Google makes constant updates to its search algorithms, that it can be a challenge for Web developers to keep up with the changes. Over the past few years, the way the search engine crawls webpages has undergone seismic shifts and it has affected the ranking and traffic of websites.
This can cause some alarm among e-commerce marketers, because every small change that Google makes can send their search engine rankings fluctuating, if they do not catch up in time. Here are some of the most important things you need to remember whenever Google rolls out a core update.
#1 Minimize low-quality content
If you want to pull through every update without losing your rankings, you need to do two things: first, minimise any low-quality, duplicate content and, second, always add fresh material to your website. Keep your content original and comprehensive; Google’s algorithms becomes strict in enforcing this whenever they roll out a new update.
Websites that give complete answers to common user queries are more likely to rank higher. Google does not penalise websites for duplicate content per se; however, it does prioritise in its search rankings new over dated content.
#2 Minimize aggressive advertising
Aggressive advertising on your website can have a negative impact on your search engine rankings. Google prioritises sites that provide good user experience and so, it will devalue websites with a very high ad-to-content ratio.
Google – and online visitors – want a website that is user-friendly. Too many ads can make it difficult for them to find what they need and cause a longer load time. Best to keep your website lean and light.
#3 Transparent editorial policies and ad disclosures
Do users trust your website? Google also looks at your published purpose, as well as your advertising policies. In other words, you must say what you mean and mean what you say; no content must be misleading or vague.
One thing you can do to build more trust is by telling users exactly how your content is edited, even who writes for you, as well as what types of advertisements you will put up and your editorial rules.
#4 Focused Web pages
How much of your content is truly original? Do you outsource writing to more than a few authors? Perhaps, your articles are spread across many web pages, such that many of these are not being read or accessed too often.
As mentioned earlier, Google wants you to provide a comprehensive answer to a user questions, when they land on your website. If you link to too many external pages to explain your answer, you may not be providing the best user experience. Make each of your pages work for your visitors, and reduce your bounce rate in the process.
#5 HTTPS – not HTTP
If you’re still using HTTP URLs, switch to HTTPS pronto! HTTPS signals security and trustworthiness to your users. Even if your HTTP URLs are ranked well and drive traffic for you, Google will warn searchers that your website is not safe!
Update to HTTPS to reduce your bounce rate and increase your rankings, in terms of your affiliate links, advertising impressions, and lead conversion rates.
#6 Messy URLs
Do you get much traffic from the “‘Share” feature in Chrome? Google has updated this URL sharing facility to cut out unnecessary tails, which means it may be driving your users to the wrong place (like your index page), instead of the exact page they wanted to access in the first place!
Do away with those unnecessary parameters. Mind your referral strings and save your biggest sharers the hassle!
#7 Mobile friendliness
Almost 60% of online searches are done on mobile devices. Thus, Google is now giving higher priority to websites with better mobile optimisation. Remember that Google ranks and indexes the mobile version of websites before their desktop counterpart. Design for mobile first, so that your rankings don’t take a major hit whenever a new update rolls out.
#8 Check for local intent in the SERPs
Take a closer look at your SERPs! Keywords you previously thought were “generic” might now be classified as “local” in intent. There may be several indications of this on the results page; for example, you might notice a map pack, city names, and localised page rankings. If this is the case, adapt your SEO strategy according to those locally intended results, in order to rank better.
Major Google algorithm updates can cause some distress among e-commerce companies. A tip: Don’t overreact and flip your SEO strategy at the first sign of a rollout. Wait a few days and observe the impact of the update on your website. If you have your SEO right – all content is user-focused, links are credible, site is mobile optimised – you don’t need to worry. But if you have a history of buying links or spinning existing content, rethink your strategy! Let’s have a chat about getting your website update-proof, in time for Google’s next surprise rollout.