We've all been there at one point or another. Shoot, you may be going through one of the five stages of Google grief right now.
This summer was a tumultuous one for Google algorithm updates. Since the beginning of May, we've gone through seven of them, each varying in severity, but the public outcry has been consistent: A group panics, some remain calm, and the Interwebz explodes with "How to Recover" posts.
Wouldn't you love to be in a place when you laugh in the face of Google algorithm updates? These tactics could help you get there.
1. Focus On Your Branding, Not Your Ranking
Look at the results for "flat screen TV" and tell me what the listings have in common. Do it. I'll wait.
They're all brands.
That's where search engines are going. They're favoring real company stuff over stuffed keywords and one-way links, and you don't have to be a household name to do it. It means doing things like:
- Sponsoring local events and community involvement.
- Giving away content (and maybe the occasional iPad) for free.
- Paying attention to what your users want and giving it to them.
Perhaps the big brands do have it easy, not because they have the household name, but because they were around before everyone started freaking out about links, title tags, and keywords. They were doing things the right way that got them exposure – well, most of them anyway – and when things went online, that did too.
2. Give Users a Good Experience
impossible really hard to have a good website that ranks well for a long period of time if it doesn't give your users a good experience. If people like your website, they come back. They share it.
We know Google is making a push where a site's quality is more important than the number of links pointing to it:
In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.
While that's still largely subjectively – How exactly do you define "high-quality sites," Google? – and I hate giving guarantees when it comes to search, there's one thing I'll rest my laurels on: Your website will always be "quality" if it gives your users a good experience.
Incorporate user experience consulting into your search and digital engagements. This includes things like:
- User research.
- User testing.
- Split testing.
- Conversion rate optimization.
Visual Website Optimizer is a great tool for split testing because it allows you to make layout styling changes without needing a developer, which, if your agency is like mine, is harder to get your hands on than Google's actual ranking factors. You can also set up usability testing through there if you don't have in-house resources for a full user test.
But this isn't just about giving users a good experience on your website because, before they even make it there, they're likely interacting with you someplace else first. Think about the links they're seeing of yours, how you look in SERPs, your Facepook posts, your graphics, everything: If you were a user, would you click on them?
3. Preserve Your URLs
Outside of breaking news, old URLs will rank the best. While 301s and canonicals are heaven sent for SEO professionals, they strip out a fraction of equity, and in this day and age, even the smallest amount can make a huge difference.
Unless absolutely necessary – like you're dealing with a site architecture that's been picked apart and puzzled together so many times that it's one hot mess – keep your URLs the same. When you add new features to a product or update your service offerings, do it on the same URL.
Apple does this with each new release of the iPad or iPhone. When they launch an update, it goes to /iphone/ or /ipad/; they don't create entirely new URLs for the product they're promoting and instead shuffle the old version to a new URL. This means you're launching a product with some equity already built up.
Let's be clear: Sustainable SEO is a slow process. There are such things as quick wins – small, easy fixes you can do in the first weeks of a client engagement that prove your worth and show you mean business – but rarely will you see quick results. And that's OK: Since when does anything worthwhile ever come without a lot work?
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!