Keeping up with Google’s latest changes

keepingUpwithGoogle

“How much SEO is enough?” is the modern equivalent of “How long’s a piece of string?”

There is no set measure on how much or how little a company should spend on SEO and content marketing. It all depends on how competitive your industry is online and how much time/money you are willing to spend.

The bigger question you should be asking is “What SEO do I need to stay competitive?” as Google are constantly changing and updating their algorithm – so the SEO criteria required to rank high on popular search engines are constantly changing too.

The SEO techniques we used last year, let alone 5 or 10 years ago, are often no longer relevant today. So if you are investing heavily in SEO, it’s important you are always reviewing the results and the work being performed to ensure your time and money is being used efficiently.

When it comes to effective SEO, Google can be your best friend and your worst enemy – but as they say, “With every obstacle there is an opportunity”.

You can choose to view Google’s constant changes as a hassle that requires more changes and resources, or you can choose to see the opportunity – that by staying updated with Google’s latest changes and optimising your website accordingly, you are also staying ahead of your competitors.

Here at Digital Thing, it’s not only our job to stay ahead of the latest online trends, but it’s also something we love doing. We’re passionate about search engine optimisation and Google’s ability to enhance the user experience – which is why we are aware of any changes made as they happen.

To make things easier for our clients, we’ve started to note and compile all of Google’s most recent changes and list them here. The idea is to give business owners a very quick overview of everything they need to keep in mind for SEO.

So here they are, the latest changes and updates to Google’s algorithm:

Precedence given to mobile-friendly websites

Website browsing on mobile and tablet devices is now almost double that of laptop and PC, so it was really no surprise that Google would change their algorithm to favour responsive websites that cater to the user experience.

For those who aren’t aware, a responsive website design means that it automatically scales and restructures to suit whatever device it is being viewed on. This enhances the user experience because it ensures all content, such as text, images and links, are not cropped or hard to read when viewed on a smaller screen.

The change by Google was intended to put more pressure on business owners and developers whose websites were not responsive – which at the time of announcing was around 40%.

With the update, Google also offered several tools that allowed users to check whether or not their website was mobile friendly. You can use their mobile tool for free here: https://www.google.com.au/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/.

Penalties for websites with doorway pages

Doorway pages (also known as bridge, portal or entry pages) are an outdated SEO technique which is now largely considered as “Blackhat SEO”.

A doorway page is heavily optimised for a specific search phrase, by featuring it heavily in content and the META data. How it differs to a regular website page however, is that when a user clicks on that page from the search engine, they are involuntarily redirected to a completely different page/website.

Google has been targeting doorway pages for a while now, as they have a negative effect on the experience of their service – because the user is expecting to find information relevant to their search and instead they are redirected to somewhere completely different.

This change to Google’s algorithm again gives more priority to websites that feature high quality and original content, which is not flooded with too many instances of the same keyword.

Beware of the phantom (update)

While Google usually announce all upcoming changes to their search ranking algorithm, there was one update that came through earlier this year without warning – hence why people refer to it as “The Phantom Update”.

The effects of this change weren’t felt by everyone, but some websites dedicated to user-generated content were hit pretty hard. The idea of the change was to penalise websites that had “keyword heavy content” that was disguised as user-responses.

This was specifically targeting “user forum” style sites that attempted to respond to questions with user-generated answers. Many websites and forums that were genuinely trying to answer questions were suddenly penalised for their mass amounts of keyword-heavy content. Unfortunately, the change stuck and these websites were required to rebuild as a result.

So what can you do to stay ahead of Google’s future updates?

If you are managing your own website and conducting your own SEO, then it’s important to keep an eye on dedicated SEO news websites (like Moz SEO:  https://moz.com/blog) or follow some of the industry leaders on social media channels like Twitter or Reddit.

We’re not just in this industry because we’re good at what we do, we’re here because we love what we do – which is why we’re always trying to find out more about the latest technology and SEO trends, and it’s also why we can offer the best level of services to our clients.

If you don’t want to get caught out by unexpected updates then talk to the team at Digital Thing. We can actively manage your website and any other digital assets, helping to make changes before the damage is done.

Feel free to give us a call to have a quick chat about Google’s latest algorithm updates and find out how they may be affecting your search engine ranking. We can perform a quick analysis and provide you with a detailed digital strategy to help you stay ahead of the competition.

About the Author -

With a foundation anchored in marketing, business development and it, michael brings a solid understanding of business strategy, an even deeper grasp of technology, and a wealth of knowledge in what it takes to start a business and drive an idea into a reality.