The changes that Google madeto its search algorithms in 2012 have made search engine optimisation (SEO) more challenging than ever.
As Google tries to stop low-quality sites from popping up in its results, competitors like Bing and Yahoo have appeared in the market to challenge its 95% market share in the UK, meaning it must evolve to stay ahead.
So how does this affect your business? Well, back in the early 2000s, to show up top in Google, all you had to do was fill your website full of the keywords you wanted to appear for, and flood the internet with links back to your site using those keywords.
Now, though, Google uses over 200 different factors to influence where a website appears. Links and keywords on page are still big factors, but other elements such as user stats, social media use, and quality of content need attention in order for a site to perform well. SEO in 2013 is no longer about links - you need a proper strategy.
Start with a great website
Of course, it all begins with a great website that is easy for users to navigate and use, and then the site needs to be easy for a search engine to understand. If you are building a new site or redesigning your landing pages, get someone involved who knows about SEO. Your web developer may not have enough expertise so to ensure the site is set up right, speak to an SEO specialist who can advise on any changes that need to be made.
Clean up your old links
As Google improves its algorithm, links that you might have created in the past won’t be good any more: they can get devalued and actually end up harming your site’s ranking.
Keep it social
Tweets do affect Google rankings. Before, Facebook and Twitter weren’t as popular, so the only way people would share something they liked would be to create a link to it. Now, people don’t actively update blogs or maintain their bookmarks, they share it through their social channels.
Google has even built its own social network, Google+, to ensure that it can gather these social signals. So when you are building those assets or doing great business, make sure that your customers have an easy way to share this. Positively encourage them to ‘Like’ your Facebook page, tweet about you and be in your Google+ circles.
Also make sure that you have a way to gather those reviews of your site, products and services so that you can add these to your site and other customers (and Google) can see that people love what you do.
Matthew Jackson is the head of SEO strategy at Branded3, an SEO & digital agency