The “New” SEO After Google’s Penguins, Pandas and Hummingbirds
We are often asked to help companies with SEO. Everyone would like to be on Page 1 of Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). And while the exact algorithms used to rank websites are not published (and most of us wouldn’t understand them if they were) Google does give us some very important clues in their published “Webmaster Guidelines.” These Guidelines are updated periodically and help website developers understand what Google deems important when deciding which websites are displayed at the top of their Results Pages.
The guidelines seem to break down into three categories:
1. On-page optimization/Content. Search engines look for key words in several areas of the web page*
- Page URL
- Page Titles
- Image “alt” tags
- Image names
- Heading Tags
- Internal links (anchor text)
*Figuring out what key words your potential clients will use to search for you is the most important part of this equation.
2. Technical Optimization. Sites should have:
- Intuitive Navigation (Text links – no broken links)
- Fast loading pages
- XML sitemap
- Clean code (HTML5, CSS3)
- Helpful 404, 301 and 302 pages
- “Responsive” Design (Sites should be tested on various browsers and mobile devices.
3. Quality Content. This is, by far, the most important feature of any Website. Most of the algorithm changes over the last few years have had to do with quality content.
- Pages with “thin” content are being downgraded.
- Grammar and spelling. (Google uses a spell check feature and downgrades sites with bad grammar or spelling errors.)
- Duplicate content will be punished.
- No keyword “stuffing.”
Google’s complete Guidelines can be found here.