Inspired by DotNetNuke’s recent webinar “Don’t Get Hurt by Google’s Recent Changes” (the form looks like an event registration to a past webinar, but give your contact info and the recording will load), I was inspired to share some of the insights I learned and dig deeper into the recent Google search changes.
The Importance of Search and Search Engine Optimization
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the practice of enhancing your website and online presence in ways that help your business show up in search results in Google, Bing, Yahoo! and the like. Getting on the first page of Google when people search for a product or service that you provide and do wonders for increasing business leads and sales. For some basic SEO tactics, take a look at the blog post 5 Concepts to Consider for SEO by Jane Intrieri, Marketing Associate at BlueBolt.
Google and other search engines have made strides to make the results best for the searcher, not the website owners. They are trying to make it so that the smaller websites with valuable content can compete with companies that have a lot of money to spend on SEO. This is a good thing, as long as you know your business and have valuable information to provide to your audience. Below are the things to watch out for.
Google’s updated search engine will penalize websites for:
Hidden Text and Links
Below the Fold content
Tricky or misleading links or redirects
- Poor Quality Doorway Pages
1. Keyword Stuffing.
This is the practice of loading each page on your website with the keywords that you want to show in the search results for. These keywords can be hidden in the code or right there on the page, but typically keyword stuffing happens behind the scenes. It is still a best practice to use hidden keywords, as these tell the search engines what a particular web page is about. However, the keywords should be relevant and specific to the content of that exact page.
2. Hidden Text and Links
Like I mentioned in the keyword stuffing section, some hidden text is ok and actually helpful for SEO. The point is to not abuse it. If there is hidden text on your website that is not visible to your visitors, it is likely to not do you any good. If there is a lot of this happening on your website, you may get penalized.
3. Link Scheming
Having other websites link to yours is one of several factors of Page Rank, which determines where your website lands on a particular Google search. If you have 100 websites linking to yours, it tells the search engines that you probably have more valuable information on your site than a website with only 10 inbound links. Some companies started publishing each others links just to increase their Page Rank, or creating partner pages specifically for this purpose. Apparently Google caught on, and they aren’t letting them get away with it so easily anymore.
4. Below the Fold Content
This term is often used in web design and development to refer to anything that a visitor would have to scroll down a webpage to see. This line changes based on an individual’s screen size, but typically anything below 1000 pixels, we can assume might be below the fold. Some website have big dramatic imagery taking up the whole screen and then stuff some important content at the bottom of the page. Google wants to encourage you to let visitors know what your business is all about without having to scroll.
5. Duplicated Content
Duplicated content is when one web page has the same information/content as another. If you somehow end up with two web pages that you own that have duplicate content, the best thing to do is to redirect one of them to the other page. Basically, Google doesn’t want you to copy valuable content from someone else to generate your SEO. Your content should be unique. This is not to say that you can’t write a blog post about SEO because there are already so many blog posts on the topic, but it should be in your own words and the best content adds information that you couldn’t find on the internet already.
6. Tricky or misleading links or redirects
To avoid this one, all you need to do is make sure that the links you provide take the visitor to the page they would expect. Any practice of changing the title, url redirection, or text that takes visitors to an unexpected webpage could hurt your SEO.
7. Poor Quality Doorway Pages
Doorway Pages, also referred to as Landing Pages, can actually be great for your website and SEO. If someone enters a car repair shop’s website from searching the term “oil change,” you should get sent to a page about their oil change service, not the homepage where you have to dig through to find what you want. However, this can be abused too, when companies create lots of landing pages quickly and without care just to be found for a particular keyword. This practice will not work well any longer, and can hurt overall SEO.
So, what should you do? Here are some tips for making sure that your website is SEO friendly.
How to be SEO-Friendly
Give your people what they want.
The number one rule in SEO is to create valuable content that your potential customers would be interested in. If you truly have your audience’s interest at heart, the rest will typically come naturally.
Have the ability to correct poor SEO.
Make sure that you or your website administrator has the ability to edit the following for each page:
If neither you nor your website administrator have access to these items, you probably need to find a new website solution. BlueBolt offers the Constellation Content Management System that makes managing your website’s SEO a breeze. Contact us for more information!
Use Headings in Page Text
Make sure that the written paragraphs or text on your site have distinct headings for each page and hopefully subheadings too. Not only does this help the search engines know what your page is about, but it helps the visitor find what they are looking and easily skim your page. Big blocks of text are intimidating and often overlooked!
It can be difficult for a non-technical user to tell if their own website is SEO friendly. If you do not have a technical person on staff or a friend you can turn to, BlueBolt can provide a very affordable SEO Audit to let you know where your website currently stands, where areas for improvement are, and if you are in violation of any of the search engine best practices.