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Making Google Happy

SEO is changing. It is just over a year since Google introduced us to their first major anti-spam algorithm update, Penguin. Then last week, Matt Cutts (Google’s head of search spam) announced they would be rolling out some tweaks and changes that they hope will continue the fight against spam content, Penguin 2.0. This rapid succession of changes has left a lot of businesses rather worried about losing those hard-won first page rankings. In an ever changing, always confusing landscape I thought it about time somebody cleared up a few basic facts about how to make Google happy snd thus succeed at search engine optimization in 2013.

The truth is Google are trying to make optimisation much simpler for all of us. The changes are concentrated around combating spam and poor quality content. This is being done by eliminating websites from search listings that break Google’s rules. These techniques, often referred to as ‘black hat’ have been used for many years to trick Google into doling out high search rankings to businesses who don’t  deserve it.

Where can you go wrong?

  • Do not use cheap workarounds and black-hat techniques. Where once it would have been possible to make a successful ascent of the search rankings by employing some of these techniques, today they will only lead to negative results.

  • Do not spend too much time and energy trying to read into the specifics of the changes that are being made to Google’s algorithms. This could easily lead to the thinking that your business doesn’t need to invest in SEO anymore. Remember, the goalposts have moved, but they haven’t disappeared altogether.

What Can You Do?

First of all, don’t worry. Even if your business has indulged in some of the ‘grey’ areas of SEO in the past, you can still redeem yourself. Start by making sure you no longer participate in any link farming schemes, remove any irrelevant keywords from your web pages and make sure that you are not cloaking or hiding text from your visitors. Also be sure that your domain is not associated with any blog spam or social network spam, if it is then make sure you stop doing it straight away.

As was the same in traditional SEO, there are a number of on-site and off-site techniques that you can implement to help your visibility within Google:

On-Site SEO

  • Meta data is still very important to SEO success. However, it is no longer a place to stuff a bunch of irrelevant keywords. Success now requires a much more tactile approach. Meta descriptions still influence human clicks and meta tags still guide search engines towards the type of content they might expect to see on your page.

  • Keep on top of Keyword research. Investigate popular search terms regularly that relate to your niche. Use a keyword tool like Keyword Eye for your research.. Popular search terminology can change, keeping up with regular research will ensure your content is always optimised for current trends.

  • Verify your domain with Google’s Webmaster tools . This ensures your site is being searched correctly, keep sitemaps updated regularly and choose a preferred domain display type. Keep up to date with any notices that are sent to your Webmaster inbox, Google uses this as a place to inform you of any problems it may have encountered while searching your site.

  • Start thinking locally when optimising. Make sure you use Google Local to register your business, and also think about adding locally orientated keywords to your research.

Off-Site SEO

The main way to succeed at offsite SEO is through high quality, relevant content marketing. Try to target your content at the end consumer, not the search engine crawling it. By providing useful information for people searching in your specified keyword range Google will recognise you as influential thought leader and prioritise you in the search listings accordingly.

This can be achieved using a number of specific techniques:

  • Guest Blogging – Contact influential blogs within your business niche with a proposal for a piece of writing. Be sure to include a link to your businesses website in the final piece. Not only will this drive traffic but it will also significantly boost your Search visibility.

  • Create good quality, original social media content that friends and followers will want to share. The more your content is being shared by others, the better your SEO rank will become.

  • Invest in creating some in-depth literature for your customers. Whether this be a white paper, an e -book or a detailed presentation, the most important thing to consider here is the quality. The benefit this has for SEO will directly depend on the amount of times the information is downloaded and shared. Poor quality content just won’t generate the interest you need to make an undertaking like this worthwhile.

  • Well tagged video’s and photographs hosted off-site will also help to boost your SEO credibility. Remember Google takes high quality multimedia content very seriously, they reward those who spend time and money to develop it with great search results. Be careful to make sure your content is always well tagged and contains links back to your website, otherwise it will be completely useless.

 

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

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