you want real results SEO costs money and essentially you get what you paid for. Understanding the types of packages out there and their costs will give you a good starting point when doing your own research.

Generally speaking there are two types of packages out there; the standard and the customized. Now you’re probably thinking that I looked at this business and saw they were offering three different types of packages. Those are the standard packages, while each has different features and costs they are usually extra content and time being spent on the campaign and increasing the cost.

Standard packages are good for businesses that have no prior knowledge of SEO and need a starting point. The standard package will go through the main parts of what a SEO package should consist of and give you a basis.

The customized package is more tailored towards those who have had prior SEO work but seem to be lacking in a certain field. The package will then be modified to account more on the aspect that you are dropping in.

What should a package consist of?

Generally speaking a good SEO package consists of the following aspects.

  • Website optimization

A very important part of your SEO is the overall performance of your website. Making sure that the response speeds are quick, appropriate headings, an addition of a blog and mobile optimization are all aspects that could and should be addressed.

  • Content creation

This includes for both on and off the page. Articles that link to your website are an important factor in increasing the trust of your website perceived by the algorithms of search engines. They can be quite pricey but are definitely worth it. Blog posts and blog maintenance is also a part of content creation. Maintaining your website while also producing content can improve your SEO.

  • Keyword tracking and reports

The analytics of your website is pretty much tells you if the package is working or not. Good SEO agencies provide monthly reports that update you on the progress of your campaigns and make relevant recommendations on how it could be improved taking your opinion into consideration.

Understand the time frame of search engine optimization

Search engine optimization is a flower that takes time to bloom. Nothing happens instantly and this is no exception. Understanding that things take time will help you and your business grow. Looking for a cheap, quick fix can potentially harm your business.

Many algorithms penalize spam links and will take a lot longer to fix than if you did it right the first time. Creating organic results through content creation and website optimization is a long term commitment that is a lot more effective than a short artificial boost.

So when you’re looking to improve your search engine optimization understand that there are multiple packages that aim to achieve a similar goal. Look at what your business needs and choose a package to meet those needs.

If you are starting off fresh look for guidance, as there’s no harm in asking. Many firms will be jumping at the thought of a search engine optimization virgin as no building blocks have been placed prior. At the end of the day they are there to help you so if something doesn’t feel right talk to them and understand what is happening.