At one time A Google-Friendly website meant a website built so Googlebot could scrape it correctly and rank it accordingly.
When I think ‘Google friendly’ these days – I think a website Google will rank top, if popular and accessible enough, and won’t drop like a f*&^ing stone for no apparent reason one day, even though I followed the Google SEO starter guide to the letter….. just because Google has found something it doesn’t like – or has classified my site as undesirable one day.
It is not JUST about original content anymore – it’s about the function your site provides to Google’s visitors – and it’s about your commercial intent.
I am building sites at the moment with the following in mind…..
- Don’t be a website Google won’t rank – What Google classifies your site as – is perhaps the NUMBER 1 Google ranking factor not often talked about – whether it Google determines this algorithmically or eventually, manually. That is – whether it is a MERCHANT, an AFFILIATE, a RESOURCE or DOORWAY PAGE, SPAM, or VITAL to a particular search – what do you think Google thinks about your website? Is your website better than the ones in the top ten of Google now? Or just the same? Ask, why should Google bother ranking your website if it is just the same, rather than why it would not because it is just the same…. how can you make yours different. Better.
- Think, that one day, your website will have to pass a manual review by ‘Google’ – the better rankings you get, or the more traffic you get, the more likely you are to be reviewed. Know that Google, at least classes even useful sites as spammy, according to leaked documents. If you want a site to rank high in Google – it better ‘do’ something other than only link to another site because of a paid commission. Know that to succeed, your website needs to be USEFUL, to a visitor that Google will send you – and a useful website is not just a website, with a sole commercial intent, of sending a visitor from Google to another site – or a ‘thin affiliate’ as Google CLASSIFIES it.
- Think about how Google can algorithmically and manually determine the commercial intent of your website – think about the signals that differentiate a real small business website from a website created JUST to send visitors to another website with affiliate links, on every page, for instance; or adverts on your site, above the fold, etc, can be a clear indicator of a webmaster’s particular commercial intent – hence why Google has a Top Heavy Algorithm.
- Google is NOT going to thank you for publishing lots of similar articles and near duplicate content on your site – so EXPECT to have to create original content for every page you want to perform in Google, or at least, not publish content found on other sites….
- Ensure Google knows your website is the origin of any content you produce (typically by simply pinging Google via XML or RSS) – I’d go as far to say think of using Google+ to confirm this too…. this sort of thing will only get more important as the year rolls on
- Understand and accept why Google ranks your competition above you – they are either:
1. more relevant and more popular,
2. more relevant and more reputable, or
3. manipulating backlinks better than you.
Understand that everyone at the top of Google falls into those categories and formulate your own strategy to compete – relying on Google to take action on your behalf is VERY probably not going to happen.
- Being ‘relevant’ comes down to keywords & key phrases – in domain names, URLs, Title Elements, the number of times they are repeated in text on the page, text in image alt tags, rich mark-up and importantly in keyword links to the page in question. If you are relying on manipulating hidden elements on a page to do well in Google, you’ll probably trigger spam filters. If it is ‘hidden’ in on-page elements – beware relying on it too much to improve your rankings.
- The basics of GOOD SEO hasn’t changed for years – though effectiveness of particular elements has certainly narrowed or changed in type of usefulness – you should still be focusing on building a simple site using VERY simple SEO best practices – don’t sweat the small stuff, while all-the-time paying attention to the important stuff – add plenty of unique PAGE TITLES and plenty of new ORIGINAL CONTENT. Understand how Google SEES your website. CRAWL it, like Google does, with (for example) Screaming Frog SEO spider, and fix malformed links or things that result in server errors (500), broken links (400+) and unnecessary redirects (300+). Each page you want in Google should serve a 200 OK header message.
…and that’s all for now.