Does the slew of Google updates mean you should change marketing tactics? Is it time to ring up the local printer for flyers? Not necessarily.
Google will always update its search engines, in a bid to provide the best results for its users.
As small businesses, we need to keep abreast of changes and continue to provide what our visitors and users want. Some ways of doing this include:
- Go Mobile – One aspect of the new algorithms, especially Hummingbird, is the way it factors in distance and relevancy (remember we said it looks at context?) when returning search results. It can tell you how many instances of the business you searched for are close to you, show you the ratings, and user reviews.
In this scenario, is your site mobile optimized? Do you have a responsive design in place to be viewed on all screen sizes? Remember, with the development of Apples’ Siri and Google Voice for Android, users can use voice search to literally ask Google questions. Will a mobile-ready version of your site be served?
- Invest in Google Plus – Amongst all the perks that are associated with using G+, one of the best one has to be the fact that G+ posts show up high in the search results. On one hand, Google obviously favours its’ own social platform, but by using Google Authorship to stake your claim as an expert in your field, you can build up authorship and page authority.
Your G+ profile and posts will also get a boost in search engine rankings if you publish helpful content and are active in your Google Circles. This will form only a part of your social media strategy, but every single +1 counts in your quest for top rankings.
- Content Marketing for 2014 – The harsh truth is that many sites have mediocre content. This is one reason why they have to resort to underhanded tactics to rank high. If you want to weather any algorithm updates and remain relevant and useful to your visitors, create unique content that satisfies the queries of searchers.
Since Hummingbird, it’s not enough to simply create content around keywords. Think about your customers/visitors. What would they like to know? How can your product help them? Educate them. Have a content strategy that incorporates fresh posts, authority links and social sharing to increase engagement.
One way bloggers are doing this is by creating 7,000 – 10,000 word posts. One bonus is this allows you to include many relevant long tail keywords in your content. This type of content always generates comments and interaction.
This engagement is a positive signal to show Google just how important your site is in that industry. Not limited to words, your content can be in form of videos, infographics, podcasts etc.
- Keep watching and Learning what works – Start by educating yourself. One way to be able to ‘predict’ a change is to know the rules in the first place. Those rules are provided for you in the Google Webmaster guidelines. Read through and see which practices Google frowns upon. Tweak your site accordingly.
Watch SEO ‘experts’ and see their trend predictions. Watch your industry, see what type of marketing works best. A twist on the popular saying is ‘if you don’t measure it, you cannot improve it’, so watch your stats and metrics. Test and tweak to get a grip on the impact of the strategies you implement. Use methods that work, and ditch those that do not.
After all is said and done, Google is on a mission to provide the best results to searchers. Knowing that their idea of the ‘best results’ will ALWAYS change, you should be flexible enough to quickly adjust to the change.
Your focus, as a small business, is on your bottom line; trying to figure out how to game the search engines is an inefficient use of your time and budget.
There is a saying among a few savvy webmasters that goes “act like there is no Google”. I say, think ‘What if Google went away tomorrow’? Would your sites still rank? Do they provide value? Do you have a brand and community built around your offering? Can your site be served across multiple devices?
The days of competing with other sites for higher ranks, by simply copying their less-than-stellar practices, are over. Now, your best bet is to strive to provide an excellent experience for visitors. That way, your business will always brave the storm of any Google updates that may come.
Part 1 here