Nov 21, 2014

Get Inside Google’s Mind: Future-Proof Your SEO

by Digital Marketing Institute

Well that was some year for SEO. A whole host of animals added to the Google update zoo – (think Panda, Pigeon and that Penguin update). Google clamped down on link building, thin content and a whole host of blackhat SEO techniques that websites had been using to game its search engine for years.

Business owners panicked, so-called SEO gurus saw their client’s rankings plummet – some even declared that SEO was dead. But amongst the panic lay some smug SEO individuals – the one’s who had been following Google’s rules all along.

Below we’ll show you how to get inside Google’s mind so you too can future-proof your website’s SEO and maintain your place at the top.

1. Get On Board With Google’s Mission

Get Inside Google's Mind: Future-Proof Your SEO

If you want to get inside Google’s mind you’ll first have to understand its mission. Google’s aim is to ‘organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.’ Want tocreate an SEO strategy that will stand the test of time? Try focusing on the one thing that Google places the most importance on – the end user.

Google Insight: ‘Focus on the user and all else will follow.’

How Do I Focus On The User?

  • Create quality content (content that is useful and interesting for the user).
  • Include useful (and relevant) links and videos to provide further useful information.
  • Adopt a conversational tone (it’s a good idea to match your consumer’s voice).
  • Ensure your website is responsive and easy to use on all devices.
  • Don’t forget local SEO – make it easier for local customers to find you by filling out local listings page, etc.
  • Build relationships with your customers and actively help them out where possible.

2. Live By Google’s Rules

It might sound obvious but if you’re going to get inside Google’s mind you’ll have to get to grips with its rules first. You’ll find everything you need to know (including both technical and content best practices) on Google Webmaster Guidelines. Google clearly outlines what you need to do to ensure you don’t fall foul of a Google penalty. It also outlines the kind of practices that will be rewarded. Read them, believe them, use them as your SEO bible.

Just a Few of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines:

  • For duplicate content you need to apply a canonical URL to indicate which page should be indexed by search engines.
  • Avoid low quality guest posting – Google views this as spam.
  • Use “nofollow” links for links you don’t want to be crawled (for example, untrusted links).
  • When displaying important names, content or links use text rather than images (the Google spiders can only read text).
  • Look out for and fix broken links and HTML.
  • Continuously monitor your site’s performance using a tool like Page Speed.

Key Points of Webmaster Guidelines:

3. Remember Loopholes Will Set You Back

Looking at the list of rules (and considering the time it takes to complete them) you might be tempted to take shortcuts. You do so at your peril. If you want to avoid that cold fear that a new Google update inspires in the blackhatters of the world you must avoid loopholes. Simply put: stop engaging in practices that mislead users. Sure, you might rank higher for a short period of time but it won’t be worth it when you plummet to page 200 overnight.

Google Insight: Google plans to clamp down even further on those gaming the system.

What Does a Loophole Look Like?

  • Anything spammy – e.g. low quality guest blogging.
  • Keyword stuffing (trying to rank for a keyword by mentioning it an unreasonably large number of times).
  • Tiny text, hidden text and hidden links.
  • Cloaking (practice of presenting different content or URLs to human users and search engines).
  • Link schemes and link farms (exchanging reciprocal pages within websites).
  • Doorway pages (large sets of low quality pages).

4. Think Like a Human

Stop thinking like a search engine and start thinking like a human because that’s what Google wants to do too. With every new update announced its intention is to get smarter and more human-like. The search engine spiders have become smarter at figuring out the intent and context of human queries. Google will never stop trying to think like a human – when it comes to your website neither should you.

Google Insight: Google’s ultimate aim is to think like a human.

Questions to Ask to Think Like a Human:

  • Does this keyword phrase help your user find what they are looking for? For example, is it specific enough? Is it conversational enough?
  • Is this content genuinely helpful and unique or am I creating it solely for SEO purposes?
  • Is my website easy to navigate?
  • Does my anchor text make sense?
  • Does my meta description accurately reflect what the user should expect to read/view?

So there you have it – to get inside Google’s mind is relatively simple. Because it involves getting into the mind of your customer. Google wants you to create a relevant and valuable user experience. And this will only enhance your website’s strength anyway.

Your New Motto:

Cater to your users needs and never get caught out by a Google SEO update again.

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