Being found online has become critical to any business from a local, national and global level. Regardless of where your target audience lives, they go online to search for information, products and services. When it comes to what websites show up in search results, Google controls the landscape for site ranking. This is why marketers and business owners must care about Google and its rules for how you design, build, and maintain your website and the content on your site.
While Bing, Yahoo and other search engines certainly exist, Google has dominated the industry and has ultimate authority for search engine optimization (SEO). “Moving forward, SEO will be one of the first lines of defense against competitors and the most direct way to reach your customers. If you aren’t found in search, you don’t exist,” – SEO for Growth.
For this reason, you can’t separate your website strategy from Google best practices. If you want to compete online, you must integrate SEO into the core of your marketing strategy and your website must be built and maintained in adherence to Google’s rules. Failure to do so may result in your website dropping in ranking or worse yet, being penalized by Google.
What’s Important To Google?
That’s a big question to answer in a single blog post, but we will narrow our focus on some of the most important elements. You should note, however, that this is not a comprehensive list. Our team here at LimeLight Marketing recently researched the rising trends in website design and SEO, and with that comes some of the things super important to Google.
Google Wants To Impress Its Users
It’s important to understand that Google works on behalf of its users. Their goal is to deliver the very best content to a user based on the words they type into search. Each year they make 500-600 updates to their algorithm all with the intent of improving the user experience. For this reason, it’s become a little easier for marketers to understand SEO and to build, design and maintain websites by thinking like a person rather than a robot. Recent changes have come in the form of featured snippets, which aim to answer a user’s search query within the SERP (search engine ranking page) so that they don’t have to click onto a website to find the answer they’re looking for. This snippet is displayed at the top of the organic search results and could be a different result from the website that ranks number one. It’s quite possible for the organic ranking for the website that “wins” the featured snippet to be much further down the page.
Content marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on creating and publishing valuable, relevant, and frequent content to attract and retain your target audience. It’s a consistent process for communicating with prospects and customers in a way that is meaningful to them. You simply can’t have an effective digital strategy without content marketing.
Google crawls the content of your website pages to understand what your business is about and what products and services you offer. It looks at the layout of your page, the words used within the content, the position of text, how images are named and a host of other elements to determine how you will be ranked in search. The more relevant your company seems to be, the freshness and uniqueness of your content, and how well your content is optimized are all factors that Google considers in how well it ranks your pages.
Google Demands Responsive Websites
Gone are the days where having a mobile-friendly (responsive) website is optional. In March 2016, Google announced an update that rewards sites that are mobile-friendly and penalizes sites that are not. If your website is not responsive, you need to create an immediate action plan to address this critical issue. In fact, Google has clearly stated that mobile-first is the way to go. This means that you need to consider your website for a mobile device as a first step in the design process – it’s not really enough any more to make a desktop-first website responsive and you shouldn’t create a website for desktop and expect it to achieve good results when it’s optimized for mobile. A mobile strategy and design are paramount.
LimeLight Marketing has helped multiple businesses, large and small, to bring their websites up to standards and grow their business with a digital strategy. We offer a free website analysis to assess your current site and consult you on a plan for improvement.
Google Is Forcing Websites To Comply
As we closely observe what Google is doing, we know that in the past few years it has been forcing websites to avoid certain SEO tactics often referred to as black-hat SEO. This includes things like poor content, keyword stuffing, spammy link, and low-quality links. In other words, Google demands that brands create an authentically positive experience for users who are trying to find great content and great brands.
Keeping Up With Google
That’s a tall order considering Google releases 500-600 algorithm updates per year which span a variety of technical and non-technical elements. As of today, we know that Google is forcing businesses to create great content and user experiences by delivering mobile-first websites that people find friendly and valuable. They employ smart people and use advanced technology to determine if your website is really valuable if people are liking and sharing your content on social media and they use a host of other signals to determine how it will rank your site.
Creating and executing your website and SEO strategy should be taken seriously and should be led by an expert with an understanding of consumer behavior when it comes to search, knowledge around website design and development, and most importantly, an up-to-date understanding of Google rules and best practices. If you are ready to strengthen your digital presence and attract more customers, we would love to talk to you. We offer a free website assessment to help you determine how you comply with Google best practices and where you can improve.
To request an assessment of your website, contact us to get started.