Whereas most of our customers will be clamoring for more exposure during the festive months of 2012, those who start now will reap major rewards. Sites that sell more in the spring/summer have been reeling due to Penguin and Panda, and you don’t want December to arrive without being prepared. So here are a few updates to get you up-to-speed on the current state of SEO for our customers.
New Google Rules
For those that haven’t been paying attention, Google changed its focus in regards to it’s algorithm in a big way this year. Almost like your elitist friend’s CD collection, they now won’t allow posers into the top pages of search (with a few exceptions). Here is a brief rundown (in our opinion) of what matters now for your business and brand:
- branding – google has made it much easier for brands to succeed vs. keyword-rich or exact-match domain names
- UX – user experience metrics like bounce-rate and time spent on your site are more important and also tie into the google plus prompts you see in search
- links – links now have the ability to bring your site from page 1 to page 10. If you are currently experience a heavy drop in ranking for keywords, your problem could be inbound links.
- Social – being socially active is so important that on any given day someone’s twitter could rank higher than your homepage for your main keyword. Building your author reputation and relationships through social is very important.
- Content – Last but MOST important is content. We have seen fresh, unique content have such a positive effect on rankings, that we would advise stockpiling it and updating your page regularly during the holidays (don’t copy content from other pages – big no-no).
We would like to stress that with all of these, the transition should be gradual. You should work up to being a better writer, developing a better brand, and nurturing your social relationships. The days of quick returns in SEO are OVER.
Owning Multiple Sites
We have seen many sites negatively effected by ownership or registration of multiple domains with the same focus (either keyword-wise or content-wise). If you currently own or run multiple ecommerce sites, you should definitely consider taking one down and 301 redirecting it or removing the others altogether and/or cancelling registration.
Links Can Be Toxic
Since Google create the Penguin update to their algorithm on April 24, 2012, sites who engaged in shady link practices (i.e. spammy anchor text, link farm blogs, or pointless directory listings) saw their rankings tank. The new standard for links is to have them coming from trusted sites and using your domain or brand name in the anchor text. Keywords used as anchor text will harm your standing in SERPs for that keyword. If you feel like you have done a good deal of link building that could be hurting your standings in search, IntuitSolutions can help you gain control of your link portfolio now. That way when Christmas comes around, you won’t be scratching your head as to why your sales have dropped.
Where You should Focus Time and Energy
- Communication: Communicate regularly over social networks and/or blog entries. You should be checking the respective social sites (facebook, twitter, pinterest, google +) regularly throughout the day and be actively involved in the online community.
- Writing: Your focus should be on improving your writing skills and/or hiring someone who has the ability to write efficiently and well. New fresh content created and updated regularly will promise your site the exposure it needs.
- User Experience and Design: A well-designed site speaks for itself. On top of that, bounce-rate and click-through-rate are both factored into search.
- Updating products: This includes both meta data (Product title and descriptions), on-page content, and actually updating your product database regularly.
- Become an information source: If you drive information, you will drive traffic to your site. Google already has developed an information side-pane, it is a sign of what they value.
Now is the Time to Start Fresh!
Since the focus of search has changed so drastically, you should take the same approach to your online business. If you’ve ever wanted to start with a completely clean slate and a new focus brand-wise, now is the time to do it. We’ve seen brand new sites perform better than tenured sites in the rankings for very competitive keywords. We think Google’s most recent changes are here to stay, and you should get started on the right foot now. Contact us today and be prepared when the holiday season rolls around!
Test Your Site
You should make sure your site still ranks for major keywords, loads quickly, and is up to code with the current standards. Here are a few tools to help you in your testing.
- SEO Book’s Ranking Checker (free) – Checks your standing for keywords in the respective SERPs
- Page Rank Checker or Page Rank Plugin for Chrome or Firefox – Page Rank is a measure of your page’s reputation from 1-10 based upon history, code, links, UX, and more.
- Page load speed Analyzer or Page Load Plugin – tests your page load speed, which can be optimized in many ways, according to browser and your platform.
- Code Validation tool – make sure your code is valid according to your doctype
- Google Webmaster Tools – See if your website is running functionally in many areas, look at impressions over time, see that your meta tags are optimized.
- Google Analytics – Track your visits and customers activity on your site
- Google’s Rich Snippets Testing Tool – tests for new schema.org markup, including authorship and publisher status