Google recently announced important updates to its ranking algorithm (nicknamed “Farmer’s Update”) that will likely adversely affect website owners who do not provide users with a high quality and relevant search experience. The company stated:
“Our goal is simple: to give people the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible.”
Currently released exclusively in the US, the latest Google update impacts 11.8% of user queries. The company stated the update is specifically targeting low-quality sites identified as “low-value add for users, copy content from other websites, or sites that are just not very useful” to reduce their rankings. At the same time, the new algorithm is designed to allow the “cream to rise to the top” as it were, specifically awarding higher rankings to high quality sites with “original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis, and so on.”
As always, if you want to be among the high quality sites rewarded with high rankings, you have to help Google to achieve their goal as stated above as well as support their efforts “to encourage a healthy web ecosystem.” So how do you do that? Here are some considerations:
- Conduct comprehensive research to identify the language used by your targeted audience groups to search for what you offer
- Conduct market research – send out surveys, study your (Google ;)) Web Analytics, study your inquiry and sales reports, monitor conversations and topics on social media related to your site / industry, monitor the news and trade journals that write about topics of interest to your targeted groups, etc. – to identify the interests of each of your targeted audience groups
- Write professional, compelling, search engine optimized webcopy that covers the interests of your targeted audience groups
- Include search engine optimized professional images that support your copy and allow users to identify their areas of interest
- Create search engine optimized, user-friendly web pages that are designed to accurately represent what you offer as well as your professional image
- Create search engine optimized calls-to-action (CTA’s) that guide users seamlessly through the conversion process to complete the action(s) you want them to complete.
- Develop a flexible, search engine optimized site architecture that makes it easy for users (and search engine spiders) to visit (and “understand”) every page of your website
- Develop search engine optimized off-site content (on websites other than yours such as social media sites or relevant third-party sites like news sites, journals, professional organizations, etc.) that establishes your authority for, and links to, the content represented in your search engine optimized website pages.
Google is working on many more changes that they believe “will substantially improve the quality of the pages” in the engine’s search results.
The key is to optimize for Google and for your targeted audience groups. An intelligent strategy requires the right mix of research, content development, and presentation.
Know who and what you’re targeting and present the highest quality possible to remain competitive. The formula is simple, but is takes discipline and ongoing commitment to be successful.
Danny Sullivan has a great write-up on the topic as well on SearchEngineLand’s site.