Like it or not, Google has declared itself judge, jury and executioner of the internet. There are obviously some glaring political concerns about a single company holding so much power over the world wide web, but, let’s not get too bogged down in the academia of such a debate at the moment, for the fact will still remain that the multi-coloured doodling giant will still hold sway no matter how much we rant and rave.
To be fair, though, the laws rules that Google has laid down could arguably be seen to be a good thing – well, at least that’s what Larry Page and Sergey Brin would like us all to believe anyway. But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt for the moment. Google wants users to find the sites that have paid the most for advertising are the most relevant to the search query, and have gained a decent organic rank via means of paying the piper enticing paid for organic traffic, links, etc.
In a perfect world (wide web), this sort of altruistic benevolence would be a great thing. And, since we’re giving Page and Brin the benefit of the doubt, let’s say that it is a good thing. Of course when I type in ‘running trainers’ to Google I want the results page to list me all of the best sites where I can buy some super-duper ones on the first page, and to hell with all the rest. But, the obvious problem with this is, that what Google might consider to be the best sites, I might not agree with.
At the end of the day, Google is a computer, an algorithmic processing machine, which, although very smart, will never ever have the human touch that will allow for certain nuances or other indiscretions that only a conscious being could possibly have. And this means that it operates, in a way that is at once mind-bogglingly complex and simple at the same time. That is to say that although the computer science behind the great search engine is undoubtedly brilliant – all it’s really doing is following a set of predetermined rules in order to give web pages a search ranking.
And this means that all us marketers in the SEO game have to do is make sure that we are abiding by these rules when creating content for the internet in order for Google to reward us greatly with a high SERP ranking.
So, firstly, the question has to be – what are the rules?
What Are Google’s Rules?
Well, there are lots and lots, as we all know. Too many to list exhaustively here. So, instead I want to show you the three presumably most important, since they come from Google itself.
- Give visitors the information they’re looking for
- Make sure that other sites link to yours
- Make your site easily accessible
Pretty simple really.
Once upon a time number 2 on that list was number 1 – and it has to be said that garnering links to your site is still very important. But, as they say, these days content is king. And it absolutely is. I’ve been saying it for years, and I believe it right to the very bottom of my shoes. Indeed, what Larry Page is trying to accomplish is becoming overruling master of the whole universe is creating the perfect search engine that gives the perfect results for each and every user.
“The ultimate search engine would basically understand everything in the world, and it would always give you the right thing. And we’re a long, long ways from that.”
Indeed we are – but, any webmaster that builds his/her site in a manner that tries to hinder this idyllic dream will be banished from this earthly online world forever, mwah-hah-hah!! hit with a Google penalty, which, in its most extreme cases, could see your site vanishing from the Google index altogether.
So, are playing by the rules, or not? Here are 5 ways that many marketers are still missing the mark when it comes to Google’s rules.
5 Ways You’re Still Not Obeying Google’s Rules
1. You’re Not Giving Your Visitors Enough Information
Content is king and Larry Page is Ruler, Emperor and Lord God Himself!. Don’t ever, ever forget this. Your website is the gateway into your business – and your business is what’s keeping the modem flashing. No matter what you’re selling – be it goods or services – you simply cannot have enough information on your site. And that means that along with product descriptions and images and details of your service, you need to be adding value to what you’re offering by giving away information for free. Yes, that means blogging – regularly. If you’re not blogging at least twice a week, then you’re breaking Google’s rules. Google wants to see that you’re providing the eternal user base with lots and lots of fresh information – so get blogging. Now.
2. The Information You Are Providing Isn’t Good Enough
I say once again, content is king. But not just any old princely content – kingworthy content. And that means that if you’re still playing the old keyword stuffing game then you need to fast forward about 10 years pretty sharpish, for that’s old news. Kingworthy content is the stuff that people can actually take away with them. It’s the how-to blogs, the beginner’s guides, the thought-provoking polemics, and the 5 Ways You’re Still Not Obeying Google’s Rules. Put simply, if all you’re doing is re-plugging your own goods or services with every single tweet, update and blog post, then you’re breaking Google’s rules, and you shall be punished.
3. You’re Not Gaining Enough Organic Links
Link building is, and probably always will be, one of the most crucial things that you can do for SEO. The only trouble is that it’s really hard to do well, and do legally. But the secret lies in the first two points in this list – yes, I am going to say it again. Content is king. When you’ve got great content, other sites will link to yours. When you’re conducting great research on behalf of your following, they will point their own fans in your direction to get the lowdown on the key facts and figures shaping your industry. Organic link building is really as simple and as difficult as that. You can go down the guest post route if you like, or try paying for links, or asking your friends for them – but, at the end of the day, unless you’ve got lots and lots of genuine content creators out there linking freely to your site because of all the great content that you’re providing, then once again you are breaking Google’s rules and will find it extremely difficult to crawl up the rankings.
4. You’re Not Linking To Other Great Sites
The link-building game is a two-way street. And, arguably, just as important as trying to ensure that you’re building up a healthy profile of inbound links, you need to be focussing equal attention on your outbound efforts as well. Why? Because Google likes to see that you’re directing users to as much great information as possible, regardless of whether you authored it yourself or not. And it’s important that you link to reputable sites as well. Google takes into consideration the PageRank of the page being linked to as well as your own, so, wherever you can, direct users towards the big sites, and, whatever you do, do not link to any spam pages, as you will be seriously breaking Google’s rules if you do this, even unwittingly.
5. Make Your Site Mobile Friendly
Yes, this is absolutely imperative. Albeit a decidedly 2015 concern, it doesn’t take a genius to notice that much of the online world has gone mobile. Indeed, there’s a good chance that you’re even reading this on your smartphone or tablet right now. Google has taken heed of this, and, since the 21st April this year, has been penalising sites that are not mobile friendly. At the very least this means that you have to make sure that your site is responsively designed, if not completely re-configured with a mobile-first strategy in mind. Put simply, if your website isn’t easily accessible to mobile users, then you are breaking Google’s rules and will be suffering in SERPs as a result. Thankfully, Google have provided a Mobile Friendly Test page, and I encourage you to head straight over and use it immediately, and take appropriate action accordingly.
How else are marketers still breaking Google’s rules? Let us know in the comments below.