By Lucy Bradley
New year, new algorithm updates and new areas to focus on when it comes to your SEO efforts. With the rapidly changing pace of the SEO world, it can be difficult to keep up with what’s good practice, and what counts as black hat tactics. All that considered, we thought we’d start off 2018 with giving you a summary of Google’s algorithm updates throughout 2017, to give you some direction with what to look out for in SEO this year.
‘User experience’, as the phrase suggests refers to the experience the user has whilst they are on your website. From a basic level, it’s important to remember your site is for real people, and it should be made to best suit their needs – not the search engines. Google has gotten progressively smarter in detecting bad UX, low quality content and poor user interfaces – making it increasingly important for you to focus on user experience for the year ahead.
Search engines are increasingly looking at sites with poor user engagement, so fix those broken menus and get rid of those aggressive advertisements on your site to avoid negative rankings. Pleasing your website visitors actually means pleasing the search engines! That’s because Google is looking to provide the best search engine experience on the web.
This applies to mobile user experience too. We’re sure the conversation around the importance of having a mobile friendly website hasn’t passed you by (we’ve talked about it a LOT). Put quite simply, if your site isn’t optimised for mobile users now, your rankings are going to suffer. Take a further look at the importance of having a mobile first mindset here.
“Content is king” has been the case in marketing for many years, and 2018 is no different. But not just any content; in the past sites have relied too heavily on thin content, that provides limited value to the user – but it was deemed okay because the page had the correct H tags, keywords and alt text. While those aspects are still important, the quality of content is playing an increasingly important role in SEO efforts.
The “Fred Google update” looked to hit low-valued content sites aimed at revenue generation over the goal of helping their users and readers. The main sites initially affected contained a range content on various topics (not industry experts), that were littered with ads which were difficult to distinguish from the actual content itself. In essence, the sites looked to drive traffic, not provide value to the user – and Google are now picking up on this.
To combat this, you should be looking to create in depth content, that is relevant to your target audience, therefore you’re creating content that is of value to them (and they’re more likely to engage with this content). Continually ask yourself, is this content useful and providing information my website users want to read and engage with – if the answer is no, reconsider the content.
In line with this idea of ‘thin content’, Google is looking negatively upon; the Fred update looked to penalise this type of content that had the primary aim of generating ad revenue. The advice when it comes to featuring ads in your content, ensure you follow our advice on creating high quality content that provides value to the user – don’t just have a page full of ads as a revenue source, Google will penalise you for it!
Towards the end of 2017, Google announced that they “recently made a change to provide more descriptive and useful snippets, to help people better understand how pages are relevant to their searches. This resulted in snippets becoming slightly longer, on average.” (source), and this poses something to think about going into the new year. With snippets on average now displaying 230 characters, it provides you with the opportunity to give potential website viewers increased insight into your website content, and how you can solve their query. However, Google is more likely than not to fill these extended snippets with content from your website; making it increasingly important to ensure your content is of the highest quality!
These are just some of the aspects to consider in your SEO efforts going into 2018, and we’re sure Google will announce further algorithm updates throughout the year. If you’re looking for some help with SEO, look no further, our digital marketing team are here to help you out! Get in touch today to see how we can help you!