Why Google Is Not Telling You Everything About Ranking Signals
SEO advice floods the internet. Any new tweak or signal exposed, any new algorithms that come to the attention of the press, are revered as new commandments that must be obeyed if you want customers to see your website. Google, however, is very reluctant for industry to see each change as a new way to get ahead and simply wants quality to win out. So the question is, are we overthinking what has to be done to get higher rankings?
Google has always had a resolute commitment to the searcher’s experience – trying to get the best quality and most relevant websites to the forefront and the poorest quality ones pushed away from the searcher’s line of sight. Google as a company is also aware that SEO refinement has become a large industry in itself as brands continue to need every edge against their competitors in order to survive and thrive.
As everyone with a commercial website will know by now ‘Mobile-geddon’ occurred on 21 April, and just prior to this there was a tsunami of websites altered in order to accommodate the new ‘mobile friendly’ ranking signal. Such is the fear of being downgraded that companies will work ardently at getting any new information about what the biggest search engine is choosing to reward or punish.
Changing Rules, With One Aim
What a lot of people don’t realise is that for all the algorithms and tweaks that get mentioned and uncovered there are a bunch that do not. When the Panda algorithm change occurred, any ranking change a company noticed blamed it on Panda, as this was in the news. In Google’s own admission ‘Panda was one of roughly 500 search improvements’ rolled out over that same year. The fact is – we don’t always know the full story about how Google is changing things. What we do know is that they just want to put the best, highest quality, most relevant, authoritative, authentic and looked after websites on page one. Obviously, some changes are worth telling industry about – like making websites mobile friendly but other changes are there to catch out scammers and websites that provide a bad user experience, so those changes are not always broadcasted.
A Recent Quality Update
To reinforce this point there has recently been an algorithm change only noticed by altered web rankings – some dramatically. Publishers wanted to know what changed, what was going on? Was this a Panda update? Google’s initial response was that there was no update and this was labelled ‘The Phantom update’ as a consequence. Since then, Google has admitted they did in fact change something and it is to do with the way quality of the website is assessed.
So how to define quality. We all know what quality feels and looks like but to get to the nitty-gritty here are some useful tips on the assessment of website quality.
- Have a site structure that presents good paths for the visitor.
- Make the information useful, informative, credible and authoritative.
- Make the content unique.
- Don’t make grammatical mistakes or spelling errors.
- Make sure it is presented well with good graphics, images and updates.
In reality, despite the constant changing algorithms and new rules, Google has been consistent in its single minded pursuit of improving the results a user is searching for. If you don’t pay attention to the SEO experts, then follow one simple rule – make your website the highest quality experience you can for anyone using it.
In reality, Google hasn’t changed, it’s just better at finding and removing bad or low quality content, especially where people are trying to beat the system.