In the last part of this post we looked at the rankings signals Google has disclosed following its Panda algorithm update earlier this year. The search engine has traditionally kept the details relating to its algorithms under wraps, but took the unprecedented step earlier this month of letting website publishers get a little closer to its mind set. It has revealed a number of the questions its engineers ask when developing algorithms that will ultimately determine the placement of your site in the results pages.
By highlighting some of the flags it uses to determine if a site is of a high build quality or not, Google makes it easier for you to update your own best practices. You may not be able to fit each of these considerations into all of your search marketing activity on a daily basis but, trying to toe the line by incorporating as many as possible can only strengthen your website’s Google standing…
Payment: Google has already stated that trust is an important factor. When announcing Panda, the search engine revealed it had focused a lot on trust and had taken its research offline to ask users if they would trust the information presented on certain sites. Scenarios included ‘would you feel comfortable taking medicine purchased through this site?’ The data gathered was then worked into the algorithm change. On the back of this, one of the signals of a well built, high-quality site is whether visitors can feel comfortable giving credit card information to the page in question.
One of the easiest ways to meet this requirement is to use a reputable shopping cart and payment provider. Google’s own Checkout package is quick and easy to install and importantly, is a service that Google itself knows is reputable. This can go a long way towards winning the trust battle, not just with Google for ranking, but with visitors considering making a purchase.
Proofing: Again clearly linked to the user experience, the correct use of grammar and punctuation is highly valued by Google. Spelling mistakes, problems with style, factual errors and poor grammar or punctuation can all make an article or web page difficult to read. They also point to a sloppy site – if you can’t take care to present the information professionally, is that an indicator that trust would be misplaced?
Proofing your web content is a form of quality control. It encourages you to make the best possible job of each and every piece by putting your best foot forward. Not only is proofing important, it can also make the difference between a visitor purchasing or navigating away empty handed. If you can’t take the time to use a spell check before uploading a new article or website, visitors may well start to ask if that same lack of attention to detail carries over into the production of your products or the way a service is carried out. Trust is destroyed and the sale becomes that much harder to secure.
Google also has their own reputation to think about so it’s no surprise they demand content be free of easily avoided errors. By sending a search user through to your site, they are implying that the content can be of some use and for that to be the case, it needs to be accurate, factual and professionally presented.
Originality: You don’t need to be Lois Lane to write up interesting web pages and create compelling content but originality is an absolute must. While we’re not suggesting that you spend days in the pursuit of a story, carry out costly market research just for an article or dedicate hours of your day to interviewing experts for quotes, each article you present should have some originality to it. That means independent research is a must – you can do this quickly and easily online. Look for relevant studies, analyse the data, combine findings and draw your own conclusions, post a quick poll on your web site or invite comments on your Facebook page. Each of these methods is the work of minutes but will give you something concrete to add to your article. You’ll also be presenting thoughts, opinions and feedback that is totally original.
One of the first rules of journalism is that each article should be fair and unbiased so a paragraph or two presenting the other side of the argument should also be factored in. While you can use all of your data and original research to support your own viewpoint, presenting the facts from the other side further shows that independent thought has gone into the production of each piece.
Insight: Another of the points on Google’s list is insight – specifically does the article have information that is beyond obvious? To tick of this requirement, your article or web page will need to be quite detailed with some evidence of the original research discussed above.
It can be quite a big task to have to produce such a fully comprehensive piece of work every time you want to add a new page to your site but, it’s better to add one or two great pages a week than 20 mass produced articles of just a few hundred words each.
As an expert in your field, and the most knowledgeable person about your business, insight is a given. It is just a case of tapping in to this awareness. You’ll gather opinions, facts and a deeper understanding of innumerable facets of your industry on a daily basis simply from dealing with suppliers, developing the product or answering client questions. This experience is your own unique insight and can be conveyed in each piece as simply as giving an example of a question or need posed by a client and the solution you presented.