Search engine optimisation is getting harder. Google's "Panda" and more recent "Penguin" update has re-emphasised this trend. Previous tactics of link building and on-page optimisation are no longer enough, since Google now pays greater attention to "user signals" in helping to determine "relevance" and "rankings". Google is also paying greater attention to content "quality".
Below we outline what this entails for website owners.
Google is always attempting to return relevant results to its users. As part of ranking algorithm Google is now using "user signals" to help rank sites. Sites that are popular with users will theoretically rank higher.
One of these "user signals" is social media activity. The more a website is "liked" on Facebook, etc, the more popular the site may be considered by Google. Hence the proliferation of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn "Like" and "Share" buttons on websites today (including our own). So, its time to consider using your social media presence to help your seo efforts.
Another user signal that Google is using is the "bounce rate" for pages within a website. High bounce rates would indicate that users do not find the page useful, and Google is using this as a metric. So, website owners need to ensure that their pages are relevant and useful to visitors. Pages with a high bounce rate (use Google Analytics to identify them) are obvious choices for some content re-writing and user experience tweaking.
This leads us nicely onto the next topic of content quality.
Under Google's new approach, far greater attention needs to be paid to the quality of your content.
Thin Content Penalised
It has long been an seo tactic to build many "thin content" pages to help capture traffic and drive users to desired destination pages. Very often these pages were a mix of syndicated or screen scrapped content, accompanied by affiliate links and adverts. There are some strong indicators that Google is now penalising such strategies.
Less is More
Instead, the goal now is to have fewer but better quality content pages. Better "quality" includes content that is well written, original and without spelling or other errors.
This means you should strive to have fewer urls (see canonical urls below) and make sure that those that remain are of high quality and are fully optimised. In tandem, you should remove extraneous urls from your index.
It also means that the content itself needs to be unique. Ecommerce product descriptions should not merely repeat the manufacturer's "blurb" and will need to re-written. Perhaps product pages should be accompanied by original content provided by user reviews, etc.
The bottom line is that more effort and consideration now needs to be invested in the content of your website. It may even be time to consider hiring that copy writer.
Duplicate Content Penalised
As with standardised product descriptions and screen scrapped content, Google is more aggressively penalising duplicate content. However, within a website you will often have duplicate urls pointing to the same page and this could be penalised as "duplicate content".
To help avoid this make use of the "canonical" tag - by saying a url is "canonical", you're effectively telling the search engines that this url is the primary url as far as this content is concerned.
Your canonical urls are those that you should ensure are indexed by the search engines. These are the urls that you should ensure are well optimised and promoted beyond the site.
These canonical urls are also the pages to which you should linking internally within your website. In effect, these canonical urls will become your "authority" pages within and beyond your website.
Search engine optimisation is a process rather than a "project", since it never ends! Unfortunately, its getting harder and more expensive and more difficult for "lay" people to master.
However, help is at hand. Call us on 01162 793 822 to find out how might help you.