Hacking the Google Algorithm
Updated: May 21
At the beginning of August - Google published their advice on how to keep your SEO relevant in their most recent Webmaster Update. In this update - they revised all the previous information they have given regarding Google Analytics and how you should structure your page in order to give you the best chances of being viewed on their search engine.
Google's advice on SEO -
Google doesn't make anything easy - and this update wasn't an exception. They told us things we already knew - like you no longer should be focused on keywords but instead should be looking at the content. They also reinforced that they are always changing things and that instead of focusing on the algorithms - you really should be focused on the main goals of google in order for your site to not be strongly affected by the changes.
But what is to goal of Google?
They gave us the following questions in order to help us figure it out:
(Note: The questions from Google are in Black - in blue are my interpretations and hints on how to accomplish that goal)
Content and quality questions
Does the content provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?
Google is looking for new and original content. It won't hurt you to have content that appears on another site - but it won't help you either. Having content that is unique to your site will give you an advantage on the other pages when it comes to being found in search.
Does the content provide a substantial, complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
People do not have a lot of patience - and Google knows that! So they want to be sure that their users can find the information they are looking for with the least amount of effort. This means they are looking for pages that cover the subject needed. This means that if you are writing minimal content - you are probably not going to be getting a good SEO ranking.
Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
Google is wanting to provide the best data for the users - so the information on your site needs to be thorough and really give useful and unique information compared to your competitors.
If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid simply copying or rewriting those sources and instead provide substantial additional value and originality?
What are you adding to the converastion? Google is looking for something that is unique and provides your own useful take on the subject. You need to be adding to the conversation - not being the same thing that everyone else is currently putting on their site. Also - be sure that if you are copying and pasting from another source - that you are adding your own analysis of the material to the copied sections.
Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?
A user will need to clearly be able to tell what is on your page from the headline. That headline will need to be accurate but also provide an appealing summary of the content.
Does the headline and/or page title avoid being exaggerating or shocking in nature?
This one basically boils down to one thing: Don't be click-bait. Google looks at your bounce rate and if they find that people click on the title and then quickly leave - they will assume that you are not providing the value your headline promises and your page can be penalized.
Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
The days of the keywords are over - and the internet is moving to a value-based system. Your site needs to reflect that - are you providing something that is share-worthy?
Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
We are again looking at value with this one - is the value something that could be in a book or a great news article. The content needs to be something you are proud of and that you can see people wanting to publish - not content for the sake of having content.
Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page?
It is hard to be providing value if it isn't established why your word should be followed. Google understands that and they are looking for information about why this page should be considered a valuable source.
In your site, be sure you have an about me section that addresses a bit about why you are an expert in this information. Think of your website as a presentation to a large group - you first want to establish your credentials.
If you researched the site producing the content, would you come away with an impression that it is well-trusted or widely-recognized as an authority on its topic?
Google is looking for the best information - and if you are a brand that is often quoted, followed, shared - it will appear you are the best and this will bump you up in the Google Ratings. By growing your brand - you will create that authority and it will help you to establish yourself in the Google Rankings.
Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?
If I tried to write a blog piece about Physics - it would be obvious that I did not know what I was talking about and Google would push my site down in the rankings because of it. If you would not be able to give a 10-minute presentation without any preparation for the subject - do not write about it on your page! Stick to topics that you understand well and can add value to the conversations with.
Is the content free from easily-verified factual errors?
In the world of companies getting sued for not stopping "fake news" - Google is now careful to be sure to eliminate access to those that could pertain fake information and it will severely hurt your google rankings.
Would you feel comfortable trusting this content for issues relating to your money or your life?
Google tracks what their users do. They know how long someone is on a site - and they know if after looking for your site - someone keeps researching. So if a user goes to your site - quickly looks around and then jumps to another site without spending substantial time on your site - then Google will read that as your site is not trusted yet and people do not feel comfortable on that site. You need to show your users why they should pay attention to you and that you have the information they need and they do not need to keep looking elsewhere.
Presentation and production questions
Is the content free from spelling or stylistic issues?
Make sure that your content is easy to read and that the style doesn't make the page hard to follow. Avoid things like the neon font on a white background or small font. Also, be sure that your content is grammatically correct and free of spelling errors.
Was the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
Think of your site as a presentation in front of thousands of people. You would take the time to polish that presentation, be sure that it looks good and that the overall experience is great. Your website should be the same way. It should appear professional with good content and great graphics. It should be the whole package.
Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
Most industries outsource their page content - and as a result, all the pages end up looking the same. Or, someone doesn't want to take the time to create the content so they just link to the answer on another site- making for bad user experiences. Your site needs to be unique and needs to provide the user with the information they are looking for first hand.
Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
No one likes ads - and they slow down your site which hurts the user experience. If you have ads on your site - they need to be as a side note and monetizing the site should not be the main point of the site. Focus the site on educating and helping the visitor.
Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them?
The majority of users these days are accessing your site from devices that are not a desktop computer. Your site has to be responsive and able to display well on all of these devices.
Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
If you want to be the best - you have to actually be the best. There is no longer a way to cheat the system through stacking in keywords. If you try - you will actually be hurting yourself more than helping. To be on the 1st page - your content has to be superior in quality and you have to be providing a value that no one else is providing.
Does the content seem to be serving the genuine interests of visitors to the site or does it seem to exist solely by someone attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
Don't try to play the game - you will lose. Focus on creating great content that people actually want to read The algorithms change and they eventually will learn that you are trying to cheat the system. Because of this - any boost you get will be temporary. It is better to work at being the best - and let the google results fall in line.
There is a reoccurring theme in all of these guidelines - be you! Marketing is shifting and the way to stay ahead is to be sure you are providing a value to your customers and are working to be the best at what you do! If you keep that goal in mind - then you will be doing well and new visitors will find your page and your content.