Google Guidelines, AKA “Google Wants What Readers Want”
Google changes its search query algorithms continuously and dynamically. However, throughout all of these changes, one factor remains indelible in Google’s guidelines. Quite simply, staying on top of Google requires producing highly targeted and well executed content for your users to consume and enjoy.
Meaning, the best way to ensure that your website doesn’t fall in search engine results pages (SERPs) is to continuously and thoughtfully create engaging and interactive content.
The most recent update, dubbed “Quality” and “Phantom 2” in May of 2015 points to what writers and web-surfers have been screaming for: high-quality content and a good user experience. While those are the top two qualities that Google requires for relevance, what exactly does it mean? We’ve broken it down for you, based directly off of Google’s Ranking Factors themselves.
It has to be high-quality:
Every piece of content should be written with your target user in mind. Yes, you can include keywords and discuss industry-relevant topics, but in every piece of content that you write, you must provide value to your reader.
The length of your blogs and articles should also be longer. According to a recent Searchmetrics survey of the top 10 ranked websites, there was an average of 1,285 words on each of their site pages. This means that the length of your blogs and articles directly correlates with your SERP position. The more educational, high-value content that you write, the higher your ranking.
This also means that you should be producing content regularly, and writing entirely original pieces. Google punishes duplicate content in any form. If it’s stolen from another source, that’s plagiarism, and if it’s copied directly from elsewhere on your site, that’s just bad form. Google believes that each page should be valuable so to duplicate content would devalue both pages. Write new content with a unique angle, with proper grammar and spelling, and you can be guaranteed that Google isn’t going to negatively ping you.
Your page has to have a great user experience:
While this could refer to the technical aspects of the design of your page, such as having a fully optimized site for mobile that automatically resizes based on the browser size, it also refers to how they interact with your website. Implementing UX (User Experience) design into your website, as well as a beautiful UI (User Interface) not only makes your site easier to navigate, but can rank higher in SERPs. Googlebot now adds mobile friendly tags to websites that meet the interactivity criteria;
- Proper font sizes without zooming
- Links far enough apart to easily click
- Webpage automatically resizes without user needing to zoom
If your website isn’t optimized for mobile yet, get on it! Google has started penalizing sites in Mobile Search that aren’t responsive in their design for mobile users, or use technologies that only work on desktop computers. Google even provides an option in Google Webmaster Tools to check if your site is optimized for mobile.
If you’re just realizing this now, an inbound marketing agency may be your best bet to get your site completely SEO optimized, mobile responsive, and to develop a content marketing plan that knocks your readers socks off.
Content creators also need to include multimedia such as images, videos, and infographics alongside their text. Hubspot has reported that content with related images gets 94% more views than content without.
Make your content easy to read with headings, subheadings, sections, bullets, and numbered lists. Most people simply scan blogs; 55% of viewers spend less than 15 seconds on blogs, while the average time on site for the Top 3 ranked websites is an average of 121 seconds.
The more engaging your copy is, the longer people stay on your site, therefore the better quality ranking Google assigns your site. Since the newest update, Google has started paying attention to dwell time, how long people spend on your page after coming from a Google search. The logic being that users are more likely to read what’s on the page the longer they stay on it.
Dwell rate isn’t the only thing they’re looking for though. Google also keeps an eye on your Click Through Rates (CTR), direct traffic, and repeat traffic. Analysis of these numbers prove that people are responding to your campaigns and regularly coming back for more content.
So in order to provide a great user experience on your website and therefore rank higher in SERPs, you need to:
- Have a responsive site
- Make your content easily digestible and scannable
- Include great visuals
- Work to increase your CTR and dwell rate
Include SEO optimization & Implement keywords:
SEO optimization and keyword research are still incredibly important, but are no longer more important than providing quality content. That does not mean, however, that you should be ignoring keyword research in your content marketing.
It’s still integral to include keywords in the title tag, in the description, as well as use it in your on-page copy. But while it was once important to have a calculated keyword density, it’s now only something that Google uses to determine the topic of a webpage — and unnatural keyword usage can definitely hurt you, so only use your keyword as naturally as possible.
Include links and research:
This is where new bloggers and those without a clear understanding of the concept of content marketing tend to fail. If you’re not including research, links and resources, you’re not likely going to get a quality ranking. Citing statistics shows high-quality content, and linking to your sources is something that Google’s algorithms factor in when looking at certain pages.
- Include links to authority sites that are relevant — linking to unrelated pages can signal Google to flag your site for spam.
- These contextual links should always be embedded within your content as they’re more powerful than elsewhere on the page.
- These links in your content should be placed throughout your copy where natural, but keeping in mind that links above the jump carry slightly more weight than links at the end of your content.
- Quality of inbound links — while having numerous inbound links was once considered as a high authority rank, Google now compares the authority of those pages. Pages directing to your site with higher page authority will result in a higher quality ranking for your site, and vice versa.
Improve your social skills:
Google also factors in your popularity into their ranking, so the higher your social signals, the higher your website authority. More tweets, likes, follows, interactions, engagements and the authority of your followers (and their retweets of your content) is all factored into the ranking of your content. Google wants to provide the most relevant content possible for search, and social sharing helps Google realize the importance of your page.
Being active on social media and getting your content shared has always been a target, but it’s officially a Google authority ranking that will set your website up for success — as long as your high quality content is shared by high authority influencers.
If you’re doing all of the above things, cheers! You’re on the road to increasing your rankings and customer reach. If you’ve been working through your content marketing strategy and feel like you’re falling flat, Pixelcarve offers website design, content development, and SEO strategy that can get your business ranking highly in Google. Get in touch with us today to take advantage of our inbound marketing agency services.