The world of SEO can be a confusing and daunting place, especially for the uninitiated. Wherever you look there’s advice from self styled ‘experts’ that can quite often be conflicting. However, there’s one information source that you can trust above all else when it comes to optimising your website for search. That source is Google. Their webmaster guidelines highlight tips and advice that you know will help improve your promotional merchandise website’s visibility in their search engine.
To help you start to get your head around optimising your website we have distilled their advice on quality, algorithms and technical stuff into understandable tips and tricks below. Of course, if you have any questions regarding them, or anything else to do with digital marketing, get in touch.
Google’s quality guidelines can be divided into two sections, things you should do and things you shouldn’t. Let’s start with things you should.
- Make your site primarily for users, not search engines – By creating a good user experience you will already be ticking many of Google’s boxes.
- Don’t deceive your users – This creates a poor user experience and will be flagged by Google.
- Avoid tricks aimed solely at improving rankings – Ask yourself whether you would do it if search engines didn’t exist.
- Focus on your sites unique, valuable and engaging content – Just like traditional marketing, push your USPs to stand out from the crowd.
Now here’s a list of things you should avoid at all costs if you want to enjoy search engine success.
- Automatically generated content
- Link schemes
- Creating pages with little or no original content
- Cloaking – showing different content to a user and search engine
- Sneaky redirects – redirecting people on to another page as soon as they land on your site
- Hidden text or links
- Doorway pages – an example of this would be creating multiple pages that are identical except for location information that funnel users to a specific page
- Scraped content – content stolen from other websites
- Participating in affiliate programs without adding sufficient value
- Using irrelevant keywords
Although it is rare for Google to release an entirely new algorithm they do update existing ones to improve their performance and to ultimately provide a better search experience for their users. Below we’ve explained the four that they have announced most recently and how they could affect your site.
Panda was first introduced in 2011 and is a content based algorithm. It is designed to prevent websites with poor quality or little content from appearing highly in Google’s rankings. It is refreshed every now and then an d gives sites that were previously hit by it a chance to recover. To avoid its clutches ensure that your site content is unique and provides value to searchers.
Hummingbird was launched in 2013 and signalled a change in the way Google understands searcher intent and context. It specifically improved the results delivered for conversational search terms, meaning it helped Google better understand voice search. As a result websites with high quality, conversational content are likely to see traffic increases from search.
Pigeon was released in 2015 and is an algorithm that focuses on improving the quality of local search results. By improving detection of distances, location ranking parameters and using other web ranking factors it improves the relevancy and quality of local search results. If your business serves people in a local area you can improve your visibility in Google by having location information clearly available on site and by also having a Google+ local listing.
Penguin was first launched in 2012 and is a link based algorithm. It is designed to prevent websites that use manipulative linking tactics, such as buying links, from appearing highly in Google’s rankings. It is refreshed every now and then and gives sites that were previously hit a chance to recover. To avoid a penalty ensure links pointing to your site are natural and earned with great content.
Google’s Technical Guidelines
Google also has in-depth, high level technical guidelines that are critical to the SEO success of your website. However, these tips are best followed by a qualified web designer or developer who knows what they’re doing. This is due to the fact more harm than good can be done to your website if some of the guidelines are implemented incorrectly. Point your designer or developer in the direction of this link and ask them to ensure your site is compliant.
There you have it, our simplified and condensed Google webmaster guidelines. Stick to these tips and you will have a site that is compliant with Google and its algorithms and has potential to rank well and gain your promotional merchandise business great online visibility.
Contact us to have a chat with one of our expert team if you need more help and advice.
To view Google’s full webmaster guidelines follow this link.