Does Google Really Need Your Website? Well, How Mobile-Friendly Are You?

In the last two months alone, two significant updates have occurred to the Google algorithm — creating volatility in the search results. The second update happened around March 15, and was a major update — a Core Algorithm Update.

In the last two months alone, two significant updates have occurred to the Google algorithm — creating volatility in the search results. The second update happened around March 15, and was a major update — a Core Algorithm Update.

These core updates occur several times a year. Recovering from rankings drops created by a core algorithmic change is not about fixing a page. I contend that just fixing a few pages is an exercise as fruitful in arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

Instead, you site owners should ask yourselves, honestly, does Google really need the website? The answer is often “no,” so Internet management teams avoid the question and pour their efforts and funds into fixing pages in response to algorithmic updates.

The way to avoid making fixes is to think like long and big. Think like Google, and use its learning on search and user intent to make your site valuable.

Why Should Google Want Your Site?

With its proclaimed intent to index all the world’s knowledge, it could be argued that Google needs your site to fulfill this mission.

But just being included does not mean showing up in the top results. What brings a site to the top of the results? It is the user and whether your site answers the intent of the user’s query.

If a page and, by extension, the entire site addresses the user’s intent per the query and provides clear expert, authoritative and trustworthy (E-A-T) content, then it will show up in the top results.

There is an added wrinkle. With Google moving to a mobile-first, mobile-focused environment, your mobile site must meet the user’s intent.

As I write this post, I am working at a laptop linked to a large monitor, the typical configuration of an Internet worker. This is not where the searchers are. They are on mobile devices.

If your analytics don’t show more than half your visitors are mobile, then you are an outlier.

If you are looking to fix your search results, think mobile. I would suggest getting away from the monitor at your desk and using your mobile device to conduct a series of searches your typical user might perform. You may find yourself frustrated. If you typically chase rankings, you may find lots of reasons why you are not in the top search rankings.

How Do You Fix the Problem?

Because SEO success is tied to meeting the user’s search intent, then it is imperative to attach more significance to a creating successful user experience for mobile users.

This does not push aside all of the other elements of good SEO, it simply creates a delivery system for meeting the user on the user’s terms.

Getting there goes beyond simply doing searches on a mobile device. It forces a rethinking of how and why data is presented. Begin by reading. Here are several points of departure. If you love deeply technical information or suffer from insomnia, spend some time reading Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. (Opens as a PDF) These are the guidelines that Google’s team of human evaluators use to determine the quality of sample pages. The results from the evaluators are used as part of the training data that flow into creating the algorithm.

Here, you will quickly see what makes a page good. This is just the first stop on the tour.

Then, check out the much more user-friendly and readable UX Playbooks available for various types of sites. The retail playbook is eye-opening. (Opens as a PDF)

First, all of the examples and screenshots are mobile.

For an even longer view of where Google Search is headed in the future, read Ben Gomes’s blog post on “Improving Search in the Next 20 Years.

Instead of worrying about fixing pages in response to updates, consider how well you and your site will fit with what Google wants now and into the future.

9 SEO Basics That Everyone Should Know

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of obtaining high rankings in Google Search. Yet Google algorithms change at such an alarming rate that it can seem impossible to keep up. Fortunately, rather than chasing the latest updates, simply staying the course can help you gain and maintain high rankings. Before you go looking for the most recent tips and techniques, make sure your basics are as good as you can possibly make them. Here is what you must know about basic SEO.

1. SEO Is an Ongoing Process:
Too often, business owners make the assumption that SEO is a one time commitment. The reality is that it is something you must continually monitor and tweak over time. Like regularly scheduled car maintenance or health checkups, keeping a close eye on your SEO can minimize the time and effort that is required to fix most problems. Addressing issues as soon as they occur is always better than putting them off.

2. Content Is King:
Long gone are the days of poorly written web pages stuffed with unnatural keywords. Today, SEO demands that you provide high-quality, authoritative content on each page. At a minimum shoot for 500 words, but 700 to 1,000 or more words are preferred. Organize your content for web readability, using lots of sub-heads, bullets, images, and other features to break up walls of text.

3. Keywords Matter:
Exactly which keywords you choose to optimize for makes a big difference in your success. Use Google’s Keyword Planner tool to identify relevant keywords your ideal prospects are searching to find your products or services. Then edit your web pages and/or create new web pages that are 100 percent focused on your target keywords.

4. It’s NAP Time:
NAP refers to your business Name, Address, and Phone number. Google reviews your NAP listed on your website, as well as your NAP listed on other websites across the internet. For example, business directories publish your NAP and this information needs to match the information listed on your website. If there are any discrepancies, then your search rankings will suffer.

5. Above the Fold Is Where It Counts:
“Above the fold” is from an old newspaper term that referred to the spot where the newspaper was folded. Today this phrase refers to the part of a web page that a reader can see without scrolling. Use this space to capture the attention of your prospect right away and encourage her to keep reading. Use engaging, useful, highly relevant content to minimize your bounce rate, or the percentage of people who click immediately back off of your page.

6. Mobile Optimization Is Crucial:
In today’s always-connected world, savvy shoppers move effortlessly between multiple devices, and they expect websites to travel with them. To take this into account, Google released an update to their algorithm in April 2015 in order to include mobile-friendly factors. In other words, if your website is not easy to use on a mobile device, then your search rankings will suffer.

7. Get Fast Results from Local SEO:
Local SEO is the process of optimizing your Google My Business profile for searches within your local area. For example, when you search for a nearby dentist, then you’ll see a map in the Google results along with dental offices near your neighborhood. Those “map” results are the Google My Business results. Ranking your profile on the first page is typically easier and faster than traditional SEO to rank your website. The key is to complete and verify your profile, ensure your NAP is consistent across the internet, submit your business to online directories, and encourage your customers to post reviews on your Google My Business profile.

8. Social Media Cannot Be Ignored:
Social media has become an increasingly important part of a solid SEO strategy. As stated above, content is king and social media is the content superhighway. Engaging, high quality content can be shared virally across social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, which in turn drives more visitors, more links, and more conversations that can help improve your search rankings.

9. Tracking Is Essential:
Without tracking in place, how could you possibly know which parts of your SEO campaign are working and which need some help? Google Analytics is a powerful and free tool that lets you analyze your search rankings and user behavior on your website. Use the data to determine which web page rankings are driving traffic and conversions, and which web pages are on the 2nd page of Google and just need a little push.