2014 was another year full of computer hacks and data leaks, with more and more confidential information becoming available from every corner of the internet. At a time when giants such as Sony or the United States government are able to be targeted, the internet’s own Google is no exception.
In addition to “Project Goliath”, Google has made the news over the course of 2014 because of other data leaks and reinterpretations of patent filings from their own organisation: The key factors which affect your business websites’ search rank have been revealed iteratively throughout a series of small leaks.
A Matter of Ethics
While some say that learning from leaked information may not be the most ethical -others will argue that Google’s role of self-proclaimed “internet hall monitor” warrants it.
Because Google’s search engine is the centre of an increasingly competitive internet, we’ll take a bone when we can get one if it will help improve the visibility of our client’s businesses.
However, we don’t take every piece of information as gospel, either. Each point needs to be assessed through our experience and as to whether it fits together with information provided publicly by Google.
Every single update Google makes to its search algorithm has the potential to mean big consequences to your business. And while each update seems to push us in one direction or another, it is important to stand back and look at the landscape painted by these information nuggets holistically.
The entirety of the information we’ve collected about Google’s algorithm throughout 2014 provide an accurate picture of where to take your Google search engine optimization strategy in 2015.
To spell it out for you, we’ve broken up the information presented in Panda updates throughout 2014 into high quality and low quality factors to consider in terms of your corporate SEO strategy.
Google’s vision of a quality internet means satisfied users. While Google has denied that they are looking at your website’s bounce-rate directly, there have been several mentions throughout the year that user satisfaction in your websites’ content and presentation should be a key focus for your business.
Metrics to focus on include page load speed, interface ease-of-use, number of navigation options (not too many), as well as keeping your content substantial and not spread too thin.
This is still news; Google continues to put more and more emphasis on social media and simple share options aren’t good enough anymore.
Engagement with your audience to encourage social media shares, mentions, or reviews on Independant Google-verifiable websites are now more important than ever, and should be exercised as a part of a complete SEO /content marketing strategy.
Avoiding duplicate content is nothing new, and most business have kept this in mind as they continually build and maintain site content -however content tags, categories, titles, and meta descriptions also have potential to create duplicate content under the radar.
And if you’ve been dabbling with cloned sites, you’ve been warned; a website which has too much duplicate content can be automatically 301-redirected to the more Panda-friendly candidate through Google’s canonicalization algorithm.
It’s not just what you know, it’s who you know. Citing the original source of information (not just another site clone) is as valuable for your website visitor as it is for your Google search rank.
Authoritative outbound links on your website continue to help establish your website as reputable and trustworthy. In Google’s eyes; you are who you link to.
Stuffing your website with aggressive search phrase use or keywords won’t do you any favours, at least not like it once did.
For relevance, a little focus on keywords never hurt -but the key is to know where to draw the line. The number of keywords combined with the ratio of text vs links are both heavily measured, so don’t go overboard.
Sticking to the Facts
Google’s bots have come a long way and they’re not just crawling your website for the former; they’re also checking the accuracy of the information on your website.
The New Scientist reports that Google’s “Knowledge Vault autonomously gathers and merges information from across the web into a single base of facts about the world, and the people and objects in it” –and then cross-references available information to measure accuracy.
Emphasizing the physical location of your business on your company website is also more important than ever. It is important to keep your physical address clearly visible on every single page on your website, ideally in the header or footer instead of confining it to your contact details page. It will provide regionalised context to your content which will be picked up in local Google searches.
Beyond that, registering and verifying your business location with regional Google-identifiable websites such as Google Places, Facebook, Trip Advisor and so on will also generate a number of benefits in terms of regional search -but that’s another blog post.
Information that site visitors may or may not read frequently has also come back into the limelight, with Google placing more focus on traditional pages such as; About Us, Mission Statement, Customer Service information, and so on.
It’s come up in the past, and having thorough corporate information will likely remain part of a balanced content strategy permanently so update those pages!
In addition to this, it is also important to keep dates current -from post dates to the copyright information in your website footer.
Google is also in the business of analysing how we’re feeling about specific brands and websites. Reputation spans far beyond user ratings and Rich Snippets; ensuring your website is positively referenced by both topical experts and the internet en masse is a key focus for keeping up with the Jones’.