Google recently published their guide to search for the first time. Businesses could finally provide Google with the best possible signals without the guess work. Talk about making SEO copywriting and marketing content a whole lot simpler!
This is a huge change from Google’s previous policies. But once you see the summary, you’ll see why. Here are wonderful signals for customers and search engines alike. Without the attempts to trick and game the system.
The basic summary boils down to what we already know. Give Google quality content and you will reap rewards. It means doing your homework. Help your customers determine if you are on the level and Google will endorse it with stronger rankings.
When selecting quality pages to give to searchers, several key elements help add to authority in Google’s eyes:
Include functional page design as part of your website brief.
Making your website easy to navigate and to discover things should be the main aim. Focus the main content of the page and don’t try to clutter it out with too many bells and whistles. Lead your customers on a journey and make sure the links work. Make your pages easy to read, skim and scan without tricks, traps and unclear navigation.
Foster a strong local network.
Positive relationships with linking websites help make your local endeavours work. And they help sure up your position of authority. You can achieve this by sharing information in the blog about suppliers, customers and local businesses you admire. Or seeking out local website listing opportunities and back links.
Make it easy to find out if you are a legitimate business or blogger.
Include an ABOUT PAGE that supplies key information not commonly found on many websites. The kind of information that Google wants includes:
- Opening hours
- Contact information
- A breakdown of services offered
- Items like menus (if applicable)
- And information that helps your customers understand what your business does
This is a different approach to what most of us may have chosen in the past. So this is definitely food for thought.
Give Google the fresh content it wants.
Websites that are a few years behind in algorithm changes aren’t going to get you far. You need to show that you care about your website. Add regular news to the blog. Make sure your site has a refresh of content on the main pages every couple of changes and/or years. And maintain a clean, broken link free experience for your users.
Make off-page SEO a priority (as long as it’s ethical).
Make use of directories to list your business.
Link awards, certifications and personal credentials.
Look for credible link exchanges and directories. Don’t go anywhere near spam link sites or companies offering paid back linking services. Google knows these link farms exist and will penalise you if you make use of them.
Focus on the main content of your website as opposed to ad serving revenue.
Google doesn’t want to serve up pages covered in ads. So choose what, if any, paid advertisements you include wisely.
Don’t make ads a part of your main content. Keep ads to the minimum. And label any ads present as ads.
Aim to be an authority in your field- and elsewhere.
For example, if a member of your team is published across a few internet sites as an authority in a field, it will assist with making your website seem like more of an authority.
One way to ensure that this signal is maximised is by using login names for prominent contributors and/or featuring a bio of guest bloggers.
Engage in helpful presentation of your products.
Nobody likes a cluttered store, least of all Google. If you sell products in a shopping environment, make it easy for the customer. Make use of options to change shape, colours and size. Provide your customer options with the products you provide and make them easy to discover on your website.
Highlight the products that make your business different.
Google wants to know what makes you special. If you carry lines that no one else does, make a show out of it. Bring to the forefront how special your business is. This is also a great way for Google to chide us for copying our competitors in a way.
Bring your uniqueness to the fore. Forget about selling the same product everyone else does.
Demonstrate you have a working route to customer service.
Include information about when and how customer service is available. Discuss your sales, returns and complaints policies openly. Be transparent about what you do to ensure the customer has a hassle-free time.
Focus on a positive reputation.
Seek reviews and connect them to your site. Encourage organic reviews on other well respected sites and link to them. Encourage linking to your site as a trusted source. Think about PR and include it in the mix.
Make use of everyday expertise.
Google isn’t chasing a buzzword, jargon laden experience. It wants the facts. But it wants you to spell out the knowledge rather than guard it. Take the time to explain processes through your blogs, videos and other web related content (e.g. eBooks and whitepapers).
Helping to continue the learning journey.
By providing filters at the end of content that offers alternatives to learn more, you increase your view as an authority in Google’s eyes. As long as the blogs, videos and other forms of content are useful to your readers.
You can do this by making use of the Related Content filter on Shareholic (just check for spam if you do!). Or using individual plug-ins that offer like minded content on your blog.
