2011 was a year of shifts for Google, with all the updates seeming to give hints of a huge shout which, at its end, formed the word Panda. As all of us know, the Panda Update centralized content and the importance thereof, making the user the priority, not the post. Duplicated content was removed, sites where it was published were downgraded and spam was once again pushed into the latrines of web culture. Relevancy to blog and content became one, marrying a couple which had lived together but never tied the knot—the main reason cited: lack of communication. Every new update which has come after Panda has complimented Panda, and as such, spells out the growing trend of user importance.
The latest update, “Page Layout”, is the newest add-on. Given the trend, how can an SEO person best utilize such updates for the benefit of their clients? Furthermore, how can we stay ahead of such updates? Stated simply, remember that it’s not about you.
Page Layout and Its Ilk
If you are a Tron geek like me, you probably have visions of the protagonist fighting with light-discs within an arena of grids. You hear him say, “I fight for the user” and while you don’t know exactly what he means, you still accept it and repeat it to yourself with your fist in the air. As a concept guy, I always try to find the sense in the nonsensical. Keep reading.
The effects of the Page Layout update results in your site being downgraded if you allow an excessive amount of ads “above the fold”, meaning before your content. Google does not want a user to see a slew of advertisements before he/she sees what they came to read. This makes the content hard to find, and less favorable from the viewpoint of the user. While less than 1% of global searches will be noticeably affected by this update, it further supports the trend.
Before this “new idea”, Google Fresh came forward and said that any website constantly updated with relevant content would receive special treatment given the content posted would be fresh. Algorithmic changes to the way Google indexes and grades sites have pushed more and more toward user interaction in the last year. We can expect more of that.
At our company, SEO is completely about the user. Whether that user is defined as the Customer/Brand or the Reader, the purposes behind all of our processes revolve around the idea of providing accurate content which serves. If a person goes to a blog they trust, hoping to find valuable information and that information is “bad” (defined as wrong, useless, generic, or spam) how does that serve? Furthermore, if there is a keyword involved with such a post, how does that serve a client?
When producing content, think of it as the result of your consideration to the readership and the place where it is published. Using a guest blog post as an example, here are some considerations an SEO professional needs to make when thing about a post:
- Does the subject of my post relate to the niche of the blog?
- Will the subject and content of the post help the readership of the blog?
- Is the anchor text relevant to the subject of both the blog and post?
- Would you be inclined to click on the link if you were the reader?
All of these questions feed into the next point, which – in my mind – is the reason why we are all in business. We are marketers, and some of the old school methods of marketing should in no way die because a new method of exposure has emerged. Branding is the point of using a keyword or phrase, both for the purposes of building perception and making the exposure (of the person the brand) count.
In terms of the keyword, the branding process is paramount.
We all know that the higher a keyword is placed in an article, the more juice it produces. If however, that keyword is misused or is irrelevant, then such a process is worthless in terms of branding. Prioritize the keyword within relevant text OVER the placement of said keyword. People will associate the keyword and linked site with the overall message of the post, which inherently starts the recognition process. In addition, the Google god will rank the content higher, making it easier to find. Blend the technical aspects of SEO with the substantive branding techniques and you have a win.
With your blog posts, keep the readership in mind when you write. Make it something useful, something practical, and something newsworthy. If you focus on these aspects, your piece will fit whatever new updates are coming down the pipe.