Everyone knows that optimizing your website, press releases, and blog posts for search engines make it easier for people to find your site and improve traffic. It’s less well known that search engines like Google and Bing change and update their algorithms regularly. If you’ve noticed a recent change in the visibility and ranking of your site or blog, it may be because of recent changes in Google’s algorithms.
Google is the leading search engine, with around 90% of the global search volume. Yahoo and Bing take second place in popularity, with less than 5% of searches, with all the rest trailing. Most white-hat SEO techniques can improve the page rank of sites on all major search engines, but some SEO methods are specific to particular search engines. Google gives more value to back-links than Yahoo and Bing, and no longer considers meta-keywords. But other search engines still use meta-keywords in categorizing pages, which is why so many sites still use them. Yahoo and Bing give more importance to keyword density than Google.
Here are 5 tips for improving search engine rankings with the most recent updates to Google’s algorithms.
- Link only to trusted sites. Link-building is pivotal to a good SEO campaign, but with thousands of exchange programs and directories available across the Web, it’s easy to stumble into websites that indulge in unethical link-building practices. To avoid having your site penalized because you link with a bad reputation, link only to reputable high-ranking sites, and submit your pages to well-known directories such as dmoz.org.
- Avoid content penalties. There are a number of reasons why Google penalizes sites on the basis of content, but the two most common are content duplication and keyword stuffing. Use important keywords throughout your content, but doing so too often (more than 4%) might be taken as keyword stuffing and result in the reduction of your page rank. Eliminate duplication on your site wherever possible – it’s not just important not to copy content from other sites, but also to make sure that there is minimal duplication of your own content on the site.
- Improve your site design. One fairly recent change in the Google algorithm is to give extra points to sites with good graphics and navigation. But don’t let graphics get in the way of readability. Web crawlers (like humans) get confused and miss important pages and text if the design is too complex, or not easy to navigate. Sitemaps can also help search engines with finding all the pages on your site.
- Target “long tail” keywords. Many websites follow an overly ambitious approach of targeting high ranking keywords first. Websites that target these broad keywords usually face a lot of competition, and whenever there is a change in the search algorithms they affect high-search volume keywords the most. So include low-competition keywords, especially if your site is younger than your competitors. (A long-tail keyword is a two or three-word search term such as “multi-channel distributed marketing” or “distributed marketing” rather than simply “marketing”.) Once you’ve established a good search engine ranking for long tail keywords, you can start optimizing your site for the generic and highly competitive keywords, too.
- Focus on user experience. One factor that Google uses to determine a website’s search engine ranking is user experience. Until recently, the search giant only took into account the graphical interface and response time of websites. Now they’re trying to incorporate more elements of the user experience into the algorithm. Google won’t say exactly what that means, but new extensions introduced into the Google chrome browser allows users to block, like, or dislike pages, and most SEO experts believe that the data from Chrome users will affect website rankings.