How to Prepare Your Site For Future Google Algorithm Updates
Ranking updates are nothing new.
Google is estimated to make hundreds of changes to its ranking algorithm every single year with one or two major releases. These updates are all aimed at further improving the search results for each query. Another purpose is to penalise sites engaged in questionable tactics such as spammy link building or keyword stuffing.
Keeping up these changes is absolutely crucial.
Because you stand to lose a major competitive advantage online if you fail to follow the latest best practices.
One example is the most recent algorithm update that puts more of a priority on mobile-friendly sites. Sites that aren’t optimised for mobile devices stand to lose their rankings for all mobile searches. So not making your site mobile friendly could mean losing potential sales to your business as a result.
Trying to game the system may work in the short term. But it will eventually catch up to you when the next algorithm updates roll around.
If you want your site to rank in the search results, you need to follow all SEO best practices and avoid any practices that could get your site in trouble. What Google is ultimately looking for is highly quality pages that deserve to rank.
So how can you prepare your site for future algorithm updates?
The following looks at that question in more detail and how to increase your rankings in the process.
1. Understand What Quality Content Means
People use Google to find information.
Visitors will quickly click the back button if your content fails to deliver.
If your site is cluttered with atrocious content or offers a poor user experience, your pages won’t rank. But deliver stellar content with a great user experience and you stand a much better chance of ranking.
Quality content is defined by the following:
- Written for your audience: Writing purely for search engines (e.g. optimising for keyword usage, etc.) is generally a bad idea. Behind each visit to your site is a real person so focus on delivering value to your audience. This is what will get your visitors to come back again and again.
- Unique and engaging: If your content is simply rehashed, why should your site rank on the first page? This is why your content should offer something of value, something that cannot be found elsewhere. Simply duplicating content or scraping from other sources will eventually get your site penalised.
- Quality over quantity: This expands on the point above. One way to increase the quality of your pages is to include relevant images and videos. This also helps to increase visitor engagement.
If your content is lacking in any of these, it’s time for a revamp.
Start by conducting a content audit of your site. Go through each page and give a rating to each based on the quality of the content. Be sure to also take note of any improvements that you can make.
Alternatively you can look at average visit times for each page. If visitors are landing on a page but are quickly leaving, then that is an indication of poor engagement. Go into your Google Analytics account, then go to Content and Site Content, and sort by All Pages. Here you can easily sort your pages according to different metrics.
2. Build Quality Links to Your Pages
Links still matter as each is seen as a vote.
But not all links are equal.
A link from a relevant source will carry far more weight than a link from a spammy source. Too much of the latter is actually one of the main causes of ranking penalties and is specifically addressed in Google’s Penguin update.
Avoid the following to prevent your site from getting in trouble:
- Buying links: Google even specifically states that buying links or participating in link schemes can lead to manual action against your site. These networks are generally built specifically for link spam and are better to avoid altogether.
- Link exchanges: Even link exchanges with other webmasters can be problematic. If another page is linking to thousands of other sites in addition to yours, it raises a red flag with Google.
- Optimised anchor text: Google generally favours pages with a natural link profile. A site that has too many links with the exact keyword as the anchor text is an indication of spam and likely to get your site penalised in the search results. Links to your pages should have a mix of optimised and unoptimised anchor text.
Now that you know what not to do, the following are effective strategies to build and attract quality links to your pages:
- Create engaging content: Engaging content that provides value is far more likely to attract links than bland content. Start a company blog and post unique content for your target audience.
- Guest blog: Guest blogging involves submitting content to other blogs in your industry with a link back to your site. These are incredibly powerful links that can also increase awareness of your brand.
- Build local citations: Local citations are references of your business name, address, and phone number. If your business has a physical location, sure to submit your site to local directories. The best one to get started with is Google My Business and those that are in your industry.
- Add a link to your social profiles: Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are excellent platforms to build a following. They are also great places to insert links to your site.
These strategies are highly effective to build quality links. But remember to focus on relevance at each step.
3. Stay Up to Date on the Latest Changes
Google is constantly updating its ranking algorithm.
Practices that were effective before could no longer be the case.
This is why it is important to keep up with the latest changes. In most cases, Google even tells you what to expect for future updates. The mobile friendly update was announced months before it was actually rolled out, giving marketers and business owners plenty of time to make their sites optimised for friendly devices.
There are plenty of sites that share the latest SEO news (including this one). Subscribe to them in addition to the Webmaster Central blog for details about the newest changes.
Understanding what to expect and making the necessary changes will better prepare your site for future algorithm updates. Most business owners neglect this step and assume their sites will continue ranking but this is not always the case. Reading up on the latest updates gives your business a significant advantage in the search results.
The ranking algorithm continues to constantly evolve and so should you. To prepare your site against future algorithm updates, focus your efforts on building quality content, attracting relevant links, and following all the best practices. Taking these measures will ensure your website’s rankings now and into the future.