Post the latest Penguin update, many webmasters I know have experienced sleepless nights owing to the loss of coveted positions on Google. Many have approached us seeking answers to ‘what may have possibly gone wrong’. The most common claims are – we follow white had methods of search engine optimization, we do not build random links, we have updated content, so on and so forth. Apparently, despite following the unwritten instructions preached by Google, webmasters are getting hit by Penguin updates and falling prey for unknown reasons.
As a provider of premier SEO services, we keep a close watch on how things intricately change, and how the search engine is changing behavior with every new version of its algorithm. So today, I decided to share some key inputs regarding your online marketing strategy that could throw some lights on what you could do to improve your rankings or what could have possibly misled you! In fact, for beginners, you have an important take-away that could help you make your own site analysis.
To begin with, there are certain obvious points we follow. A website has to be structurally correct. This bit is going to involve a bit of technical insight, but I will only touch on points that are basic and any webmaster can understand.
We know what keywords are, and how important they are. What needs attention is choosing the right one. Often, we toil a great deal without producing desired results, because we are probably not working smart! I am sure most of us do this right, but when choosing the right keyword – think of the search terms from your audience’s point of view, without the baggage of your knowledge in the domain. Your audience may not look for you using jargons used in your industry; instead they could be using a layman’s term to look for you. That term, when used as your keyword, is bound to lead you to greater customer base.
Once you know the keywords, there are plenty of ways to use them to yield great results. Keywords are powerful. They can be used in the page content, blogs, articles etc. We will also use the keywords on the page title, description, meta information, image name and description, alt text, and anchor texts– basically we will use those terms to explain the search engine what the website deals with and what we are talking about. Doing this exercise could be tricky. Google will catch you if you are stuffing your page with the same keyword over and over again. So you have to ensure your keywords naturally blend with your page’s content. The right way to go about it is instead of choosing one particular word, for example, if you are a web designer, try short-listing a set of short and long tail keywords, which you can easily use in your text without making it sound out of context. So you will have terms like ‘web design’, ‘website design’, ‘website development’ etc. to play with.
A structurally well developed website has a higher chance of ranking high, with a higher page authority (PA) and domain authority (DA). Google will never tell you what factors determine a page authority and page rank (PR). But here’s the thing – if you have a website that your users think is good and beneficial, and your audience talks about it, Google will take notice. Google believes what users say. But how does Google track your users’ feedback. It is done through links and shares. When a page is popular among its audience, there are higher chances of the page being liked and shared by more number of people. This results in more number of websites linking to it, more people sharing the page and more people talking about it.
So more links are good. Right? Not exactly.
Talking about links, imagine you looking for a review of a product you are meaning to buy. Whose opinion would you value? Someone who has an authority in the field, right? Likewise, when websites that already enjoy a higher PA, DA and PR recommend you or your website, in the sense they link to you, mention and talk about you, Google values their opinion more than friends in your circle talking about you. So here’s another point – Link building schemes have changed. You don’t want to have a website with a crazy amount of urls pointing to you (nor is it possible with the ‘no-follow’ policy). You would rather have top sites link to you, who can bring in a bit of their credibility with their inbound link. One thousand ordinary links cannot do as much good as 5 top rated links can.
So simply speaking, the Page Rank of your website will be decided by the number of pages pointing to you, and more importantly the quality of those links pointing to you. Backlinks, as they are called, are hard to get. Increasing number of websites use a ‘no follow’ tag that in other words means the links are not crawled by Google and are not counted as a link back to your site. However it is pointless to lose sleep in pursuit of Backlinks. Instead these basic habits could help you build a better reputation as a webmaster and earn brownie points.
- Maintain On-Page (structural) hygiene
- Keep the content useful, relevant and focused
- Study the keywords well and use them intelligently to make optimum use of them. Tweak them slightly and use them in page title, description, and meta info.
- Start a blog (if you don’t have one yet). It helps.
- Blog often, and write about your domain. It should be relevant to your website. When you post often, you develop a readership, who look forward to your next post.
- Use the Google Adwords, Webmaster tools (and Analytics if you are an advanced webmaster with technical know-how). They offer valuable insights on your site’s performance.
- Target niche keywords, often they are least targeted, which means it will involve least effort for your website to rank well on those keywords.
- Connect with webmasters from your field, and network with them. You reach a lot more people when others from the industry recommend you.
These above power tips will help you stay afloat even in rough waters. No matter what algorithm changes are introduced, a good healthy site is never affected.