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  • Mar 09, 2013

What is going on with SEO today?

Looking back 19 years when Google first released its browser, only a few people knew a bit about how Googles search algorithm worked. We knew how to use keywords and we could pretty much get a website on the first page of Google's search results. Some of us did things like, trick search crawlers by adding keywords with invisible text on a webpage so human visitors could not see the text but Google bots did. All the trickery called 'black hat seo' was a quick way to get on the first page. Growth hacking was the game. Today Google’s search algorithm is a about making sure a customer gets what he came for when he sees your webpage. Analytical data on your website such as how much time on page a visitor spends or bounce rate are clear indicators of how interesting or popular your message is.  It’s also a simple way to tell us about a user’s experience as he navigates through your website. Today marketers need to improve bounce rates and time on page metrics. We do this though understanding how to write content for the next generation search browsers and by making sure our sites are optimized for mobile devices. Companies that look to earn a profit from organic traffic, need to run their websites as a serious business and never leave a website on auto-pilot. Businesses need to attract and retain visitors on a regular basis if they want their customers to find them. That being said let’s look at what’s in and what is out in SEO today.

The basic mechanics of seo still exist meaning the structure of your website, sitemaps, internal and external link structure, mobile friendly design, user experience and rules regarding link usage will still apply. SEO specialist should still be focused on the on page factors. On page factors are the important details of properly structured page content. Page titles, h1, h2, h3, Meta descriptions and tags, URL structure, images use, internal linking. In addition, off page factors are also still in play. Off page factors are things you cannot control outside of your website like popularity in social media, comments on a page, ratings and inbound links to your website. Although links have been playing a lesser role in higher search results I would not throw this out just yet.

SEO ins and outs

What are the SEO ins and outs today? The ins are; content that fits different search queries of what a visitor is looking for, good functional user experience online, and mobile friendly structure that allows users to quickly load pages via mobile devices. Companies that build search browsers are interested in advertising revenue and they gain revenue by serving quality websites for search results. Mobile devices now make up the largest amount of traffic by 57% but the advertising revenue is less than PC traffic. Google and other browsers cannot make advertising profit if your website is not optimized for mobile visitors. Well to be fair it’s not all about Google’s profit. Look at your visitor's experience and Googles advertising revenue as a symbiotic relationship. If your website’s data shows it has a high bounce rate and low time on page, it’s a clear indication the site is not attracting visitors and that does not earn you or Google profit. Why would you get awarded the first page in organic search results, right? That being said there should not be a site online today that has not made the compatibility change.

Make the upgrade to Accelerated Mobile Pages

Oct 2016 Google announced their move to AMP or accelerated mobile pages. AMP is an initiative to improve mobile page loading speed. While at this moment websites are not being penalized for slower loading times on mobile pages. However, this will likely happen any day now. Pages that are accelerated for mobile, do require two different content pages. One page is your webpage and the other page needs to be in AMP HTML. There is additional need for java script for AMP pages as well as having a possible AMP delivery network. It is highly recommended to create templates for these pages. If you are unsure about your page loading speed for mobile pages discuss this with your seo specialist, IT support, or try testing a few pages on your own with Google page speed insights.

googles page speed testing tool

SEO Outs

Competing for backlinks against other websites, critically pushing strategic anchor text on links, over use of keywords, spammy linking to blogs is out. Links are a confusing subject so let’s clear this up. Links were first used by Google back in the earlier version of their search algorithm. How many links that were linking to your site helped determine how popular a website was and helped readers find additional resources of credible information to support the article. It helped determine Googles page rank and awarded the first page search results to popular sites. Page rank has been replaced with page authority because there are now more factors than links that determine relevant content for keywords. Links were once organic traffic currency. The richer you were in link currency the higher your page rank was. Links are still a factor in page authority however this is slowly declining. Many pages are ranking for popular keywords that have as little as one link according to research done by Cyrus Shepard founder of Fazillion in Seattle Washington. 99.2% of all top 50 results had at least 1 external link pointing to the website. Having a reasonably good link profile pointing to your website is still necessary but, competing against other sites for your main keywords to guarantee your site is listed on the first page of Google search, is for certain in decline.

Conclusion

Ranking high in Google search results is about serving a great 360º user experience from good content to fast page loading speed across PC and mobile. Ramp up your content to attract readers and improve the website to increase visitor engagement. Pay attention to providing properly formatted text for SEO. Seo specialist and marketing managers would be smart to focus their budgets on making sure their site is mobile friendly and page speed is optimized for mobile. As you create better pages and content and test them regularly. We should be writing content for search queries making sure website content focuses on synonyms and queries that answer questions customers are asking. Check out my previous article on ‘Content with focus on synonyms and search queries’ where I discuss this topic in further detail.

Avoid spending to much budget on link building and competing for keywords against competitors. No one working in SEO should leave these key factors out of their marketing plans.