Make sure your Q & A/FAQs are high quality.
If you want to provide additional help, provide it. Don’t use it as a dodgy place to game SEO. Google want your readers to learn and trust information. So always design your Q & A forums and FAQs with the quality of the answer in mind. In the case of an FAQ, take time to chart out what your customers want to learn and provide real help. Two birds, one stone and all that.
Make fact checking and accuracy your business.
Google wants you to assume a position of knowledge and give accurate information. Ways you can prove this are:
- Reputable back links
- Authority blogging and PR on your site and on others
- Making use of statistics and figures
- Maintaining ethical information on your website
- Using helpful citations
- Using Google Scholar and places like PubMed for information
- Avoiding junk science and blog only links
Make proper use of your main content area.
The spacing you apply to your website and the design you use should be about educating your audience. So use content marketing and website content to inform your customers. Focus your SEO efforts on the main reason for your pages existence. For example, use bathroom fixture SEO on the bathroom fixtures page. And tell a story around those keywords.
Invite commentary and feedback.
Generating conversation and the sharing of quality insights will help your site rank better over time. As long as it’s quality!
Lead with authority.
If you work in medicine, law or finance, Google will check to make sure your expertise in that field is recognised through the proper qualifications. So it’s a good idea to include educational information in bios.
Share certificates and professional associations and include this information on your website no matter what your field.
Do what you can to maintain a website of high quality pages.
Revisit your content regularly to ensure you keep it free of broken links, spam comments and incorrect information. Update existing pages as the nature of your business changes. Make it your business to keep the quality of your pages as consistent as you can
Customise 404 and error message pages.
Google favours navigation that is simple and easy for your customer to understand. So take the time to redirect your customers in a helpful way as opposed to ejecting them to the home page or making them fend for themselves.
The better your level of information, the better the site ranks.
Don’t be afraid to display packages and pricing so that your customers can make an informed decision before they purchase. It makes you seem more credible to Google and the customer that way.
And probably gets rid of tyre kickers in the process.
Make the information valuable.
Google wants you to proof your writing and make it error free. Google doesn’t favour random capitalisation and neither should you.
It also means writing content that doesn’t state the bleeding obvious. Aim for content that can help your customers make decisions, navigate your site and learn from you.
Think entertainment and authority.
Your boring life one post at a time isn’t going to cut it. But your humorous version of what it’s like to be the most boring person on the planet will.
Similarly, writing the business blog that every other business in the industry writes won’t work. But finding a new way to share that story that adds value and information to the customer experience will.
Don’t try to game the SEO system.
There are no short cuts. It’s either good quality or it isn’t. No amount of posting trash each day will change that. This is also why you should ignore all the emails that start with offers of cheap SEO and magical one way trips up the Google ranking pop charts.
Don’t copy another website’s content.
Using another website’s content as your own is unethical. It also produces poor search results.
You can syndicate your article based content to reputable sites.
But using copy scraping techniques don’t work. Neither does re-writing other people’s websites.
Design a mobile experience that is easy to use.
Mobile is incredibly important to people and to the future of Google. So make sure you can support customers searching in real time.
- Making data entry simple
- Using screens that are easy for your readers to use (both through pinching and design itself)
- Including menus that are easy to use (no broken drop downs)
- Reducing the physical size of the website to make it display easily in low internet speeds (so watch your photo size)
Use copy that works with consumer driven internet search.
Think about the kinds of questions your customers will ask and integrate them into your copy. And again, this is another reason not to use lots of jargon or industry speak.
Remember that mobile and tablet search is location sensitive.
So introduce copy that highlights your location in a mobile version of the website so the “on the go” consumer can find you.
What does it all mean, oh great Google gods?
The basic summary is put in effort and you’ll be fine. Google wants people to read your content. And it wants to serve up content that people read. Write for the reader and you’ll be right.
Make sure you stand out as a verifiable, on the level business and you’ll be fine. Add additional information that shows you go the extra mile for your customers. Make it clear what your business does and how it makes the customer experience work.
And try to be different to the guy two websites over so what Google shares, customers can see is different.