Category Archives: Digital

Top 4 Things To Know About SEO And Google’s Algorithm

If you’ve found your way to this post, you’ve likely heard the term Search Engine Optimization (SEO), or have some interest in SEO. This post covers the top 4 things to know about SEO and the Google algorithm. So whether you are just starting with SEO, or managing optimizations for your company, you will likely find this information to be helpful.

Google updates the algorithm nearly 3 times a day on average, so it is extremely difficult to stay up to speed on all changes. Knowing the major algorithm updates can help your team identify SEO priorities.

Jumping right in, here are Martino Flynn’s top 4 things to know about SEO and the Google algorithm.

  1. Content is still king. In 2011, Google’s algorithm update, Panda, cracked down on thin content, content farms, and sites with high ad content to organic content ratios. Google prefers content to be thorough and relevant to the audience reading it. Long-form content performs well because it often provides comprehensive content.
    • Initial recommendations:
      • Beef up content–go deeper and provide plenty of detail on a subject.
      • If time and resources are limited, write less content so that it can be more thorough.
  1. Backlinking is how Google determines your popularity. The more links into your site, the more votes you have. Google’s algorithm update, Penguin, sought to correct a number of spam factors such as keyword stuffing, link spamming, use of invisible text on webpage, and more. No longer was it about how many links you could have into your site, but instead, about how relevant and targeted those links were. If you are a clothing brand, links from food and music blogs are less relevant, than those from fashion bloggers. The authority of the site linking into you is also very important. When your site is able to earn high-quality backlinks, you are addressing three Google ranking signals: number of backlinks, link authority, and link diversity.
    • Initial recommendations:
      • Good content generates good backlinks. Good content needs to be promoted to gain these backlinks.
      • Research backlinks into you competitors site for ideas on links.
      • Quality here is much better than quantity. Eliminate low-quality links. Disavow links if you cannot get them removed.
  1. Make sure your site is mobile responsive. In 2016, Google made a shift to mobile-first indexing. Historically, Google would crawl the desktop version of your site and index pages in both desktop and mobile search results. Now, Google is focusing on the mobile experience first. Don’t just make your site mobile friendly, make it mobile first. Search Engine Journal wrote a great post on mobile-first indexing.
    • Initial recommendations:
      • Look at the behavior of site content on both mobile and desktop devices.
      • Use a Google tool for PageSpeed Insights  on how to improve load time of your site. Mobile site should launch in less than 2 seconds, desktop in less than 3 seconds.
      • Meet with your web development team to understand your website platform and what optimizations might be possible.
  1. Page optimization. You’ll need to go page by page to make sure you have the following site elements are optimized for your targeted keywords. This meta information should be closely tied to your area of expertise. This includes title tag, URL, Heading Tags (H1 & H2), Image alt text, Meta descriptions, and more.
    • Initial recommendations:
      • You first need to run a report of all HTML pages on your site.
      • Evaluate current meta information and look for improvements.
      • Identify the targeted list of keywords or search queries you want to rank.
      • Edit title tags, URL, heading tags, image alt tags, link within your site, etc. and make sure you are following best practices. This includes keeping some of those optimizations under a specific character count.

For more information on Google algorithm changes, MOZ does a great job of tracking the Google algorithm change history. A few other algorithm updates to mention in addition to Panda, Penguin, and mobile first:

  • 2013: Hummingbird was a core algorithm update that was released to be able to run future changes to semantic search and the Knowledge Graph (these are other organic results features in the SERP–search engine results page).
  • 2014: Pigeon shook up local results and modified how they interpret location cues.
  • End of 2015: RankBrain integrated machine learning into the Google algorithm.
  • 2016: Possum was another local search update. It impacted ranking in the 3-pack and Google Maps results.
  • 2017: Not much is known yet on this, but the SEO community believes this is a spam algorithm update around links.

There is no secret sauce to SEO–everything together over time will show improvement. Start with the top 4 things to know about SEO and let Martino Flynn know if we can help. Completing an SEO audit will help to show the strengths and weaknesses of your current strategy.  Collecting this data will be essential in determining goals, evaluating data, and presenting a plan for search engine optimization.