Google Algorithms - It's all bananas!
We’re all aware that Google is the master when it comes to getting found on the internet. Anyone owning a website should have received at least 10 calls from India and thousand emails saying that your site needs SEO and said company can get you to rank on page 1.
So, many of us know that Google chuck out updates which can send your website up and down the listings depending on who you’ve listened to and what work you’ve done.
We have a zoo filled with various algorithms, Panda, Penguin, Pigeon, Hummingbird, Mobilegeddon, RankBrain, Fred, Jeff, Bob, Tigar etc etc (Made a few up). All of these are major updates and there are other updates such as Flux, Exact Domain Match, Mobile Responsive, HTTP/HTTPs etc.. etc..
SEO? Does it actually exist?
Yes and No! Your website does need to be optimised but not for the search engines, this is where things start to go wrong. We’ve noticed over the last few years that actually if you play by Google’s updates you will get decent page rankings but the top spots always seem to be filled with the websites you would expect to get hit with every penalty from Google.
For example if you Keyword stuff your website or hide keywords in white text you would get penalised. WRONG! We’ve found sites that rank higher with keyword stuffing then sites that don’t.
Lets look at an exact domain name match or EMD update – if you Google “Web Design Lichfield” - position 2 nothing to do with web design it’s a link farm which should hit every Google Update.
We also found that there is zero difference between search results between http/https which was meant as a big thumbs up to Google as it shows you’re thinking about the users security and safety.
Google Pigeon – this was meant to give more accurate results for local search, however you can get any page to rank on any town research with relative ease even if you’re not based there.
We have found also that sites which don’t have a good authority on Google i.e Domain Authority and Page Authority also out rank websites with better and higher authority.
Google then said that UX or user experience is the key for getting better results…! “Don’t micromanage SEO at the expense of user experience”. This was mentioned 2014.
Be Mobile Friendly or DIE!
The Google Mobile Friendly update was the first very clear example, if your website wasn’t user friendly on a mobile device then you wouldn’t get the great results on mobile devices. However again sites not converted to mobile responsiveness are still out ranking sites which have converted.
This is a new update but even still, the results are not doing as Google said they would.
Guest Blogging – now Google said content is King! Yes this is true and that if you had guest bloggers writing content on your website it is a really good thing. Several months down the line, this is a big no no (2015) and guess what 2020 its alright, thats right guest blogging is a signal for SEO. Just look at the 200 emails I receive a week.
Back Linking – as per Matt Cutt – “SEO’s focus too much time on link building & Search Engines” – so than the whole premise of SEO is to get high quality links back to your website. On the same article we’re reference it’s saying Google isn’t trying to gain revenue…
Duplicate content – this is another tricky area at first you must not have any duplicate content! However this instantly impacts possibly a large portion of e-Commerce sites. However a year or so after the update Google said “Duplicate Content Won’t hurt you, unless it is spammy”. What is spammy then Google? Does anyone actually know?
Google has very kindly provided website owners free tools to help measure and maintain their websites through Google webmasters tools and Google Analytics.
Google webmasters is the key to find the major a problems with the website but we’re noticing even the data within Google webmasters is about 2 years old. This is the area which is related to which sites are linking to your website. We’ve found links to sites which have been taken down and no longer able to find on the search results.
We carried out an exercise to removing these particular links via a disavow which ended up in the website getting penalised by Google, even though we were telling Google, ‘Hey up chaps you got some old links showing on webmasters which doesn’t exist any more’. So if the data in webmasters tools 2 years out of date and not correct then how do we know if your website is being effected by Google.
WARP speed Mr Scott! Your Web Hosting needs WARP Drive!
Don't get me started on sites speed.... An SEO will say your website running slow it needs to be faster.... so they will shave 0.01milliseconds off the time a page loads... Do you notice the difference even on slow broadband i.e below 10MB.... NO!.. Google also says you need to have Enterprise level web hosting to enable just some of the recommendations Google wants i.e.
The above image is for mobiles, apparently it will save the user 2.5 seconds, when in fact the page loads in full on a mobile instantly.
In our opinion it’s all Google-de-gook!
Every message Google is pumping out is basically saying forget trying to build your website to suit the search engine but focus on the users. Create content that the users will find useful and want to share. Don’t think about the search engine.
If this is the case then there is only 3 possible outcomes for SEO.
- Only create content you feel is of benefit of use to your potential clients, not thinking about keywords but about solving your users issues. This is the key thing Google has already said. Make sure your website is easy to use, easy to search and updated regularly. In theory you don’t need to worry about back linking or any of the rules set out by Google as simply if you have people staying on your website and sharing your content Google will see this and rank you accordingly.
- Google is pushing everyone to Google Adwords. I said this to my business partner 13 months ago. Every signal from Google is saying use Google Adwords and pay to get yourself to the top. Google is a business and they’re not going to make revenue if everyone goes for the organic option. It is extremely competitive out there. If you’ve got 20 companies all fighting for the page 1 on Google, the one with the most money will prevail.
- SEO is DEAD! But you still need to do it! There are so many people out trying to manipulation the search results, and Google is rolling out daily updates to stop the manipulation. This increases the costs to a business running a website so in the long run it may be cheaper and easier to run campaigns through adwords or via Social Media!
Our view now is that let's get the rulebook and throw it out the window; the only key thing is the user. Why build content around a search term? work the content around the user. We know that the the keyword data in Google Adwords isn’t accurate and we also don’t know really what the users are going to search for. We know this as we rank for position 1 for a keyword and we get a lot less traffic a month than Googles estimated traffic in Adwords. If you’re content is well researched, referenced and is easy to read and understand it will grab the traffic you need to your website.
Nothing has changed here. If you’re writing content or building a new website you need to strip back what you’re doing to your marketing plan and strategy. SEO is is actually basic marketing. Find out what your users want, how do they want it, test it and then review and analyse. If you constantly test and review your content, your website user experience the Google Algorithms should not have any effect and you will gain more followers and enquiries through the experience side, rather than worrying about keywords and page ranking.
Photo credits: Ilona Frey